Minimalism for Millennials

Practicing Minimalism for Millennials

I frequently feel overwhelmed. The majority of my day is spent staring at a computer screen, either for work, school, blogging, or leisure (i.e. watching Netflix while doing one of the previously mentioned activities). There is very little time to just sit and think. If I find myself doing nothing, it’s incredibly uncomfortable and boring to sit with my own thoughts. Which is sad, but true. And I know I’m not alone in this.

Our minds and lives are cluttered. That’s why I loved The Minimalists Podcast, hosted by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. In the past, my definition of minimalism was simply owning as few possessions as possible. Which, I thought was a little strange. After listening to this podcast and learning the “why” behind a minimalist’s thought processes, I realized that minimalism is a lifestyle. It can be applied to many areas of your life, and everyone can have their own definition of minimalism.

For Josh and Ryan, minimalism is living a meaningful life with less. Now, “less” is going to look different for everyone. After applying minimalist concepts, one person might own 30,000 items, while someone who has never applied the concepts only owns 1,000 items. The number doesn’t matter. At all. It’s all about how the things you do and the things you own add value to your life.

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That being said, here are the themes I noticed after listening to 15 episodes of The Minimalists Podcast:

Know What’s Important

One main reason for integrating minimalism into your life is to figure out the things that are really important to you. By downsizing the distractions and junk that are constantly in our way, it makes it easier to focus on things that truly matter. For example, by owning fewer items your home will be less cluttered and you’ll spend less time cleaning. With that extra time, you’ll be able to spend more time other things. This could include spending time with family and friends or cultivating your passion.

In the process of figuring out what’s most important, you have to choose where your time and energy is best spent. This requires the understand that you will always be missing out on something. If you choose one thing, such as cultivating your passion, you will be missing out on something else. And that’s okay! This prevents over-scheduling and unnecessary stress (which I am personally prone to!). The Minimalists encourage us to make decisions that will bring us the most joy while growing and living simply. Don’t be afraid to experiment with taking things in and out of your life. Nothing needs to be permanent, you can change your mind if things aren’t working for you.

Technology

Before listening to this podcast, I didn’t realize how deeply technology is ingrained in my daily life. I subconsciously reach for my cell phone at work when I’m bored and log on to my computer right when I get home from work. I read scriptures online before I go to bed. And my phone alarm is the first thing I hear in the mornings. If someone reached for a cigarette as often as I reach for the various technologies in my life, they would be called an addict.

Now, technology is not inherently bad! Technology can be used for some really awesome things, like connecting with others, communicating information from around the world, meeting new people, increasing sales for business, etc. The problem comes when we mindlessly scroll through apps that do not add true value to our lives.

Before writing this post, I went through my phone. I got rid of any app that wasn’t adding value to my life. This included an old email address that collected junk mail, three mind-numbing game apps (that were really fun), and two social media apps. To be honest, this was more difficult than I’d like to admit. However, this weekend has been much more productive! I encourage you to think about how you spend your time on the computer and your phone. Are the apps or websites you’re visiting adding value to your life, or are they simply distractions from the important things in your life?

Drudge Through It

Josh and Ryan constantly use the saying, “drudging through the drudgery.” I feel like this concept has come up in almost every podcast I’ve listened to. Successful people do not give up easily. When things get hard, they push through. So how does this fit into minimalism? Minimalism is about changing your mindset and lifestyle to revolve around the things that matter most to you. So, if your goal is to write a successful book, you will need to drudge through the times when writing is difficult.

One thing The Minimalists brought up is the idea of cultivating only one passion at a time. This idea was mentioned in Emma Gannon’s podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete, as well. The general idea is that you should stick to one idea. This allows you to buckle down and really focus on it. When a new idea comes long, it might be easy to chase it down because it would be “easier” than what you’re doing right now. The Minimalists and Emma Gannon would suggest that you stick to what you’re doing and “drudge through the drudgery!”

However, what about the people who have a bunch of great ideas and want to pursue all of them? I received a comment from Maryanne (thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my previous post, Maryanne!), who has a different point of view from the one I mentioned. She said, “Doing several things is called “branding” and it has been great for my career as a writer and public speaker. One of my mentors advised me ‘Keep shooting those arrows.’ She was right.”

I think that both points are valid and correct. Depending on the type of person, focusing on one project or pursuing multiple at a time could be the right decision. If you are a person that gets distracted easily (I fall into this category), then taking things one project at a time may be more productive. If you’re like Maryanne, pursuing more than one avenue at once can keep you motivated.

MAKAYLA

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Why Diligence Is Important to Your Success

Why Diligence Is Important to Your Success

There are so many times in life where I need to complete a task and just can’t make myself do it. I do everything I can to avoid the one thing I actually need to do. Have homework? Well, I’ll do that tomorrow even though it’ll be on my mind all day and make me miserable. Need to fold laundry? I’ll just leave it on the floor in a pile and go to work with a wrinkled shirt. This way of thinking interferes with my success. And I know I’m not alone in this.

As I was writing this post, I was constantly thinking about Nike’s “Just Do It” logo. Sometimes it’s that simple. If we’re diligent and “Just Do It,” we’ll be so much better off! This concept was a major theme I noticed in Emma Gannon’s podcast, Ctrl Alt Delete. This podcast is full of interviews where Emma chats with successful writers and entrepreneurs about their relationships with the internet. She’s even interviewed other podcast hosts that I’ve mentioned on this blog, like Gretchen Rubin!

I usually listen to 15 episodes of each podcast I review, but I ended up skipping two of them due to language and content I wasn’t comfortable with. However, the rest of the podcast was interesting and applicable! One main theme  I wanted to focus on was diligence. Diligence is extremely important for our success, but it’s something that just about everyone can work on!

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Why Diligence Is Important for Your Success

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What is diligence?

Most of us are familiar with the definition of diligence, but I wanted to discuss it anyway so we’re all on the same page. When I think of diligence, I think of persistence. Also continual effort over a long period of time. My husband is a great example of this. He’s a law student and spends hours and hours every day studying and writing. Even when he doesn’t want to.

A huge part of diligence is patience. There will be days when you do everything right but see no results. Diligence is the ability to keep going and pushing through in order to reach a goal that takes time to achieve even without immediate reward. For example, if you have a goal of reaching a certain GPA, the entire semester should be filled with reading, studying, and completing assignments. Without that continual effort, the final will be extremely difficult and you won’t receive the grade you want. That general idea can be applied to many situations in life.

Why is diligence important for success?

Let’s say that you have a particular skill that comes naturally to you. We’ll use basketball as an example because I’m watching an NBA game right now. If you’re naturally good at shooting three-point shots, that’s great! You could make the junior high basketball team with ease. But as time passes and you grow older, you can’t coast by on natural ability any longer. You have to actively work on developing new skills as well as stay ahead in your shooting ability. And that takes diligence. Understanding that you have to keep developing and pushing forward is a necessary skill for success.

The wonderful thing about being diligent is that you eventually see results. Being diligent sets you apart. It shows that you’re willing to put in the work, time, and effort is takes to improve. Not only does this show the people around you that you’re worth investing in, it also gives you more confidence in your own ability to succeed. Over time you’ll be able to prove to yourself and others that you can accomplish great things through daily diligence.

How can you be diligent?

I’d like to talk about three practical ways to add diligence into your daily life. These tips won’t add any extra time to your day. They will hopefully help you change the way you think about the daily tasks that need to be done, even when you don’t want to do them! And replace some bad habits as well.

Avoid Procrastination.

Procrastination is the opposite of diligence. If you’re procrastinating, you are not focusing on the things that matter most. Sometimes we procrastinate with good things such as cleaning, spending time with family and friends, or relaxing. Those are all good things, but it means you’re not being diligent in achieving the goals you’re working towards.

One way I’ve found to avoid procrastinating is picking the three most important tasks that need to be done that day and striving to complete them as early as possible. By doing this, I’m able to accomplish more each day and feel like I can relax or work on more enjoyable tasks for the rest of the day.

Pick One Idea.

This was suggested by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. When we start a new project, job, or school assignment, it’s so easy to get distracted with other things that might seem easier, more fun, or a better fit. If you’re working on writing a novel, it might be tempting to say, “I want to push this novel to the side and work on a blog because that seems easier.” Elizabeth encourages us to not do that!

The grass is always greener on the other side. It’s so easy to think that some other project is going to be easier, faster, or a better fit. The truth is that you’re just being distracted by a new shiny object. It takes diligence and perseverance to stick to a project, but putting in the time and effort to complete it is how you achieve your goals.

Be a Warrior.

There are times in our lives where we want people to comfort us. We want people to tell us that we’re right to feel like the world is against us. We throw pity parties for ourselves and invite anyone that’s willing to listen. And sometimes that’s okay. However, part of being diligent is being to pick yourself up and understand that the only way to change your situation and achieve the success you desire is by fighting for it.

Practicing diligence is an area that everyone can improve. Sometimes it can be difficult to stay focused, but it’s so worth it to put in the effort and achieve the success you deserve.

MAKAYLA

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Recharge, Find Harmonious Passion, and Be a Great Friend

How to Recharge, Find Harmonious Passion, and Be a Great Friend

Have you ever met anyone so intense and sure of themselves that you can’t help listening to them? Even if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, you still want to learn their point of view. As I listened to David Halpern’s podcast Social Triggers Insider, I felt like I needed to look up and research everything he said!

This podcast was suggested by Jess Lively of The Lively Show. I reviewed her podcast last week: 3 Tips to Add Intention to Your Daily Life. I think the reason Social Triggers is so enticing is because David mixes psychology with business. He interviews New York Times best seller’s about how to integrate the lessons in their books into business and entrepreneurship.

David is always amazingly prepared for his podcasts. Not only does he read every book he asks about on his podcast, he remembers every story they tell and comes prepared with questions! There is never a dull moment, that’s for sure. Here are the themes I found throughout the podcast:

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Take Time to Recharge

Do you find yourself on social media between tasks? I know I do. If there’s a fifteen minute break, I immediately get on my phone. After all, fifteen minutes won’t hurt anything and there’s nothing I can really get into for that short amount of time, right? Wrong. David suggests that there is actually something better we can do with those fifteen minutes.

He suggests that you use that time to think about your day and recharge. Constantly using social media takes our minds away from things that really matter. Spending that time planning, power napping, thinking, or reflecting can be a much better use of our time. I love this, because I imagine that when this becomes a habit, it would be such a relaxing activity that would help us recenter. And, it can be done anywhere!

Two Types of Passion

There have been many time on this blog that I’ve mentioned passion. Every time it’s mentioned, I get such an overwhelming response about how important it is and how necessary it is for success. And you’re right, it’s 100% necessary! That’s why I thought it was so interesting that there are two kinds of passion… One type is good and one type is actually bad!

Let’s start with the good type: harmonious passion. Harmonious passion is healthy because it is consistent with what you want you want to achieve in your life. This means that your passion allows you to grow in other areas of your life as well as pursue your dreams. For example, let’s say your passion was writing novels. You would wake up every morning and write 500 words and then spend the morning exercising, eating breakfast, and then go about your day. Of course, you would think about writing when an inspiring thought came to you and it may come up in conversations with others. 

On the other hand, there is obsessive passion. Obsessive passion takes over other parts of your life. It’s something you’re thinking about constantly, even when you’re not doing it. You also may feel guilty if you’re not doing it. To stick with the writing example, your morning might look like writing 500 words and then knowing you should exercise and eat breakfast but feeling bad about doing those things because you won’t be writing. Writing might dominate conversations between you and your loved ones, and other activities won’t be as enjoyable.

Be a Great Friend

There were so many interviews on Social Triggers Insider that talked about the power of connections and strong relationships. This past week I reviewed the book The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter – and how to make the most of them now by Meg Jay, PhD, which you can read here. In that review, I talked about what Jay calls the strength of weak ties. Weak ties are essentially connections that you get through connections what are not in your immediate circle. 

The Social Triggers Insider podcast takes this idea a step further with dormant ties. Dormant ties are people that you’ve known in the past but haven’t been in contact with for three or more years. Essentially, you used to know them but lost contact. These types of ties are the most useful ties of all! This is because they give you all the benefits of a strong tie (past history), but have been meeting different people and travel in different circles like a weak ties.

Like any relationship, a key part of calling on these dormant ties is being a great friend. If you try to ask for help from someone you’ve rubbed the wrong way in the past, they aren’t likely to want to help you! So what’s the secret to being a great friend? David suggests that we give, give, give. Friendships should involve 60% giving and 40% taking, and that should go for both people involved!

Luckily, all of the tips mentioned above have been researched not only by David Halpern, but by everyone he interviewed. I definitely encourage you to look up this podcast and have a listen if you’re at all interested in business or psychology, because the mix is fascinating! Hopefully these three themes will be applicable to your daily lives and help you earn the success you deserve!

MAKAYLA

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3 TIPS TO ADD INTENTION TO YOUR DAILY LIFE

3 Tips to Add Intention to Your Daily Life

I spend a lot of time on trains. I often sit by the window in the early mornings and look out at the landscape as it rushes by, feeling the cool air radiate from the glass. For the past four weeks, I’ve been listening to podcasts as I ride, which has added not only spectacular audio, but a way to learn from others. This week I chose Jess Lively’s The Lively Show. It’s designed to uplift, inspire, and add intention to your everyday life. And it certainly does.

Jess is awesome. She started her business when she was fifteen and now travels the world full time while teaching others how to live more joyfully. One thing I love about Jess is that she leads conversations, but does not dominate them. The people she interviews feel free to open up about their own stories and Jess simply guides them along.

Every episode of The Lively Show (that I listened to) is an interview with someone who lives a life of intention. Most of them are bloggers and entrepreneurs that blazed their own online trails. What I love about this setup is that even though these people have similar outcomes (successful businesses or blogs), they have such different ways of getting there. Some people took eight years to get to where they are and some took significantly less time, but all of their stories are unique and interesting. After listening to the first 15 episodes, there are three themes I found in The Lively show.

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Be Diligent

We are all incredibly busy. We have families, school, work, housework, etc. And huge dreams that we need to work for. And only 24 hours in a day. I’m willing to bet that our dreams are often put on the back-burner when prioritizing the zillion things we have to do.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to take hours and hours of our time each day to work towards our goals. It was suggested in this podcast that if you just take 30 minutes every day to work on your blog or business, you’ll be able to build momentum. Taking small chunks of time and really focusing on the task at hand can be more effective than taking a lot of time and not being as focused. Doing too many things at a time can also be overwhelming. Instead, try to pick one or two things to accomplish at a time and dive deeper into them.

In addition, recognize that there’s always something you’re going to want. Someone else will be living your ideal situation. One of the guests Jess interviews talks specifically about this situation. She says to just do something to move forward and not stay in a situation that you’re unhappy with! Stop giving excuses and go after what you want.

Don’t Let Fear Stop You

At the end of each episode, Jess asked everyone she interviewed what their best piece of advice would be for someone just starting out on their journey. Almost every single person she interviewed said, “Just do it! Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams!” Now, how many times have you heard that advice from someone further along in the process? I’ve heard it so many times, and it never sunk in. Until listening to this podcast.

You’re never going to be 100 percent ready for something. Right now, I’ve been procrastinating growing an email list for my blog. It’s scary to me because it’s something I haven’t done before. And the thought, “Man, what if no one signs up?” holds me back. But here’s the thing, nothing has to be permanent. If the first email I send out is a total flop, then I’ll learn from it and write a better one. The same principle applies to anything, really.

This podcast was full of people Jess had met at conventions and social events. She is so willing to reach out to others and get their opinions and perspectives. It can be exhausting just thinking about networking sometimes! But Jess recommends reaching out to others in creative ways (such as buying them a taco instead of offering money) to build relationships and show your interest in their knowledge. Try your best to open doors for yourself. The worst they can do is say no!

Find Your Passion

I’m not a vegetarian, but one of my favorite episodes of The Lively Show was with a guest that makes her living coaching and writing about plant based eating. The reason I enjoyed this episode is because the guest had gone through so much to get to the point where she found what she was truly passionate about. To me, someone that is so sure about what they’re sharing is inspiring.

Even if we’re not inspired by vegan recipes, sharing what you love is essential to success. For me, I am passionate about actively learning to become my best self. I love finding new resources to make that possible, and sharing what I find on this blog helps propel me forward.

No matter what you choose to pursue in life, there will always be someone that will disagree with you or think you’re silly. And that’s okay! Be confident in who you are and what’s important to you. Because you have something to share with the world.

 

MAKAYLA

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Books personal development

5 Ways to Ensure Success

There are so many ways to better yourself professionally and personally. Reading books written by successful, well-spoken people is certainly one of those ways!

To start off my new career, I decided to read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.

The book was incredibly rich with suggestions regarding how to be successful in relationships, business interactions, and everyday communications. At first, I was so nervous to read this book. It seemed daunting to potentially change the way I communicate with people. Also, reading something and realizing, “Man, I’m really not good at X, Y, or Z” is hard, and I wasn’t sure if I was prepared for that.

Even though I had those initial concerns, I am so glad I read this book! It was enlightening, and allowed me to set goals for myself that weren’t too daunting. If you want to ensure that you’re successful in your relationships, business interactions, and everyday communications, take a look at these five points:

Be enthusiastic.

If you want to be successful, you need to be able to win people over to your way of thinking. What better way to do that than sharing your excitement and passion? This requires no manipulation or coercion on your part, it just requires your dedication and confidence in your cause. Enthusiasm makes people pay attention. It motivates them to look into your product, business, or friendship and assume that it is worthwhile. Why else would you be so enthusiastic about it?

I think this point can be especially applicable to those of you trying to start businesses and blogs. My guess is that you’ve noticed how difficult it is to get reach the audience you want, and even when you do, how to keep them interested. You certainly need to do your part and offer a great product or service, but being enthusiastic will get your foot in the door until your product can speak for itself.

Listen and be interested.

I’ve found that the best mentors, friends, and colleagues have a knack for making us feel empowered after having a conversation with them. How do they do that? One thing they undoubtedly do is listen wholeheartedly and actually take interest in what you’re saying. I think we can all agree that when we’re listened to and empathized with we feel valued and important.

I realized the importance of this principle last week when buying a new car. The first dealership we went to had a great car that I was super interested in, but it was a little out of my price range. As I talked with the dealer, he was set on his original price and would not bend at all even though there was a dent in one of the doors and the interior hadn’t been detailed. The next dealer I went to spent time getting to know me and what I was looking for in a car. He suggested multiple cars in my price range and have me both advantages and disadvantages, including how it would be able to drive across the country. This was particularly important to me since I’ll be moving this summer.

Obviously I bought a car from the second dealer, because he listened and took interest in what was important to me.

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Be agreeable.

This is a tough one for me sometimes. Most of us, even if we’re generally kind people, have an unfortunate first instinct… Which is to be disagreeable and defensive. Since this is the case, we need to try our best to think before we speak. Mind-blowing, I know. This can be especially difficult when we have completely different views from the person we’re talking to. Here are a couple tips for staying agreeable

  1. Avoid criticism. This is the exact opposite of being agreeable! When trying to win someone over to your way of thinking, you want them to know that you value them and appreciate the work they do.
  2. Focus on the things you do agree on… and reinforce those points often. Even if you disagree on some points, bringing up the points on which you agree will help you come off as the reasonable person you are.
  3. Don’t be a downer. People want to be happy, so give them a pleasant conversation that leaves them in a better mood than you found them in.

Give Praise.

In addition to being enthusiastic, agreeable, interested, and a great listener, it’s important to give praise to others. Make sure when you give compliments that you’re being sincere. Sincere praise makes people feel valued and reinforces to them that their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated.

This is a great tip for being successful in any kind of communication, even in problematic situations. For example, if you have a family member or employee that consistently has behavior problem of performs poorly, it could be beneficial to praise the things you see them do well. This will give them a desire to improve, because they will see that they can! Praising them every step of the way, even with slight improvements, and remembering not to criticize will improve help you be a more successful communicator.

It’s about them.

This point seems to go without saying, but try not to make the conversation about you. Don’t brag about your accomplishments or vent about your problems. Everyone has accomplishments they want to talk about, and everyone has burdens… And their accomplishments and burdens are much more interesting to them than yours. This may sound harsh, but it’s so true! People will get bored with you very fast if you spend the whole conversation trying to make yourself seem important. Your job, instead, should be to make THEM feel important.

Let me know how these tips go for you! Try to set some specific goals and see if your success in relationships, business interactions, and everyday communications improve. Do you agree with these points? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Makayla

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