Learning to simplify your life might just be the answer that you need, if you are feeling overwhelmed and unhappy by your life.
As I am learning more about simplifying my own life, I am learning that a simple life also means living a slower life. A life of more intention filled with conscious choices.
I noticed in my own life, that when I make things less complicated, less busy, less distracting and less cluttered, I feel better.
But, as it happens to most of us, I tend to become distracted by my all my stuff, which includes physical stuff but also emotional and mental stuff. I use the word stuff because that is the best way I can describe it. Just stuff.
The result is more stress, less connection
What does it mean to simplify your life?
To simplify your life means different things to different people. I don’t think that there is a blueprint for simplicity.
For me, simplifying my life means to focus on that which brings me peace and joy in my life, while removing those distractions (physical and mental) which don’t serve a purpose in my life anymore.
We are all in different places in our lives and to say a simple life has to look a certain way, makes us conform again to societal pressure. I believe this is the exact opposite of simple living.
The challenge when you simplify your life
We hold on to our emotional baggage, our physical possessions and our fast-paced, stressful lifestyles with all our worth. We fear what our life will be like without it. Who will WE be without it?
We live in a noisy, demanding world. We get bombarded from all sides by others trying to convince us that what we have is not good enough. That who we are is not good enough.
We become slaves to the latest fashion. We hope that buying a new car (which we probably can’t afford) will up our status. Our credit cards are bending under the pressure of keeping us happy.
There is no space for simplifying your life here. Instead of being happy, we are in a constant state of discontent. Always pushing for more and wanting more.
Our society glorifies busyness and hustle and never slowing down.
The subtle message is when you slow down, you stay behind.
The goal to simplify your life
When we start to remove the things that don’t serve us from our lives, we are happier.
Stress, anxiety and overwhelm can be caused by too much mental and physical clutter.
Our physical environments exhaust us because there are too
Mentally, we exhaust ourselves too. We believe that we are not good enough. We compare ourselves to others and we come up short. We delight in telling others how busy we are, how we work ourselves into the ground. We wear our busyness like a badge of honor.
By choosing to simplify your life, you consciously start to create your days, your experiences, your relationships and ultimately your life.
The benefits when you simplify your life
When we simplify life, we have more time for the things that are important to you.
We are freed from accumulating possessions and positions, and instead, we can focus on building relationships. Our attention is no longer diverted by all kinds of distractions which allows us to be more creative.
We have time to explore our inner worlds, we have time for self-care and we have time for living.
When you simplify your life, you can manage your time better. You start to focus on only those things which really matter.
Mental clutter, negative beliefs
When you free up your mind and start to eliminate thoughts and beliefs which don’t serve you
You feel more inspired by your life which translates directly into having more energy and ultimately hope.
You feel happier, less stressed and overwhelmed. This all contributes to you living a more satisfying a fulfilling life.
You will find that when you simplify your life you gain more balance and freedom as you are no longer weighed down by people, possessions, emotions
5 steps to simplify your life
Let’s look at a few things that you can do to get started to simplify your life. Now, this is definitely not a “you-must-do-everything-and-you-must-do- everything-perfectly-list”.
Remember our goal – to create a life that is simpler and slower so that we can feel more fulfilled and happier.
Choose 1 or 2 points to start with. I don’t want to give you more stuff to add to your to-do list, that is not the point here AT ALL. Instead, start off this journey slowly! Bookmark this page and come back to it as you work through each point.
1. Decide what is important to you
We want to simplify our lives to those things which are important to us, and to those things we need.
So the question is, how to do you what you need? You can find the answer in yourself by nurturing awareness, and knowing what your core values are.
Our core values are those values which drive our behavior. It is the reason that we do what we do.
How to identify your core values
Make a list of the 5 most important things to you.
There is no right or wrong answer of what should be on your list. Think about the things which give you joy, your reason for living. The things which uplift you, and which make you happy.
Now, think about how you can start to live your life so that it aligns with what is most important to you.
ce being more present
Start to pay more attention to both your inner and outer world. Being present means that you have an awareness of what is going on both inside and outside of you.
Use simple techniques like focusing on your breathing to help you. When you focus on your breath, you automatically bring your attention into the present moment.
Instead of gulping down your morning cup of tea or coffee, sit down when you drink it. Take a moment to savor the flavor. Observe the steam coming off the top of the cup. Feel the warmth inside your chest and tummy as you swallow it.
Make a point of focusing on the here and now at least a few times a day.
3. Have daily routines
You will find that having routines will simplify your life.
If you have ever experienced a crazy morning, either because you overslept, or there was no hot water, or something else out of the norm happened and disrupted your usual morning routine, you will know exactly what I mean.
When you have conscious, intentional and purposeful routines which you practice daily, it will put you in a state of wellbeing.
Start small by creating a morning ritual for yourself. It will help you ease into the day. It doesn’t matter whether you journal, or meditate or whether you do yoga. Even just staring out the window while having your morning cup of tea or coffee will work!
Experiment with a few different things until you find that which soothes you, while it energizes you at the same time.
4. Declutter your home
Now, let’s get a myth out of the way. When you simplify your life, you don’t necessarily need to become a minimalist.
If extreme minimalism is your thing, good on you. However, our goal here is to find ways to soothe us and to simplify our lives. So, decluttering does not necessarily mean a life with almost no possessions.
But, many of us own way more possessions, furniture, clothes, books, beauty products, linen, stationery and everything else that we spend money on than what is necessary. We have some much stuff that we become overwhelmed by the mess.
Think about how you can create a haven in your house. How can you turn it into a space that is tranquil and where you enjoy being?
Instead of trying to declutter your entire home in one fell swoop, start with one room at a time. Finishing decluttering one room will inspire you for the next rooms!
With young children around, your house can quickly be overcome by an avalanche of toys if you are not careful. A good idea that I read about and what I do with our kids, is to rotate their toys every 4-6 weeks.
You’ll notice quickly which toys they are happy to see and which ones they don’t really play with.
5. Get your finances in order
A goal when you simplify your life is to reduce your stress, including financial stress. That means to live a debt-free lifestyle.
I can remember very clearly when I decided to no longer make debt.
Many years ago, I got into a habit of only buying on credit. I used store cards and credit cards, and I shopped a lot. I would pay back my monthly repayments, but I kept on buying and my credit limits kept on increasing.
It came to the point where I had to use most of my monthly salary just to pay the minimum owed on each account.
I realized that I couldn’t carry on like this. I started paying back more than I owed where I could, and I stopped buying anything which wasn’t absolutely necessary to my survival.
The big clincher
I hated how my frivolous living and spending on things which I didn’t need, impacted my life at that point and that is when I decided to stop.
I get it that you might have financial responsibilities in your life that you can’t get away from. But how much debt you have is directly related to the level of financial stress you have.
If you want to start living debt-free, start working on a plan to reduce your debt. You can read this post on 33 proven ways to reduce personal debt for inspiration and ideas.
It’s a journey, not a destination
On this journey you will make a few discoveries along the way.
You will see that who you are and what you have is enough.
Your relationships with yourself and your loved ones improve.
Your general sense of wellbeing will improve.
Your stress levels will decrease and your self-love will increase.
There is no final