• Lara Flanagan

Day 0 - 360 days

Updated: Jan 5

As 2020 drew to a close I found it hard to turn my brain off. As it had been for many, 2020 was one of the strangest years of my life. The year of the virus followed by the year of drought and fire. The year when people quite literally scrapped in shopping centre aisles for rolls of toilet paper they did not need. It was something I could never understand, especially considering the virus was not known to give you the shits.

It was a year when I did endless courses (the free kind that always ended with an offer for a course you could not live without that was worth $14, 975 but was available for the bargain price of $1297). If you happened to buy the el-cheapo $97 course that was on offer after the free introductory course (worth $797) you would find yourself in a sneaky little marketing funnel, where the amazing influencers would tell you that they were working on a course that would be available for the bargain price of $9997 or $2997 or $1997 (worth $24,997, $7997 or $3597). That you should not even question the money, as you should never question investing in yourself and after completing the next course you would be making 10 times that amount.

It was all about the money from people who valued themselves so highly that their hourly rate was worth much more than those who save lives receive. At the same time, these people were sharing their most intimate moments on social media, usually in endless Instagram stories that made me question as to who the hell takes photos of themselves to use in their end of year highlights when they are having a nervous breakdown?

It was all about more. Always more. More money, more exposure, being a better person by having more, a higher profile would mean you would make more money, influence more and then make more money. You buy more things as you could not possibly be successful or achieve what you want to achieve without having more. More, more, more. What you had could never possibly be enough.

There were two conversations that I had in the last year that stayed in my head and jarred me. The first was with a highly paid consultant who was about to secure an ongoing contract with a new firm but was still weighing up their options. As the conversation was openly about money, (I would never normally ask anyone about money), I asked what the new company was offering. The response was “oh about $2,500 - $3,000 a day”. I was gobsmacked as that is fairy-tale sort of money for me and I instinctively said – ‘but that is brilliant, you could afford to work 1 or 2 days a week!” The person’s response gobsmacked me even more, “Oh no, I really need to start focusing on increasing my annual income.” I did not say anything further, but I did think in my brain, why? Why would you want to increase your annual income when you are earning more than enough now? Why would you think increasing your annual income was a priority? Why do you think earning more money will be enough when what you have got now is not enough?

The second conversation was with a friend about a mutual friend. Let us just say this mutual friend was a tree chopper. This tree chopper is the happiest person I know and loves his life, his family, his home, his spare-time, and his work. Yet he is not interested in studying or becoming a master tree chopper or a managing director of tree choppers. My first friend said about our mutual friend, “his problem is that he is not ambitious”. It made me question if we all have it mixed up. A person who is genuinely happy should be admired, not disparaged because they are one of these unique and happy creatures who simply do not want more.

When did we develop and then worship this culture of wanting more? When did we start thinking that whatever we have is not enough and that we always have to pursue more? Better jobs, bigger incomes, newer devices, more cars in the garage, bigger wardrobes, more shoes.

People seem to be forever searching for more.

My 2020 ended with watching The Minimalists documentary on Netflix. I have long been an aspiring minimalist but needed a nudge to embrace the concept fully. Watching the new documentary by The Minimalists duo of Josh and Ryan on New Year’s Day ‘Less is Now’ had my brain churning and it really cemented a thousand different things I have been thinking repeatedly during the last few months as to what is wrong with our world. It is crazy as there is also so much right to it.

Minimalism sometimes gets a bad rap; I think it is a bit like veganism. It is a word that is misunderstood. Basically, minimalism means living with intention and only having things in your life that bring you joy. Since the 1st January, I have assessed my wardrobe which admittedly was not a challenge as it was already quite small. I went through the kitchen and my lounge room and late on the 3rd January I only have my office and my storage area to go. The kid’s rooms remain out of bounds – minimalism is for me, like sex, religion, politics, and veganism. When it comes to these sorts of lifestyle choices, the kids must make their own decisions about how they choose to live otherwise it doesn't mean anything.

After living relatively minimistically for the last few years, I was amazed by how much stuff I could still donate or throw out. I left to get the kids this morning feeling a little lighter with an idea churning in my head. I have always believed that you cannot learn something by talking about it, you can only learn something by doing. You cannot teach by shouting or saying, you can only truly teach by showing.

By the time I picked up the kids, I had the idea of a challenge in my head.

The 360-day project

Whereby I would live with less for a year to ultimately live with more

I had to give myself some rules, as what is a project without rules:

· To not purchase anything unless it was essential to my life

- Anything to do with school, medical and Archie and Rissie's sport excepted

- Food is obviously essential!

· To stop medicating and numbing myself with too much food and too much alcohol

- For me the type of food I eat is not the issue as I eat well, I just eat too much. I could

do with eating less. I also want to be more present and live the best possible life that I

can live. For me, that means less alcohol. This part of the challenge is the most

confronting for me - for 360 days I want to consume less food which means eating only

what I need and less alcohol which means none at all.

· Social media and time online

- I use social media for work and my blog is a source of income but I want to limit my time online and social media to that alone. That means no mindless scrolling, no posting stories that I think I ‘need’ to post. No more worrying if I need to be doing more to get my name out there and to beat the bloody algorithm. Apart from work for the duration of this trial, I only wish to be posting things on My Notes From that bring joy.

· To focus more on the simple things that bring me joy, my kids, my dogs, my photography, my food, and my writing. To focus on what I have, rather than focussing on what I could have.

Day 1 begins tomorrow – Monday 4th January 2021 – the 360-day project - 360 days of living with less to live with more


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