In this lesson, we are going to address some of the key obstacles to simplicity.
Common obstacles to overcome
- Other people in out lives.
- Old habits of adding to our clutter and complexity (saying yes to things or buying things).
- Difficulty in letting go.
- Procrastination (due to being overwhelmed or not wanting to face things).
These are the four most common obstacles. If you have other obstacles, share them on the forum.
Other people in our lives
Perhaps you live and work alone and have complete control over your life and you can do whatever you want. I know some people like this where they can simplify their life or make any changes they want and it is way easier because of that complete control. But, I’m guessing the majority of you, have people in your lives that make this a little more complex.
Having people in your lives makes life more complicated and messier, but we can address this. Let’s say you have a spouse, kids, pets, or roommates. If you live in a space with other people, your living space is not completely your own.
How do I simplify when it is not only my decision?
- Decide where your area is. Find a shelf, drawer, or space in the closet that is just yours for your things. If that is your space, you can simplify that. If you can simplify space, saying this is yours and this is mine, then you can simplify your own space. These types of agreements help. You do not need to get into arguments or ask them to simplify their life. Explain what you are doing and why you want to try simplifying your stuff.
- Discuss simplify the things that you both share, like furniture. In a non-pushy, non-forceful way, we begin to talk about what we can agree upon simplifying together. Maybe they don’t want to simplify anything in the room and leave it as is. I can focus on some other things other than that one bedroom or space. Perhaps there is part of the garage or bookshelf I can simplify without infringing upon their things.
- Focus on digital life, schedule and productivity. Perhaps this is not the right time to work on simplifying the physical things and you can focus on other areas of your life. These are within your control. Later on, you can bring up the topic of simplifying possessions and finances. You can share your ideas and find a way to make things easier for you. Allow the space for the other person to come to the decision on their own. It is something you both want to agree on. It can be an ongoing discussion.
It may surprise you. You may be frustrated right now because they do not want to change. Later on, people may come around to your way of thinking if you are
- kind about it
- not pushy
- give them their space
- lead by example
With kids, I try not to force it on them, but I do talk to them about it. But you can
- make a game out of it
- talk about the benefits of simplicity
- donate to other kids who could use toys
Talk to other people in your lives about ways to simplify your joint life together while focusing on your own areas of control.
Procrastination comes when you have a bad feeling about something. Clutter can become so much you don’t want to think about it. You think it’s a lot of work and stressful. But we can change that feeling.
Turn it around. Play some music or have some tea. Think about the beautiful, simple space you are creating. Think about it as a meditation or a rewarding self-care project. At the end of it, you created a wonderful, simple space. Think about the people who benefited when you got rid of something. Maybe you could gift it to someone who would appreciate it. Each moment can be a nice moment of simplicity.
Your old habits of saying yes to many things takes away from the simplicity you are creating.
- Write down the idea of saying No to everything but the 4 things that are most important. You are saying No, because you want to say Yes to only those 4 things. Have your short list, so you know what is most important.
- Notice the urge to say Yes to everything. Is this on your short list? Am I saying yes to the things on my short list by saying yes to this?
- Know the essentials. This applies to buying things as well as your short list. It complicates your finances when you buy unnecessary things. It also brings in more possessions in your life each time you buy something. If you bring something into your life you really want or need that aligns with your short list, then you need to find it’s home.
- Make space for what is truly important in your life. Each time you bring something new in, let go of something older that no longer aligns with your short list. Or, before you bring something new in, ask yourself if you have the space for it in your life.
Having a hard time letting go
It can be really hard to let go. For me, it was books. Letting go of books is really hard for me because each one represents this aspiration, something I really want. Letting go of that aspiration, means that I’m letting go of some hope for the future, beautiful life. It wasn’t just books. It was sporting equipment, magic tricks, and chess. I’ve learned that I do not have room for them in my life. Letting go of them is a better thing instead of letting it accumulate dust in my closet.
I realize I don’t have time for all these aspirations. If I do have aspirations, I need to just pick one and focus on that. It’s an admission that I only have time for so much in my life.
When you have too many aspirations that you are trying to fit into your life, you are not really focusing on any one of those things. You are not fully inhabiting them. You are just trying to cram them in because you have such a hard time letting go.
Say yes to what you really want to focus on right now. Revisit one of the areas we have covered in the challenge: Simplify days, simplify finances, or simplify possessions. As you do that, think about these obstacles and how you can apply this today to that area of your life.