As we approach the end of the year, we have been working together on our annual household “Goals and To-Do List.” Over the course of the last 5 years – the list has become an invaluable tool for keeping us focused on creating and building our little farm. See: Setting The Annual Goals List
But beyond our individual goals for the farm and our life – there is without question 4 changes we have made to our lifestyle that have made the biggest impact in creating a more simple and healthy life for our entire family.
In no particular order – here they are:
1 – Learn to Live With Less
If there is one goal for 2016 that can simplify your life more than anything else – it is to learn to live with less! Less “stuff” and less clutter are the simple answer to one thing – less stress!
“Stuff” costs more than you will ever know. Much more than just the original purchase price of the item. It then becomes where do you store it, how much do you use it, what does it cost to maintain it – and how long will it last. And that of course is only until the next version comes out and makes you feel like you need to “upgrade” from what you currently have. It is a vicious cycle that never seems to end.
Try this little test. Think back over the last year or two of the things that you thought you just had to have. I am pretty certain that with just a few exceptions, most are rarely, if ever – still used.
A great example for us : 2 years ago, we really wanted to get a multi-crock pot slow cooker. Not only did they look cool – we imagined having it out serving all kinds of hot foods and appetizers at dinner or for parties. Here is the truth: we have used it two times – and it continues to take up huge space. Could we have lived without it? of course. Did we need it? of course not.
Rule 1 – Donate what you don’t need – and what you don’t use – and stop buying more!
Second – don’t bring home anything new unless it fills a need and can result in removing something already there. Not only does this tip save you big money on your household finances – it really is amazing to see how little you truly need, and how much your stress level goes down ridding yourself of the excess. We have talked about it before – but one of the best things we ever did was to get rid of one item in our house every day for one year. See : The One A Day / 365 Declutter Experiment
2. Reduce or Eliminate Preservatives From Your Diet
You would be amazed at how much difference in your life this step can make!
When you concentrate on reducing or even eliminating processed foods and begin to eat fresh vegetables, fruits and food made with your own hands – you begin to feel better, have more energy, and yes – even lose weight! It’s not rocket science – it simply called eating REAL food!
The majority of food products that end up on the dinner table today have been grown with heavy doses of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides – and then processed to contain a seemingly endless list of preservatives. Over the past 4 years, from making our own breads, pasta and pancake mix, to creating and canning and freezing our own soups, salsa, pasta sauce and more – we have cut out nearly all of the preservatives from our diet.
Yes – it takes some time to prepare and plan for – and that is exactly the point! It slows your life down. You learn to spend more time preparing your meals, and having meals together instead of taking them on the run.
3. Grow At Least One Thing You Eat
Whether it’s a windowsill garden for fresh herbs, a patio planter with a few tomatoes, or a full-fledged garden to grow almost everything you eat – everyone can grow something they consume.
Growing your own food covers every aspect of a healthy lifestyle – and more importantly – it connects us with our food. Trust me when I say you haven’t lived until you prepare a dinner using some or all of the ingredients you have grown yourself! Suddenly – you want to try more and more – not to mention you begin to realize the difference in taste between truly fresh food versus processed and packaged versions.
And here is the last and most important point to growing what you eat – it doesn’t have to be difficult or take all of your time!
Methods such as container, raised row or raised bed gardening can be an easy way to become responsible for what you eat – even if space is an issue.
In fact – we are extremely excited in a few weeks to roll out a new “Any Age / Anywhere Garden Plan” – which we be installing and trialing this year at the farm. It is our hope to show that you can grow enough fresh vegetables to feed a family of four in a simple 16′ x 16′ container garden plot system – anywhere – at any age!
4. Use Technology to Create Less Stress – Not More
Technology is a funny thing. By nature – its meant to make our lives more efficient – however, many times – it simply creates more stress than it’s worth. Think back just 10 to 15 years ago – no one felt obligated to feel connected to everyone at all times. Where as smart phones, tablets and computers were meant to ease our lives, they have in most cases complicated them. It doesn’t have to be that way.
We all need to learn that its okay to unplug and live life. Leave your phone inside while you take a walk, or work in your garden. Put it away at dinnertime. Set aside a little time each day or week to connect with friends on social media – but don’t feel obligated to be on guard or on-line 24/7. Suddenly, when you step back and begin to use technology on your terms and schedule – you reduce your stress levels.
Don’t get me wrong. Technology has its place and is a great thing! We can gather all types of information, and educate ourselves on all kinds of topics – (like Gardening, Cooking, Canning and DIY 🙂 ) but everyone needs to learn to use it on their terms.
So there you have it – four goals that can really make a life changing difference.
Here is to wishing you a happy, healthy, productive – and most importantly – stress free 2016!
Happy Living! – Jim and Mary