Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say let your affairs be as two or three, not a hundred or a thousand. Henry David Thoreau
I'm sharing a four part series on simplifying your life and this is post #3 in the series. To see post #1 go here and to see post #2 go here. In order to understand this post you will have to work on steps one and two first. This step is where you take action. After clarifying what you would want the simpler version of your life to look like, you now need to take steps to put your new life plan into action. This is going to take some time. You will need patience. Hopefully you are following the steps in your clarifying section and have made a list of things you are going to do to simplify.
1) Decluttering your stuff and spaces What did you envision your living spaces to look like? Are you going to have to declutter and get rid of some of your possessions? If so, begin there. Start by tackling the easiest or smallest space first to give yourself a good feeling with the smallest amount of effort. That will give you an incentive to move to the next space. Just cleaning out a drawer will help you feel better and let you know you are on the way.
If cleaning out one space isn't reward enough, give yourself another reward. "If I clean out this drawer, I will reward myself by giving myself a break to read a magazine." OK maybe that doesn't sound like enough "reward" for you, but you get the idea. Give yourself a high five, pat on the back, whatever works to make you feel like you did it!
Probably everybody has taken some steps to declutter so I am not going to spend a lot of time on this step. Many of my Boomer Baby friends have already down-sized into smaller spaces like condos and townhomes, and selling off many possessions in order to simplify their lives. If you are at this stage of life and are ready for this, then this could be one of the biggest steps for you.
2) Discontinuing activities Did you make a list of things you want to be doing in your life? Those activities that you value and want to have in your life? Then you are ready to stop those activities that do not fit into your simplified life. It's hard for some people to say "no" to good things but you can't do it all. Choose those activities that fit into the lifestyle that you want. As the quote above says, " let your affairs be one or two". I realize there is much need in the world and much to do but if we are to do things and do them well, we have to choose. Also, there are different seasons in our lives. In some seasons we have time to do things that in other seasons, we do not. Keep your values in mind as you choose.
For example, when we didn't have children I had time to do some things like taking a painting class, taking college classes, and volunteering more. After we had children I had to give up some activities because my priorities had changed and I was spending time with the kids activities. Later when they were both grown and out of the home, I worked full time. Now that we have grandchildren we spend time with them, my Mother, and extended family members. I always tried to find time to volunteer in places that fit into our other important activities. I always tried to build "margin" into my life for unexpected things. But relationships were always my most important values.
One thing I experienced when working, however, was that everybody was so proud of being "busy". That still seems to be the way our culture sometimes feels to me....that "busyness" is something to strive for. But I refuse to participate!
So in this part of the series, work on "doing the work" of editing your life in regards to spaces, "stuff", and activities. Take your time in doing this if necessary. The end result will be worth it! It is important to follow the plan you should have mapped out in the first two steps....even giving yourself a timeline in which to accomplish it.