Editor’s Note: This is a post in the new 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.
In 2010, I gave up a high salary and successful (in the usual sense of the word) corporate career in London and moved with my family to a small village in the countryside, changing our way of life completely.
We simplified our lives and downsized our home, primarily so that we could spend more time with our children. I have always been troubled by the fact that so many people work really hard to raise their families but without really seeing them. Then when the children leave, the parents finally retire – i.e. when it’s too late to spend time with them.
I wanted to figure out a way to spend more time with my family while they were growing up instead of missing out on most of that due to being at work, even if that just ended up being a career break.
What actually happened to trigger this thought was when one day, I looked down at my son who was 9 at the time and it just occurred to me that it felt that it was only a moment ago that he was 5. It was that moment particularly that persuaded me that even if we just took 1 year then it still had to be worth it.
What we found was that simplifying our lives like this has brought us so much more. It’s not just more time together but a whole new and rewarding way of life that continues to surprise and inspire us in ways we hadn’t fully appreciated before living it.
In short, by removing everything from our lives that we don’t want or need, we have made so much more space for the things we enjoy and everything that’s really important to us (both physically and mentally).
For example, we have replaced too many TV channels with more time spent doing other things (like going for walks in the beautiful countryside). We have replaced having a freezer with having no freezer and buying fresh produce as and when we need it from the local village shop. I could list about 200 of these ‘replacements’ but you get the idea.
The result is that we are happier and healthier than ever and despite giving up the corporate career, we’re OK financially too because we’ve actually simplified our lives financially as well.
We even wrote a book about our journey, To The Country We Go… which also turned out to be a very enjoyable experience.
To finance our lives we live within our means, which is not at all difficult given our new way of living. We have a few location-independent projects which we do completely on our own terms with the emphasis being firmly on protecting our new way of life. For example, I do some 1-1 consulting via Skype but like to keep to no more than 3 clients at any one time. I have plenty of time to give the clients, but also spend very little time chasing business (well, none) and this fits in perfectly with our lifestyle.
Once you get going prioritizing stuff, it becomes very liberating and we’re now very keen to keep clutter to a minimum.
You don’t have to move to the countryside to simplify your life. Just remove everything you don’t need and you’ll find you’re left with so much more space to live, to breathe, to decide, to enjoy and to appreciate the things that really mean something to you.
Plus the more you do this, the more you will ‘fine-tune’ what you really want, and then you get more time to really enjoy whatever that is for you.