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EP 66: When Less Becomes More with Emily Ley

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EP 66: When Less Becomes More with Emily Ley

We have been loving this season on the podcast and one of the biggest conversations we are continuing to have is around the idea of rest and slowing down. Emily Ley justs released her 3rd book, When Less Is More, after a season of redefining what “the good life” meant to her. 

Her book was written from the trenches where she felt deep burn out even though a lot of good things were going on. She was saying yes to everything and soon her life and company became more complicated - coming against her foundational message of simplified. She felt really disconnected and far from herself. And she took back the power to redefine her version of the good life so that she could experience MORE joy, peace, and love! 

You are going to love this episode! Let’s dive in. 

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Take us down memory lane when it comes to your books...

I say writing a book is like birthing a child. You love it so much, for so long, and it’s just yours, and then you put it out into the world. My book, A Simplified Life was very tactical- all about how to organize and simplify. For my newest book, When Less Becomes More, the way it came about was very different! My book deadline was coming up and I had lots of ideas, but I was walking through complete burnout. I felt so tired, overwhelmed, and empty. I was running at max capacity for months on end, and I just didn’t know how I was going to write my book being as tired as I was. I was telling my husband all of this, and he said, “that’s your story.” I immediately said, “well that’s not fun! I don’t want to write about that!” I was still in the middle of the burnout, and that’s when he reminded me of a quote. 

 “You write the book you need to read.”

So, When Less Becomes More was written from a place of being in the trenches, really burnt out, lots of good things going on, but I just felt really disconnected and far from myself. As soon as I sat down and started to think about what life could look like if I were to live a different way, the words just came pouring out. It was really cool how it all worked out and it was quite therapeutic to be working through this with my readers.                        

 Tell us a bit about you, Emily!

I’ve been married to my husband, Brian for 11 years. Our oldest, Brady, is 8 years old and our youngest 2 are Tyler and Caroline, 4-year-old twins. All of our kiddos have HUGE personalities. We live in Pensacola, Florida. 

11 years ago, I started a company called Simplified. I wanted to make things easier, and every planner I found was so complicated. So, I made a simplified planner. Now I have a team of 8 women, and we work together to support our community and make products for women to help make their lives simpler. My publisher was the one who approached me to take my message and put it into book format, and for me, this was always a dream! Writing books is such an honor. 

How did you get to burnout?

So, think of this - You're on a train, the wheels are on, the scenery is great, but you don't realize you're headed towards a brick wall. The year I had infant twins, I was on 48 airplanes trying to support my business that was growing by leaps and bounds. It was really hard, we were maxed out, and we were so far away from the reason I had started the company, which was to have flexibility as a mom. I said yes to everything, I had everything, and it was way bigger than what I wanted. My company was becoming way more complicated than the message of simplified.

So, that year we cut 40% of our revenue and lost the wholesale side to get back to what we cared most about, which was connecting directly to women in our community online to sell our simplify planners. The following year, we doubled, even though we cut because we got back to what really mattered to us. How can I prune our life a little bit? To let go of what was good, to allow things to flourish and grow… This is how When Less Becomes More was born.

What are you going to say no to so the stuff that really matters can grow? 
With that said, what is your destination & how is the train leading you there now?
My husband and I asked ourselves, what would it mean to choose a good life not a great life? What does the good life look like? Where we are right now, is so good. For so long, I felt at odds and so discontent with my current situation. 
We wanted to slow the pace down, stop the rush, and redefine the good life.

When people ask what's next, I can only think; I just want to keep doing what we're doing. The good life is where we are at now, and that is contentment.

What is the most radical thing you've done to slow down?

I took 30 days away from social media and I realized two things. First, my depth of focus went from way out there in the world and shrank right into what was in front of my face - my husband, my kids, and my friends. Second, I had a fear I would not want to come back to it, and thought where would that leave me with an internet company? But I missed it!

I realized what a good tool social media is when we use it correctly and we do things with the right amount of time. It helped reset all the good things and bring to light the ways I was misusing it.

 

Have you made any changes with your phone since then?

Social media was the culprit, but it wasn't just social media. I thought that when I deleted social media my screen time would decrease, but I saw it didn’t  and I realized it was my habit of picking up my phone as an escape.

 Instagram wasn't the problem, it was me.

At night, I have tried to make a cup of tea and read a book instead of scroll for hours. I put things into place to replace unhealthy habits. Practically, I just put my phone out of reach. It's nice to lose your phone and not know where it is. We need to remember our kids see us, and they will pick up on our habits. 

How do you guys manage phone use within your marriage?

Brian has social media, but he doesn't use it for work. He doesn't use it for anything other than keeping up with friends. He is an entrepreneur (he owns his own companies) so sometimes he will be attached to his phone to send emails. We have agreed that we see the value in our kids having more of an analog existence and we have to exemplify that to them. We try not to slap each other’s hands. Instead, we try to have agreed upon things where we are on the same page about when we should have our phones out. When I am in the room, my family wants my attention, so if I need to be on my phone, I sneak way. Phone usage is something we have to be aware of. 

What are some practical things to do to embrace the simplified life?

I was quick to adopt the conveniences of life, but I have started to think about what was adding to my life and what was taking away from it. 

When we are rushing through life, we have to choose to make time for things. 

For example: as a child, my dad and I would wash our car together and we would have so much fun! Now, we are in such a hurry we just go through the carwash. My family has made the decision to stop and wash the car together to make memories together. 

Take a moment to pause and ask yourself, “what are conveniences that you could turn into experiences of memories instead?” 

The reason we feel rushed and hurried...

We have an epidemic of burnout in the world today. And with that, everyone is thirsty to slow down. We want our humanity back. We want to find out what it means to be human again. Humanity wants to experience love, joy and peace. We go back to this by choosing to slow down and make experiences and memories. 

How do we engage with the cultural shift of slowing down & where do we start?

Take a piece of paper and write: "the good life is..."

Once we redefine what the good life actually is, you will have a standard that you can go back to and help you make every decision.

Go take 15 minutes in a very quiet place, and JUST BE STILL. Acknowledge how you are feeling. If you feel overwhelmed, decide what you will prune to get back to that good life that you are after. Sometimes, we don't slow down enough to acknowledge where we are and what we have. Practice taking a moment and acknowledging the goodness in any season of life that you are in.  

Walk us through a day in the life

I try to wake up earlier than my kids, but it usually doesn't happen. I try my best to exercise every morning, and then I work from home (which is an intentional decision to have flexibility). In the evenings, we try to have uninterrupted dinner together every night. Our kids get to choose one thing to do outside of school. We protect their downtime. We protect their downtime to have fun and not be overstretched. I want our kids to be bored, and go outside, get dirty, and have fun! We have an opportunity to model everything we do for our children. We don’t have to do everything just because we want to, and this is just as important for our kids to learn as it is for us adults to remember, too.

 Sum up one thing from When Less Becomes More

I would love for people to walk away from this book knowing that they were not meant to be burnt out every day and that God made them for more. If they allow themselves to sit down and take inventory of where they are, they have the power to make a change. We can do things to jump off the hamster wheel! 

Tell us one thing behind the scenes your working on, Emily!

I have another book coming out in August! Grace not perfection was my first book, and it was written from grownup women, but we are making a young readers edition for girls that are 8-12! It has been so much fun to work on because our kids’ childhoods are in danger. Perfectionism is something I’ve dealt with for a long time, and I’ve learned to accept, find, and give grace in my own life. So, writing this book has been really awesome! 

We (Jer & Auj) LOVED this conversation! Especially talking about the idea of defining the good life. The good life isn’t just a destination, it is a daily thin. The mission would be more like the big goal. There's a difference between the good life and your mission. Your good life should lead you to your mission! 

To go behind the scenes with you all, we have been going through a lot of this and have been making some tough decisions to decide what we want our life to look like and what we want to be known for. We have been looking at people we look up to and realize there are things in our lifestyle that don’t necessarily line up with theirs. So we are reframing a lot. 

Eventually, we will have an episode about what we are shifting and changing, but we will dive into that then. You can achieve things and be dead on the inside, and we do not want that. We are walking through all good stuff, just working through things and praying about the changes to come in our life. We e love bringing you all along the journey, so stay tuned for more!