doing more vs. doing less

Ahhh I think this is the ultimate question. Do we do more, schedule more, or pare down, simplify, and do less? What will make us happier? More or less? Do I want to schedule all of my vacations to be packed full of adventure and exploration, or do I just need to Netflix and chill? I think the answer is always balance, and balance for one person won't look the same as balance for another. 

Often, we do more, hoping it will get us to our goals faster without truly analyzing whether that energy is effective or not. There's a huge minimalism movement, supporting the idea that cutting out the excess can lead to happiness. Simplicity is at the heart of minimalism. It's not just about having and doing less, but rather having and doing the right things. Surrounding yourself with things you love and letting go of all the things you don't love, creates a life and a home full of meaning. Doing what you love, doing what does feeds your spirit and sets you up for long-term happiness creates a life in which your actions sustain rather than drain. 

I've recently realized this lesson with my New Year's goals. I have goals in mind for the upcoming year and excitedly planned to begin and work on all of them. For the past week and a half I've been juggling my regular life and routine along with the ambitions of several goals. I realized multiple goals were cluttering my mind, with plans and thoughts regarding when I was going to work on what goal, the system, or habit I was going to change and, I failed to be present. It didn't feel good, and it wasn't making me happy. I needed to simplify, focus on one goal at a time to prevent anxiety and burnout. I am somebody who needs unstructured free time, at the very least a small amount every day with a long stretch every week. Unstructured free time, time clear from obligations, in which I can do whatever I want, helps me to feel free, to reflect on life and life lessons. I need unstructured time to live a happy life. Scheduling most of my free time, or spending my free time thinking about work left me feeling unsatisfied. It was excess thinking and doing. For another person it may have been just the right amount of thinking and doing, contributing to their happiness rather than draining it.

In "Tools of Titans" Scott Belsky reports "It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then. It's a source of creativity and perspective. The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned. If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations".  

I don't believe there is a clear answer for whether one should do more or do less. Finding a balance between more or less is always a personal journey that must be guided by your heart. Work on your goals, make your schedules and your to do lists, but take the time to reflect on what's actually effective and what's excess. This can be a great way to find and maintain balance, and learn through trial and error. Tune into how you're feeling, what energy is contributing and what energy is draining. Plan, strategize, and analyze, but still leave space in your schedule for improvising. Loosen your control over life, open up your schedule to allow for magic to happen.