“Simple living” sounds easy, doesn’t it? It’s right in the name: simple.
Living simply does make some things easier, but it’s an ongoing process of refinement. It’s a practice. It’s an invitation to change, and to keep rethinking our choices as we grow.
A while back, I realized that I was ending every day feeling like I hadn’t accomplished enough. I felt like each day brought more to do than I could ever finish in twenty-four hours.
This was true, in a sense. There are always more options for what to do than there are hours in the day. There are always more projects, more activities, more discussions, more decisions, more chores, and more plans than can fit on the calendar. That doesn’t mean I have to do them all every day.
I want my days to feel more full of peace, joy, connection, and intention. I want to feel less frantic, frazzled, overwhelmed, and frustrated. I want to feel like I’m heading in the right direction and moving at a sustainable pace. But none of that comes naturally, and none of it stays in place forever.
I thought I’d developed a simple approach to my schedule, but it wasn’t working anymore. I didn’t want to feel like every day’s work spilled over into the next. Each day has its own work, and even though my projects continue, each day needs its own sense of closure. I needed to redesign my days.
Living simply means we have to pay attention to what’s working and what isn’t, and we have to be willing to make changes from season to season.
Sometimes you have to reconsider your commitments, your habits, your patterns, or the choices you made during a different life stage. If something isn’t working any longer, it’s time to make a change.
So what do you do when you need to redesign your life?
1. Notice how you feel.
Think about your days. When are you overwhelmed, overcrowded, overbooked? When are you frustrated? What feels perpetually incomplete? What leaves you feeling drained?
These are areas that are ready for a redesign toward simplicity.
2. Take a step back.
Reprioritizing, reorganizing, and rescheduling can all help to relieve pressure — but the best way to make lasting change is to reduce. That might look like paring back, stepping away, letting go, slowing down, or saying no.
3. Start here, start now.
When we want to make changes, the first step is always the hardest. (Well, maybe not the hardest. If you have to step through flames at any point, that may be harder. But the first step is always one of the hardest.)
Make that first step a little bit easier. You could:
- Start with the tiniest baby step you can imagine.
- Ask someone else to hold you accountable.
- Make it harder to do the old thing and easier to do the new thing.
- Celebrate the fact of getting started.
4. Be kind to yourself.
Designing a simple life is a journey, and every step you take counts. Give yourself credit for the changes you make along the way.
Remember that there’s a purpose behind your simplicity. When you do less of what isn’t yours to do, you can give more of yourself to what’s most important. But it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition, and it’s okay if your life is still “in process.” That’s part of being human. We’re always in process.
Think about your home, your family life and your activities. Where are you ready to feel less overwhelmed? Where are you ready to create more peace?