We’re about 90 days (give or take a few) into our simple living journey. Here’s what we’ve accomplished so far:
- Reduced our boxes by more than half
- Significantly reduced the clutter in our garage
- Decluttered our kitchen and got rid of all of the “unnecessaries” (no more 4 cheese plates)
- Pared down our wardrobe and donated close to 100 pounds of clothing
- Paid off over 50 percent of our $10,000 credit card debt (thanks, in part, to a unexpected financial windfall)
- Went from two car payments to one (side note: big thanks to Joel’s mom for letting us “borrow” the van 🙂 )
We still have a ton of work left to do, but I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past 90 days. I’ve also learned a few things in the process:
try this web-site click here now Three simple words—“just in case”—got us into trouble. For years, we’ve stockpiled so many extras and unnecessaries for the sake of “just in case” moments that we have yet to witness: “I’ll keep this shirt just in case it comes back in style” or “I’ll keep this toy just in case my kid asks for it”. We’ve used the phrase “just in case” time and time again to justify our reasons for holding on to things we simply don’t need (or want). Meanwhile, by holding on to all of these “just in case” items for future scenarios that may never happen, we’ve relinquished the opportunity to live peacefully and happily in the present moment by coexisting with the clutter and chaos that comes along with the accumulation of such items. Once I realized this, I decided holding on to things “just in case” was no longer worth it for me.
Organizing is much more effective when you unload. I’m a firm believer in the phrase “a place for everything and everything in its place.” But I’ve found that organizing is essentially ineffective if you have too much stuff. I’ve discovered in many cases, in order for an organization project to be successful, you have to do some “unloading”—in other words, get rid of stuff. For example, I used to constantly organize and reorganize my kids’ rooms. Yet after each organization project, they still had a hard time finding things. The sheer volume of toys, gadgets, and gizmos made it so overwhelming for them to find anything that they would eventually get frustrated and stop looking for whatever it was they were trying to find. However, once we “unloaded” a huge portion of their stuff and then organized it, they were able to find things much easier.
It’s not as hard as I thought it would be. While writing this post I realized we’ve accomplished much more than I had originally thought. And come to think of it, it was surprisingly easier than anticipated. I’m not saying it didn’t take time, commitment, and discipline to accomplish what we have up to this point—it took a lot of all three of those things, actually. But in all honesty, I thought it would have been much more difficult to let things go.
We didn’t need to set specific goals to get things done. Generally speaking, I like structure. I like to plan ahead, set goals, and know the direction in which I’m headed. But for the past 90 days, we haven’t really done any of those things. We didn’t set goals. We didn’t plan ahead. And it’s worked out pretty well for us. In a way, I feel we’ve actually accomplished more because of it. Don’t get me wrong, I think goals and plans are great. They can give you a sense of security and direction. They can inspire you to be better and motivate you to do more. But I also feel at times they can be limiting. They limit you to the notion that you must follow the plan or attain the goal otherwise you have failed in some way—which can be incredibly discouraging. So we’ve decided to continue to be a little more flexible in our approach. Instead of setting a specific plan or goal (I have to get all of these boxes done TODAY!”), we set a certain amount of time aside on any given day and do what we can within that time frame. For example, if I have three hours to kill on a particular day, I’ll work on whatever project I’m motivated to do at the time for those three hours. If it gets done, great, if it doesn’t, I’ll finish it another time. In my opinion, I think it’s much easier to say “I will commit ‘x’ amount of time on this and do what I can” because I feel it’s easier to follow through. And trust me, even if you don’t get it all done, you will recognize the progress you’ve made and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. (For those that prefer a more structured approach, there’s a great book by Joshua Becker called Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life. He provides some great pointers on decluttering and how/where to get started.)
Now of course, everyone’s different. What works for me may not work for someone else. The key is to find what works for you—never limit yourself to the idea that you should do something a certain way just because someone else is doing it.
Also keep in mind that the journey toward living simply—or any lifestyle change for that matter—is a constant work in progress. There’s always going to be “maintenance”. But, as I’ve seen in the past 90 days, it will get easier. And it will be worth it.