I get asked all the time, “How can I simplify my life?” Over a cup of coffee, I listen to them regale the saga that has become their lives. They are stressed, tired, broke, and frustrated. There have been many times I have taken the time to map out a plan to regain control of their lives. However, for all of my careful strategizing, emotional counseling, and philosophizing, it comes down to these 16 hard truths. So here they are….no sugar coating, no BS, no magic tricks, just 16 simple truths to simplify your life.
- Cull your wardrobe. Get serious. Be ruthless. Move those worn out, too big, too small, stained, stretched out pieces of nostalgia along. You know exactly the pieces I am speaking of, and no you are not going to fix it someday, let’s be real.
- Stop buying sh!t. You know as soon as the bill arrives you’ll be riddled with guilt and wondering how you are going to make ends meet. It’s even worse when that something ends up in the bottom of the closet…or if you’re neat, hanging in the closet with the tags on it 6 months later. If you don’t need it, don’t buy it! Even if it IS half price!
- Shake things up. We are creatures of habit. We run ourselves into a rut all the time. Shake up your routine. Trying waking up a half-hour earlier to sit down and have a cup of coffee or a decent breakfast. If you dine and dash in the morning, you are already feeling behind. In the evening, if you usually veg out in front of the TV, try listening to an audiobook or podcast while you put together a puzzle or fix that thing you’ve been meaning to get to.
- Un freakin’ subscribe. Time to clean your digital house! Unsubscribe from every nagging solicitor you can and set the controls on the ones you can’t. You can’t imagine how awesome it is to see the things you actually want to see and not see the things you don’t.
- Don’t be wasteful. Practice a little common sense. Watch your food, packaging, plastic, and household waste. Be mindful of water and energy conservation. Teach your kids to turn off the water when they brush their teeth and turn out the lights. Don’t take 50 packets of ketchup if you only use 8. Cut down on the amount of plastic you use or buy. Can you manage your drink without a straw? Sign up for paperless bills and statements whenever you can. Be mindful of your carbon footprint and do at least one thing a day to reduce it.
- Let it go. Channel your inner Elsa and let sh!t go. If there is something you can do about it, then get off the couch and do it. If there isn’t, then let it go. The old adage that “bitterness is like you drinking poison and expecting the other person to die” is right on the money. Let the petty stuff go, not for their sake but for yours. Take your life back. Oh, and while you are letting go of things… let go of toxic relationships. It’ll put a pep in your step.
- Put your big girl/boy panties on. Take a hard, truthful look at your finances. Are you spending more than you make? Then you are skidding into trouble (no surprise there). Do the work or get someone to help you do the work of getting your finances in order. Adult the hell up! Get out of debt! Start an emergency fund….for when you mess up (like you forgot to pay the power bill) or need something fixed (like you blew the transmission in your car)!
- Get rid of it. Sell it, give it away or toss it out…. but get rid of it! I don’t care how cute that kitty cat ring holder was, you haven’t stacked rings on it for the last 10 years by the depth of the dust. Are you really going to go back through last year’s Martha Stewart magazines looking for that patio pink punch recipe? No, you aren’t. And no, your children do not want your old kitschy crap. They have enough of their own.
- Clean up after yourself. Let’s be real here, why should anyone have to pick up after you or wallow in your filth? Put the food away, wash your dishes, pick up the dirty clothes, and empty the trash. You aren’t five, this is no one else’s responsibility. If you borrow it, put it back. Get off your hind-end and do your part. While you are at it, clean out your car. I appreciate you shoveled the mess off the seat, but now I have nowhere to put my feet.
- Be of service. You’d be surprised out how much perspective you gain when you are being of service. Whether you learn to be more grateful, humble, or compassionate, being of service is never a bad thing. Go do some good in the world!
- Practice what you know. We know eating processed food is toxic to our bodies, and yet we still eat it. Why? After all, it’s not like we don’t know better. We know exercising, eating greens, getting more sleep, reducing our stress, being responsible, and meeting our obligations is all good for us. You don’t need a new self-help book, you just need to practice what you already know.
- Take a walk. Get outside. If you are in an area where Forest Bathing is available to you, give it a try. It seems a little out there, but I actually dig it. For lowering stress, improving sleep and boosting your immune system, it’s a pretty neat way to support your health.
- Don’t be so shallow. I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s okay if you don’t keep up with the Jones. It’s also okay to not have the latest gadget or underwear brand. If your friends are so shallow they care, you need new friends. (See Let It Go) One-upping each other is only going to land you deeply in debt or bankrupt anyway.
- Hold on a minute. Take ten minutes to enjoy a cup of coffee or close your eyes. Sit down and rest a second. I know you’ve been busy loading the dishwasher or mowing the lawn, but it’s okay to rest for a few now and then. Try to ignore your phone for ten minutes too.
- Get creative. Make something. Draw, write a poem or make a planter out of milk jugs. Pinterest the hell out of whatever floats your boat and then do it. Creativity boosts our self-confidence, challenges parts of our brain we sometimes suppress and contributes to our overall sense of well being. You don’t have to be good at it, you just have to do it.
- Stop multitasking. Turns out most people aren’t as good at multitasking as they think. It’s bad for your performance and your brain. It might even lower your IQ! Stick to Single-tasking.
There is hope for your shit-show yet…. just one step at a time.
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