We have this obsession with arriving. As if we are meant to be in one specific place, state of mind or lifestyle forever and ever. And then, when that journey takes longer than we think, or transition is harder than we expected, we go in a different direction hoping to arrive somewhere else. Or, we beat ourselves up for not being as dedicated, fast, happy or brilliant as someone else on a similar journey.
Measuring success based on arrival time or place will lead to complete dissatisfaction. We don’t have ultimate control, everything is changing within us and around us and by the time we get to where we thought we were supposed to be, it doesn’t meet our expectations and we want something else.
I’ve gone through stages of frustration trying to reach a simpler place, and was curious about your experience. When I asked what was most frustrating to you, I realized that we all have similar struggles. These are a few of the responses I received on Twitter.
- There seems to never be an end, no finish line for when I have arrived at the level of simplicity I am seeking.
- I am frustrated that it takes so long to let go of the accumulation of 35+ years of excessive living!
- Speed. I want it done NOW, and it’s all taking so long (and I’ve been at it for a long time already!)
Simplicity is a practice, not a destination.
While there may be exceptions, for most of us, simplicity is a daily practice and not some magical, clutter-free room where we arrive. Even when you are living a seemingly simple life, clutter accumulates, the unexpected phone call complicates your day, friends give you gifts that you don’t know what to do with, and family members aren’t on the same page.
All of those things happen and more. Life is messy. Instead of trying to change everything and everyone around you, accept that there is no finish line and no prize for having more or less. This is not a competition or a race. Simplicity is a practice. When you realize that the greatest benefits of simplicity come from the practice, you can start enjoying the process instead of being anxious to arrive.
7 ways to practice simplicity
Instead of working towards a goal that seems out of reach, implement a daily practice and start enjoying the rewards now.
1. Put you first.
You spend the day giving. You give your time, space and energy to your family, friends, work, and many other things. If you are lucky, you find a little time to unwind during the day, but it doesn’t happen every day. If you want to continue to give, you have to put you first. A morning routine (5-30 minutes) just for you every morning will change how you give. Wake up 5 minutes early and move slowly instead of cursing the alarm clock and speeding through the morning making sure everyone has what they need. You first. It’s not selfish, it’s necessary.
2. Declutter everyday.
Keep a small box by a convenient exit in your home and drop things that you don’t use in it every day. When it’s full, tape it up and donate it. Repeat.
3. Build a $1000 emergency fund.
Even if you have debt, make a small contribution on a regular basis to build a $1000.00 emergency fund. It will simplify your life in so many ways. Unexpected expenses are stressful and can really complicate and shake up your life. Eliminate that stress with an emergency fund. It was our first step in becoming debt free.
4. Ask for help.
Host a simplicity summit with your spouse and/or family members. You can’t expect everyone in your family to be as interested in simplifying as you are, but include them and listen to them. Ask great questions. Celebrate progress and highlight some of the benefits you’ve enjoyed as a result of simplifying.
5. Document your practice.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember how much progress you’ve made. Write in a journal about your daily progress or photograph the things you are giving away. You could shoot before/after pictures of your rooms or even start a blog.
6. Connect without Comparison.
Connect with people sharing their simplicity journeys. Read books and blogs and connect with the writers on Twitter or Facebook. Don’t compare your journey, but share your experience. Ask questions. Be supported and inspired by like-minded people. And then support and inspire them right back.
7. Discover what you love.
Simplifying your life is rewarding, but you might get bored with the process if it is all-consuming. The best part of getting rid of the things that don’t matter, is that you build time and space to discover what is truly meaningful to you. Discover and engage. Simplicity paves the way for you to start doing the things you really love.
If simplicity is a practice and not a destination, you don’t have to wait to get started. You don’t have to be discouraged at how slowly or quickly it goes and you can measure your success in joy and happiness instead of arrival time and place.