Lockdown has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life more than ever. Long walks in the countryside. Growing our own vegetables. Enjoying morning coffee with my wife. Being able to see friends and family freely (when we can!). Having time to read or listen to podcasts. The list is endless to be honest. These things surround us every day but we just never seem to get the time to fully appreciate them with our busy lives.
Having lots of time on my hands during lockdown has made me really think about the difference between wanting or needing something. It’s so easy to get caught up in the thought that we always need more of something. Whether it’s a bigger house, a promotion at work, that extra portion of food or that top of the range mountain bike you’ve had your eye on for a while. If you take a moment and really think about it, do you need it or do you just want it? A need is something you can’t do without, such as food or water. A want is something you would like to have, it’s a choice or a desire.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting better things in life, but understanding the difference between the things you want against the things you need is one of the most effective ways to gain clarity and improve the balance in your life.
Apart from food shopping or bits for our new vegetable garden we haven’t bought or done a lot over the last 12 weeks. Of course this isn’t the norm and will change once lockdown is completely over. The second our favourite restaurant or gin bar opens we will be there!
Stop and check mindset
Prior to lockdown I always used a ‘stop & check mindset’ for most things in my life. For example, if I’m thinking of buying something, I ask myself “do I need it or do I just want it?” Of course, there are many times when I buy something I want and don’t need! However, I’ve found this mindset really useful in other aspects of my life. Do I really need that second bar of chocolate? What do I need to be physically and mentally healthy? What do I want to achieve in my life?
Having a quality control check in my mind has made me much more productive in my personal and professional life. I am also aware that my wants and needs will be tested every single day. I’ve found that being grateful for the things that I do have around me gives me better balance and happiness inside. Focusing on the things that I do have instead of the things I don’t, brings me clarity. It also allows me to focus on the more important aspects of what life has to offer; those simple things that lockdown has highlighted. We all may have some of the same needs such as a roof over our heads, but our wants will be different.
Try this exercise:
Write down a list of around 8 – 12 things that you really need in your life. Then write a list of the things you really want in your life. Analyse both in detail and drop at least a quarter of the less important stuff on both lists. This provides clarity about your wants and needs and you can prioritise what is important to you.
This exercise helped me become more conscious of the things that I should really be concerned with. It also helped me focus on the things that are in my control, rather than thinking about the things that aren’t. This might seem like very simple straightforward logic, but many of us get dragged down by the fact that we can’t have more of the things we want, rather than the things we need. Life will continue if you don’t get what you want. It may just take a different path. Let’s face it, life is meant to be lived not survived, so focus on the needs/wants that are a priority to you.
We always have a choice in what we focus on or pay attention to and what we appreciate (or don’t!). Use your lockdown lessons to commit to appreciating the simple things in life or the the things you really enjoy.
Make the Change. Not tomorrow. Not next week, but NOW.