This lesson will talk about why we should simplify and what a simple life looks like.
For me, I started this journey over ten years ago and was beginning to change my life, one habit at a time. At the end of 2005 I finally got serious about it. I started with a big one, which was quitting smoking. I began exercising, eating healthier, and started to simplify my life. I started with what all around me. My house and workplace was filled with clutter. What that clutter represented was undone stuff. It was a to-do list all over the place. The clutter represented procrastination.
If I had a stack of papers on my counter, that meant those were a bunch of things I was going to “get to later” and didn’t have time to deal with. So I’d have stacks and stacks of papers. Everything that was on the floor or on my kitchen counter were all things that I hadn’t put away because I was going to put them away later. They piled up and continually reinforcing my pushing away stuff, procrastination, and not wanting to face the things in my life.
This was also true of finances. My finances were also the result of procrastinating and not facing them head on. Work was a huge mess! I had a long to-do list, files were all over the place, I didn’t now where anything was, and I continually procrastinated.
Clutter and the piling up of everything around me ended up
- stressing me out
- making me feel bad about myself
- feeling bad about life in general
- didn’t have time for my wife and kids
- didn’t have time for exercise
- didn’t have time to write the book I always wanted to write
- didn’t have time for creating my own business or finding my dream job
- I had no time for reading
- there was no space in my life
I decided this is not working.
The why is because we need to face the procrastination and clutter in our lives head-on. We need to make decisions and start to clear things out. The why was also so I could stop being so overwhelmed and stressed out. When I clear the clutter, I start to have some breathing room. That is an amazing why.
When you start to clear out the unnecessary stuff, not just the physical, but also the time, you begin to make room for what really matters.
- you have space in your life for the essentials
- you have time to write, spend time with family, exercise and read (these were the four key things to me that really mattered)
- start saying no to things so you can say yes to what really matters
This turned my entire life around. By saying yes to what really mattered and clearing out the rest, I had time for what really mattered.
- I started to build a business that you are using to this day.
- I had time for my wife and kids which improved my relationships. I became a better husband and father.
- I started writing, reading and doing the things that I loved doing.
- I became happier and that also made me a better husband, father, and friend.
- When I became happier, I became healthier. It had a ripple effect.
Simplicity changed my life. That is the why. I’m not saying this is magic pill that cures everything, but I do believe in the power of simplicity. This is important to me and I hope you see some reflections in your own life.
What does a simple life look like?
Honestly, it’s not perfect. You continually declutter. Even after ten years after we have been doing this, my family and I just went through a cabinet that we had been procrastinating on in more than a year. It took us 15-20 minutes and we had a nice, clear cabinet.
There are always going to be things that pile up in one corner or another. You never reach a state of perfection. But, that said, my closet is close to empty compare to most people. It used to be crammed top to bottom. Now we have a few key things in each area of our lives that we use. We know where things are.
A simple life looks like this:
- fewer possessions
- fewer things on your schedule
- more space
- things have a place and you know where things are
- in general, it is just a lot simpler and more peaceful
- you decide what is important to you and where it fits into your life
This is a sane way to manage your life. You don’t have to be OCD about it. You don’t need to be fanatical about simplicity.
- Simplify and let things go.
- Face your problems instead of procrastinating.
- Make decisions about what you want in your life and what you don’t have room for.
By letting go, you free yourself. Focus on 3-5 important things. You may need to deal with the little things once a day. A simple life may mean your bedroom has nothing on the floor except the furniture and you put your clothes away. You donate or give some things to charity or people who would appreciate them.
A simple life means that the stuff that is in your life, you actually use. The stuff you don’t use, you let go of. Maybe you stop filling it up with so much stuff. Maybe you do the same thing with your day as well. You may need to reassess.
A simple life might mean that your finances are on autopilot and you have fewer bills. You can cut the things that don’t matter so you start to have savings and possible investments overt time. You can begin an emergency fund and start to pay down your debt. That is what I did when I began. After a few years I was debt-free! I then saved a nice cushion and started investing and saving that is on autopilot slowly grows over time. I have a lot less stress about finances these days.
A simple life may mean that you might do the quiet things in the morning, like meditate or write. Later on when you are tired, spend some time with loved ones, read with your kids, go for a walk, or have a glass of wine. Find another way to unwind. In the middle, I do all the things that matter for work and take care of the little things so I can relax in the evenings. That is what a simple life looks like to me. For you, it may be completely different. But you will have time to do the things that matter and you will decide what is important that should fit in your life.
Today, think about your why and what your simple life looks like.
- What resonated with you?
- Is there any other reason besides what I mentioned that really matters to you?
- What makes you really want to simplify your life?
- What does your simple life look like?
- What can you start to simplify today?
- What is the first step for you?