Last year, my family and I moved to a new house. Packing up six kids and two adults was a lot of work, even though we’ve been pursuing a simple lifestyle for years. As I packed I would ask myself: Do I need this?
Often the answer was no, and the pile to pack slowly dwindled. But after awhile I realized there was a better question. I started asking instead: Can I live without this? My perspective shifted, and I found I could let go of even more. I haven’t missed anything I parted with. Not one thing.
My goal wasn’t to own as few things as possible. My goal was to move only the things that served my family. The less time and energy I devoted to packing, unpacking, storing and sorting, the more energy I had for the rest of my life.
The Simple Life
Our culture has been whispering to us since we could listen: more is better. Be more, do more, have more. It’s not a want, it’s a need. More. More. More.
When we look at it written out like that, we all know it’s wrong. You don’t need more. You are enough. Having more stuff, more busyness, more power and prestige: these do not increase your worth as a human being.
As we turn away from that “more is all” message, we want to be intentional about what we replace it with. It feels good to reject the cultural imperative to accumulate. It feels good to refute the status quo. It feels like the opposite of mindless consumption.
Living a Simple Life
Designing a simple life doesn’t just mean throwing out all the things. It’s not about a life of most, it’s not about a life of least, it’s about the life that’s right for you.
You don’t have to get rid of things just for the sake of getting rid of them. You remove what you don’t need (in your home, in your thoughts, in your schedule) to make room for the life you want to live.
Designing a simple life means having fewer distractions in your life, so you can focus on what matters. It’s about saying no to everything that gets in the way, but saying yes to what’s right for you.
It means having more of some things: more time, more energy, more space, more flex in your budget, more peace of mind. It means having less of others: less distractions, less frustration, less clutter, less drain on your resources.
1. Design a life that’s right for you.
Your life is your life. It should make sense for you.
- Who you are. Your history, your personality, your passions, your interests.
- Your purpose. What you’re meant to do and who you’re meant to be.
- What you value. You can make space for what matters most to you.
2. Ask yourself good questions, and not only about your physical possessions.
You can question your schedule, your routines, your energy, your time and relationships.
- What does this bring to my life?
- What would my life be like without this?
- Why do I have this in my life?
- Does this — this item, this event, this appointment, this routine, this schedule, this plan — does this move me toward the life I want to live, or away from it?
- Does it add value or beauty to my days?
- Am I investing my resources where it matters most?
- Are there areas where I’ve let someone else’s priorities take over my time and energy?
3. Be open to change.
Be willing to try something new. New priorities, new perspectives, new questions, new choices.
Something that was right for you in the past might not serve your present. That’s okay. Be thankful for what you learned, and let that go.
Be willing to say “yes” to what you need now, even if that means saying “yes” to things that would have been a “no” in the past.
You can design the life you want to live. You can design a simple life, a life of purpose. Removing the clutter you don’t need is a tool to help you get there.
If you want to pursue a simple life, we have created a 30-day email course that will inspire + encourage you.