Sometimes this simple, seasonal living thing it’s anything but simple. It is a rewarding life but it is also one that is deeply intentional and requires some thought and effort. Our modern lives are full of distractions, temptations, and plain busyness that can easily rob our commitment without us even realizing. Over the years, I’ve learned to create a few habits for staying motivated in a simple life:
What are the things that are most important? I’m willing to bet they’re not things but people. What are the priorities and reasons for choosing a simple life? Spend more time with spouse and children? Treat the earth and people kindly? Embrace a slower, more seasonal pace to live rather than exist and rush through each day? These are individual and important. Take some time to truly find and establish those priorities.
Also, know that these priorities are not written in stone – they are the priorities at this moment in time and can and should change as the years go by. Re-examine them often. It is okay, even wonderful, to let some priorities go to the side as life changes and grows. Celebrate and embrace the growth rather than holding onto things that no longer have meaning.
Create a Plan for the Priorities
Some of us like structure and some of us are free spirits. I’m truly somewhere in the middle, however; I’ve learned that very few things actually get accomplished without a plan. This doesn’t have to be spreadsheets and project management software. A simple list of goals and priorities, a calendar with important dates noted, and goals established.
A to-do list is an amazing thing. This lets us see what needs doing and perhaps, more importantly, it gives us a rush when we get to cross things off as accomplished. It also helps understand us how much we’re trying to do and just maybe we’re trying to cram 36-hours worth of work into an 18-waking hour day. No human being can do that.
Make the Hard Choices
You can’t do it all. I can’t do it all. No one can do it all. This means we have to make hard choices and that we have to say no more than we can say yes. It means that we sometimes have to compromise. This is hard, I know. I want to do all the things. All of them. I can’t. I make the hard choices which really aren’t so hard when I make sure those choices are in line with my priorities. Spending time with my husband is my largest priority, that makes it easy to say no to taking on too many things outside of the house. There is a balance and I work hard to keep it.
To make the hard choices, hold every decision up to the priority list. If saying yes brings you closer to a priority or is part of making a priority happen, do it. If saying yes, takes you further away from family or friends or any priority then it has to be no. It may be hard but saying no to the nonessentials brings so much freedom to a simple life.
This is two-fold: limit consumption of stuff and media.
Let’s talk about stuff first. We all need things now and then. We all want things now and then, too. Limiting consumption of physical things not only keeps our budgets in line with living the simple life we want it also keeps our physical spaces free of clutter. Clutter has a way of stealing our motivation because it has to be dealt with in some way and so we end up wasting time re-organizing stuff rather than working on our priorities or spending time with family.
In our modern day, we are constantly turned on and tuned in. Stop it. Set limits. It can be so easy to lose an entire day or several hours by sitting down to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. Before we know it we’ve spent hours clicking one article to the next and have actually accomplished only getting behind in what we have to do, leaving little time to do what we want to do. The same can be said of watching TV or playing video games. There’s nothing wrong with doing these things on occasion just keep a limit on it so that it doesn’t suck time away.
One final word about limiting consumption. When we put ourselves in stores or online we are faced with a barrage of messages. Often these messages can make us feel inadequate or force us into comparison thinking. Nothing steals motivation faster than feeling like we can’t measure up or that we’re doing it wrong. Limit those thoughts and exposures by not visiting sites that leave you feeling that way, hide or unfollow people on social media that don’t provide joy, instead seek sources that uplift and inspire.
Decide on Enough
What is enough? What is truly needed to feel satisfied? These are personal questions and obviously vary widely. Decide on what is enough for you and your family and stick with it. Don’t let media or well-meaning friends or family sway you. How many possesions is enough? How much time on the computer is enough? How many hours outside of the home is enough?
For me, this means I don’t need to buy new clothes with each fashion season. I don’t need to buy new plates or dishes unless all the ones I currently have get broken. I don’t need to replace my computer until it cannot be fixed because something newer came out. For me, this means repairing the tear in the sleeping bag not buying a new one. Again, there are no right or wrongs here, just a few examples to help decide on what might be enough.
Talk about It
Simply voicing our priorities gives them prominence. Once spoken out loud they take on new importance. Talk about those priorities and dreams with friends and family, tweet about it, post it to Facebook, share them in the comments. There is something about sharing ideas and thoughts that holds us accountable to them and helps us make them come true.
Be sure to find safe places to share ideas. This does not mean everyone is going to agree with every idea. It is good to have folks who challenge us and help us see all sides of every idea. However, be sure to surround yourself with folks who are generally positive and supportive.
Join our Facebook Group: The Fiercely D.I.Y. Collective to connect with like minded folks.
In the end, the thing that biggest key to staying motivated is to simply keep going after it. Whether in small steps or big ones, simply get busy. Take a step, each and every day that isn’t a rest day (and rest days are important). Do something, anything that makes those priorities take center stage. You’ll feel better for it, because working towards a goal rarely leads to regret. Can you say that about not working towards a goal or slipping into habits that don’t align with simple living goals?
A Few Resources
If you’re new to simple living or need some more help in staying motivated here are a few of my favorite resources:
- Your Money or Your Life – This is the book that got me started and continues to be one I turn to often
- The Art of Simple – A blog full of beautiful inspiration and worth following on social media
This seems like a big list but these are grand, huge principles or things to add to the to-do list. Rather these are merely ideas for staying motivated that once put into action will have you living the intentional life most desired.
What are your best tips for staying motivated for a simple life?
Wednesday 11th of January 2017
Your Money or Your Life was a big game changer for me too. I started rereading it in the fall and need to get back into it again. I agree with your thoughts that you can change your priorities and how you focus on them. Happy New Year!