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Good morning dear reader & welcome to my world for another week. In my last article to you I spoke on simplicity & this week I want to develop this further discussing complexity. I am coming to the conclusion, we are probably our own worst enemies, destroying any simplicity we desire to have in life by our very nature & order of things we allow to upset the serenity we say is preferred.

Allow me to explain. Everywhere you go these days people are overloaded with, & sometimes paralyzed by, choices. Not only is the number increasing, but the speed at which choices are coming at us also is accelerating. We suffer from option overload. The average grocery store carries more than thirty thousand products. In The Paradox of Choice, Barry Schwarz writes about our option overload.

Scanning the shelves of his local supermarket recently, he found 85 different varieties of crackers. . . . Next to the crackers were 285 varieties of cookies. Among chocolate chip cookies, there were 21 options. Among Goldfish, there were 20 different varieties to choose from.  [1]

This option overload poignantly illustrates the increasing complexity of our world.  It begs the question “in a world increasing in speed & complexity, how do we move toward simplicity”? 

In my article last week I suggested the first step on the road to simplicity is to get clear about who we are & who we are not.  We must do the hard work of finding our identity & being true to ourselves. The second step to simplicity is responsibility.  I need to “own” my life. 

 I have to face the fact the life I am living is the result of the decisions I have made.  Much of the complexity & clutter existing in my life is because I have allowed them to be there.  I know we all face circumstances we do not control, but we have more control than we are often willing to admit.  And even though we do not control all the circumstances coming into our lives, we do control how we respond to those circumstances.

At least for me, the first step toward simplicity was taking full responsibility. I had to own my stuff & admit, when it comes to simplicity I am my own worst enemy. Most of the complexity & clutter was my own doing ~ saying yes to too many requests, not having healthy boundaries, not knowing my limits, & always trying to please everyone contributed to a cluttered life.

I was not the victim, I was the perpetrator.

Once you are clear about your purpose & your identity & what you value, you have to put a firewall around them.  And one of the best practices is to learn to say “no”. 

Part of my challenge is I want to do it all.  We can do almost anything we want, but we just cannot do everything we want.

 “The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.”      ~            Hans Hofmann

When values you get clear, decisions get SIMPLE.
Let me conclude by giving you an equation for simplicity.
Clarity + Courage + Calendar = Simplicity

The order is important. 
1.  Clarity = what matters to you. 
What are the things you really value?  What are the “I must do” in your life?
2. Courage = the resolve to make change.
Will you have the guts to move toward simplicity?  Will you have for resolve & discipline to reorganize your life around what is most important?  It takes courage to eliminate such ‘stuff’.
Here are some questions to help you think through changes you might need to make:
·      Where are you overextended?
·      What are you spending time & energy on which is not a core value or priority in your life?
·      What are you doing simply because it is an expectation others have put on you?
·      What step could you take to bring greater simplicity to your life?
·      What do you sense you need to stop doing?

3. Calendar = the discipline to execute.
This is where your values and priorities get operationalized. Your calendar is far more than a tool to keep you organized and a way to get to meetings on time.  It is a primary tool for helping you become who you want to become. Your calendar can be a bit like a junk drawer.  It can get filled with all sorts of random things cluttering your life  [2]

Those I have seen to get the most traction are those having great clarity, great courage & resolve, & great discipline to execute the plan. How do you think you are tracking my friends? Do you think you are able to minimize the complexity in your life?

Thank you for taking the time to be with me once again. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson, with my best wishes for the weekend ahead. I look forward to being with you all again next weekend.
[1] Barry Schwarz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (New York: Harper Perennial, 2004), 9.

Kenn Butler
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