Welcome to the final instalment of YOU CAN SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE!
Over this summer series, we have come a long way (together!). I hope you have some more insight into HOW you are using the resources of your life (reminder: your time, money, energy and space). And some more insight into the reasons why you don’t have the simple life you crave!
In the previous part (Part 3), we set the VISION you want for your life. Because you need to know WHERE you are going if you ever want to take the little steps to get there!
And today we are finally getting to how to put this all into action.
Awareness before action
The reason I have waited until the final part to introduce plans and rhythms and assess what areas to simplify is that it HAS TO go last. I’m sorry, but it does! We are so often tempted to jump into the solutions before we have fully addressed the problem and identified the direction we want to go towards.
So, while we communally resisted the urge to print off all the cute printables that will simplify our routines and our life, instead we had some self-awareness work on WHY we don’t have simple in the first place.
I know, self-awareness sucks. BUT hopefully, we now see how we are sabotaging ourselves, how we are limiting our life with our mindsets about time and abilities, and how we need to have more respect for the resources that allow us to live our life.
We did the work and now we get to look up from ourselves and what we have learned and set our sights on what we WANT!
I want to tell you what has worked for me and offer it to you as a way you might simplify your own life. You can include as many/as little waffles, ugly cries in the tub, and outlander episodes as you see fit!
I am writing this with the assumption that you have read parts 1,2 and 3 and hopefully have done the worksheets for each part. AND, of course, make sure to download and fill out the worksheets that come with this part as well.
HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
CLEAR THE CLUTTER
When we have too many demands and drains on our resources, our life will NOT be simple.
For me, this lesson started with decluttering my home. As I went through all the items in my basement, my closet, my pantries, etc. I was face to face with the burden of all these things taking up my space and emotional energy.
As I learned to make decisions about what I wanted and what I didn’t – I learned what it was like to take control of my stuff rather than the other way around.
This practice of simplifying my home helped me to apply it to my life.
Decluttering helped me uncover myself
If I didn’t want this old beer cooler, and peacoat, and crappy old decor I thought I liked – I could also say no to DOING things I didn’t want to do. I thought I had to own these things and be this person, just like I thought I had to DO certain things and live as a certain person. It wasn’t me. Decluttering my space helped me strip off the layers I had built up and uncover what was underneath it all.
Space was made for the life I wanted.
When I started to clear my space I suddenly had room to use my home how I WANTED. I could make a playroom for my kids, I could have a beautiful creative/office space, I could be happy with a small closet.
Likewise, when I started to simplify my life and my time I suddenly had room to use my TIME how I wanted. I could have coffee with a friend, enjoy a slow lunch with my family on the deck, go to the beach, read a book, clean out a closet, do more creative work I love to do!
SO first things first, what distractions and clutter need to be cleared out to make space for the life you want?
PRIORITIZE HOW TO USE YOUR RESOURCES
If the first step is clearing the slate, the next step is deciding what the slate should look like moving forward and protect that!
“Simplicity is the voluntary acceptance of limits” – Satish Kumar
REAL TALK friends! You need to say NO to some of the things. You can do anything but you can’t do everything. But man, the pressure for moms to DO EVERYTHING on a daily basis is so real. We see all the moms doing all the things and we forget that we are looking at a tapestry of motherhood, not a single experience.
So, no. I say drop the pressure to DO IT ALL. Like really! I am not here to tell you to overhaul your life, wake up at 4am and just FIND THE TIME to squeeze in even more! I’m here to tell you to honour the season you are in and take baby steps towards the big vision you have for your life.
I am here to tell you to honour the time and energy and space you DO have by filling it with the precious and life-giving. Honour your season by choosing just a few of the best and letting the rest go, for this season.
I am here to tell you to go against the grain of what everyone else is doing and consider what life you crave for you and your family. Honour this time you have where you are all together, making memories and letting your kids learn who they are in this world without all the rushing and the action. (For a very encouraging book on this read Simplicity Parenting – check out my Instagram stories for my chapter recaps).
I am here to tell you to pull yourself out of the race, and quit checking all the boxes and just SHOW UP with your people and your passions and be HERE!
We aren’t meant to ‘do it all’, we are meant to choose!
So make some choices you really, really like and let other people make theirs!
Using your life vision and values, set out your top priorities for this next year of your life in terms of how you will be using your resources:
Where do you most want your time spent?
How do you want your space to be used?
How do you want to devote your emotional and physical energy?
What are priorities in how you handle your money?
(we will get more into this in the worksheets)
PLAN WHAT MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER
Planning was never my forte. I defaulted to sleeping in as late as possible, eating on the run, putting out fires, and sitting on the couch at the end of the night feeling like I have yet to arrive in adulthood. I probably ate waffles for every meal but people were having smoothie bowls and folding all their laundry the day it was washed? Like, WHAAT?
BUT, since I became a mom, I have realized that planning things will make my life easier, I will feel more in control and things will get done.
I know some of you ladies are not into having strict agendas and procedures and I get that. I also know some of you ladies are dreading parts of your daily life that feel hard to keep up with. So, my advice is PLAN WHAT MAKES YOUR LIFE EASIER and CALMER.
Here are some things I find myself planning:
Meals, (all about my meal planning book idea here)
Christmas gifts, (I keep a running list of ideas on my phone)
Activities to do with my kids when they are home, (this summer I did a daily theme)
SET RHYTHMS TO GET THINGS DONE
This is tied to plans. Plans are about the details and supplies needed, the rhythms are WHAT is happening. Rhythms are those flows in your day/week of life.
Here is the thing, you already DO have rhythms with how your mornings go, or when laundry gets done, or when you buy groceries. But, we often act like we at the mercy of our rhythms and they are making our life hard. Actually, they are a product of our own intentions and planning. So, let’s take a second and make sure our rhythms are working for us, and that we like them.
A rhythm will be work, but over time it will be a routine that just happens and you don’t need to muster a lot of will power and intention to make it happen.
We also need to be mindful that we don’t overwhelm ourselves with too many. For each season of your life, think about what rhythms you would like that make you FEEL efficient and productive?
For instance, I like to clean my kitchen counters after each meal but don’t ask me where my floor mop has been for the past month. I take my vitamins each morning but workout whenever it seems to fit into the schedule.
You can also consider the rhythms you have in your family life. Our family has daily and weekly rhythms – and I think it reflects the values and vision we have for our home life in this season of living.
5.SMALL STEPS, ON PURPOSE
Over the years of trying to strongarm my habits into submission, I have learned that the most lasting and effective change happens with many small shifts, consistent over time.
I’ve shared this before on the podcast: minimum baseline. That is doing one small thing you can’t say NO to and often we progress from there. I would do ONE dish and end up doing all the dishes. I would get rid of an old belt and declutter my whole drawer.
When we think about making changes to our current life it feels BIG, and complicated and overwhelming but it all comes down to small little baby steps.
What matters is knowing the destination of your ship and making small adjustments of the course along the way.
Another way I tried to start living more intentionally and simply but also babies, and did I put on deodorant today?? Was to ‘do something my future self would thank me for’.
When I was at home with three small kids, I felt like I couldn’t do a lot of these bossbabe and fitmama and power morning things with my time and energy. It was all being diverted to convincing my kids that blue toothpaste is still toothpaste and midnight feedings.
So I thought, I could do one small thing today that my future self will thank me for. I could eat a vegetable, I could read a chapter of a book, I could text a friend. I became so super mindful of it that I was doing something almost every day and feeling really great about it even if it wasn’t huge and bold.
When you feel like the life you want is so far from the life you have, remember to BABY STEPS AND BIG DREAMS!
Finally, the most important aspect of living a simple life you love is to ENJOY IT!
I was recently coaching a mom on decluttering. She is on a deadline to declutter her home for moving and we talked about how she would get it all done. It would be a very hands-on season for her. But as we talked about her priorities and how she would line up her days she realized she was putting her marriage on the back burner. I was so impressed that she caught onto this and wanted to shift her plans to make sure she included regular time with her husband in what would be a busy season for them. She didn’t want to get all that work done at the expense of her relationships.
It brings me back to a point that I will make until the day the good Lord calls me home to where streets are lined with waffles: It is not WHAT you do, it is HOW you do it! What matters most is HOW YOU SHOW UP!
If you declutter your home, your schedule, find some rhythm in your day, you are getting things done and making small steps towards your big dreams BUT you still nag your husband for buying the wrong brand of cheese (guilty), or go to bed every night emotionally berating yourself for being a night owl will NEVER workout at 5am (guilty), or have a sweet day with your kids planned but get so stressed out you are distracting them so you can be alone (yup!) THEN WHAT IS ALL THIS FOR!?
It is FOR YOU, so show up for it!
I say this as your life coach who wants to give you grace AND encouragement, and fellow mom who get stressed daily, and fellow wife who has had to power through years of hard times, and your Nerdy Girlfriend who knows it is all within your reach: Your life will only be what YOU let it be!
You aren’t in control of what happens around you, but you are in control of what you make it mean and how you react to it.
Your life will never feel simple if you can’t show up and enjoy the simple things. So, to have the life you LOVE you need to show up and ruthlessly seek those perfect moments that are available to you. You need to be ok with feeling discomfort of daily life. You need to keep bringing yourself back with mindfulness to where your aches are and intention on how you want to move forward.
Of course, this is the hard daily work. It will take practice and constant baby steps to the next level. But it is available to you, always. And if you want someone to walk you through it, get a life coach. Maybe it’s me, you can see if we are a fit, but it is always worth investing in having someone guide you through this process.
So that wraps up the steps I recommend on how to simplify your life. Know what you want, get rid of what you don’t, make plans to make your life easier and show up and ENJOY IT!
These worksheets for this part are very great. They are going to help you unpack a lot of your ideas in your brain and then set a reasonable and gentle way to get started. Sign up below for the worksheets.