3-Month Simplicity Experiment

As you may have read in my last eZine, I decided to engage in a three month exercise of “clearing the decks” and making space for the new.  Wow, has it been amazing so far, albeit peppered with moments of total fear that I must be crazy taking so much time “doing nothing.”

I thought I’d share with you some of the insights, experiences, and challenges that have shown up along my journey, and if you’re interested, I’d be honored if you’d join me on this 3 Month Simplicity Experiment.

What Is the 3-Month Simplicity Experiment?

Here are the basic rules I’ve set forth for myself for the next 3 months (I’m already a month into the experiment):

#1 – Eliminate everything from your schedule that isn’t fully aligned with desire.

This step has been HUGE for me.  I did an inventory of all my activities and commitments and asked myself, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how much joy does this activity bring me?” I agreed with myself that anything that rates below an 8 has to go. I noticed that much of what I’ve been doing fell well below the level 8.  I realized that much of my life was not spent feeling inspiration and pleasure, but rather, obligation and pressure.

Once you identify all the activities that are not bringing you inspiration, it’s time to find ways to eliminate them from your life.  At first, it might seem impossible to stop doing some of the things on your list, and while it make take some time to disentangle yourself from some of the items on your list, know that most of them can be eliminated within a few days, if you make the powerful choice to do so.

To eliminate uninspiring activities from your list, you can…

  • Choose to let go of the activity all together. In my own experience, I discovered I had committed to activities that at one time were benefiting me in some way, but over time had lost their joy and purpose.  Simply choose to let these types of activities go. For me, this included certain networking activities, mastermind groups, and certain marketing activities.
  • Choose to delegate the necessities that you don’t enjoy doing. If you are like me, much of what you do could be delegated to someone else — washing dishes, bookkeeping, editing and publishing your ezine, cooking dinner, scheduling client sessions, and running payroll don’t have to be done by you.  Find ways to delegate to others what you aren’t totally inspired to do.
  • Establish boundaries that foster joy with yourself and others. Over the last month, I’ve discovered that there are examples of things that I love to do, that I do too much, which turns a labor of love into a labor of resentment.  For example, I love giving teleclasses to my communitity, but giving three per week is too much.  And I love coaching people, but every day all day leaves me drained and exhausted.  Where are you out of balance? Which activities are you doing too much of?  Which activities are overwhelming and exhausting you?

#2 – Add at least one day per week of free, unscheduled, time for creative play.

Literally, go to your calendar and mark one day each week for the next three months as your “Creative Play Day.” Creative Play Days are designed to take you into inspiration, pleasure, joy, nurturance, and bliss.  They are designed to help refill your creative coffers. They are food for your creativity.

The idea is to have a day of unscheduled creative play.  Here are some examples of Creative Play Days I’ve had so far…

  • On my first creative play day, I started the day by going to a dance class, followed by a long, slow walk through Central Park, and lunch at an outdoor cafe.  I sat for two hours reading a fiction book (had NOTHING to do with work; it was just something I longed to read). And then I went home and took a nap.  Ahhhh…..
  • On another creative play day, I again went to a dance class, followed by a hot bath, and then a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  I then met some friends for the Philharmonic in Central Park.  We had a spread of wine, cheese, fruit, pate, and pasteries… Heaven.
  • One day, I was inspired to put into action a book I’d read a while back, How To Double Your Income Doing What You Love. It was so much fun creating a plan for my life and business following this fun, inspiring process.  I did part of it while at one of my favorite cafes, and the rest of it laying on the blanket in the sun.
  • On another day, I felt tired and needing some R&R.  I scheduled a manicure, pedicure, and massage, and afterwards, went to a movie and ate popcorn.  It was wonderful.

The key is to hear your desire, and to follow it.

So far, I’ve found these days to be most inspiring.  I’m stunned by the inspiration, wisdom, and ideas that come from these Creative Play Days.  I’ve also noticed a huge surge in energy the day after a Creative Play Day.  I’m finding I have so much more to give to my clients and students when my cup is full.  And I have so much new wisdom to offer.  It has been tremendous.

Through these Creative Play Days I’m now starting to truly witness and experience what my wisdom has been telling me for years — LESS IS MORE!!  I’m also starting to really sense what I want and need, rather than just telling myself what to do all day every day.  It is offering a profound shift in myrelationship with myself — a shift toward respect and harmony, rather than force and obedience.

#3 – Take a break from will power.

My will power is truly one of my greatest gifts.  I’m certain that with my will (and I have a lot of it), I can do anything.

The trouble is that I tend to overuse will power.  Will power is meant to be a tool one can use in very specific moments.  But it shouldn’t be used all day every day, as many of us do.  Doing things because you’ve told yourself you have to keeps you not only void of joy, but also shut off from the vast, powerful sea of creative flow.

For the 3-Month Simplicity Experiment, I invite you to go bold and give up will power.  There are a few places that you might elect to use will power — but make sure you keep your use of will power to these purposes:

  1. You might use your will power for the purpose of honoring your decision to try out simplicity and peace for 3 months. (You might have to will yourself to sit down and relax, stop multitasking, and listen from within.)
  2. You might use your will power to honor your Creative Play Days (it might take will to keep yourself from turning your Creative Play Day into a regular work day).
  3. You might use your will power to eliminate activities that don’t rate at a joy level 8 or higher. (We tend to be adicted to our old ways of doing things.  Will power can gently help you overcome your addictions.)
  4. You might use your will power to let go of any old thoughts taking you away from your bliss. (You can gently remind yourself that a day at the beach is NOT self-indulgent, but rather is exactly what’s needed to nurture your creative soil.)
  5. You might use your will power to move self-care to the top of your list of priorities. (Your gentle will can help you put on your sneakers and get you out to the park to finally take that walk you’ve needed.)

Don’t use will power for anything else during these 3-months.  Just take a break from will power for these few months.  It’ll be there waiting for you afterwards.


#4 – Follow your bliss and notice your desire.

By eliminating joyless activities, taking Creativity Play Days, and taking a break from will power, you’ll start to open up some space in your days.  Space where you might feel a moment of confusion about what to do with yourself.  Space that was formerly occupied by old activities, habits, and responsibilities is now a clear canvas for you to paint on as you like.

This is the space where you will start to get to know you.  You’ll start to discover your desires, urges, impulses, and needs.  You’ll be able to detect longings that were long ago shut off from you, because there was no open receptor to receive them.

Your Creative Play Days are intended to be a beautiful, dedicated space for you to practice following your bliss and noticing your desires, but allow this practice to spill beyond your Creative Play Days and into every day.

Following your bliss might look like…

  • Feeling the urge to see a movie, and going right away to the theater
  • Sensing the need for a nap, and finding a soft down pillow to lay your head on
  • Wanting to explore an idea, and settling down with your journal to see where it takes you
  • Longing for connection and community, and heading to Omega Institute

It’s all about being present to the urges of the moment, and taking action that follows the urge.

While “following your bliss” is a practice of action, “notcing your desires” is a practice of reflection.

The practice of “noticing your desires,” asks you to observe yourself.  For example, here are some things I’ve noticed personally about my desires:

  • I love quite, solitary spaces where I can be free to explore the depths of me uninterrupted
  • I love heart-felt connection with my community
  • I love to write about transformation, creation, and success — pure bliss
  • I am moved and inspired by people who have the audactiy to believe they can (and do) make a difference in the world
  • I need time where my husband and I can be alone just the two of us
  • I love beautiful things — art, clothing, gardens, landscapes — and the more I am in beauty, the more at peace I feel
  • After a long day, I LOVE watching a cheesy sitcom on television — it brings me pure joy

#5 – Discover your Authentic Creativity Cycle.

Steps #1 through #4 will provide the space for you to discover your Authentic Creative Cycle.   Your Authentic Creative Cycle is the natural ebb and flow of creative inspiration for you.  We all move in cycles, and yet, without awareness of what our cycles are, or the needs we yearn for during different phases of our cycles, we might live our lives dishonoring our authenticity.  We might not give ourselves what we need, when we need it.

A classic example of a cycle that must be honored, or trouble can certainly begin, is the cycle of gestation and birth.  For humans, the 40 week gestational period is filled with cycles.  Some break it down into three trimesters.  For many women, the first trimester is a time when the body is going through tremendous homonal fluctuations as the body prepares for the new fetus within.  Women observe a variety of symptoms and needs during this phase — exhaustion, nausea, loss of appetite, increased appetite, craving of certain foods or smells, rejection of other foods and smells.  Imagine if a woman in her first trimester feeling completely exhausted, nauseous, and sickened by the smell of fish were to agree to give an overnight party at a fish market.  That would be crazy, right?

But we make horrific choices all the time that don’t honor our creative cycles.  We schedule things when we are tired.  We present in formats that don’t agree with our spirit.  We do things that feel disagreeable to our senses.  We are like the exhaused, nauseous, fish-hating woman giving an overnight party at a fish market.  By living this way, we do three things that keep us from success, prosperity, and all that we desire:

  1. We make ourselves sick.
  2. We dishonor whatever is trying to gestate within us.
  3. We abandon the natural instructions being fed to us, leading to a healthy and complete birth of something we will deeply cherish and love.

This is why it’s important for you to discover and embrace your Authentic Creativity Cycle.  To discover your Authentic Creativity Cycle, consider these questions:

  • What does your Authentic Creativity Cycle look like?
  • What are the stages or phases of your Authentic Creativity Cycle?
  • What do you need at each of those phases?  What will be nurturing to you and your creativity?
  • Do you tend to be creative in short or long bursts? When working on a project, do you naturally prefer to complete the project little bits at a time with lots of breaks? Or do you naturally prefer to dive in head first and not come out until you’re complete?  An how long are those bursts for you, ideally?
  • How much rest do you need?  Are there times when you tend to function best on less rest or more rest?
  • Do you prefer to work on one project at a time, or do you stay more inspired moving between projects throughout a given day/week/month?

Most of us (myself included until now), have been completely disconnected from our Authentic Creativity Cycles.  Rather, we have tried (mostly through will power) to adapt to the creative cycle given to us by society, which for those of us living in the U.S. looks something like this:

  • You work 9-6 Monday through Friday
  • You get weekends off
  • You get 2 weeks vacation per year
  • Working hard and being busy result in successful creation
  • Eat three meals per day, with dinner generally being the biggest meals
  • Exercise twice each week
  • Sleep 6-8 hours each night (the less you sleep the more busy you must be, and therefore the more successful you are at creating you must be)
  • Do somthing fun and inspiring twice each month
  • Take time for yourself three hours per month

What I’m learning is that my Authentic Creativity Cycle is nothing AT ALL like the standard creative cycle given to us here in the U.S.  I’m still exploring mine, but for me personally, I am seeing it looks more l ike this…

  • I am a focused creator, meaning I work best with few distractions
  • Multi-tasking is disruptive to my natural creative process
  • I tend to create very intensely without breaks for many hours at a time, going over many days, and even weeks
  • An ideal work week for me includes 1-2 days of uninterupted creative work by myself; 1 day coaching or connecting with others all day long with a few brief breaks;  1-2 days Creative Play; 1 day of administration.
  • I typically have intense creative cycles that last 2-3 months; these are perfect times for me to complete projects (books, programs, products, client assignments, etc.). During these times, my work week time shifts towards this project, aligning Creative Play Days toward the manifestation of the current creation.
  • After an intense 2-3 month creative cycle, I need 2-3 months of downtime, where I take a few weeks off all together, and I shift into more Creative Play during the weeks that I choose to “work.”
  • After intensie periods of creativity, I need long periods of uniterupted rest and play
  • In general, distractions of any kind are very upsetting to me
  • I need lots of sleep (9-10 hours and sometimes more)
  • Exercise in the morning boosts my energy and brings me into my creative center — exercise is essential for my creativity to flourish
  • Connecting daily to my inner wisdom is essential to staying aligned and connected with the natural flow of creative energy coming i and through me
  • Being in a beautiful environment is very nurturing to me – having plants, music, paintings, etc. are very important components of my creativity
  • Maintaining a healthy body with fresh fruits, veggies, and lean meats gives me energy and strength
  • Looking and feeling beautiful inspires me — it helps me feel that I am living the beautiful life that I dream of — having manicured hands and feet, groomed hair, and feminine, flattering clothing allows me to feel like the woman I’m here to be — and this is essential for my creativity

This is what I’ve learned so far about my Authentic Creativity Cycle.  I’m sure I’ll continue to discover more as time goes on.  And I also sense that one’s Authentic Creativity Cycle changes over time, so paying close attention to it always, is essential ongoing.

Are You Willing To Participate?

If the 3 Month Simplicity Experiment calls to you, please share your comments, questions, and observations here on my blog.

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17 Responses to “3-Month Simplicity Experiment”

  1. Kym Coco Says:

    This experiment sounds fantastic. I am going to print this out and begin taking a look inward before I begin. I do a lot of this already, but organizing it and committing to it sounds great!

  2. Karen Wythe Says:

    Hi Coco,
    I would love to join in on the 3-Month Simplicity Experiment. I have recently learned I am over planning life… a symptom of fear of life’s demands and uncertainties getting in the way of my living. Fear of not being able to do the things I want to do. Time to take a deep breath & acknowledge there is enough time for all I am here to accomplish. This gentle reminder is most welcome.

    I am not totally sure of what my Authentic Creativity Cycle looks like, but like you I have always been a focused creator. I immerse for intense bursts. Then I need that personal creative play based in a simple lifestyle which rewards & rejuvenates me the most. This week I shall fully explore steps 1-5 & see what else I learn about my Authentic Creativity Cycle.

    Three months of doing Nothing??? Ah, no, I see this as three months of allowing life to unfold with a beautiful journey of spectacular happenstance & understanding. All of which I may miss if I really stick to all my Task lists and to do lists…. Thank you for this offer of encounter new freedom.
    I have no fear of missing out on something I need to accomplish because if it must be done my soul will guide me, & I Do Trust it can only lead me in right action.
    Let the Experiment Begin!
    Blessings on our Journey.
    Karen

  3. Morgine Says:

    Coco,

    Thank you for sharing. I have written down similar words about the space I desired to create for myself doing this journey. We came to very similar conclusions. I am doing similar things in my own way on a smaller scale. I truly believe in my heart life was meant to be easier and more joyful and more effortless. It requires releasing old habits and ways of being. I am very aware the less than ideal life I am living I AM creating daily with my thoughts words and actions of which I am unaware of at times. I take full responsibility for it! I also have that longing and guidance to do what feeds my heart and soul and brings me the greatest joy, and that requires a journey like you are taking. The guidance is always there, gently nagging us and never letting go…smile.

    You have spent years creating a lifestyle which “allows” you to follow through. You have been able to manifest the means by which to follow your inner guidance and take those steps. Those of us who are still working on earlier steps … like creating some income, are not as free to delegate all those tasks which do not bring us joy to someone else. I have a list similar to yours….smile. We lack the means or income to do so. Instead I have to find a different Perspective which allows me to complete these tasks which must be done with greater joy and no resentment, since I cannot hire someone else to do them for me.

    While one part of me believes “I believe” life was meant to be that way, I must practice daily, keeping my vibration up and acting “as if” because my environment only supports that as far as I can create it to. Meanwhile I work at becoming more aware and releasing those habitual patterns of thoughts, words and actions which have kept me manifesting my less in ideal life, so to speak. I would LOVE to JOIN YOUR experiment, however, I am unsure it is possible regardless of where you are and what your situation is. Do you feel this is accessible to anyone regardless of their state of finances? I am curious and interested as I always continue to learn from you!

    Love & Magic, Morgine .

  4. Segretta Woodard Says:

    Greetings Coco:

    I am with you. I have major commitment/desire to meet, which can only be accomplished through simplification!

  5. Kim Sibbitt Says:

    Hi Coco,
    Thank you for your fabulous insight into developing our personal creative cycles. I am learning to be very protective of and cherishing my creative space. I like to call it a healthy selfishness. I am on board for the three month + journey.
    Much love’n’light,
    Kim

  6. Tara Wernsing Says:

    hi Coco,

    I’m on board…

    I totally relate to most everything you’ve posted…and am doing my best to to live everyday guided by source from within. I also know I prefer 8-9 hours sleep per day, plus often a siesta at about 2pm. and know I work best with intense periods of work (days of 12 hours+) then days of doing nothing.

    the idea of choosing solely based on alignment is ideal, but I know there will times I will be tired and feeling resistance (to teaching a class, for example, yesterday;) and I choose to do it anyway. I can eliminate everything else, but my teaching schedule. now I do have some control over that about 4 months in advance, so I can plan well, knowing what I know about how I work best. what that will take is greater discernment, requesting what I need, then saying no when people try to get me to do what they want.

    so here’s to another level of authenticity and truth!
    Tara

  7. Marifran Says:

    Hi Coco,
    My reaction is: “Count me in.” Being with you in spirit, I am taking on as much of this as I can presently.

    Because of prior commitments and projects that affect large groups of people, I’m not in a position to scale back on everything that I’d like to. Then again, I can change how I hold those things, seeing them as growth experiences. By mid- October, I’ll be more freed up from two major projects.

    What I’m hearing is your call to bring more ease and joy into life and skip what is not entirely essential. I think that you’re not saying we need only to do just what is easy, but to do what we love most while having extreme self-care wherever possible.

    Sometimes what I have to do and would prefer to not do, is actually the perfect thing for me to do. So wanting to do something is not always the distinguishing factor for me. When I check in, my inner wisdom at times advises me to take on uncomfortable things. When I follow that, things turn out better than I could have imagined.

    What your describing may be what is called Enlightened Self Interest. It is the antithesis of selfishness, since you are making yourself available to Spirit.

    Thanks for being on the cutting edge. You’re always ready to take your life, and ours, to the next level.
    Keep having fun,
    Marifran

  8. Lisa B Says:

    Coco,

    I applaud you for taking this experiment on. From one over-achiever to another, I can only imagine the “conversation” your ego tried to have with you. 🙂 Kudos for listening to your wisdom and following thru–even when it doesn’t make sense.

    I am excited about joining you (and the others) on this leg of the journey. I thoroughly enjoyed our coaching time today and spent the rest of the afternoon coloring and reading. Now I am off to curl up with a cup of tea and a book. Thank you for helping me let go.

    Lisa

  9. Hampers Says:

    It was nice to know about your 3-Month Simplicity Experiment. it looks great. Would love to experiment it myself. keep it up the good work.

  10. Jan Taylor Says:

    Aloha,
    I enjoyed and took to heart much of what you have to say here…thank you for sharing and Joanne for passing it on in her emails…
    funny how life works, as I just started thinking along these trails of thought, and here you are…
    Mahalo, and may we all stir the Creative Juices this Summer!
    Jan

  11. Donna Says:

    Hi, Coco–

    Thanks to our Wisdom Session last week, this new experiment is landing in a very fertile place for me. I have always been one for structure, programming, linear thinking, and attempts to focus on a niche, rather than allowing myself the understanding that I’m not a ‘one thing’ sort of person. The idea of honoring my own cycle of creativity feels like a huge “aaahhhhh!”

    I may be doing this in a modified form, but count me in. The thing is, even if what I have already committed to may not bring me immediate joy, completing the projects will bring a lot of satisfaction (and ultimately a lot of joy to a lot of people). This is a matter of aligning with Desire, and Desire isn’t a one-day or one-week ‘wanna feel good’ sort of thing. It’s a call to follow my design for growth, which means heading out of my comfort zone.

    How synchronistic!

    Blessings abounding,
    Donna

  12. Carolyn Ellis, BrillianceMastery.com Says:

    Hey Coco!

    You are just so fantastic — I love this idea of simplicity and putting it into action the way that you have! I do feel challenged in this time of acceleration and awakening in particular to keep that open, unstructured creative time in my life. Your experiences are so enlightening. One powerful exercise I did last year, and will be doing again this month, is to have a Day of Awakening. To consciously live a day as if it was your last day on earth – what would you notice? What comes up? How would you spend it, and with whom?

    Thanks for the inspiration and I’m game! Thank you as always for the invitation to always see with clearer eyes, live with a more open heart and allow Spirit more room to play with me.

    Love and light
    Carolyn

  13. Karen Wythe Says:

    Hi,
    How is everybody doing? Simply…I am just flowing… I am thinking of you in wonderment, taking a deep breath & Loving this Moment….
    Blessings on you Day,
    Karen

  14. Mary Carlomagno Says:

    I think this is great. As an author, consultant and speaker on simplicity, I totally embrace your experiment! Brava!

  15. Are You Willing To Journey Within? « WorldChangingBusiness Blog Says:

    […] in part, why I decided to do the 3-Month Simplicity Experiment, (read more about it at https://worldchangingbusiness.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/3-month-simplicity-experiment), where I have […]

  16. Compass Life Designs » Are You Willing To Journey Within? Says:

    […] in part, why I decided to do the 3-Month Simplicity Experiment, (read more about it at https://worldchangingbusiness.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/3-month-simplicity-experiment), where I have […]

  17. Christmas Hampers Says:

    Is there a follow up post after the 3 months? Cant seem to find it.

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