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The Case for Becoming A Minimalist

Since my book Listful Thinking has been published in 12  different languages I have been able to connect with list makers across the globe. In particular I often receive messages from people in China and Japan who want to talk about their love of lists.

It’s become clear to me that while  we may have different approaches and styles, being more productive without overworking ourselves is a common human goal. In fact, in my search for a more minimalist lifestyle, I have often been inspired by ideas from the other side of the world.

As you may know I am a huge fan of Marie Kondo, who brings a simplicity to clearing clutter. She has you ask a simple question as you hold items from you home in your hand, “Does it spark joy?” It makes you really think about the stuff you  choose to keep, not just in your closets, but in your life in general.

I’m not the only one who has been inspired by eastern minimalism. Raymond Tang felt overwhelmed by his fast paced technology driven lifestyle and sought change elsewhere. He was inspired by the classic poems of by Lao Tzu, an ancient Chinese philosopher. These poems are thousands of years old, but as Raymond explains in his TED talk they offer advice that we can embrace today.

Lao Tzu encouraged people to act more like water, which fills the shape of its container. t doesn’t fight against the obstacle in anyway. In the same way, all of us can be more open to opportunities and rather then force ourselves to be a certain version of success, we can just go with the flow.

It’s easier said than done, of course and I struggle with this on a daily basis. I really like order and structure and when I’m in a chaotic situation it makes me anxious. But I’m trying to be more open to chance and circumstance.

Minimalism is big  in Japan as well, where  young people are trying to own fewer and fewer things. Inspired by traditional Zen Buddhism, they have reduced the amount of physical things in their life to free up time spent cleaning or decluttering to be used elsewhere. When explaining the difference between Eastern and Western styles one person said, “In the west, making a space complete means placing something there. But with tea ceremonies, or Zen, things are left incomplete on purpose to let the person’s imagination make that space complete.”

In that same article one Japanese man explained that he only four pairs of pants, three shirts and four pairs of socks. If that makes you nervous, it shouldn’t! There’s something really freeing about having less stuff.

When you think about you probably use the same clothes over and over again anyway. So why are you holding onto it?

Do This Gut-Check With Your To-Do List

It’s official!

It’s been one year since I became a full-time entrepreneur! Do you believe it? Wow!

In that time I’ve really honed in on what I really want to do in my business and what I can best leave to others.

I also launched a new website for my media strategy and training services at PaulaRizzo.com to let the world know what I’m doing! And I’m really proud of it.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in this year is to do what I call a “gut-check move.”

That’s made all the difference for me and it’s something you can do with your to-do list today! Read more

Forget FOMO and Embrace the “Joy of Missing Out”

You’ve probably heard of the term FOMO or “fear of missing out” – possibly in the context of someone making fun of millenials who say things like “I can’t believe I’m not going to Coachella this year I have so much FOMO”.

But it’s not just millennials who have this problem!

I used to get FOMO and it drove me a little crazy.

I couldn’t say no to any networking event or opportunity without feeling that if I didn’t go I would not only miss out, but be negatively affecting my business or the launch of my book.

We have this weirdly held belief among entrepreneurs that just around the corner is our big break or big meeting that can turn everything around. We just have to go to enough events or connect with the right people to find it.

It’s technically true but it can drive you insane. Or in my case make your appendix burst.

It’s time we started to admit the truth. Read more

To-Do List Wisdom from Mindy Kaling

It’s graduation season, which leads to plenty of people thinking about their long-term goals, not just college students. Often when we reminisce on the goals we had at graduation we focus on all the things we haven’t done.

But are we being too hard on ourselves?

Mindy Kaling thinks so!

When speaking at the graduation ceremony at Dartmouth College Mindy’s final advice to the graduating class was to “let it go.”

We may have a dozen goals in our head when we graduate and some of them may happen and some might not. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed or strayed from your path, just that life often doesn’t go the way you planned.

In previous posts I’ve talked of the importance of evaluating your long-term goals. It’s okay to accept that a goal might no longer be what you want or that you need to put it on the back burner while you focus on more important things. A perfect example of this is a woman I interviewed, author Karen Rizzo, she continually put “Learn Italian” on her list and guess what – never happened.

When evaluating long-term goals there are a few things to take into consideration:

Priorities – What we think is a top priority and what we actually spend most of our time and energy on can be two very different things. Depending on where we are in life our biggest priority can be different things, focusing on family, career or even our health.

Does your top priority line up with your daily habits? Check out the book Essentialism for ways to do this better. Maybe you want to get a new job, but you haven’t been to a networking event in months. Or you’re trying to take a step back with work, but still find yourself emailing at 10pm! Make sure your actions line up with your priorities. If they don’t then it might be time to reassess.

Diminishing Returns – The law of diminishing returns is used to refer to a point at which the level of profits or benefits gained is less than the amount of money or energy invested.

Essentially the more effort you put into something the less you get out of it. How annoying is that?

It’s good to remember though, when you feel like you’ve been pushing a goal or idea for too long – maybe it’s time to ease up a bit?

For example, how many times have you heard people say they found their romantic partner once they stopped looking? The same can be said for many other goals. I know a few people who have been stuck in the ‘research’ phase of writing a book, because they keep finding more and more information pulling them in different directions. At some point you just have to draw a line in the sand and start writing!

When it comes to your goals it’s as Mindy Kaling said –

“Don’t trust any one story of how to become successful.”

Find the path that works for you, it doesn’t have to look like what your 21-year-old self imagined.

 

Why I Renewed My Library Card

I am a huge fan of e-readers, it’s so much easier to pack one lightweight tablet then a dozen big heavy books. If I’m not reading a book on my Kindle, then I’m probably listening to it on Audible – which is even more portable. Thanks to these two things combined I haven’t read a physical book in I can’t even tell you how long.

But the other day all that changed.

I met a woman who was telling me all about the book club she was part of. As she’s telling me about their current book she pulls it out of her handbag. I couldn’t believe it. Not only was she reading an actual hard copy book, but it was a book she had loaned from the library! Gasp!

It’s been a long time since I last stepped foot in a library.

The more I thought about it though, I realized this woman was totally on to something. If I’m being honest with you it’s not often these days that I finish a book. Having a e-reader allows me to read a few pages while I’m on the subway or waiting at the dentist, which means I don’t make as much time to sit down and just read! Read more