It seems like life gets complicated overnight, but when you step back, it’s clear that things usually build up slowly over months and years.
Maybe your life started out hopeful and carefree, and then in an effort to follow the rules, or the herd, or the path people thought you should be on, you went into debt, took a job you weren’t crazy about, or bought a house, cars, or stuff that was above your means.
To keep up with the work, family, stuff, and commitments, you got busy, maybe even crazy busy. You slowly got distracted and sidetracked, and forgot what you wanted. After time, the departure from the life you wanted begins to chip away at your heart.
Maybe you are asking questions like …
- What if I didn’t have all of these bills?
- What would it look like to wake up feeling excited about my day?
- How would my relationships change if I spent more time with the people I loved?
- What if I wasn’t so worried, sick, depleted, and overwhelmed?
- Do I really need all of this stuff to be happy?
- What do I really want?
How do I know what you are thinking? Because I was you.
My catalyst for change
Our stories may not be exactly the same, but there are probably some similarities. I had all of the questions listed above and more, but I was afraid to change. I went into debt with my first student loan when I was 18. I took the job that paid the most, instead of work I loved the most to pay the bills. I shopped, ate, or drank my way out of worry and discontent, or at least I tried. I ran in every direction, unfocused, getting by, trying to keep up, and finally getting sick. In 2006, when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, I knew things had to change.
At first I struggled, because I wanted to fight and attack my problems quickly. I wanted fast change, but the approach was stressful. I was still on the fast track trying to change, but pushing and struggling wasn’t working. I created my stressful, busy life over decades and trying to undo it overnight was unrealistic.
It took me about 8 years to move from busy, overwhelmed advertising director with hardly any energy left over for my family and passions to spending 2-3 hours every morning taking care of myself, loving my work, and being present and engaged with the people I love. We changed as a family too. We moved from wanting bigger closets, nicer furniture, and more stuff to downsizing into a 750 sq. ft apartment with no storage. Our priorities changed, and we became healthier individuals and a happier family.
An 8 year transformation doesn’t sound exciting or sexy in our modern-day culture of immediate gratification and 21 day miracle cures, but a gentle path is meaningful and sustainable.
Why take the gentle path?
You’ve tried fast and furious change, but radical transformation is not the stuff that our souls hold on to. We need more time to adapt and adjust, to marinate in new habits as we work them into our lives. We deserve the time and space a gentle path allows to notice what we are learning, and to enjoy the small shifts that we usually rush past.
Massive change may not be easy, but it doesn’t have to be a sacrifice. There is joy along the way.
Imagine what your life would be like with more …
When you realize that your busy, chaotic, or unhealthy lifestyle isn’t working, your goal isn’t an empty book shelf, or a clutter-free closet. You don’t set out to simplify your life, but instead to reclaim your life. You want ease, health, joy and all the things you lost while you were on the fast track. The clutter free spaces in your home and on your calendar are part of the gentle path that leads to the new life you are creating.
It’s never too late to move from the fast track to the gentle path. Once you take the first step, you can breathe, enjoy the view, and begin again.