As explained in the first part of this series, the first step to creating Olivia’s focus was to create clarity externally via moving towards a minimalistic lifestyle. I’ve discussed living a simpler lifestyle in How to Simplify Your Life. But, let’s now look at how we can all relate. Olivia’s goal through this process was to simplify her life financially, environmentally, as well as physically.
Let’s start financially. When working in the corporate world, Olivia was bringing home about $4000 a month. That’s what she was accustomed to and what she needed to survive. The truth is, even if you were making an additional $2000 a month, give it a month or so, you’ll begin to adjust your lifestyle to absorb the additional funds, it’s basic human nature. Likewise, if your income drops, you’ll learn how to adjust your lifestyle.
So, Olivia and I looked at her budget, identified and determined what items were a necessity and which were a fringe benefit or luxury item. Through differentiating what she absolutely needed and what was just the cherry on the sundae, we discovered Olivia didn’t need to bring home $4000 a month, but rather a minimum of $2800, which would still allow her to thrive personally as she built her business. That’s not to say she wouldn’t push to get $4000+ a month, but, she identified what was the bottom line or what she “had to have” and set easy attainable minimum goals to achieve it. It’s a lot easier to make $2800 a month from a new business as opposed to $4000.
Similarly, when Olivia was simplifying her finances, she realized she had a credit card from years ago that was haunting her. It only had a $900 balance, but every month she worried if she had paid her minimum payment on time. So, Olivia had a little cash set aside in a savings account that she used to pay off the card (yet keep it open for credit rating purposes). She not only eliminated the stress of paying that monthly bill, but at the rate she was going, she also saved herself from paying an additional $2000 of interest over the 6 years required to pay off the debt. To further help…Olivia began living on a budget and purchasing more items on sale or investigated online for better deals.
We next looked at how to simplify her life environmentally. In other words, we reviewed her surrounding physical space. She was so stressed with her business, that she had lost a grip on maintaining her surroundings. Her laundry was piled and her papers were stacked. Did you know that clutter is one of the largest stressors in life? Living in clutter, creates clutter within. So, we created a to-do list. For more info on to-do lists, please visit my How to Write a To-Do List article. On the list we wrote down all the physical spaces in her surrounding (i.e. office, laundry room, closet, kitchen, etc…).
Olivia’s list included 10 spaces. Her homework for the next 10 days was to tackle one space a day to de-clutter. Therefore, in 10 days, her entire external environment would be clutter free and simplified. Call it “an early extreme spring cleaning.” This was a huge success…right away Olivia felt lighter and able to think with more clarity, motivation, and focus. In fact, she was able to complete all 10 spaces in 8 days.
The last section I wanted to focus on with Olivia was physically. She had been so busy with everything else, that she had not placed any focus on herself. So, we discussed what aspects in life make her feel good. For instance, Olivia loves to workout, but just doesn’t have the time to do it. So, we pulled out her calendar and scheduled gym time for her. In fact, we scheduled 1 hour of “me” time everyday. During this time Olivia can do anything that was not work related, that brought her joy, relaxation and put a smile on her face. She could do anything that would make her feel better about herself.
You see, in order to gain clarity and focus within, you have to live in an environment that allows such. If you’re drowning financially, living in clutter, and not taking care of yourself…how do you expect to create anything powerful? To have focus, you must have a game plan, and manage that plan. And to have management of that plan, you must have clarity externally. So, let’s now examine gaining clarity internally…please stay tuned.