When a Little Investment Creates Happiness & Ease!

a modest splurge in a pen = a little happiness

Years ago, I read Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project and I will never forget the chapter on buying some happiness.  It was a revelation to hear her offer permission to indulge in modest splurges to create more happiness.

I typically subscribe to a “less is more” philosophy, so I paid extra attention reading this chapter. I wanted to see what indulging like this meant.

Since Gretchen is a writer, one of her examples was to buy a good pen.  Instead of using just any old pen, spend a little money and purchase one that makes the work of writing more pleasurable.  This was something I could relate to.  I journal daily and at that time I had been using pens that I had collected over the years from businesses or events. If I was really in need, I would buy a bag of cheap pens even though I knew I wouldn’t like how they felt when I used them.

But Gretchen’s simple examples of how small investments in things that bring happiness stuck with me and I began to recognize the areas and times when I was frustrated and “making due” rather than intentionally purchasing something that would solve the problem and bring more happiness without breaking the bank.

I decided to follow her example and stop taking free pens (whenever possible) and invest $3.50 in a pen that could be refilled and not just thrown away when the ink ran out. I made a trip to Sketchy Artist, a local shop, tried out the pens (an essential step!), found one that felt right, and since then every time I use the pen it reminds me of how I am taking care of myself.

If pens aren’t your thing and you couldn’t care less about how they feel or work, then maybe this example is more relatable to you.

This past spring I committed to writing more creatively each week, but soon realized that if I was going to make that goal into a reality then I was going to have to set myself up for success.  I would need to “indulge in a modest splurge” to set up a writing station with everything needed to set the stage and ensure I could sit down and make writing actually happen. 

my office already set up in the basement

I have two small tables in my house that are my work desks. The one in the basement is where I do my business work and the desk on the main level is for home management -paying bills, updating the calendar, and journaling. My work desk in the basement is already set up for ease. All I need to do is set my laptop down and I am good to go. But the table upstairs has been intentionally sparse since it is located in a corner of our living room.

I knew that I would need to add a few items to the desk to make sure I could sit for extended periods of time without hurting my neck & back as I hunched over, typing on my little laptop keyboard. And I have a few routines that I use as triggers when it is time to work. I turn on instrumental music & light a candle, and then my body and brain recognize that I have shifted gears – it becomes easier to get started.

the upstairs desk after my modest splurges

These simple steps help to create intention around writing time, so I wanted to be sure I could replicate that feeling at the upstairs desk. I indulged in a modest splurge by purchased another keyboard and mouse, bought a new candle, and a metal shelf organizer that could hold my laptop.

“make executing the right things-the essential things-as easy and frictionless as possible.”

Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism

These purchases were a little heftier than a $3 pen but I know they are worth it. They definitely decrease the barriers to sitting down and making creative writing happen and that is a big win in my book!

Your Turn…

Do you need to invest in a modest splurge to increase your happiness or make an area of your life run with more ease?

Give yourself permission to make a small intentional purchase & notice how that your attitude or energy shifts once you start to use or enjoy that item.

Next Steps…

In this season of buy, buy, buy, it is hard not to get caught up in bringing more into our homes just because it is available. When you take time before you shop to get clear on what you need, want, and why, then it is easier to resist the extras.

Just like building a muscle, this takes practice, but you can do it! One decision at a time.

Need support to set up a space for greater function and ease OR are you ready for a Virtual Clarity Session to talk through the decisions that you’d like permission to make? Contact me today!

Do you always seem to buy more than you had planned?

The ads and emails are in full force this time of year!  Trying to entice you with sales and steals that might seem just too good to pass up or convince you that the more you buy, the better.

It can be hard to resist!

I’ve been there.

Scanning the ads for the newest items and trends. Walking the aisles in a daze. Getting distracted by sale signs or beautifully crafted displays. Buying things just so I had something to wrap. Making a purchase to relieve the fear that I would miss out a deal that wouldn’t come around again.

I would end up with more than I had hoped to buy and a sinking feeling that the items I settled on weren’t really what I wanted in the first place. It didn’t feel good.

So if you can relate but are longing for a different way or you are hoping get to through the month without that sinking feeling that you bought WAY more than you had planned, then here is one word to insert before you head out shopping.

Intention

Adding just a little more intention to your shopping experience can put you in the driver seat of the experience. Intention allows you to feel and be more proactive and less reactive to the marketing and pressure of the season.

You might say, that sounds good… intention is a nice word, but what does that look like in real life? 

It looks like –

  • deciding on a budget or the amount you want to spend before you head out to the store
  • shopping with a list
  • avoiding the dollar section unless you are looking for something specific
  • shopping when you have energy & noticing when you start mindlessly wandering aisles (that’s the cue to wrap it up & come back later)
  • creating a list of ideas first & then hunting for those items in the ads vs. letting the ads dictate what you buy
  • knowing WHY you are making a purchase
  • putting an item in your online shopping cart, but pausing or walking away for a little bit to check in with yourself – ask if the purchase is needed/wanted OR are you motivated by the fear of missing out on the deal?

It can be hard to resist the frenzy of buying at this time of year, so it’s understandable if you often come away with more than you had planned, but each baby step you take toward shopping with more intention can provide the shield you need to keep your cart from piling up with extra stuff.

Intention creates a little boundary of protection against the pressure of more, more, more.

Are there certain stores or ads that always suck you in & increase the chance of buying more than you had planned?

If you are hoping to simplify this year or get to the end of the holiday season feeling better about the amount you purchased, try taking one small intentional step the next time you shop.

Next Steps…

Feeling overwhelmed? Already have too much stuff in your spaces & dread the thought of bringing in more with the holidays? Tell me about it in the form below.

Let’s set up an appointment, develop a customized plan and create a space you feel proud to come home to!

Do You Need a Permission Slip?

The word PERMISSION keeps popping up all around me.  I hear it on podcasts, in conversations with friends, and when working with clients. 

It seems there is a longing for someone outside of ourselves to grant us permission to say, be, or do something that might feel scary or go-against-the-grain.

You may want – 

Permission to let go of the gift a friend gave you ten years ago that has never been used.  

Permission to say no to the request to be on another committee.

Permission to take 15 minutes to read a book or close your eyes during the day. 

Permission to say no to hosting book club or Thanksgiving.

In Braving the Wilderness, Brene´ Brown talks about writing herself permission slips to feel how she wants to feel and be who she wants to be.  She started this practice after feeling nervous and second-guessing herself.  Instead of looking outside of herself for permission, she grabbed a sticky-note and wrote down words that would allow her to enter her day in the way that felt right.

This is something I keep working at.  Tuning in to the times when I am holding myself back because I want someone else to tell me it is okay.  Noticing is the first step.  The next is to let go of that hesitation and offer yourself the permission to do, or be, or say what you want.

Want more ideas on how you can offer yourself permission to let go of something FOR NOW.  Check out this post and see if those two words lift some of the pressure of letting go.

Need Permission to Let Go?

I hope you can offer yourself a permission slip to enjoy everything that you love about this upcoming holiday season.

Need Permission to Let Go?

Are you in one of those seasons of life when you have taken on too much and are overwhelmed by all of your responsibilities? Or maybe expectations at work increased at the exact same time as a family commitment became more intense? Or maybe you are feeling the pressure of the upcoming holidays and all that goes into making that time of year work?

When I find myself in the middle of a season that feels too full I often long for a way out, but it can also feel like my hands are tied. It’s easy to tell myself that I just have to suck it up, deal with it, and hope for easier days ahead. But I know in my heart there has to be another way, because powering through often leaves me exhausted, resentful, and still feeling stuck.

It might not be easy.  But I have to LET GO. 

I don’t mean throw in the towel or trash it all! That doesn’t solve anything. What I am talking about is noticing the things that are taking up time and energy, but could be set down FOR NOW. Setting a few things aside FOR NOW is one way to open up the breathing space needed to keep my body and mind from feeling so overloaded and neglected. But nobody knows what those things are but me.

No one can give me permission to let go.  The only person who knows what I need, when I need it is ME.   

Which means I have be mindful of what is happening inside of me. I have to stay in touch with my tendencies, my desires, my hopes and my frustrations.

So if you are feeling overloaded and know that a shift is needed, then try this simple exercise to uncover the things that you want to let go of FOR NOW in order to take better care of your mental health and your heart.

  • Find a scrap of paper, the back of an envelope, or turn to the next page in one of the many notebooks lying around.
  • Take 5 minutes and write down everything that you would like permission to let go of. Go ahead! No one has to see this list.
  • And don’t sensor yourself. If something wants to get written on the list, then write it. No second-guessing.
  • Now sit for a moment and let yourself feel the relief that comes from listening to the requests that are coming from your heart. Maybe even put your hands on your heart-it’s funny how this simple act can feel so soothing.
  • Then, commit to make one small change OR do nothing but keep this list in mind and watch for ways that you could decrease your involvement in something that you wrote.

Offer yourself the permission to let go of needing to do it all! Your body, mind and soul will thank you.

If you are in a place of overwhelm and longing to shed some of the things in your life that are holding you back, then I hope you find some encouragement from this poem by Safire Rose. 

SHE LET GO

You can let go.  You can move ahead. 
Offer yourself the permission you need to make your life reflect your desires.

Declutter & Redesign is all about letting go of the things that no longer serve you and redesigning your space, lifestyle, or habits to fit that yearning in your soul for a change or an easier way.  

And this letting go can happen in stages, so wherever you are on your own journey, I hope you continue to follow along or share this message of hope, so that we each find the support we need at the right time.

Be in touch. I offer a 30 min. free phone consultation and would love to hear more about the changes that you are longing to make.

When you are continually juggling “all good stuff” then is it really all good?

Are you feeling swamped by all the possibilities, activities, and responsibilities in your life?

I can relate. I am a #1 on the Enneagram, the Perfectionist or Reformer, which means that it is easy for me to notice things that need improving or tweaking. Walking from my home office to the bathroom, my attention can be drawn to 5-10 things I could do! Which means my to-do list can get really long if I’m not careful.

And I love to learn about self-improvement, culture, and creativity, so any new books, classes & podcasts around growth are super tempting! Without realizing it, I might be reading a stack of books, taking a couple classes, and downloading enough podcasts to keep me busy for hours.

Add in the activities and responsibilities of parenting two active, social kids and running a business and I might as well throw up my hands!

It’s exhausting and embarrassing to write all this! Especially when I understand that mental clutter can be just as overwhelming & debilitating as physical clutter.

I could try to justify it all with the phrase I often hear from busy moms, “But it’s all good things.” These words usually follow the crazy list of everything that they are juggling, like the one I just rattled off.

I understand what these words are trying to say. I, too, try to live in gratitude for all of the good that comes into my life, but there comes a point when too many good things can’t be called good anymore. All those “good things” are coming at a price.

You see the research on clutter, stress, and productivity reaffirms what my heart has been asking me to recognize for a long time. When you keep adding more options & more to-dos then there will be trade-offs. And too often what I push aside, as the next good thing comes in, are the items that feed my soul.

If I am not mindful and clear about what I want to spend time on, then all those little improvements and opportunities, that seem so great, will fill the space that I need for the REAL stuff.

Not just the good stuff, but the real stuff. The stuff that I long to do. That I enjoy. That I know in my heart will help to make me ME.

So how do you put the brakes on when you have fallen in a pattern of adding more and more, and can feel the trade-offs are getting harder to swallow? It’s not easy. This can be a hard pattern to shift – I am working at it every day – but here are some things that I believe will help.

First recognize the discomfort that saying yes has created. It’s that little let down that you felt when you said YES to one more activity, volunteer request, or work projects and NO to time you could spend on your hobby, health, or chance to have more free time. You probably didn’t recognize the trade-off at that point but that little feeling of resistance or disappointment was a little sign that this YES was going to come at a price. The more good stuff that came in, the more the discomfort grew.

Acknowledge this discomfort without putting yourself down about it. There is no shame in looking at the facts. You got overloaded and didn’t know any other way, it happens. There are so many great opportunities out there and it all seems important and relevant, so it isn’t surprising that your calendar and time got filled up.

But now that the discomfort is getting more noticeable, it’s time to step back and get some perspective. Find a quiet place to sit and take a deep breath. Then exhale all of the stress you have carried as you juggled your million things. Let it go.

And then get out a piece of paper (it can be that crumpled receipt or grocery list stuck in the bottom of your purse) and make a list of the things in your life that you enjoy vs. the things that you do because you feel like you should or could. When you take time to look at all of the things you are doing & why, it can highlight the stuff that came in without you realizing it vs. the stuff that you really want to do and intentionally chose.

The next step is to move forward with Melissa Camara Wilkins advice in mind –

“Should is not an assignment!”

from Permission Granted, by Melissa Camara Wilkins

As you look at the list, think about letting go of some of the things that entered your life because someone said you should try it or do it or be it. Just because someone else thinks those activities or opportunities are great, doesn’t mean they are right for you.

And if you have a broken record in your own head offering lots of shoulds about how things need to be done or how much work you need to take on, then start talking back to that voice. Let it know that you are doing just fine without all the suggestions!

Finally, get clear on the things that you won’t trade-off. One of the things on the top of my list is sleep – I’m no fun & super unproductive if I don’t get good sleep, so it is easier to say no to any opportunity or project that would put a kink in getting enough sleep. Taking time to recognize all the things that you are not willing to trade-off can make decisions much easier.

Now you get to decide how quickly you want to cut out some of the items on the list that you don’t enjoy or realize that you didn’t really want to start in the first place. Look for ways to give notice, pass them along, decrease the time commitment, or cut them out cold turkey.

Remember going forward that you get to decide what you want to spend time on, not extra voices offering you all those coulds and shoulds.

And work to keep the amount of good stuff feeling the way you want it to – all good.

Want to chat more about getting some clarity around all of that good stuff – let me know your thoughts below!

-Kate