You want to start living a slower, simpler life.
You feel stuck. You’re overwhelmed, under stress, and struggling.
You can feel the weight of your possessions weighing you down. You are tired of feeling exhausted, strung out, stressed and cranky.
You know you want to change. You know you need to simplify. But you just don’t know where to begin.
What you need is a blue-print of sorts.
And while having a blue-print won’t actually do the work – that part is up to you – it will give you some guidance when you’re unsure of how to move forward.
I’ve listed the five steps I
take when simplifying, wished I had taken when I started simplifying. It would have made the entire process a hell of a lot easier! Unfortunately though, I wasn’t so tidy and linear when I first began.
5 Steps to Simplifying Life
1. Find Your Why
You need to understand your reasons for change. Take a minute and ask yourself the following questions:
Why do you want a simpler life? What benefits do you want to gain? Why is it important? Do you want:
- more family time?
- more control?
- less stress?
- less environmental impact?
- less clutter?
- less debt?
- move to a smaller home?
- quit your job?
- start a family?
- find happiness?
- recover from illness?
There are really no bad reasons for wanting a simpler life. The key is understanding your own motivation.
You need to know why you’re making these changes – this is the encouragement you can always call on when things get too hard. If you don’t have a why, you may find yourself back at this point in 12 months time, wondering why your changes didn’t stick.
2. Shift Your Mindset
A simpler life is not simply decluttering or spring cleaning, it’s about embracing a whole new lifestyle. Simplifying life means you’re making space – permanently – for more joy, more rest, more contentment, more love, more connection.
Even though it begins with stuff, simplifying your life is not really about stuff at all.
3. Start Small – Really Small
Tackle some of your smallest tasks first.
This is helpful for a lot of reasons, namely, they don’t take long (10-60min), you get a victory, you gain momentum and you begin to see a difference almost immediately. That is often all you need to inspire you on, through some of the more difficult projects ahead.
Instead of heading directly to the overflowing garage or basement, first declutter your:
- kitchen drawers
- medicine cabinet
- bathroom cupboards
- under the lounge
- hall stand
- tupperware drawer
- laundry shelf
- cleaning cupboard
- dry goods cupboard
Take time to appreciate those small, clutter-free areas before moving forward.
Like it or not, you won’t be living a simple life until you’ve decluttered your belongings.
You can take it at your own pace – room by room and surface by surface – or you can use checklists like those I’ve created for the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge.
However you decide to approach it, understand that sometimes it can be difficult to let go. This post gives you a never-fail decluttering technique, as well as tips and tricks to make the process much simpler.
5. Time and Iterations
Rinse and repeat.
I couldn’t tell you how many times I have decluttered our wardrobe. It’s not that I’ve been buying tonnes of clothes (I definitely haven’t) but rather our circumstance and mindset have shifted. What seemed like a “must-keep” item three months ago is now a no-brainer for the donate box.
Simplifying life is a constant cycle of balance, boundaries and gently testing those boundaries until you arrive at a place you’re comfortable with.
Tell me, do you have your why already worked out?
Interestingly, mine has shifted from when I began. Initially it was just about reducing stress in my life so that I wouldn’t completely lose my mind. But as I’ve experienced more – more joy, more clarity, more pleasure, more love, more fun, more health, more adventure – my why has shifted. Now it takes in almost every area of life.
I simplify to:
- enjoy spending time with my kids and husband
- allow myself an afternoon nap
- be grateful for all that we have
- dream big dreams, then go live them
- feel peaceful in our home
- spend more time with friends
- spend less time cleaning
- feel closer to myself
And it is hands-down the best change I’ve made.