Shocking, you might say at first glance, because on the outside you would have seen that I have a loving husband, a beautiful new home, and a growing career. On the inside, I was stressed out- and I mean really stressed out. Stressed out from working too many hours, focusing on too many things, taking on too many projects, saying yes to this new thing and that commitment with nothing but stress to show for it.
I learned living a meaningful life is not accomplished by hours worked, awards won, money saved, or things purchased, but in being consistent in aligning ones’ values with action. If I say I valued family, but continuously pushed family aside to work more hours, was I truly valuing time with family? When my actions do not line up with my values, I feel discontentment, uneasiness, and unfulfilled.
By recognizing the ‘why’ behind my motivation to do more and have more, I realized pleasing others and seeking things to establish my worth never works. My worth is not found in my achievements on paper or the possessions in my home, but through my identity in Christ. Since realizing this, I have experienced a freedom like none other. I am free from the chains of guilt and the cycles of burnout that lead to long-overdue vacations of self-reflection followed by the need to work myself into the ground once again, only to repeat the cycle.
Saying no to things that are not essential gives room to say yes to the things that are most important. Balancing work and rest is something we often forget to manage as women because the lines between work and rest are blurred and we feel the need to do it all. Type A personalities also struggle with the “do-it-all” syndrome. Although many Type As appear to be a smooth sailing duck on undisturbed water, just beneath the surface, they are kicking their legs as fast as possible, and their river has no shores to rest. There is a definite lack of rest in our culture today. This go-go-go mentality can ‘go’ straight into a cloud of stress if not managed properly.
Unfortunately, I didn’t wake up from a prophetic dream having the answer to changing stress in my life; it has been a journey through continuous self-reflection. These past few months, I took my own advice to put my mask on first. Since then, I have had more time to grow and continue my journey as a student of personal and spiritual development. I found that the essentialist’s journey towards living with less is a lifelong hike rather than the pursuit of the ultimate goal towards what the ideal life should look like, including how many things one must own or do.
To be honest, I have been looking for the right moment to share with the world that today, planner girl Rachel is okay living with less. Yes, that includes less planners. No, I don’t need every new shiny thing that pops up, and I am okay with that. I am living with less physical and mental clutter, less guilt, less stress, and ultimately more time.
If something in your life isn’t working and you feel like it will never work, stop, and take a minute to ask yourself why. How does what is going on line up with your values and what can you change? First, Write down a list of your values and ask yourself how the things you possess (your actions, personality traits, physical items, and even personal relationships) reflect those values.
There is freedom in accepting our limitations and living within our means, because when we decide to change what isn’t working, it is only then that we can find true happiness.