Published by Robert W. Huntley, CFP®, CHFC®, Founder & Wealth Advisor
My wife, Linda and I were selling our home 2 years ago. The funny thing is, it took selling the house to get us motivated to purge the house of all the stuff we don’t need or want any longer.
We spent a couple of months going through everything in the house and the results were great. We have so much unused storage space now! Closets, cabinets, and, even the garage and attic are all organized. I can find everything easily.
Why didn’t we do this sooner?
I’ve learned over the years that clarity, simplicity, and systems are important ways to improve the quality of life.
Step 1 – Clarify what matters most to you
We have information coming at us constantly. I’ve found that unless I make time to think without the noise, my days are less productive.
The reason goal setting works for successful people is that it brings clarity and focus to what matters most. But most people don’t do a good job of setting goals and keeping them in mind throughout the year. Why do you suppose that is?
We don’t take time to think. Carving out time to think is the key to finding greater clarity on your personal priorities and goals.
George Bernard Shaw once said: “Few people think more than two or three times a year. I’ve made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”
Several years ago, I began taking long walks each week. That became my time away from the noise. I record important thoughts while walking. Some of my most inspired ideas come from these walks.
Create some time each week to think without any distractions.
Clarity is the first step to improving anything. You have to get really clear about the priorities. That allows you to tune out the unimportant.
Step 2 – Simplify wherever possible.
Life has become hectic. However, much of it is self-imposed.
For example, we don’t have to have our kids involved in multiple activities at the same time. That’s a choice we make. Why not choose to limit it so life is a less hectic?
What about all the things we own? Is it possible to rent what I need so it doesn’t add to the list of things that break and must be cared for?
Consider the collection of devices & information you keep track of smartphones, computers, remotes, cars and the modern challenge of managing passwords for all those websites. Less stuff means less complexity.
How about collapsing multiple financial accounts into fewer accounts? Fewer decisions to make and less paper flooding into the house means less filing, scanning, shredding, and hassles when it’s time to file the tax return.
Step 3 – Use systems and delegate wherever possible.
I heard a successful business owner once say, “When I encounter a problem, I create a system and delegate responsibility for running the system to someone who either works for me or is accountable to me – problem solved.”
There are many ways to use systems in our daily lives. It can be as simple as putting my keys in the same spot every time I walk into my house. I never lose the keys again!
Other common ways we use systems are hiring a yard service or cleaning service. Those systems cost me some money, but it’s a choice. What is my time worth? Can I end up with a better-looking yard and cleaner house if I delegate this? Can I earn more money in my career or spend more time on the things I care more about if I remove those distractions, free up my time and have more room in my garage?
When it comes to finances, we all have similar choices to make. You can do things on your own and save on fees. I’ve seen many people try and do their own wills for example. However, that hasn’t usually turned out very well.
Investing is another area. Most people don’t realize they are their own worst enemy when it comes to successful investing. The reason is both lack of knowledge and emotionally-driven decisions. When left to ourselves, we tend to make investment decisions based on fear or greed. It’s the reason the typical investor rarely comes close to matching what the overall market is doing.
Delegating to a professional to design and run your investment portfolio removes the stress of following daily market developments and reduces the risk of poor decisions based on emotions. You can hold them accountable for the results you agreed you need when you were clear with them about your goals and priorities. Delegating this way gives you a better chance of getting the results you want.
To Summarize: Clarify. Simplify. Use Systems.
Watch your life improve dramatically in 2020 by doing these three things:
- Schedule time each week to think. Record your best ideas and convert them into clearly stated goals.
- Simplify as much as you can, wherever you can. Removing clutter and distractions will help you focus on the important things.
- Delegate as much as you can to systems and others who are gifted at running those systems. It will free you to do those things only you can do or that you genuinely love doing.
One final thought; these three habits become a virtuous cycle. The clearer I am about what I really care about, the easier it is to remove unimportant things from my life and simplify. As I gain clarity and simplicity, I’m in a better position to make good decisions on what to delegate and where to create systems for the important and necessary things in my life. That, in turn, frees up even more of my time to focus on what matters most to me, and further simplify.
Try it for yourself. Carve out some time to think. Simplify as much as you can. Delegate to systems & people to run those systems. Watch what happens.
With greater clarity, simplicity, and systems, life gets better.
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