Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action. If you’d like to submit your story of how simplicity has worked in your life, please read more here. You can write about anything from decluttering a junk drawer to simplifying your diet. Let your small and big changes inspire others.
A lot of people thought I had it figured out. And heck, I thought I had it figured out too.
For a decade after graduating college, life was comfortable and stable, supported by a well-paying corporate gig. I had the trust and respect of family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers…what could be better?
But then one day, my wife Melinda told me “I’m pregnant” and a personal renaissance was born. I was going to become a papa soon and the man I was then was not the man I wanted to be as a father. The accumulation of bad habits – like my video game addiction – and the pursuit of arbitrary goals left me confused about my legacy to this world.
So I started to explore how people were living life on purpose and breaking down their needs into simple components. Nothing previously hinted I’d shift to an intentional life, but almost everything since my personal renaissance has been the result of determining what I truly need to be happy (with the least amount possible).
I mean the least amount of money to support my family and community. The least amount of complexity in food I prepare and eat. The least amount of chaos in my relationships, regardless of their length. And the least amount of friction between what I do for work and the value that everyone gets from it. I even created my own Personal User Guide so I could define what made me tick, celebrate the things that were uniquely me, and determine what non-essential parts of my life were holding me back.
By embracing the voluntarily simplicity I saw others thriving with and promoting, I incorporated many aspects of the Stoic school of thought. I didn’t realize just how much until I read Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic. It was a transformational moment. One that solidified the purpose behind my intense urges to simplify, organize, and embody the money wise spirit being offered up to me from many places.
As a result of my personal renaissance, constant experimentation, and exposure to wonderful minimalist or simplifying influences, I’ve been able to:
- Reevaluate my relationship with food. As a source of fuel now instead of a source of deliciousness, I spend more energy creating simple meals with better quality ingredients (while still being tasty).
- Drop old relationships – without guilt or hard feelings – that weren’t benefiting anyone. But more importantly, absorbing simplicity allowed me to revive my passion for creating new relationships.
- Quit my corporate job (because who needs all that money anyway) to build a legacy helping people the way I know best: simplifying, organizing, and rockin’ personal finance. Plus, I save time getting dressed and only shave once every few days now. That’s time I can use to slow the rest of my morning down and enjoy it more.
- Embody personal traits that my son Grant can be proud of. My papa skills still have a long way to go, but simplifying has made this so much easier.
Sometimes I get concerned that I’ve outsourced the complexities of life to Melinda, other family members, or some friends. But their constant reassurance of the value added by my choice to simplify only reinforces my drive to continue this rewarding path.
I knew a simpler life was possible. I just didn’t have the methods or the reasons to pursue it until my personal renaissance.
Now, I keep experimenting with ways to grow my legacy without tons of resources and without self-imposed limitations. At this point, I wouldn’t want it any other way.