I think this is fast becoming my new maxim.
We’re in the process of designing and building a brand new site for Dizzyjam, and throughout the process we’ve been keenly spotting opportunities to remove a paragraph here, strip out a step of the sign-up process there, and just delete pages altogether. The simpler it is, the better for our users and customers.
But it’s something I’ve been trying to install into my life as well. Yesterday I was in a really crappy mood. I was tired anyway, but I just had too much to do, and as a result ended up doing very little of it. For the last few months I’ve slowly been dealing with the aftermath of moving house, getting rid of unwanted stuff, changing address on accounts for things I’d forgotten about etc etc. And over the last few days I’ve had the quadruple whammy of having to sort out the MOT for my car, get a new tyre, inform the DVLA of the address change, and start getting quotes for insurance. Partly due to my inefficiencies, and partly due to the inefficiencies of the systems used by those organisations responsible, the whole thing has eaten up a considerable chunk of my week.
And all for what? A car. One solitary possession, albeit a fairly major one, had taken up all that time just to maintain. Imagine what all the other myriad possessions are doing to my time in terms of storage, upkeep, renewal, disposal etc etc. Never mind the environmental and ethical implications of every purchase. The emotional baggage with each possession is enough to drive most of us into the ground!
I gave a talk a while back about my desire to simplify my life, and the last few days have been hammering it home again. Could I rely on public transport, and hire a car when I needed to? Maybe.
But I stumbled across a great article about fell-running, which explored the themes of risk, the wilderness and personal challenge. The following few lines really made me sit up straight. I read them over and over again. And yes, apart from the challenge, this is EXACTLY why I love running, mountain walking and exploring off the beaten track. Some of the wisest words I’ve ever seen written, and all tucked away in the online archives of a newspaper….
“Later, taking a last peek out of our tent door in the hope of discerning a star or two in the cloud-black sky before sinking into the sweetest of exhausted sleeps, we concluded that this was the nub of the matter. We are richer now than we were in Brasher’s day, richer than our parents or grandparents were; but we are also more stressed, more deeply in thrall to the addictions of getting and spending. We have more possessions, and they tyrannise us. Each new mod con must be shopped for, maintained, insured, upgraded; each new thing must be stored, kept track of, kept secure, tidied; each new debt must be serviced; and the whole package is paid for in overwork, time poverty, 24/7 availability and 24/7 insecurity. We have more, and we have less.
In such a world, freedom is both more precious and more elusive. And one of the few surefire ways of liberating ourselves from the tyranny of the consumer society is to put ourselves beyond its reach. This is one of the attractions of all long days in the hills: you escape from all those things”.
And the thing is, we constantly strive for more. For the next thing, promotion, acquisition… And when we get there? The target moves or changes. The grass becomes greener just over that hill. We constantly have a target. And we’re never going to reach one that completely satisfies us, are we?
As an entrepreneur my life is a constant set of targets and goals. But I do them for the challenge and the excitement, not so I can acquire more stuff. But it’s an interesting dilemma. Entrepreneurship is so often about the acquisition of wealth. I want it to be about the acquisition of life….
Photo Credit: “Sunset Runner” joshjanssen @ flickr. Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.