What does it take to simplify your life?
We are often asked to speak to various groups about our little farm, on topics ranging from the garden and canning, to the chickens, bees and more. But lately, more than ever, we have been asked to talk about what it takes to live a more simple life.
I think more than anything, people want to get back to the basics of enjoying a more simple life. For us, it was getting rid of our house in the city and building a simple 1054 square foot home to enjoy the farm and what we love most – gardening, canning, cooking and diy.
For others, simplifying can mean slowing down a hectic lifestyle to follow a passion, pursue a hobby, or travel. Whatever your reasons, slowing down and simplifying your life can certainly lead to a much lower stress level – and that can never be bad!
We thought for today, we would cover the highlights of the our most recent talk that covered the habits that help lead to a more simple and fulfilling life.
1. Follow Your Passion – At Least 15 Minutes EVERY Day
This is first because it needs to be first! We all talk about wanting to do all sorts of amazing things – learn a new language, write a book, play an instrument, start a garden, work as a volunteer. But the problem is, we never get around to doing it – and that causes a lot of unnecessary personal regret and stress.
Don’t just dream – do! Set aside and make time at least 15 minutes for your passion – every single day! Maybe it’s researching options, studying, writing, learning about plants or planning out a new business venture. Whatever it is – do something towards that passion every single day!
When you start working at what you have always wished about, dreams turn into reality. And guess what? Something even more magical happens. You automatically begin to have less stress because you have made time for what you love! There is power in doing.
2. Set Goals
Remember this : A goal without a plan is nothing more than a dream or a wish.
If you want to accomplish new things in the coming weeks, months or year – then write them down on paper now.
Be specific. It’s not enough to simply write down that you want to write a book or want to learn Italian. List out various steps and stages to accomplish it, such as: “I will have this chapter completed by February 1,” or, “I will learn 25 words or phrases in Italian each month.” Keep your goals someplace where you will see them often – it makes it much harder to avoid doing them.
In addition to the monthly and yearly goals, we both practice listing out a few simple daily goals every morning. It takes a lot of small goals to accomplish big ones. Seeing a few things crossed off every day keeps us on track for those big goals. (See : The 49 cent secret to accomplishing daily goals)
3. Eliminate Clutter
Clutter and Stuff = Stress! Learning to live with less “stuff” will be the most amazing transformation you can have in your life. Look around your house, do you have drawers, cupboards and closets filled with extra stuff you never use? Then eliminate it!
We spent a year trying to eliminate one thing we didn’t need from our home every single day. It kept it manageable, and actually fun! We realized we didn’t need 20 extra coffee cups, or 2 toasters, or 3 snow shovels. With everything we donated, sold, recycled or eliminated – we had less stress.
The more you can simplify your surroundings, the more time and money you will have to spend doing the things you really want to do.
Think back over the last year of things you purchased that you thought you had to have. I am pretty certain that with just a few exceptions, you rarely use any of them. Think twice about buying anything for your home unless it replaces something.
When you are thinking about purchasing a larger item that you are not sure you really need – go to the ATM, and take out the cash it will cost. When you see the actual cash leaving your possession – it is amazing how quickly you decide you really don’t need it!
3. Create A Budget – And Track Your Expenses
About 4 years ago, as part of our annual set of goals, we created a master family budget. For us, it truly was life changing. Every single day for the entire year, we kept track of everything we spent and where.
Not only did it allow us to see where our money was spent – but where it was truly being wasted. We were amazed to see how many small thoughtless purchases added up to whole lot of waste in our budget. The budget allowed us to re-adjust our spending and save more than we ever thought possible.
It’s not enough to simply put a guesstimate on each category expense. Take time to write down every thing you spend and where. I can almost guarantee you will be shocked to see how much you waste on things you don’t even use. This really helps when it comes to keeping the unneccessary clutter out of your house.
If your goal is to simplify and live with less stress – a budget is a must!
5. Get Up Early – Seize The Day!
When we speak, this is the one that always gets the most groans from the audience. But if you want to accomplish more, live more and experience more – you need to be up and at em! If you have ever caught yourself saying “I wish I had more time” – then make more time by getting in the habit of getting up early. It won’t kill you, really!
It is amazing how much can be accomplished in the quiet of the first two to three hours of the early morning. Use it to plan your day, read, or spend those 15 minutes toward following your passion. Whatever you do – get up and do it.
Ol’ Benny Franklin really was on to something with his “early to bed, early to rise” statement. Get up, seize the day, and make the life you want happen!
Here’s to a happier, more simple and stress free life in 2017! – Jim and Mary
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