Ironic isn’t it? The fact that getting our lives to a simplified state is not exactly simple. Often, it’s anything but simple. It can feel complicated, messy and overwhelming.
A few weeks ago I received a comment from a reader , responding to the post about our family living in my parents basement temporarily during our transition. After editing out his colorful use of language, the comment came out something like this: “How in the world is that simple? Moving from one home, becoming landlords, disrupting the parents life and then moving into another house. Seriously! How is that simple?”
I couldn’t agree more wholeheartedly! The process of simplifying our lives is not simple. Actually, it’s the complete opposite. It’s hard work, physically, emotionally and even spiritually.
Honestly, if simplifying life was “simple” then everyone would have done it by now.
The reality is that our lives do not become full, cluttered, over-scheduled, exhausting and burdened by stuff overnight. In fact, that kind of accumulation happens over days, weeks, months, and years.
Therefore, it’s only reasonable to expect that the act of simplifying those areas of our lives will take time and hard work.
I don’t see simplifying as a destination, but rather a journey. Assuming that one can walk such a journey without putting in the hard work is fool-hardy at best.
The level of simplicity you choose to reach determines the amount of time and effort needed to accomplish your goal. For our family, we have chosen to drastically reduce our personal possessions, lease out our farm and move into a simpler housing situation. Some of that was dictated by the desire to be closer to our family and work, along with our goal of living a debt-free life.
However, I would be lying if I told you that it was easy. Deciding what to let go of; re-locating our family; entering a new community; changing schedules; and giving up personal family space has been an adjustment. Some days I wonder if it’s all worth it, yet I also know that it’ll be eye-opening for our family. We know what our end goal is:
- Open time available with family & friends.
- More available resources and time to serve our community and the world around us.
- Living debt free for ourselves and for the future of our family
We have other, smaller goals, but those are some of the big ones for us.
Ok. So if simplifying life isn’t easy, where exactly should you start? Here are 4 key areas to direct your focus:
- DECIDE which area to simplify first: I realize you may have multiple areas you want to work on, but tackling one at a time will be the key to success.
- BREAK the area into manageable steps: This is where starting with small steps is important. If you’re working on an overflowing closet, you might focus first on putting away all the winter coats. Once that task is done, set a goal to go through the shoes and get rid of what doesn’t fit. Maybe the shoes are too far gone to wear again, or are seasonal and can be stored until the appropriate season arrives. Remember! Rome was not conquered in a day, right? Neither will the piles of paperwork, the overflowing closets, or the exhausting schedule. By taking small steps, you avoid exhausting yourself and are much more apt to finish as you see small areas of progress turn into bigger changes.
- STEP BACK and look at the progress you have made, no matter how small. This is a good time to also re-evaluate your goals for the area you are working on.
- SEE IT THROUGH to the end. It is so easy to start working on one area and then discover another area that needs attention. As a result you land up bouncing around from one area to the next, but never really accomplishing the goals set for any of them.
This particular quote from Thomas Edison always causes me to pause and think – What opportunity am I missing because it requires too much hard work? For a long time I treated a lot of areas of my life this way.
It wasn’t until we began to desire more from our life than simply chasing the American dream, that things began to change. No matter where you are in your journey of simplifying your life, it will take hard work to get there.
However, I can reassure you that the hard work of simplifying your life is worth the effort. It’s worth it to create a margin of rest and really zone in on what matters to you the most. That kind of work will reap benefits far into the future for you and your family.
Keeping It Simple,
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