Imagine a life in which everything that’s in it has been carefully curated by you.
I love to read. I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. However, up until about two years ago, my reading was very haphazard. I would choose what book to read next on things like the following:
- A friend would mention that they were reading a book and that it was good, so I would go out and get myself a copy.
- I would walk into a bookstore, browse around, and pick something.
- I would happen upon a book review while perusing a magazine or newspaper, and I would order the book.
- A neighbor would leave a book that they had finished reading in the building’s lobby, for anyone to take (that someone was invariably me).
That made for a lot of random reading—some good, and some not so good.
However, my reading is no longer determined by chance. Instead, I now have a reading plan. I’ve created a list of the 365 most important books–from the time of the ancients until around 1975–, in various fields, including literature, philosophy, and political science.
I am now making my way through that list. That is, I’ve curated my reading. This has helped me to ensure that I spend my reading time on the best books in existence (at least the best books according to me), instead of simply grabbing whatever book I happen to chance on next.
It recently occurred to me that I could apply this same concept to other areas of my life, with the purpose of making my life richer, and to live more on-purpose.
To illustrate further, think of what a museum curator does to build a museum exhibit:
- They select the artwork or artifacts that best represent the story that they’re trying to convey.
- The curator strategically excludes those pieces that detract from the overall beauty of the exhibit.
- They organize a layout for flow and clarity.
Doesn’t that sound like a great approach to life? By curating your life you’ll be more intentional with the things that you do, the relationships you enter into or cultivate, and your general environment.
In addition to your reading list, below you’ll find seven more areas you can curate in order to live a better life.
1. Curate Your Closet.
Curate your closet so that your wardrobe consists only of those pieces you would want in your fashion story. Ask yourself questions like the following:
- What colors do I most love to wear?
- Which styles suit me best?
- If I could only own 40 pieces of clothing what would they be?
Imagine opening your closet in the morning to get ready for work, and finding it contains only high quality pieces that you love, that look good on you, and that mix and match well. Keep your closet neat and organized and filled only with those things that make you feel great.
By curating your closet you’ll be wearing your favorite clothes every day.
2. Curate Your Belongings.
Curate your home with quality pieces over time. For each and every room in your house, ask yourself these two questions:
- What function does this room serve?
- How do I want this room to “feel”?
Then, buy quality pieces one at a time. Carefully consider how each piece will serve in your home. If the piece is expensive, save for it. If you’ve thought carefully about your choice, it won’t have gone out of style by the time you can afford it.
When you curate your life you should always keep in mind that quality is infinitely more important than quantity.
3. Curate Your Relationships.
Life’s too short to spend it with people you don’t really like, or people who bring you down. Curate your social circle so that it includes only people you love spending time with—people who add to the joy in your life, instead of subtracting from it.
Ask yourself questions like the following:
- What kind of people do I want to be surrounded by?
- Who do I want in my social circle?
- What do I want my friendships/personal relationships to be like?
4. Curate Your TV Watching.
I’m not one of those productivity bloggers who tries to get people to stop watching TV. Instead, I encourage people to limit their TV time. You do this by being picky about what you watch. Don’t just watch what’s on. Watch only what you love.
For those times when none of your favorite TV shows are on, have a list of documentaries or YouTube videos to choose from. Curate your life by curating your entertainment.
5. Curate Your Goals.
Curate your goals by looking for projects—whether it’s writing a novel or running a 5K—that will allow you to create the future that you want for yourself. When you’re curating your goals, ask yourself questions like the following:
- Do I find this goal meaningful?
- Is this goal in line with my values, purpose, and life mission?
- Does this goal make me feel joy, or stress and frustration?
Curate your life by pursuing only those goals that will help you build the vision that you have for your life.
6. Curate Your Time.
Tumblr is a micro-blogging tool where people can publish short posts of text, images, quotes, links, video, audio and chats. Most people who have a Tumblr invest a lot of time in curating it. They carefully comb through content and then re-blog only the best material that they can find.
Follow a similar approach when it comes to your time. Instead of adding tasks to your schedule willy-nilly, carefully consider each task before penciling it in. Do the following:
- Like they would ask, “Is this worthy of my Tumblr?”, you should ask: “Is this worthy of my time?”
- Like they would ask, “Will this add to the usefulness and beauty of my Tumblr?”, you should ask: “Will this add to the usefulness and beauty of this day?”
- Like they would ask, “Is this image consistent with my brand?”, you should ask: “Does this task help me create the kind of life I want for myself?”
Curate your life by curating your time.
7. Curate Your Thoughts.
I recently wrote a post on following a 7-day mental detox. In that post I explain that, while you can’t choose the first thought that enters your head, you can choose the second. That is, whenever you start thinking about anything, you can choose to tell yourself: “I’m not going to think about this.”
Instead of passively allowing your inner voice to prattle on about anything it wants, actively choose which thoughts you’re going to allow to blossom in your mind, and which thoughts you’re going to pull out and toss out like weeds. That is, carefully curate your thoughts.
Curate your life carefully. It’s your masterpiece, after all. Live your best life by selecting only the best for yourself, excluding anything that does not contribute to the beauty of the whole, and arranging the pieces into a glorious work of art.