When someone gets the idea to simplify their life, none of us are aware of the vast amount of effort it takes actually to "Simplify" your life. I was much like the majority, a certifiable packrat, clinging to my possessions like a safety blanket, trophies that could be visited to remind me that I was great at those things. I very much clung to the past achievements.
My first attempt at decluttering my life occurred ten or so years ago. The belongings that I carried with me were tremendously smaller. A year later I made another decision to move out of state. I needed to purge again the clutter that was a part of the unseen. I paid a monthly rent for the luxury of having a storage unit, that housed those trophy's and memories. Two truckloads later, all of that stuff was gone, and I was free. It has been a struggle throughout the years not to start collecting things again. At some point, I may have been militant in my attitude not to collect things.
Becoming a "Minimalist" does have its positive aspects. Clutter can be a visual distraction and mental stress. Minimizing is more efficient, peaceful, and attractive (at least to me). It saves you time, money, and more importantly free's up space, you can move around. The negative aspects tend to be more social conditioning. I would feel embarrassed because I didn't have this or that. You know those show pieces that relay some subconscious thought of the person we are trying to project to the world.
For many years I was owned by the things I purchased, I had an identity tied to the things I held, but realistically they owned me. If you are looking for ideas on how to bring more abundance to your life, please read this article. Everyone has their ideal level of simplicity, but Lynn offers some practical advice and a great perspective on deciding what matters the most to you.
Photo by Jim DiGritz
Living on Less to Find Abundance: 4 Tips to Simplify Your Life.
My family and I were tired of feeling overwhelmed all the time, and we needed to make some financial changes.
We figured that the best solution to this was to learn how to live on less.
So we downsized our cars, slashed our bills, and are slowwwwwllllllly getting rid of extra belongings. At different moments, it’s been exhilarating, uncomfortable and fun. We’re rushing around less and spending more time together. We’re using less resources, spending less money, and enjoying each other more.
While the term “simplifying” may conjure images of people with questionable hygiene living off-grid in tiny houses, it can be much more subtle. For me, simplifying means trimming out extras. Whether it’s a radical lifestyle overhaul, the decision to declutter your belongings or your time, or to solely stop adding any commitments or belongings before getting rid of another, simplification can mean whatever you want it to mean.
The process is about deciding what matters the most to you, and whittling away as much of what doesn’t show up on that list as possible—so you can focus on whatever is most essential to you.
Here are four tips I’ve learned in my family’s process of simplifying.
Make a list.
What matters most to you? Your family? Your career? Your health? Getting out of debt?
Make a list of your top three to five goals. Now you have your focus. Everything else is negotiable—especially if it’s negatively impacting your goals. For me, I realized the most important things are my family, my work and my health. If I’m contemplating adding something to my life that doesn’t benefit any of those categories, I’m going to think twice about it.
Put everything else on the table.
If you’re ready for a big change, put everything on the table. The house that you love with a mortgage that’s got you in a chokehold? On the table. The car? On the table (not literally of course, unless you have a very large table). Exchanging Christmas gifts? On the table.
This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of these things—but the exercise of contemplating making a drastic change can be profound. It can open you up to possibilities you haven’t considered. This can be scary—when I first considered downsizing my SUV, I was hit with a case of the what-ifs. What if I can’t haul six of my kids’ closest friends around someday? What if we go on a road trip and we’re not comfortable? When I really examined the what-ifs, they didn’t stack up.
I went ahead and traded in my car for a smaller hybrid, and the benefits of less environmental impact and less money spent on gas far outweigh the what-ifs.
Find your tribe.
Simplifying can sometimes be a lonely process. Maybe you’ve decided to save more money, which means eliminating your weekly dinner out with friends. Or you’re downsizing your house while your peers are upsizing, and you feel a little self-conscious. While it might seem like everyone around you is racing around spending money like crazy and rushing from one commitment to the next, there are plenty of people interested in a simpler, saner lifestyle. You just have to find them.
If you can’t find your tribe in “real life,” head to the Internet. When I connect with or read about other people trying to simplify their lives, I get inspired. Besides feeling less alone and being reminded of my reasons for simplifying (more time, less financial stress, a life pace that aligns with my personality), connecting with others walking a similar path is a great way of finding new hacks for simple living.
Make it fun.
When my family decided to cut back on our spending, one of the most obvious places was our restaurant addiction. To ease the initial withdrawal, we began cooking more, learning how to make new things. I learned to make homemade corn tortillas, which are surprisingly simple and approximately 239% better than the store bought ones.
Meanwhile my husband honed his skills at making amazing oven-baked French fries.
Another idea is to make simplifying a challenge. If you want to cut down on belongings, challenge yourself to see how many items you can purge from your home. Dare yourself to come up with a week’s worth of meals only using what’s already in your fridge and pantry. Declare certain days to be car-free days. Focus on making the process fun and you won’t feel deprived by the changes you’re making.
Shifting our family’s lifestyle and mindset has been a powerful exercise. In the process of cutting out what we don’t need, we’re finding out how much we already have.
Author: Lynn Shattuck
Editor: Renée Picard