What If "More" Is Not the Answer?


Recently, I’ve been thinking about our tendency (and particularly my tendency) towards “more” as a solution.

When we feel rushed off our feet, we think we need more time.When we feel stressed about finances, we think we need more money.When we’re not making the progress we want with a particular idea or project, we think we need to work harder and longer.When we don’t feel ready to take a big step in life, we think it’s because we need to wait until we have more knowledge or preparedness.

The result of this mindset is that we fall into the busy trap: we try to pile more and more and more onto our plates without remembering that if we want to add something to our life plate, we need to make room for it by taking something off too.

In the running world, there’s a condition called “runner’s fatigue”: some people who run long distances frequently without periodic tapering or adequate training find that their fitness level seems to drop, their recovery time lengthens, they stop being able to run as far and as quickly as they used to. Often, they think this is a sign they need to run more, to get out there more frequently and push themselves to build their fitness back up to what it was.

In reality, the only way to overcome runner’s fatigue is to run less; to devote proper time to recovery and to mix runs with swimming, cycling, or other cross-training. As counter-intuitive as it sounds, it's only through running less that their fitness and energy levels return to what they were before.

I have to remind myself of this periodically in business and personal projects. When things aren’t moving quite as fast as I want them to, I immediately jump to the conclusion that I need to do more—more blog posts, more marketing, more of all the things.

Most of the time, however, more is actually the problem. I over-commit, spread myself too thin, then feel overwhelmed and frustrated.

When I find myself in this place, I know it’s time to take a step back and, rather than doing more, to do less (easier said than done!) This is the time to re-prioritise, go back to my core values, and focus on the things that are really important. It’s also the time to remember that not everything is going to happen right now, and that that’s OK.

[Tweet "Sometimes, less leads to more."]

Rather than needing more time, maybe it’s about spending less time on commitments that are not longer serving us.Rather than earning more money, maybe it’s about spending less money on things that aren’t a priority to us.Rather than working longer or harder, maybe it’s about doing less busy work and focusing on the activities that will get us closer to where we want to be.Rather than needed more knowledge or preparedness, maybe it’s about having less expectations and attachment to a particular outcome and diving in with the intention to enjoy the process.

Today, I invite you to think of an area of your life where you’re telling yourself you need to do more or be more.

What if the path to satisfaction lies not in more, but in less?

Further reading: Cultivating Mindfulness, Curiosity and Creativity in Daily Life & How Looking Out Taught Me to Journey In