Stand Tall & Own It

Unlocking a Better Life with Simplification

September 18, 2023 Andrea Johnson
Stand Tall & Own It
Unlocking a Better Life with Simplification
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Imagine waking up each day with a newfound clarity, free from the weight of unnecessary clutter in your life. Sounds refreshing, doesn't it? In today’s episode, I take you through my personal transformative process that altered my life in profound ways.

The process of Simplification.

From enhancing decision-making abilities to boosting my quality of life, I share how this seemingly straightforward concept can have far-reaching implications. Simplification isn't just about decluttering your physical space. It's an internal process that calls for understanding your Core Values, deconstructing your own Assumptions, Beliefs and Conditioning (A,B,C’s), and reconstructing it with Intentional Optimism.

Stripping down to the essential elements in various aspects of life - including my faith, business, and personal style - has propelled me to adopt a proactive approach. This journey often means stepping out of our comfort zone, challenging our deepest beliefs, and making impactful changes, but the result? A simplified and fulfilled life enriched with peace of mind.

My hope is that by sharing how simplification has played a key role in my life, I inspire you to embark on this rewarding journey, yourself.

Stand tall and own it, my strong friend! Let's dive into the power of simplification and witness the transformation it can bring about in our lives.

Learn more here:
What Is Intentional Optimism?
Get involved!
Core Values Course

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Andrea:

You're listening to Stand Tall and Own it, the podcast for high performing female leaders who are ready to make an impact by discovering the safety that comes from understanding their own value and exercising their own authority. I'm your host, Andrea Johnson, and I'm here to tell you it is time to just truly be you, my strong friend. It's time to Stand Tall and Own it. Hey, welcome to Stand Tall and Own it. I am your host, Andrea Johnson. Do you over complicate things? I'm just going to answer for you. Yes, you do. We all do. We do to such an extent that many times we have to like totally stop everything and start over. In the last episode, I mentioned that my business and my message had been through a long simplification process, and I'd like to expand on that idea today. I'd like to explain to you how my again entire life, my brand and my message has gone through this process, what it means, what it looks like, how you can do it if you choose to, but really I want to look at the power of doing that process and what that does in our lives. You know about every four years I go through kind of a cycle of needing to clean out. Are you like me in that respect. Do you kind of look around your house or your office or your yard and say, how did I get all this stuff? If you're a parent, your children collect a lot of things, right? My sister was really good about going through once a year and kind of cleaning out all the toys and making sure that they had room for anything that was going to come in at birthday or Christmas. Well, I personally am on the tail end of a longer simplification process than I've done in pretty much any area of my life. It's a pretty intense two years of simplifying kind of everything. But it started with my faith and partly because that was my biggest identity and as I'll share in a minute. We many times think of simplifying as decluttering and cleaning things out, but a lot of times it means actually taking things down to their simplest and most pure expression, and that was what I had to do and that's what I've been doing over the last couple of years. But it also changed the way I relate to my community. That's much more simplified my health, my food, my exercise, the way I sleep, the habits that I've decided to adopt. They're not more complex, they're much simpler, little things like my personal expression and the way I present myself. I will share in a little while. I quit coloring my hair we're six months into that. I quit putting gel on my nails little things.

Andrea:

I simplified my closet this is a big one that people like to do, and I started. I was a Stitch Fix customer and I started telling them I want things that I can use for three seasons, please. So I want pieces that layer. I don't want to have to switch out summer clothes to fall clothes to winter clothes. I want them to be. I want it to be simplified. But then I simplified my business. I reduced the amount of technology, I closed accounts, I simplified my message, and this is where it comes down to how I work with my clients and you specifically.

Andrea:

And this was my biggest aha when it comes to simplification is that it's the simple principles of who I am and who you are that affect every other aspect of our lives. If you've heard me talk about Core Values at all, if you've seen any of my posts out there about Core Values, if you've taken my Core Values course, you know that when you understand your Core Values, everything becomes clearer, and the reason that is is because it makes everything much more simple. So what is simplification? Formally, we've thought of it as kind of decluttering, and most of us do it kind of outside of ourselves. Right, we, we want to take care of things in our home or in our closet, like I said, or our yard. But I'm starting to see, or I really come to understand, that true simplification is not the physical things, the physical things in our lives and simplifying those things are an outward expression and sometimes we use them as a way to influence what's going on inside, but the best and most effective and most powerful simplification comes from inside out. So now I work on the non physical things, stripping down everything to the core principles and the essentials of what we need to function well, to flourish, to thrive.

Andrea:

And so today we're going to look at three main things. We're going to look at the process of simplification I'll explain that to you what I see it as, what I see it to be and the way I use that word. The benefits of simplification, why we want to do it, what we get out of it because it's not an easy process usually. And then the universal application of simplification. It works everywhere and we're going to look at that in just a minute, but I want to start with the process of simplification.

Andrea:

Now, almost every process of simplification includes at least some of each of these three aspects. The first is deconstruction. Right, we love to watch Top Chef, so when we think about deconstructing food, they will almost always have Some kind of a challenge where they have to deconstruct a meal and it may be that they're given a traditional food that they have to like, deconstruct and put on the plate and have it be a representation of that food. It may be in faith, like I've explained before, and how I've deconstructed the things that were kind of outside of me and things that were external adaptations or things I'd taken on, and stripped some of those away and decided what I wanted to take on and what I decided to. I decided to let go.

Andrea:

But even in the way I do business, what are some things that I want to do in my business and what things do I not Taking, like, like I said earlier, getting rid of certain pieces of technology, saying you know why am I paying for this? I'm not going to use it, I don't. I don't know whether or not I will have a membership community, stay tuned, but I'm just not sure that that's going to be a good expression of my business and how it works. But even just moving through life, deconstructing how I do that, saying, do I want to make sure that I attend certain types of events or participate in certain kinds of social things? So deconstructing is the process of just taking it down to the bones and saying whatever it is.

Andrea:

Because a lot of times you know, we assume and that's one of the things we talk about and I talk about with my clients is what are our assumptions here? And a lot of times we assume that we know the answer. Right, we look at, for instance, a really good example on Top Chef with the food would have been take this shepherd's pie that consists of lamb and peas and carrots and mashed potatoes all layered together and deconstruct that. And when they come up to the judges with a plate I'm thinking well, I see lamb and peas and potatoes and carrots, but is that really a shepherd's pie? So what is the you know? Assuming that we know what shepherd's pie looks like, or assuming that I know what how faith should be expressed in a community, or assuming I know that a certain business should look a certain way or my career path should look a certain way. Those are assumptions that, in doing the deconstruction process of simplifying, have to toss right in order to change the things that I believe, because, you know, a lot of times we believe that.

Andrea:

Here's the like adulting is hard, right, and we love the memes, don't we? I mean, I've got a 14, almost 15 year old and I made, I made, I taught him how to do his laundry in sixth grade mostly it was. I Took him to the laundry room and I said this is the last time I'm ever doing your laundry unless you are on death's door. And I said here's the instructions. The sticky note is still in there, and so from the time he was 12, he's been doing his own laundry. Adulting doesn't have to be hard, it can be simple, and we believe that just because we get older, everything gets more complicated. Oh well, that's an adult problem. It doesn't have to be. We can challenge those two right, so we can deconstruct all of it.

Andrea:

The second piece that usually has a piece or is included in the simple case simplification process and it's a little bit more obvious, is just the idea of decluttering, getting rid of the excess. What do I have too much of? It's super simple to see in a house decluttering or an office or even just a room decluttering process. I used to watch a show on HDTV and I meant to look up the gentleman's name but he's still in business but he had a show where he would literally pull everything out of the house and he had three tarps. One was the things that were going back in the house, one was the things that were going to the dump and one was the things that were going to be sold. Well, that right there tells you that only a third of the items are going back in the house, because if it didn't fit on the tarp it didn't go back in the house, and getting rid of the excess of anything that we do Is a difficult process. There were many tears shed over the silver or the dresser that was their moms, or the memories that were associated with a particular book and watching him walk them through this idea that the memories are what you have. The things don't have to stay with you. If you declutter them, your life will be simpler and you will be able to have all those memories and remember them because you're not cluttered up right and we have this, for instance.

Andrea:

Another area of decluttering would be and I'm going to share in a minute with my own personal illustration is our calendars. Get full right when we say, hey, how are you doing Somebody I hadn't seen in a long time? Oh, I'm just busy. Busy with what? Oh, I'm taking the kid here and doing that and my job is I'm working overtime and doing all these things. And we have this conditioned understanding that busy means productive. Well, I'm here to tell you that it usually doesn't.

Andrea:

Now, there is an old adage that busy people get things done, and that's true. Some people, you know, when you're in the mode of actually doing things, we tend to get more things done. So if you want something accomplished, give it to a busy person. But we don't have to believe that everything is better when you have more right. If you eat too many immanims, you're going to get sick.

Andrea:

So getting rid of the excess means that we take it down to simple, bare bones, and the third piece that simplification almost always includes is cleaning out. Right, it's getting into all the nooks and crannies. My screen and porch has not yet really been cleaned this year, and we're in September. That means I haven't used it much. My husband got out there with a shot vac and did vacuuming, but I'm like, oh, that's just the start. I can see all the spider webs in different places. I can see all the the, the dust, bunnies and the dirt and even just all the stuff.

Andrea:

But we don't want to, a lot of times, see what's in there and so we don't want to do the work of simplifying and cleaning out. But the belief that what's in there isn't good for instance, when you clean out your couch and you find all that extra change, it's actually a good thing, even though you do have to like vacuum up all of the popcorn kernels and the crumbs from the pretzels and all that icky stuff. But just because we don't want to see what's inside, we push off doing this cleaning out. And the belief that what's inside isn't good is what holds us back. So challenging our beliefs there and being able to say, when we know our core values, being able to say, oh, I know what's in there, or I know that when I clean out all that junk out of my screen and porch, I'm going to be able to spend time out there in the cool mornings in the fall or in the evenings. Then I'm able to actually do that work.

Andrea:

But the other piece that we come up against in cleaning out when we're talking about internal stuff is this belief that maybe we're not good enough, that maybe what I find isn't going to be good enough, and so I think that's part of being able to challenge the ideas, is doing the process of simplifying challenges all of that for us and shows us the value and the worth that is really there, because it's just like taking a raw diamond and chiseling off and cleaning off and cutting down all the rock and all of the stuff that doesn't belong there into the beautiful stone that it actually is. So those three aspects are usually included in simplification, but for me, the way I use the word is that simplification is a journey. It is not a one time one, done one and done kind of thing. It is a journey from reaction to pro action. It is a journey from being overwhelmed to being in control. It is a journey from lack of understanding to understanding, but I love to say it's the journey from reaction to pro action. I think that describes it the best. Let me illustrate. What happens when I get overwhelmed is that I hit reaction mode. We all do this. Even if it's just one day. I hit reaction mode with my son the other day and it actually was just yesterday and I actually I went to him afterwards and I said I'm sorry, I was overwhelmed, I was reacting, I was not in proactive mode. I apologize, because here's the deal Getting to pro action is not an immediate switch. It's not just something you flip on or switch off. It takes time and intention. Let me share what it looked like for me specifically.

Andrea:

Last fall, november of 2022, I hit a brick wall. How did I get there? Well, I was doing a lot of the things that just on kind of believing and assuming that I had the answers, I was believing that I was doing the things that I was supposed to do. I was on the hamster wheel, I had allowed myself to get busy and I wasn't paying attention. And when I hit that brick wall in early November of 2022, here's what happened to me I went into flight mode. It was extreme stress. There were some things going on at our church. I just wanted out. I wasn't sleeping, I was angry, I was detached, my anxiety was huge. It was way up, I was eating poorly, I gained weight, I was exercising too much with no real benefit. Like I was really, like I ended up injuring myself. I was unhappy with my hair, my makeup, my clothes, everything.

Andrea:

I felt like everything I said and did virtually oozed this icky reaction energy and my realization that I was in reaction mode just kicked me into a bigger reaction. So what I do, the first thing I do, is I just quit everything that. I could have you ever done this, like my family jokes and my friends jokes Like oh she in burn it down mode, because every once in a while I hit that. But I quit everything. I stopped recording solo podcast episodes because I just couldn't figure out how I could say things in a positive way or that could help you.

Andrea:

When I was in that state, that mental state, I began blocking off my calendar, saying no to absolutely anything that I could, and I retreated into what I call my turtle shell to basically just survive the holidays. I felt, and pretty much was so completely and utterly far away from me. That's what reaction mode looked like for me. It was horrible. I just I felt terrible. I felt detached and discouraged and like I had questions like why am I even in business for myself? What am I doing? Why am I recording a podcast. Who do? I think I am teaching a Sunday school class? These are the things I was thinking. Fortunately, because of all the work that I've done, it didn't take too much or too long or too many strategic coaching conversations to put me back into the proactive mode and mindset and to set me on that journey. But that's what reaction looks like.

Andrea:

What does pro action look like? Hey, I hope you're enjoying this episode, whether you're a long-time listener or if you've just discovered us. If this episode inspires you, it would mean so much to me If you would scroll down on your Apple app, tap the five-star review and write a simple sentence or two. No, you don't need to write an essay, just let me know what resonates with you. When you do this, you're letting me and my team know that this is the kind of content that is valuable to you and what we can offer you in the future. It also lets other listeners know that this show is valuable and worth their time to listen. You can stand tall and own the impact you have by taking just a few seconds to leave us a review. Who knew it could be that simple? And now back to the show.

Andrea:

Pro action looks like being on your toes. I grew up watching tennis. I grew up in the glory days of Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi and Bjorn Borg and well, right after McEnroe, I mean Yvonne Lendl I mean I enjoyed watching tennis. It was a sport that was played. I grew up in Korea and it was a sport that was played a lot in our community. And being on your toes as a tennis player or a baseball player or any football player almost any sport you have to be on your toes in order to be able to move quickly. Because if you're on your heels and you're waiting for somebody like Yvonne Lendl to serve to you, the ball is going to go flying past you at 90 miles an hour. It's going to fly and you're not going to get it.

Andrea:

So being in reaction would be off on your heels, but being in pro action mode, you're on your toes. You're like become more ready for some kind of action. You have your head up rather than down. Right, when you're in reaction mode, you're looking inside, you're looking down at yourself, you're trying to figure out what's going wrong, and you don't have your head up. But when you're in pro action mode, your head is up, you're looking down the road and you're saying, oh, there's a car I need to pass down there or wow, there's a hurdle coming that I need to get ready to actually jump over. So, basically, it gives you foresight. When you're in pro action mode, you have foresight to see the next steps. You start predicting things that might happen. You start understanding. When you see certain steps happen or certain incidents happen, you start understanding what's coming next. It gives you the ability to take action before the catastrophe. It gives you the ability to start making some changes before you hit the brick wall.

Andrea:

So what did I do initially to go from reaction mode to pro action mode? I started working from the outside, in which is we all do this. It's the easiest place to start. We do this all the time, like I said, with our house, but for me, the biggest deal was on my time, and so one of the things I did was I had my dear coaching friend said you need to do yourself a favor and go one year from today on your calendar and write a note to yourself that basically says I'm never doing this again. Today, in November of 2023, and I was actually kind of looking ahead in my calendar I saw that note that I'd written to myself. It's like an all day meeting that I put in there and it basically says you need to stop for just a minute and remember what it was like a year ago, because you don't want to do that this year. You don't want to be that person this year.

Andrea:

So I'm reminding you, andrea, of 2023, block off time on your calendar for the holidays. Do not take clients up until two days before Christmas. Block off entire days to do house decorating and to go to parties, and make sure that you end your days by a certain amount of, by a certain time each day, so that you have time in the evening with to watch the holiday movies. Yes, I love the Netflix or the Hallmark holiday movies. They're just great. They just really give me a lot of joy. But paying attention to where my son is blocked off in the calendar from Thanksgiving and then all the way through, he's got three weeks off in the holidays Do I want to spend that time with him? Yeah, because he's taken the bus now and I'm not driving him to school anymore, so I want to spend time with my son during the holidays.

Andrea:

The other thing I did was I realized I had no creative time I was just chugging along, chugging, chugging, chugging. So I blocked off one month a quarter for just creativity time. So I tend to do more of my podcasting in those months. I do more of my writing. I learn more in those months and I'll tell you about them in just a second. I also rescheduled my recurrent client meetings and kind of grouped them into two days every other week, which meant I had a week and a half between each meeting and it meant that they were not just spread all over my calendar and I could be in the right mindset to meet with them and to meet them where they are and to coach them the best.

Andrea:

I did little things, like I cleaned out all my old makeup. You ladies do this. I have lipsticks that were 20 years old because I didn't use them a lot, but they were Estee Lauder, so I didn't want to toss them Please. I cleaned it out, I tossed stuff and, like I alluded to earlier, I decided to quit coloring the roots of my hair. This was something I've done my own hair, like cutting and coloring, for years, and part of that's because I can and part of it's because I know what I want. But I decided to quit doing all the coloring because, number one, it was taking up a lot of time, it was costing me money, but the other thing was it just didn't feel authentic anymore. So we're six months into it. If you're watching the video, you can see I still have a little bit of blonde. But it's a wait and see project and you know, when I'm eight or nine months into it and it looks like it's totally done, I'll do like a full reveal.

Andrea:

But I decided to do all of this and then I realized, once I started doing those things, this, I started feeling a little different and I said oh, you know what? I already know how to do this from the inside out. I just not just, but I've been on this faith simplification journey for two years. So I said you know what I'm going to work from the inside out. And I reminded myself I did a couple things of my core values. What are my core values If everything else were gone in my life and I had to live with only myself? You know, if you're on a desert island, that's where your core values are really going to show up. So what remains? What do I want to focus on? What are the things or the people or the incidents or the or the events that are most important to me.

Andrea:

I have a sign that my sister made me that I can see from sitting right here at my desk. I can see. It says collect moments, not things. And I like things, don't get me wrong, I like nice things, but I'm more interested in collecting moments, and I had to remind myself of that. And then I had to sit down and just have a really good heart to heart and say what's the reason I'm in business? Right, these are the things that I did to turn myself from reactive to proactive. I started getting curious and asking myself these questions.

Andrea:

So here I am, september of 23. Where am I? Well, march, june and September we're all blocked off months and they're not perfect. But, oh my goodness, it just makes a difference to be able to say you know, I'm not taking a lot of calls, I'm not doing all my my. You can't book a call with me without my permission, like through my link. You cannot book with me in any of those months. One of the months that's blocked off for that is December, which means I can be very intentional about what I put there and how I spend my holidays. I'm almost a year into my new client schedule and it has made all the difference in the world, believe it or not. It didn't just help me, it helped my clients, because many of them are corporate clients in the same organization and they all get coached within the same two day period, and that makes a huge difference. Here I am in September. My rebranding is done, my have a new podcast, my my message, though, is so dialed in, and it's just so much more simple that it feels easy to share. It's not complicated I'm not trying to remember an elevator speech, because it's my core value message, right?

Andrea:

So, this process of deconstruction, decluttering, cleaning out, and because I'm on this journey of reaction to proaction, what are the benefits of that? It's not just landing in a place, y'all, it's the journey itself, and the very first benefit is that it brings clarity to everything. I see things with new eyes. You know, a lot of times we assume that simple equals sparse or unrefined, rough or even a lack of beauty, and the reality is not even close. Some of them more simple, like if you watch, like again, I watch, I love watching project runway and top chef, and in those where they're creating very simple items. They have to be more clear, they have to be more precise and more perfect.

Andrea:

But the other thing I have clarity with is understanding the next steps, being able to see. I don't have to have the whole map. It's okay to not know all the answers, but I do be. I do know the next step, I can see it. We are conditioned to think that we need the whole journey, the whole map, right, we are conditioned to think that and I'm one of those people this is a hard journey for me, or this process is hard for me, but I'm one of those that puts my information into the GPS and then I zoom out so I can see the entire route, because I want to know what, all the different turns that it's taking me on, so that I have a better idea of what's coming up. But then I zoom back out and I'm okay, I don't have to know the entire journey, I can know the next step and I have that clarity, which also gives me much easier time, a much easier time in decision making. So the second piece and the second benefit is decision making becomes much simpler because I trust myself to make good decisions.

Andrea:

Do you trust yourself to make good decisions If you had to get rid of a few things you know on. Let's say, we cleaned out your dining room or we cleaned out your kitchen and put all your junk on your dining room table. If there's a hundred items on your dining room table, it's very difficult to decide. But if I said, keep five things, you would hone in really fast, like this is a non-negotiable. This is non-negotiable. And then you discover that you have a belief system that tells you I can do this, whereas before, just looking at 50 things, I can't make this decision. This is too hard. I don't know how to do this, but when I, when you simplify it and you bring it down, you change that belief to oh, I did this before. That's the most important thing, this is the next most important thing. And then each of your decisions becomes easier than the last, always leaving room for adjustment because again, we're on a journey. This isn't a destination.

Andrea:

But the third and the biggest and the most valuable and powerful benefit of simplification is peace, peace of mind. In the last episode, I shared with you that my way of recharging is starting and completing projects that have to do with something in my environment. If it's painting the like this wall back here in my if you're looking at this on video my basement when we moved in was all brown paneling and I got lots of compliments on what my little studio might look like. But the before we even moved into the house, before the trucks came up here, I came here early and painted my entire basement because I knew that I would never be able to do it with all the stuff in it and I knew I couldn't live with those brown walls. When I can see the changes and understand that the objective of creating an environment for me is peaceful or energetic, like if you go into other rooms you're going to feel very energized, but my guest bedroom has lots of oranges and yellows. It's very. I want guests to feel happy when they walk in.

Andrea:

Imagine doing this in your heart or your spirit. That's what I've done in my faith simplification. Imagine doing this in your mind or your thought process. That's what working on your core values does for you. Imagine doing this in your house or any other area of your oh your career right. Imagine understanding who you are and knowing that career path is not for me. That was not for me. Oh, that only leaves these two, because I know I would, based on who I am, would never work with those. So I'm going to go this direction. That is the best decision-making piece that you can have, and knowing that you have and you can trust yourself to make the best decision with the information you have at the time gives you peace of mind. So those are what I see.

Andrea:

I'm sure you could come up with a lot more benefits of simplification, but let's really quickly wrap this all up with what it means to have a universal application of this reaction to pro-action journey, which I call simplification. This can apply to any area of your life where you feel what I would call incongruence or tension or dissatisfaction. For me, it started again with my faith. That was, that was my biggest identity and that was where I felt the most incongruence. You can do it in your relationships. I mean it's it's very when you simplify what's important, it's very easy to apply that to specific relationships that need to or do not need to be in your life anymore. I just gave the example of career path or, if you're an entrepreneur, your business and my example of simplifying and making my business much more aligned with and in tune with my core values. You can do it with your time, like I explained, with my calendar. You can do it with your home. You can do this with your money. That's a whole other conversation and I am actually going to have a coach on here in the next couple of months talking about simplifying your money. So stay tuned for that. It's going to look different than it looks for me.

Andrea:

You have different areas that you need to work on, different things that are important, but moving from reaction to pro-action and simplifying everything is foundational to the very first tenet of intentional optimism, which is optimistic. It gives us the opportunity to be prepared and to have confidence and hope. If you want more information on the tenets of intentional optimism, check out the what is Intentional Optimism freebie that I have. It's a one page downloadable. It's in the show notes. But I want to remind you that the most powerful and the most important thing in your life to simplify is your understanding of who you are and what makes you tick. This is my passion, my friend. It is your core values. When you understand your core values, you'll move from reaction to pro-action, because you'll begin to see things clearly, trust yourself to make good decisions and experience peace in your heart and mind, and when you have that all dialed in, that simplification will then explode and completely affect every other area of your life. It is time to experience the power of simplification.

The Power of Simplification
Reacting to Proactive Journey
Benefits and Process of Simplification
Simplification and Intentional Optimism