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Ten Ways to Simplify Your Life
by Vivian Banta

So many people embark on projects to make changes in their lives, only to get detoured or bogged down in the numerous other things that are in their lives. These can be physical blocks, such as a cluttered living room or kitchen but they can also be emotional issues, mental clarity or personal relationships. Here is a 10-point guide to simplifying your life of the obstacles that stand between you and fulfillment of your vision.

1. Empty Your Brain If you're feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, it can be liberating to empty your brain of your internal "to-do" list and emotional baggage. Hire a coach to verbalize all the things you have to do, haven't done, and the feelings that go along with all of that.

You can also lighten your mental load by writing down or journaling the stuff that is taking up mindspace. At this point, you don't have to take any action on it. The objective is to clear it from your head. It frees up your brain so you can then start planning and taking action with more clarity and less negativity.

2. Get Rid of the Human Vampires Eliminate relationships that are sucking the energy out of you. Even if they are family members that you cannot avoid altogether, take steps to limit your time with them and set boundaries around what activities you allow them to engage you in.

Be honest in your evaluation. Who is helping you and who is dragging you down? Who is eating up your time and giving nothing back? Who makes you feel good, supported and energized? Anyone who adds value to your life stays in and everybody else goes away.

3. Lighten Your Heart Getting closure on the past and relationships can unburden you of emotional baggage that is weighing down your heart and spirit. Forgive and forget. Let it go. Call that person up or write them a letter you never send, but get over it. Work with a mental health professional if necessary but you can't move on if you're stuck in yesterday. Why continue to rob yourself of tomorrow by living in the past?

4. Clean House A big part of simplifying is to declutter your physical landscape. Start with one small area like the kitchen counter or junk drawer and finish it in one shot. Focus your energy on this one space; don't think about the messy garage or bedroom closet.

You can even invest extras into your small project such as putting in a drawer liner or organizing tray. This may encourage you to protect it from future clutter. It's important to come up with a system as you organize and also to take steps to prevent clutter from even coming into your home. You can contact catalog companies and ask to be removed from their mailing lists, enroll in online billing and take other proactive steps to keep the clutter inflow to a minimum.

5. Get a Healthy Body While you are getting rid of the junk around your house, examine your eating and health habits and start eliminating the junk there, too. Along with limiting caffeine, sugar and alcohol, look at eliminating junk food, tobacco and any other thing that ages, erodes, clogs up or adds weight to your body and puts your health at risk.

It's also good to update your personal appearance. Are you still sporting an '80s haircut or wearing clothes you bought five or ten years ago? It's time to upgrade!

6. Clear Out Your Debt Stop impulse buying and start paying off your credit cards. Establish a budget and start living within your means. Can you imagine all of the free time you'll gain when you are not worrying about money? No more shopping around for credit and transfer balance deals. No more writing out checks or purchasing money orders. No more avoiding phone calls from creditors and lawyers. No more feeling guilty. Talk about freedom!

7. Simplify Your Language Try to speak honestly and directly with courtesy and kindness. Don't use whiny and apologetic language to ask for what you want. ("I wonder if I could possibly persuade you to . . . ") Quit overusing jargon and slang such as "put that baby to bed", "let's throw it on the wall and see what sticks", "out of the loop", and "lock and load." Eliminate euphemisms and toss out denials ("Just because he is sleeping with another woman doesn't mean he doesn't love me.").

Get rid of the swear words, hostile comments, and the idea that you must voice your opinion about everything. Throw your judgment of others to the wayside.

8. Learn to say NO It was probably one of the first words you ever learned so why are you having so much difficulty using it now? Use it! It's your life, your time, your resources and you have the absolute right to use it as you see fit. Don't feel you have to explain, excuse or justify saying "no" to office observers, gossips or nosy individuals.

9. Limit Tradition Tradition is wonderful so long as it doesn't run your life. If a tradition has lost its meaning or purpose and is just a timewaster, then get rid of it. When anyone says "but we've always done it this way", figure out why. If it no longer makes sense, then feel free to walk away or change it.

10. Make Time for You Time is tight for most of us. Make a decision that you will set aside time that is just for you. Start with 15 minutes a day if that's all you can find. Lock your door, turn off the phone, or whatever it takes, but it's important to create a space where you can focus on only you. Meditate, pray, write in a journal or eat an apple. Whatever you want to do with your time, do it.

Vivian Banta (MBA/Coach U CTP Grad) is a life and transition coach who works with people who want to fully engage in their lives or who are experiencing changes such as relocation, career shifts, and personal relationship changes. To find out more, visit her website or contact her at to schedule a free, 30-minute personal coaching session. Vivian Banta may be contacted at or


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