Five Ways Less is More (Part 2)

Five Ways Less is More (Part 2)

In part 2 of this two-part series on how Less is More, we continue the sharing from the MMS NorCal coaches on how having and doing less led them to realize much much more. For part 1 of this two-part series visit: Five Ways Less is More (Part 1).

In this article, the MMSNorCal coaches discuss benefits of learning to say no, whittling down obligations (work and personal), becoming less distracted, and focusing on being versus doing.

3. Fewer Obligations, More Time

Whether it is work obligations, family obligations, social obligations or pressure to perform that we put on ourselves, we often find ourselves working long hours or spending a lot of time because of what other people want us to do or because of what we feel we should do. 

Learn to Say No

A key part of Less is More is to acquire the skill of saying no.

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig says that saying No “does not mean I am not interested, nor does it mean that the project is not worthwhile. No simply means, No – not now. There are so many interesting and important causes to be involved in and so many of our own family and personal needs. In order to actually make a meaningful impact, we need to learn to say No so we can say Yes! to what is most important now.”

Do less by learning to say no

Coach Ihrig finds that saying No makes room for Yes. She finds that It helps her to take time to list her top priorities in life right now, while keeping future goals in mind, it is essential to deciding what to say Yes to and when to say No. She believes that keepng a list of what to focus on now, and let the rest go for a later time.

Make room for the present and relish the feeling of freedom, clarity and space that ensues.

Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig

Workaholism is Not the Solution

“I used to be a major workaholic”, says Coach Carla Morton. “And, when I worked out, I’d go HARD. For years people told me to slow down but it wasn’t until I got Mono a few years ago and I wasn’t able to work more than 4 hours a day and my work-outs were reduced to slow flat walks, that I learned how wonderful it is to take life a little easier. I was so attached to being seen as the best at everything and I now realize it was entirely ego driven. Who was I doing this for? Even when I slowed down and didn’t work like crazy, I was still respected. And when I stopped working out like a crazy person, I realized I was still the same person, and didn’t need to endure so much exhaustion and muscle fatigue to feel healthy.”

Coach Charles Vivier too was consumed with the rat race, putting all his time and energy climbing the corporate ladder. “I was very competitive and constantly comparing myself with others. It was only after I suffered some setbacks, that I realized what I had given up, what I had lost, what was really important to me and how I wanted to spend my time.”

“When I started a new position with a new organization, I was so consumed by external expectations, within a few months I found myself extremely exhausted” shared Coach Ihrig. “I asked myself – what is happening? Why am I feeling burnt out already? I took time to pause and reflect. The answer was that I was not being true to myself. I was putting my focus on ‘outward in’ – what people thought – instead of ‘inside out’ – what I needed to get done. By shedding the weight of external expectation and listening not just to my head, but also to my heart, less is more – I worked less, and got more done.”

Whittle Down Work Obligations

Coach Brandi Richard Thompson says she is better able to whittle work down to a few obligations when she is clear on her priorities. “We often take on a lot of tasks, many of them unnecessary, when we are not sure about what we should be doing right now. But when you are clear, it is not only easier to say no but easier to justify it to yourself.” 

Coach Ihrig finds that anything unfinished, unused, unresolved, or disorganized takes space in our physical, mental and emotional capacity robbing us of vital mental and physical energy to create the life we seek.

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What a Pause can do for You

More tips from Coach Ihrig who was in a huge transition in 2021. She found herself with heightened levels of anxiety and distraction because she had a very long list of things she wanted to accomplish. When she reached out to one of her mentors, the mentor simply said:

Stop. Stop trying to create anything new. Stop building. Stop planning. Pause for 3 days and tie up loose ends. 

Get your calendar in order, clean your house, file your paperwork, do your banking, make time for your daily wellbeing,  reach out to neglected yet important relationships.’

Coach Ihrig says that it was a powerful lesson for her that sometimes we need to pause, or even take a big step down, in order to gain the strength, focus and momentum to then take one or two steps forward.

4. Less Distractions, More Clarity

As we have mentioned on this blog before we are surrounded by distractions that are all clamoring for our time and attention. Here are three questions to ask yourself if you find yourself overwhelmed with the lack of time to accomplish what you need to do.

  • How much time do you spend glued to the TV, scrolling through social media, gossiping about movie stars, or drinking endless cups of coffee?
  • How much time do you spend looking for your keys or searching through your files or in making new lists and endless planning?
  • What much time do you spend multitasking — getting interrupted with calls, texts and chat messages – and then remembering what you were working on and re-focusing?

Priortizing Access to News

Yes, it is true that some information, such as global, national and local news, is essential to remain engaged as citizens. Many of us want to stay up-to-date, but may also find it difficult to limit our consumption.

priortize access to news for less is more

Coach Sarah E. Spencer points out that smart phones provide unrivaled access to information, and unchecked, one can find oneself doom scrolling through negativity, with no ability to control or influence. She is intentional about when she checks the news, for example – in the morning after her wake up routine, mid-day after lunch and a quick look before dinner.

Since many online, radio and television media outlets repeat the same news, Coach Sarah prioritizes reading and skips similar articles.

Reduce Social Media Distractions

“Our time and attention is easily stolen from us through distractions like frequently checking to see how many likes your post has had on social media”, says Coach Michelle Hayden-Marsan. “For me, less screen time means more real life experience and less chattering and monkey mind leads to more powerful insights and creativity. It isn’t easy to change habits which don’t serve us, but how we spend our time is a choice and choosing to do the things that bring us joy is well worth the effort.” 

Coach Hayden-Marsan, aspires to keep the chattering self-talk in her mind (which is usually judging, labeling, worrying, or making lists) to as dull a roar as possible. She finds that the less she obsesses unconsciously, the more space there is for her to notice things, to be present and happy in the moment and to hear the wisdom of the intuitive voice within that steers her in the right direction.

She continues: “The first step is to notice when the chattering starts. Once I notice it, I can label it: listing, judging, obsessing, worrying…I already know that none of those thought patterns serve me, so I just drop them and come back to what I’m doing, as opposed to what I’m thinking.”

Check your Unconscious Bias

“It’s amazing how often we make judgements about people and how much we don’t realize it”, says Coach Hayden-Marsan. “Unconscious bias is such a big issue, especially with the advent of social media, where we actually can see how prevalent our biases are and how they can manifest in horrible behaviors.

When we learn the ways in which we are unconsciously judging others, we can begin to make the effort to start recognizing people for who they really are, not who we assume them to be.

Less distraction from unconscious chatter, quiets the mind and creates clarity to see people from the inside out – for who they really are, rather than who we assume them to be.

5. Less Doing, More Being

“This can be a tough one, for various reasons; specifically since we are conditioned to achieve more, work harder, climb the ladder of success”, says Coach Marsan. “But we can still have a strong work ethic and also understand the value of enjoying time to replenish our spirit by being present, whether noticing the sunset, meditating, sitting in the backyard and watching the children playing, or the interactions of the birds at the feeder…Taking time to cultivate Being still brings peace and creates much needed space in our head to just “Be”. There is so much growth that comes from that space, and we don’t experience it without cultivating it.”

“When we don’t value being, it is often because we place higher value on doing. This is problematic when we encounter circumstances when we cannot do and maybe even need to ask for help. It is in those moments that we exercise being okay with being ourselves and being the recipient of the doing of others.” Coach Brandi Richard Thompson.

Finally, ask yourself:

What do you want to achieve?

What more will you get with less?

If you continue to feel overwhelmed and distracted, consider working with a professional coach. A coach can help you examine your life, discover your passion and explore how having less and doing less can free up space for more of what you truly want.

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Five Ways Less is More (Part 1)

Five Ways Less is More (Part 1)

Many of us grow up seeing and hearing and learning to seek more and more and we are not taught that Less can be More. As we move through our lives, we fill our homes, our bodies, our time, our lives with stuff, food, distractions, and unneeded angst. Believing or saying that Less is More is antithetical to consumerism culture that surrounds us; however, for many of us, the experiences of the last few years have given a radical jolt in our belief systems.

During the pandemic, many of us did not have to dress up for work, host big parties, go to the gym, commute to work or travel long distances; nor did our calendars get crammed with recreational activities and social obligations. We faced restrictions and limitations on what we acquired, where we went and who we spent time with and we asked ourselves, moving forward, what we really need and what we want our lives to be about.

As our MMSNorCal coaches also mulled over what they had and what they wanted and how they managed with less, they discovered that often, Less is More.

In part 1 of this two-part series on how Less is More, the coaches share their thoughts and observations on how having and doing less led them to realize much much more.

1. Less Clutter Equals More Space

Our homes are cluttered with clothes, bags, books, office supplies, plastic containers, empty bottles, bathroom products, cleaning supplies, old bedding, extra bath towels and much much more. Many times we put off getting rid of stuff because it can be overwhelming. In fact, many of us have to make a comitment to declutter. Or, we may need professional help. That’s the reason why NAPO– a U.S.-based association of professional organizers and productivity professionals, exists.

“This process of purging takes time for me and I find myself procrastinating because I don’t like things going into the landfill”, says Coach Muriel Murphy, “With so many people in need, I now fill brown paper grocery bags with useful items and take them to homeless and tent communities nearby, hoping they can help someone, instead of taking up space in a landfill.”

For Coach Lindsey Taylor-Vivier, “Climate change is something that inspires me everyday to make thoughtful decisions about everything like buying clothes, to what I put in my refrigerator. I used to be the person at the cash register who would add the items around me at the last moment. I don’t do that anymore. I am mindful when I make any purchases and ask “Do I need this? Is this a need or a want?” If I am at the grocery store I will buy the products that are local, not someplace far away that requires transportation on a ship, plane, train or truck. Being mindful makes me feel better and if we all make small changes, it will have an impact.”

Clutter isn’t just the stuff in your closet, 
it’s anything that gets between you and the life you want to be living.

Peter Walsh, Professional Organizer

Create Physical Space to Create Peace and Freedom

“I vividly remember as a teenager feeling an incredible sense of relief and satisfaction every time I cleaned my room,” says Coach Michelle Mueller Ihrig. “I would sleep better, I felt light and could breathe deeply and easily, and I felt inspired, accomplished and energized. Almost 40 years later, I often think back to that time because it still feels very much the same. It is incredible how this sense of awareness was already very much alive in me, even back then.”

Coach Mueller Ihrig now believes that by cleaning up the physical space around us, we also clean up the energetic space inside our head and hearts, leaving room for so much more peace, freedom and space to create a meaningful direction for our lives moving forward.

If you are having problems creating phyical space, ask yourself these questions:

  • What gets in your way? 
  • What gets in your way in your physical space? 
  • What gets in your way in your head and what gets in your way in your heart?”

Coach Brandi Richard Thompson believes that we can actually have less by being mindful between choosing and not choosing at all. She says, that “when we accept everything that comes our way, handme downs, giveaways from the conference we attended and more, we are not choosing. When we do this, we are accepting everything. Clearing clutter often begins with determining what really works for us and only accepting those items into our lives.” 

2. Simpler Food Equates to Better Health

Coach Charles Vivier believes that many of us eat out of habit, we eat unconsciously, we eat to stuff ourselves when we feel empty or sad, we treat food as entertainment and as distraction from things we don’t want to do.

Instead, he says what we need to do instead is to eat mindfully, joyfully, savoring the flavors, feeling gratitude and treating food as energy.

Coach Lindsey finds that despite being passionate about food and having traveled all over the world, she now wants things to be simple, local, and delious. She has found herself making big changes in this department. She and Charles “like to rotate between a few options for breakfast, lunch is soup and salad and dinner is fish or chicken and a vegetable, unless we go out for ethnic foods that we can’t make at home. The simpler the better really.”

Indeed, even in food habits and what we consume, Less can be More.

less is more

Coach Mueller Ihrig’s mantra Basic is Best is the foundation of her wellbeing. At the beginning of the pandemic, life slowed down considerably for her as she was suddenly at home and her two-hour long daily commute disappeared. With this extra time, she chose to enroll in a Pranayama breathwork class along with some Ayurvedic consulting.

Her Ayurvedic consult taught her that “the more ingredients there are in anything, the more processed or complicated it appears, the more I know to leave it. By going back to basics, I was able to release the additional weight I had carried around and I was able to find focus and peace through my breath at the same time.”

Consistency and Routines can Help

Coach Muriel likes consistency and routines. She starts her day with a cup of green tea and then a cup of green juice fortified with vitamins and other tinctures. Next comes her daily yoga practice and then a superfood smoothie. Whole, unprocessed foods, simple menus and daily routines make for easier grocery shopping, streamlined menus, less stress, lower expenses and improved wellbeing.

What do you want to achieve?

What more will you get with less?

In the second part of this series, you will learn how to reduce distractions and obligations, and focus more on being!

You can also consider working with an MMSNorCal Life or Professional Coach to examine your life, discover your passion and explore how having less and doing less can free up space for more of what you truly want. 

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Leadership Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Leadership Lessons from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As a young person leading a national civil rights organization, I often quoted Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in speeches and writings. His leadership lessons and words resonated with my generation of young adults hoping to identify our place in the continued struggle for civil rights in America. 

Here is one of my favorite quotes by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on leadership.

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there “is” such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Personal Struggles with Leadership

I wrestled with the fierce urgency of now and how even after the sacrifices of so many during the civil rights movement and beyond, we still had so far to go.

Our desire for change was too late to allow Dr. King to reach his 40th birthday, too late for Medgar Evers to return home to Myrlie, too late to ensure equitable access to educational opportunities and home mortgages and too late for Trayvon Martin to make it home to his mother. 

At the time, I was quickly approaching 39 years of age myself. I was able to reflect on what it meant to be perceived as an agitator and a general irritant to those who did not want to listen to my suggestions to create more equitable systems. Like Dr. King, I was diplomatic. But, in light of all my community had lost, I was not silent.

My urgency asserted itself 45 years after Dr. King’s murder. Many around me considered it part of the microwave nature of my generation. I often heard, “They just can’t wait their turn to lead, they want what they want now and don’t know how to get it.”

Instead, it was a desire to model the leadership I knew young people throughout history displayed. The Founding Fathers were my age during the Revolutionary War. It was a desire to turn my energy into progress so that my daughter’s generation could take on a new challenge. I firmly decided that there would be no apathy or complacency on my watch.

My personal urgency stemmed from the realization that I could not wait to break free from being a struggling single parent and any biased obstacle to being able to support my daughter needed to be removed.

Brandi Richard-Thompson

Our collective urgency stemmed from the understanding that we could die violently on our feet or slowly in our silence. Dr. King taught us, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Speaking up for ourselves displayed mastery of one of the basic tenets of leadership, being able to lead yourself.

Leaders Speak Up During Difficult Times

Speaking up for yourself even when it is scary or difficult is one of the enduring leadership lessons of Dr. King.

In our newfound annual love fest for Dr. King, we often forget his message was not well-received or accepted in America during his life. Each day, he and so many others faced jail, harassment and death for their work. Facing death for what you believe or listening to the still small voice telling you to pursue your dream, requires the courage of your convictions. 

Speaking up for you leads to the strength and courage to answer what Dr. King presented as “life’s most persistent and urgent question, What are you doing for others?

As professional and excecutive coaches, we know that we can’t lead you in your self-development or growth without first leading ourselves in that process. We must be willing to excavate our deepest desires, needs and wants to help you to do the same. We must lead ourselves in order to help you lead yourselves.

We must pursue and develop deep love for ourselves to bring that expression of love to our clients. 

And so, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exhibits through his life’s example how to serve others by getting congruent with ourselves about what we were placed here to do and actually do it.

Dr. King, his wife Coretta Scott King, and countless others executed that mission to improve the lives of all by living their purpose. 

Leading with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Principles

This MLK day, we honor his legacy of exceptional American leadership by living some of what he taught whether we lead ourselves or many:

  1. Live in and with the urgency of now, not allowing complacency or apathy to rob us of living the lives we want to live.
  1. Find strength within to allow ourselves to walk in the strength of our convictions.
  1. Extend your strength in service to others as an example and expression of the deep love we have for ourselves.

Happy MLK Day!

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