It’s the season to be jolly, to be with the ones we love and to give more than we receive. I’m not going to lecture you on how much better it is to give than to get, but I will mention that there are plenty of psychological benefits attached to this mentality – and I’m not just talking about the act of being charitable.
I’m talking about minimalism, a movement that places value on the notion that less is actually more. You see, when we pare down what we have, the items that remain become more valuable. They have more meaning ascribed to them. Minimalism is not about living the life of a secluded monk, with no earthly possessions or attachments whatsoever.
Instead, it is a movement about freeing ourselves from the things that weigh us down, both literally and figuratively. What would you do at 8 p.m. every night if your DVR, Netflix, or even a TV screen or monitor weren’t available to entertain you? Think about how much faster your daughter could get out the door if she had one cold-weather coat to choose from and not seven – or eight, if you count the one you just bought her on Cyber Monday.
As I mentioned last week, many of the devices, toys and possessions we own can end up hampering, rather than helping us. If you’re in contact with your wife all day via a string of abbreviated iMessages, but go through an entire day without looking her in the eyes, can you really argue that that $700 smartphone helps you keep in contact with family? There’s a good chance that phone does provide value to you, both professionally and personally, on some levels…but is it really necessary to substitute that smartphone for a laptop, tablet, music player, ereader or television once the phone is not in use? What would you do with that time if you weren’t staring at a lit screen?
This holiday season, I challenge you to do a little winter cleaning. Go through your closets, garage and storage unit. Donate anything that hasn’t served a very necessary function or added value to your life within the past year. As you purge yourself of these items and the time they can drain, you’ll be left with more space. Fill this space with things, people and memories that actually enhance your time here. This is also the perfect season for giving, as those who truly live with significantly less may very well benefit from our possessions that haven’t seen the light of day in four years.
Remember the minimalism mentality as you shop this holiday season as well. The gift of quality time with one another can be so much more valuable than an in-app purchase that keeps each family member segregated to their respective corners of the house. There are many ways to say “I love you,” “I appreciate you” and “Merry Christmas” that do not involve expensive, shiny objects likely to collect dust on a shelf.
This strategy can apply to our professional lives as well. What are the external distractions and clutter that occupy prime real estate on our desks, in our computers and in our minds? What if we got rid of it? How much more productive would we be? Would our response times increase? Would we book more appointments? How much would your lead generation, marketing, transaction volume and general loan strategies benefit if you had more time to devote to them?
All things to ponder as we enter a season that is filled with joy, celebration and, unfortunately for many of us, excess on more levels than one. We can all take a lesson from the Grinch and the Whos down in Whoville who’ve always embraced the true meaning of the holiday, whether there were presents under their trees or their walls were stripped of everything but hooks and some wire.
“Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas – perhaps – means a little bit more.”