You fine readers asked for it, and here it is! THE SERIES on how to live more simply. Live simpler. Simple living. How to simplify your life. You get it.
This will be a four-part series. Today is PART ONE. (This is also covered in episode 30, so feel free to read on, or listen here)
I want to dig into WHAT IS simple living and how to know where your life is simple and where it isn’t.
(Spoiler, this isn’t all about moving the country, homeschooling and raising chickens).
In the coming weeks, we will talk about why we don’t have a simple life, how to determine what simple looks like to you and how to get started.
When most of us think of someone who has a simple life we might imagine a stay at home mom hanging laundry on the line, making homemade dinners from her garden bounty and children happily reading in their screen-free home.
This might be simple to some, but let’s just bust that myth right now. YOU get to decide what simple it.
Simple living does not exclusively apply to
- Stay at home moms
- Work at home mompreneurs
- Frugal homesteaders
- Women who know how to wear linen without looking like they be visiting from the fancy seniors village
- People who have some zen skill at inner happiness with what would feel boring to most of us (being home with the kids, in a screen-free house, while eating a lot of spelt)
I hope that by the time we are done running through what simple living actually comes down to that you will see it is so unique to each and every person and you can have it! And YOU can have it! And YOOOOOU can have it! (Yes. Oprah.)
(twinkly music for a flashback moment)
As we moved from 2014 to 2015 I had a 3,2 and 1-year-old. I had left my job as a Health Inspector to raise ma babies (not a tough choice, I didn’t love my job and I found writing in the meantime). But I still AT HOME, with these three toddlers.
I felt overwhelmed, exhausted and very restless with my life. Something wasn’t right, I was doing it wrong.
Then, I learned about decluttering and it was like I suddenly had permission to change the things in my home that were making me feel claustrophobic and unhappy.
As I was going through the emotional process of decluttering my home I realized I was face to face with a lot of what I was chasing, the life I was trying to build up, the false identities I had lining my basement, and the security I was putting in THINGS.
This process was pulling me down deeper into these big questions I never thought to ask at 32. Who am I? What do I want? What kind of life do I want right now? How do I want to get it?
This was New Years 2015 and ever since then, Conor and I spend a day every New Years asking these questions (which has now grown into the Life on Purpose workbook).
When we asked it for the first time we realized we were chasing a life we didn’t necessarily want or love. So we set out a new direction on how we wanted to spend our time, our money, our space and how we wanted to raise our family. A big shift for me was reframing how I let myself create explore new definitions of what a successful life would be in my opinion -and not in the opinions and culture I was raised in and living in.
I’ve talked with many women over the years on what would make their life simpler. How would you answer that question:
what would make your life simpler?
More time? a maid? a food service? a winning lottery ticket?
It is so important to pay attention to how you answer this because as I reflect on what was happening, I think what simple living comes down to is this one thing. The thing that actually makes life simple: How we manage our resources.
the resources of living our lives
To me, resources are those things we only have so much of. They are those things that are also the currency of our daily lives. They allow us to show up, and be, and do.
Time (your daily schedule, your family calendar, extracurricular activities, commitments, downtime, how do you TRULY spend your time?)
Space (in your home, in your yard, in your cupboards, how is your space used?)
Money (your regular household budget)
Emotional energy (stressors, coping skills, mindfulness, self-awareness, relationships with others, relationship with yourself)
Physical energy (running errands, driving people around, exercise, chores, social engagements, how do you fuel your body and how do you use your body?)
how are we managing our resources?
What we crave is called ‘simple’ but really it means we get to USE OUR RESOURCES in the ways we DESIRE TO LIVE.
We want more time with friends, more money to travel, more physical energy without destroying our bodies to get there, more time and space to be creative or play, more presence with our children, more patience in a way that we can cope with life instead of avoiding it.
We want to live our lives well and we need the resources to do that. We want a simple life rooted in our deepest heart dreams, we need the resources to get there.
But what is happening to our resources?
When I was at home with small toddlers I was mismanaging a lot of these. I frittered away a lot of time on social media. I didn’t use our money wisely. I neglected my physical energy and, well, since I was stuck on being a victim of motherhood I sure didn’t see how I could possibly even manage my own emotional energy.
Over time, we have worked on making small and big changes in how we manage these resources.
removing the distractions and the drains on our resources
Simple living means removing the distractions and drains of our resources so we apply our resources to the life we truly want.
We lose our ability to live simply when we are in a situation where our resources are being drained in a way that doesn’t empower or energize us. Also to say, in a way that is not in line with our values.
For example. If I spend all my time volunteering at seven different clubs when what I value most is family time and time to bake for people I love then I will be drained because I am draining my resources in ways that are not in line with my values.
Here is another one. If I spend all my emotional energy complaining about life and telling myself motherhood sucks – then I am not using that emotional energy to address what is bothering me and make a plan to move through it. I value thriving in motherhood but I am not spending my resources in that direction – they are being diverted and misused.
when we run out of resources, what do we do?
We are draining and distracting our resources. So there really isn’t enough for the life we want to live. Where we add even more complication is with what we do next. We hustle to get more resources while draining the ones we have.
Often, our big one is money. If I bought a big beautiful home that I loved and wanted to raise my family in. I am now locked into a big beautiful mortgage. That is where my money is going. I need to maintain my income to keep my home.
This is great if that is my main priority in life is this job that I love and this house that I want to raise my babies in. But what if this job is just paying the bills and this big home isn’t really at the core of how I want to love and experience life? What if I really want to live in a small place and open a sweet little cafe part-time so I can be at home with the kids too?
I might not realize that have traded big mortgage for heart dreams. It was an opportunity cost to how I spent the career-abilities and income I had in my hands. Opportunity cost: when we say yes to one thing, we are saying no to another.
But we don’t see this happening, it feels silent and slow and when we aren’t happy – even with a big nice home and career – we will keep seeking things that WILL make us happy. Maybe run a marathon? Maybe go to a self-love conference? Maybe abandon the cafe dreams and try a substitute?
As with everything we do on auto-pilot, instead of stripping away the distractions and making some decisions on how we can best manage our resources, we keep draining them to chase happy.
It always feels like there is not enough. Not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy.
there is no simple life with a scarcity mindset
I know some seasons of life this feels really real, like babies and toddlers. It really feels like there isn’t enough. Maybe some days there isn’t. But overall, let’s get real – there is enough.
I feel that many of us are living in a scarcity mindset which tells us that there isn’t enough, we aren’t enough, we need to hustle harder and figure out how to make this all work.
The scarcity mindset tells us that there isn’t enough money in the world, time in the day, patience in our hearts, kale in our smoothies, decor in our homes, appreciation and accolades from peers, beauty to admire – so we need to go out and find more, and hoard it, and then get more.
It is insatiable. More, more, more.
An abundance mindset offers us a new way to view it all.
There is enough.
There IS enough.
There always has been, we just haven’t been good stewards with it.
We mismanaged it and then we thought that we needed more so we started the hustle.
Let’s stop. breathe. Right now you have enough. Use it wisely.
Simple living isn’t about farm eggs and suddenly finding contentment with domestic chores. Simple living is stopping the hustle….listening closer to yourself and then making the slow and hard choices to move in that direction.
why are we mismanaging our resources?
So we can probably all see ways we that we are mismanaging our resources and left with not enough to live the life we want to live. I think there are a few reasons that lead up to this:
- We don’t see we ARE in control of our lives and our resources
- We aren’t listening to ourselves about what we want in life
- We don’t really know how to get what we want
In the coming weeks, we will dig into each of these points and walk through them together and hold hands and I’ll whisper motivational messages to you. Yes, it will be meaningful and magical and hopefully, it will help you simplify your life.
If you want to get emo and journal about this (you are my people!), then download the freebie journaling exercise to help you unpack some of this and reflect on how you are using your own resources.