It has been several weeks since I started Project Simplify 365 and already I feel like my life has changed. As I look around my house, I can see the tangible results of my effort, but the biggest change, I think, is the intangible one: the deep sense of inner peace that has settled over me
In a word, I feel renewed.
It isn’t so much that I’ve managed to do one thing each day, as that I took the time to write out my goals and priorities. I refer back to that list almost daily and it keeps me focused on the things that matter most.
I still have such a long way to go on this journey, but I am totally okay that. It is a process. In fact, I’ll probably never be done. However, in just a few weeks’ time, this is what I’ve experienced:
After bringing 3 full carloads to Goodwill and selling a few other things on Craigslist, there is a lot less STUFF in our life to look after. Organized closets and cupboards in (almost) every room mean that the things we kept now all have a home, which makes keeping things neat and tidy so much easier.
I have begun to make a conscious shift in the way I spend my time, eliminating non-essential tasks and putting restraints on time-suckers like Facebook, Skype, email, & television. I still get distracted by those things, but definitely not as much. Even more importantly, the more I stay away, the more I want to stay away. I’ve also made a conscious decision to say no to things I don’t want to do or make time for.
As I cut out those distractions and become more mindful and engaged, I suddenly have so much more time and energy to devote to the important relationships in my life: with God, my family, & my friends.
Obviously having fewer messes to clean up, more free time to spend doing the things that are important to me, and better relationships with my friends and family all contribute to a feeling of less stress. But even more than that, I think actively visualizing the kind of life I want to lead and focusing each day on taking one step, however small, towards that life, has lifted a burden off my shoulders that I didn’t even know I was carrying. Instead of trying to be everything to everyone, I am happy to focus on simply being.
Life is hard sometimes. There is all to often too much to do and not enough time to do it in, and we become so crazy trying to accomplish it all and manage “The American Dream” that we forget about what matters.
If you are wanting to start simplifying your life as well, but don’t know where to start, here are 5 things you can start doing right away.
1. Decide what you want your life to look like.
What are your goals? What are your priorities? What things are weighing you down or holding you back? Write it all down, then refer back to that list daily. Let it guide your decisions so that you can live your life proactively, not reactively.
2. Start saying no.
Put limits on the number of activities you will participate in. There is no rule that says you MUST do something, just because you were asked. Set aside time in your calendar that is just family time–perhaps start with an afternoon, then a day, then a weekend–and then protect that time at all costs. If something comes up, simply say, I’m sorry, we already have plans. Likewise, if you are already feeling like your plate is full, don’t add more.
3. Start each morning in prayer.
Take 15 minutes to just be quiet, to get centered, and to put it all out there before God. If your mornings are normally rushed, try getting up 15 minutes earlier, but don’t miss the opportunity to start the day with purpose.
4. Cancel your cable.
If that’s too severe for you, perhaps just make a conscious effort to not watch television for the next few weeks. You’d be surprised how little you miss it! Likewise, make a choice to limit the other mindless distractions in your life–facebook, texting, video games, etc.
5. Stop spending for 30 days.
Challenge yourself and your family to spend $0 on non-essential items for 30 days. Eat from your pantry & freezer, wear, use, and entertain yourself with only that which you have on hand. No eating out, no gifts, no “special purchases,” no nothing. Can you do it?
I’m not saying you should do all of these things all at once; rather, they are just some concrete ideas for making a change in your life if you are feeling stuck. I would love to have you join me on this journey! My hope for ProjectSimplify365.com is that it will encourage you to make necessary changes in your life too, and that together we can encourage and motivate each other to be better.
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Well alrighty then, I think that is definitely enough preaching for today! Tell me, what do you think of the new blog design? Are you making any changes in your life this year? Your comments always make my day!
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