Lagom, living in the middle

I recently came across the Swedish concept of “Lagom” (pronounced “Lah-Gom” which is all to do with moderation. Recognising when something is “enough” be it at work or home, to do with health or the environment. Lagom encompasses the idea of enjoying a “moderate” amount of everything and ensuring there is balance in your life.

This concept appeals to me I have a tendency to be a woman of extremes… I’m either eating 800 calories to lose weight or devouring 5000 when a diet isn’t a focus. If exercising, I’m clocking up 10,000 steps a day or 130 (One of the few downsides of spending too much time in a 15-foot holiday home..) I’ll write for hours one day then none the next, I’ll diligently like everyone’s Instagram pictures – or not… This all or nothing approach, whilst at times, enables me to be majorly productive, dedicated and motivated on the flip side means I can get quite frustrated with myself and rapidly undo any progress made, particularly in relation to health!

Too much, too little, enough or not enough!

So, I’m sure I’m not on my own when it comes to the ups and downs of doing too much, too little, not enough or having done everything at super speed – for a while!

Well, apparently by trying to live in a more “Lagom” way, tuning into the Swedish solution of living mindfully, I will hopefully discover a “middle ground.”

In some areas of my life, the concept of “moderation” has always been a bit of a mystery to me… When it comes to a food, an empty packet, bag (or box…) suggests to me, I’m finished. When writing, or learning a piece on the piano – going at it for 5 hours straight – does not seem excessive. Box sets are meant to be watched, 4 in a row? Or surely they wouldn’t just play seamlessly from one episode to the next. Oh and when it comes to cleaning, spending a whole morning, now and again is fine…

Avoiding extremeness

Lagom is all about trying to avoid extremeness – it’s about finding the perfect balance, somewhere in the middle. It’s about removing all the “must dos” and just doing “enough.” If you can change your mindset, become content with who you are as a person, try not to compare yourself with other people and stop keeping up with the Jones’ – a tall order I know, it is likely that you will feel more in control of your life, happier and feel a sense of calm. Our lifestyle change has definitely put things into perspective for us.

Working smarter

When it comes to work, the Swedes work fewer hours, comparatively, to the UK & USA. But – are they more productive?

When I worked in education, I was surrounded by a fair few procrastinators, people who “appeared” busy, busy and those that spent so long “talking” about what needed to be done, it rarely materialised into “action.” Breaks, for some (including me), were not a break, as some people struggled to “turn off” and just enjoy a coffee without reliving the horrors of the morning… or worrying them over the afternoon…

The Swedes have a great solution to this, known as a “Fika” break. An opportunity for colleagues to get together for a coffee and socialise! Expressing any work-related concerns are off limits, enjoy a pastry and a well-earned catch-up! Sounds great to me… Kerry and I have a “Fika” break now… although have given the pastries a miss due to concerns about our ability to moderate when it comes to sweet treats… I suppose the Swedes have been brought up with “one…”

It doesn’t always have to be perfect!

Also, as a great believer in getting a job done, “well” – not necessarily, “Perfectly,” working smarter is definitely the way forward. Ensuring good planning is in place, working productively and not reactively, it becomes far easier to finish up for the day, feeling as though you have achieved something.

Kerry and I have had to set our own work agenda. This in itself has been one of trial and error… We were used to working around “bells” and “times” Suddenly having no structure felt a bit weird. How much work should we be doing? As we’re not currently being paid, that was also all very new… We’re still a work in progress, on our “Work” front but have both come to the same conclusion.

  1. We like having a “start time” – 8.30am is working for us
  2. “Fika” break is good between 10.30 -11 am
  3. Work through until 1.30pm – have lunch

Then, in our bid to be flexible, we sometimes work a little longer – or not, but end the working day by debriefing, prioritising & setting up tasks for the following morning. No working on the weekends, but if the weather looks glorious on a Tuesday, out we go and just switch the days around.

I appreciate that we are in a unique situation, no bosses, no other “colleagues” no travelling… but actually, the “enough” concept is working well for us. When we were working on the website, we’d often work 13 hour days… unheard of for me! This didn’t work at all…

So perhaps, you could introduce the idea of a “fika” break in your place of work – confiscate the cakes from anyone who breaks the “no work talk” rule… Or enjoy your own “fika” break at home, maybe take a break from social media and just do “nothing…”

All in moderation

As far as health is concerned, the lagom way is a great model. Nothing is off limits particularly, food wise but sweet treats are enjoyed in moderation. Meals are kept relatively simple and people try to eat seasonally and sustainably – all good for the local economy and the environment. I can’t say I know much about Swedish cuisine, I don’t think meatballs and chips in Ikea counts as having sampled it at it’s best. But this simple way of eating well works well for many people, including the Swedes! Exercise is encouraged, in moderation, as is getting out and about in nature and enjoying the fresh air.

I think there is much we can all do to help ourselves feel more content and fulfilled. I’ve been thinking about some of the things Kerry and I have focused on since embarking on our lifestyle change and much of it very much fits in with the essence of lagom… (find out more)

  1. We have far less stuff and we don’t buy anything inessential
  2. Less money is spent doing far more
  3. Our leisure time is prioritised as much as our work time
  4. We try not to worry about what is around the corner, instead enjoying what we’re doing right now
  5. We take advantage of any local “events” and join in with more things

…and most importantly, we prioritise talking and listening to each other, without any distractions.

Thank you for reading this Landscape Your Life Takeaway. We hope you have found the information useful and practical. If you are interested in making positive changes to your lifestyle, take a look at our book: Landscape Your Life – Sow the Seeds of Success. Here you will discover how sowing 5 essential SEEDS will help you relax and find contentment. Learn how to be more productive, cultivate consistency, sort out your shed and deal with any slugs or weeds in your life!