Choosing to Live Simply
2015 Was quite a year for me, and far from the simple life I had been thinking about. I changed jobs, going from something I could do in my sleep, to something I have to think about all. the. time. It’s been more challenging than I thought it would be, but I was determined to move away from a job situation that was making me really unhappy. I launched a second business; hosting vintage/handcrafted shows while still working on my creative business of refinishing furniture.. I got frustrated with the direction my blog was going, so I stepped back from blogging, for what has turned out to be almost a year. Also in 2015, I finally realized I truly can’t do it all. I was overwhelmed by the to-do list, and the amount of STUFF I had accumulated trying to do everything.
I came across the phrase “When ya have a lot of stuff, ya gotta take care of a lot of stuff.” And I thought, YES! That’s it! The root of my problems, summed up in a simple sentence: too much stuff. Stuff of all kinds; Stuff to do, stuff to store, stuff to manage and and stuff in my head. It was just wearing me out. But it was several months before I decided to give that STUFF up. I’m there now, and have made some hard decisions about what can stay in my life, and what just has to go.
Getting Rid of the Stuff
I realized it was time to quit thinking about the simple life, and just start living it. Now, I know living simply means different things to different people. I am not talking about subsistence living, where I raise my own chickens, and grow my own vegetables, although that does have a certain appeal. I am talking about living a “right-sized” life, about discovering exactly what enough is, and learning to be happy with that. About realizing that a bigger house, a bigger car,or a busy schedule does not bring happiness. That the purpose of life is not to have MORE STUFF, but to be happy, and focus on people and things that really matter. And let’s face it, paying for and maintaining all that stuff can be exhausting. I believe that a “less is better” life is most likely a happier life. I truly regret that I didn’t discover this wisdom sooner.
Once I committed to living simply, I was overtaken with the urge to get rid of things. It’s a symbolic purge, a physical manifestation of a new beginning. And lets face it, decluttering is a great place to start; it provides immediate results. I started in my office/craft room, because it was ridiculously out of hand. The next place I hit was clothing closets, and then storage closets and cupboards. I decluttered the entire house. Now I will see something, and think to myself “Why do I have this?” The purge continues, but at more thoughtful pace.
In addition to my work life, and my home, I’ve been cleaning up my “digital life” as well. As a blogger, a certain level of social media is necessary if you want to get content in front of your readers. But it is certainly possible to have too much of a good thing. My business needs a visual medium, and I get the most bang for my buck from Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. I let the rest go. I’ve closed multiple accounts at Google+, Linked in, Twitter, Hometalk, Tumblr, yahoo, and gmail . Got rid of pages and people that were clogging up my feeds with crap that doesn’t relate to my businesses. I seldom use my personal FB page any longer; it remains because you can’t have a Business Page without it. My feed is exclusively family, blogs I follow, and the “recommendations” from FB that won’t go away. Finally, got rid of some phone games I’d been spending too much time on, cleaned up my contact list, and found a more effective event management software. What remains of my digital life is leaner, more functional, and far less time-consuming than it used to be. It is literally saving hours in my day.
Sorting Needs from Wants
The next decluttering was more of a mental exercise; the cataloging and evaluating of all the stuff I felt like I still needed to purchase. Things like hutches in my dining room, a new rug for the living room, new clothes, new cars, etc. All the “I wants” that I had translated into “I need.” In actuality, I don’t need any of it, although we do need to make repairs on the one car we are currently using.
After nearly a month of having only one car between us, I’ve realized that even a second vehicle is really just a want. Yes, it take a little bit of managing schedules, but for us one car is completely do-able, since my husband is self-employed, and our children grown. It will save us quite a bit of money as well; less on gas, repairs, insurance. If we choose to repair the second vehicle, it will be because we made an intentional decision to do so, rather than just assuming that we “needed” it. So much of what we have spent hours and dollars getting are really just extraneous, and ultimately have little to do with our real happiness or well-being.
I’ve talked to my husband about this whole concept of right-sized living and I don’t think he really “gets it” yet, but he’s willing to go along with it. So 2016 is going to be a year of discovery for us. Together we can move towards a life of less stuff and more living. I’m really looking forward to it!