Sometimes you just need to start by asking yourself some questions, really sitting on an idea. Think about it over tea, write about it. Talk to others about it, start reading about others’ experiences. Most of us don’t quiet our minds long enough to know, really know, what it is that’s stressing us out or even creating joy in us.
How can we know if we’re ready to simplify? What sort of attitudes or behaviors can a life “too full” bring it?
Is there stress at home?
We all want a lovely home that brings about ease in the hearts of our family and comfort to those who walk through our door. We want to enjoy our space so we can relax and unwind, but we’re often left feeling stressed at the amount of things that need our attention.
Simplifying our material goods at home means less to clean, pick up, and organize. Organization is key to a tidy home, yes, but organized clutter is still clutter. It might be time to simplify your material possessions.
Are you feeling weighed down this season?
No matter your season in life, maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by the fullness of your schedule or all the people you’re committed to. Those with kids may feel the overwhelm of physical clutter since there’s an obvious obsession with filling our kid’s time with more toys and more gadgets and more clothes.
Busyness has been made into this sexy word in our society, if you’re busy you’re important. If you’re busy you’re needed. If you’re busy, you’re productive.
Let’s drop those lies at the door. We are TOO busy and our homes are TOO full. Shed the weight of physical things that aren’t adding true value to your life and eliminate commitments that are causing you stress (yes, even the admirable activities like volunteering can go–everything has a place and time).
Are you sick and tired of cleaning all the time?
Physical clutter can create stress. Stress can come out in many different ways–exhaustion, impatience with others, feelings of disorganization. Laundry piles up too quickly, toys are everywhere, random odds and ends are scattered all over the house. Our homes are filled with things that don’t bring value and aren’t being used. That’s clutter.
You can spend less time picking up and tidying your home by eliminating the things you are not using. Don’t stress over the money you spent buying that thing, it’s over and done, but commit to being a more intentional consumer.
Constant cleaning takes away from time spent with our loved ones, it prevents us from spending time on us through self-care activities and it can suck all of our mental and physical energy. Are you feeling weighed down by all the things tucked into baskets? Sitting on your shelves? Piled into cabinets and drawers? Sit on this question for awhile, don’t just gloss over this one.
Are you tired of working so much?
Have you created a lifestyle that requires you to work more than you’d like? The things we put on credit and the loans we take out for vehicles (and houses) are expenses we cannot afford. Literally, credit and debt means that we aren’t using our money. We have to stop this.
It might be time to set a budget and tell your money where to go so you can live with a little more freedom. Life is too short to work a job simply because we have to based on the things we’ve built our life around. Seek contentment and let go.
I understand that some people have to work full-time to make the necessary ends meets, I’m not ignorant of this. However, with confidence I can say that I believe most of us are working so much because we want to maintain and even increase a life of luxuries. There’s no judgment here, folks, my husband and I live comfortably. I’m not suggesting that you quit your job and don’t pay your bills. I’m not even suggesting that you should be living without things that bring you joy.
What I want us to focus on is why we work so much. If you don’t love your job or you wish you had more free time or you’re missing out on kid’s activities ask yourself this: Is there a way, without compromising the necessary, for you to get these things?
If you’re serious about tackling this one, you have a lot of work ahead. You need to evaluate your expenses, decide which ones can go and before you make a rash decision to quit your job and sell the vegetables from your garden for a living, you need to realistically see how much income needs to come in.
You want to save money this year.
Speaking of jobs and finances, if you want to save more money this year you don’t need to take on another job. Instead, consider ways to cut expenses. Even cutting the weekly $5 latte helps. Almost 4 years ago we took Financial Peace University with Dave Ramsey and it has forever changed our lives. We will never look at money the same way again.
Molding his teaching to ways that better fit our lifestyle, we’ve been able to get out of debt twice before either of us hit 30. Debt is another topic for another day, but if you want to save more money this year then you must stop spending so much. No matter your financial situation, there is something (probably a lot of things) that can go.
If we don’t tell our money where to go, it will rule us. Sounds silly, but if there’s money to be spent, leave it to us to spend it. Once you’ve evaluated your finances–the money coming in and what’s going out–you’ll have a better idea of how much you can save. Set a monthly goal and make it happen.
You want to travel more.
Traveling isn’t cheap, there’s gas, plane tickets, meals on the road, lodging and the experiences to pay for. Expenses add up quickly. Unless you’re wanting a stay-cation in the backyard roasting hotdogs and listening to the neighbor’s dog bark then traveling is going to set you back. But more and more people are coming to realize that travel and memory-making experiences bring enrichment to their lives.
We all want to travel, don’t we? Go see the Grand Canyon or the Redwoods. Take a trip to Europe or revel in sandy beaches. Disneyland or primitive camping, see the city lights or a fishing trip. The desire to see new things and make new memories lies in all of us.
If you want to make traveling a priority this year, then simplify elsewhere. It is possible, but this year’s travel opportunity will be the same as last year unless we make some changes.
You feel stressed or tired more than you don’t.
What we fill our days and homes with are how we spend our lives.
Each day does matter. Each purchase does matter. Each commitment matters. We all know that life passes quickly, like a flower of the field one day we’re here and the next we’re gone.
The idea of being busy all the time has plagued us for far too long. You are not lazy if you take a day off for yourself. Busy schedules can take away more than they give. We are not SuperWoman, and letting go of that expectation is crucial to simplifying your life.
Let go of things that are burdensome, learn to say no without feeling guilty and recognize the benefit of just being.
So are you ready to simplify? What other areas do you need to consider? What are some small action steps you can take right now to get the ball rolling?