Life is complicated enough but we humans have a knack for making our lives more difficult than they need to be! I’m certainly not immune to this mistake so in this post, I want to share the lessons I’ve learned and 9 things to quit to simplify your life.

1. Following what’s trendy

I don’t think I’ve ever followed clothing trends, I just wore the things I liked rather than what was popular. I tend to be more interested in technology trends and thinking I need certain items to improve my life.

For example, smartwatches. I know some people find them useful and they keep them on track with certain goals. For a time, I thought I needed one and my life would be better with one.

However, I realised I’d probably become obsessive over all the different elements, like measuring my heart rate, and number of steps each day, and I think that would make me overwhelmed. Plus, I didn’t want to be disturbed by my phone ringing every time I had a call or a text message. I can check my phone if I want that.

Following trends may feel good in the moment. However, once the trend has passed and the novelty has worn off, you’re likely to be let with something you don’t really need.

2. Keep doing things you don’t enjoy

Many times, I’ve started a passion project and then, after a few months or even years, I found I no longer enjoyed it. However, I kept pushing because I thought I had to, or that I’d be a failure if I stopped after all the time, energy, and money I’d put into something.

Greg McKeown in his book, Essentialism (affiliate link), uses the phrase ‘uncommit’ to describe the process of letting go of doing things we’re no longer passionate about. He explains that if we say “yes” to one thing, we’re saying “no” to something else.

Therefore it’s important that we’re saying “yes” to things we’re really passionate about doing.

3. Aiming for perfection

I have perfectionistic tendencies and can be a bit ‘all or nothing’ where I think I need to do things well or not at all. I recognise that’s not a healthy attitude to have! Also, it’s gotten in the way of me doing things for pure enjoyment rather than wanting some huge achievement at the end of it.

Instead of aiming for perfect, which I don’t think is a concept we can measure because it’s based on our subjective experience, I think it’s more realistic to aim for “good enough” or “done”.

These are things you can measure objectively so that you know when you’ve finished and can move onto something else, rather than holding on because something hasn’t reached an unattainable standard of perfection.

4. Over-committing to things

I’ve been a people pleaser over the years. I’ve said “yes” to things either to please others or because I genuinely did want to do them, and thought I was some sort of super-woman who could take on “just another” project on top of everything else!

Now, instead of rushing in, I step back and assess whether I can, or should, take on another project. And, if I do want to take it on, I think about whether there is something I can let go of to make room for it.

It can be uncomfortable to admit that we have limitations. I used to think I could do anything and everything. However, now I’m older, more tired, and wiser, I realise that it’s important to pace myself!

5. Spending too much time on social media

When I spend too much time on social media I notice changes in my mental health. Generally, I start to feel more anxious and worry about things I’ve no control over, mainly relating to whatever is going on in the news.

When I reduce my time on social media, it only takes a few days to start feeling better again.

Therefore, I recommend trying to be more intentional with how much time you spend on social media so that you can not only maintain good mental health but also focus on the life that’s right in front of you.

6. Doing exercise that you don’t enjoy

When I was younger, I used to think that exercise just wasn’t right for me. I didn’t enjoy it, I didn’t feel good doing it, and I never saw any positive results from it.

However, in my mid-thirties I discovered weight lifting, and more specifically powerlifting, and I fell deeply in love. Ever since, I’ve been exercising consistently and find it so helpful for my mental health. That’s not to say I relish getting up early every morning to train! However, I know I feel better afterwards and therefore I don’t skip my training.

Exercise is far easier when it’s a form we enjoy so don’t worry about what other people are doing – find a form of exercise that’s right for you.

7. Negative self-talk

Our brains are wired to think more critically – it’s a survival mechanism left over from our primitive ancestors. However, in modern times we don’t need so much of this negativity when there is so much around us already!

If you tend to be overly self-critical, to the point of being derogatory, be mindful of how you speak to yourself whether it’s out loud or in your mind.

Self-compassion is a well-researched field that has benefits for our mental health. This link takes you to a useful website with compassion-focused resources. When we’re more compassionate to ourselves we’re less wracked with guilt for our mistakes or shortcomings. Instead, we can acknowledge our mistakes with kindness and a willingness to improve in future.

8. Putting things off

Otherwise known as “procrastinating”. People assume that procrastination is linked with laziness. However, it tends to have more to do with the fear of doing something – the fear of getting it wrong, the fear of the task being too difficult, or the fear we’ll fail.

So, we’ll put it off for another time because we can’t take the risk of being right.

The problem is, the more we put off the task the more urgent it becomes and we then cause ourselves more stress and anxiety. So, when you sense you’re putting something off, question why you’re delaying taking action and think about how to tackle it.

9. Not being grateful for what you have

As human beings, we are wired to think more critically and negatively. Therefore, it can be hard for us to remember what we do have in life and we tend to focus more on what’s missing from our lives.

There are times I’ve gotten so wound up over something small and insignificant. When we can take a moment to step back and remind ourselves of the good things we have in life, those small things won’t bother us so much.

This isn’t to say we should just “try to be positive” and deny how we feel when challenging times come our way. At the same time, when we make room to think of the wider perspective it can help us manage the challenges from a more objective stance.

Let me know in the comments of any things you’ve quit, that have helped to simplify your life!