Steps to Simpler Living, Part 2: What Simplicity Means to You
Much like motivations to live more simply can differ, definitions of simplicity cover a wide range.
Now that you've chosen to pursue a simpler way of life, it's time to define what simplicity looks like for you!
DEFINE SIMPLICITY ON YOUR TERMS
Simplicity is just as much about what you do as it is about what you don't do, and it's different for everyone!
Some people simplify by living in tiny homes. Some people simplify by limiting the number of activities their family engages in. Some people simplify by having meal delivery services take care of grocery shopping and meal prep for them. Some people simplify by using capsule wardrobes.
Those definitions of simplicity are not all-encompassing or obligatory. You get to choose what simplicity means to you and how it works best for you and your family. After all, pursuing simplicity isn't meant to be another burden or thing on your to-do list. It's a way of life that can help you make decisions more easily, develop routines to save time and energy, eliminate the excess, and focus on what really matters.
CHOOSING WHAT TO SIMPLIFY
What things in your life need to be simplified?
Let's put it this way: what areas of your life are too overwhelming or chaotic right now?
Where could you use some peace? Some structure? Some order?
Do you need to simplify your finances? Your calendar? Your shopping habits? Your errands? Your clutter? Your decor? Your hobbies? Your digital clutter? Your mindset and mental clutter?
Take a moment to consider what areas of your life are causing you the most stress. What's working? What isn't?
Chances are, there is more than one area in your life that could use a little simplicity (I know that's true for me!). But don't lose heart, friend! There's nothing wrong with you.
I've been on this simplicity journey for a while, and I still have room to grow. I still want to simplify my paper clutter and my social media engagement.
There's no shame in identifying areas for improvement. Don't be too hard on yourself; after all, you've opened your eyes to see them, and you have everything it takes to address them!
Identify what your priorities are. What area are you going to work on first?
Sometimes it's tempting to work on the most outward areas first-- we think that if we make strides in areas that are most visible to others, it will make the greatest impact.
But that's not always the case.
Sure, we could focus on simplifying our calendars so we have time to spend with friends and family. It would make them happier, and it would make us happier, too.
But what if what we really need to do is to focus on simplifying our finances first so we can make more time for our people? Or what if we need to simplify your mental clutter before we can tackle anything more tangible?
Don't be ashamed of your current stage, where you need to start, or what you need to prioritize. This is about whole-life health, and it's a process. It's okay to start small if you have to.
Start with whatever's going to make the biggest difference for you. Don't worry about what others are doing. This is your life. Keep your eyes on your own race, and don't let yourself get distracted or discouraged by what others are doing as they run theirs.
Now that you know what your priorities are, it's time to set new goals for yourself. What specifically do you want to accomplish?
Let's move beyond saying we want to get healthier, get more organized, or save more money. Those vague goals aren't doing us any good.
If you don't get specific, you're not going to reach your goals because you won't have a well-developed plan to get there or any metrics to tell you how you're doing or when you've arrived. So get specific!
What's your end goal in simplifying your finances? Do you want to go on a big trip next year that you have to save for? Then what total amount do you need? How much do you need to be saving every month? How are you going to save that extra money? When are you going to check in to see how you're doing?
If your goal is to simplify your home and declutter, what specifically does that mean to you? Do you want to downsize? Do you want more white space and room to breathe? Do you just want to have a place for everything and everything in its place? What do you need to do to make that happen? Do you need help? Do you need supplies? What area of your home are you going to tackle first? What obstacles do you expect to encounter?
I encourage you to get as specific as possible when deciding what your goals are. It makes them more real, more tangible, and more attainable. It also gives you a clearer picture of what life will look like when you reach your goals, which is a far better motivator than some vague idea of what it might look or feel like to accomplish your goal.
WRITE IT DOWN
I don't know about you, but I'm liable to forget anything that I haven't written down. I recently went back to using a paper planner (similar to this one) for that very reason.
It's even worse when I'm setting goals and trying to keep my priorities straight. If I don't take the time to identify them and write them down, it's all too easy to get lost in the regular demands of my day and be busy without being productive.
There are too many demands put upon our time and energy for us to stay focused unless we're incredibly intentional about how we're spending our precious time and energy.
If we're not careful, that poorly-timed email will take precedence over time with our family, that last-minute request will turn into an hour spent doing work that could've waited until tomorrow, that trivial worry will steal our sleep, and someone else's problem will become ours.
Of course things will come up. Of course you will have to switch gears at times. Of course you should lend a helping hand when you can.
But setting boundaries, establishing priorities, and taking the time to write down your biggest goals will help keep you grounded. It will help smaller problems to roll off your back as you keep your eyes set on what really matters. It will give you greater perspective. It will help you make decisions about what's most important, what can wait, and what can be delegated to others or abandoned altogether without guilt. In short, it will help you simplify your life and stay sane!
So what does simplicity mean to you? What are your priorities and goals? I'd love to chat with you and even help you develop a plan to achieve your goals and simplify every area of your life!
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