By Edel Jarboe
I didn't start out trying to simplify my life. The decision to start my own business felt like I was grabbing a lifeline.
I was suffocating in my accounting job. I was always tired and I was constantly complaining that I wasn't happy. I assumed it was the stress of my job that was making me miserable. However, when I quit my job and went back to school, I was surprised to find that I was still unhappy. I was pursuing a worthwhile goal but my heart wasn't in it. What was going on? If my job wasn't the source of my unhappiness, then what was?
It took a single question to help me turn my life around. One day when nothing seemed to be going right, I asked myself, "what would it take for me to be happy? Not just for tomorrow or a year from now, but for years to come?" After much soul searching, the answer was "being my own boss." Moreover, when I examined this statement, I realized that I meant more than just the way that I earned a living. Being my own boss meant being conscious of the choices I was making and being in charge of the quality of my life. I realized that I didn't just want to be a writer. I wanted to be the author of my own life. Most importantly, I also realized that I wasn't powerless. I had always had the power to create the life I wanted. Somewhere along the way, I had forgotten what was important to me and my happiness.
Knowing what you want makes life a lot simpler. I stopped thinking in terms of what was and started thinking instead of what could be. I knew that I wanted to write, but what did I want to write about? I examined my alternatives and decided that what would be most fulfilling to me would be to help others find their path a.k.a. self help. Once I was committed to this course of action, I started working on creating my own online magazine geared towards helping women take control of their lives.
About a month after I started my business, I was talking to a friend who remarked upon my change in outlook and on how relaxed and happy I was. The words "life is simpler when you know what you want" fell out of my mouth. Quite by accident, I had hit upon the very cornerstone of simpler living: living a life of choice and of quality. I also realized that I had inadvertently simplified my life. In the months since I had committed to being my own boss, I had been taking better care of myself and making time for the things that were important to me. I was healthier, happier, and I felt more balanced. I wasn't stressed out anymore and I felt that I could handle anything that came my way. I felt like I was doing what I was meant to do. I was fulfilled.
Twelve Practical Ways I Have Simplified My Life
I switched to a no fuss hair style and I wear less makeup. If anything, my skin and hair are healthier than ever.
I have made peace with the past by forgiving those who have hurt me. You can't move forward if you are always looking back.
Having a home-based business eliminates the stress of commuting and I am saving gas and money.
I have scaled down my wardrobe to my four favorite colors which makes shopping a lot easier.
I exercise 4-5 times a week. I have more energy, a more positive outlook on life, and I love the long walks with my husband.
I now use email to communicate with family and friends who aren't near by.
I watch only 1 to 1 1/2 hours of television a day during the week. This gives me more time to read and work on other projects. In fact, Sunday evening is our designated reading night. It helps us relax before the start of each week.
I have eliminated coffee, soda, and chocolate (well, almost) from my diet. I no longer suffer from their side effects of fatigue, irritability, and that "hyped up" feeling.
I delegate and delete tasks more often. I realize that I don't have to do everything. I no longer feel the need to be in absolute control.
I have learned to be more flexible and more open to different ideas. My way is not the only way.
I use master lists for meal planning, grocery shopping, chores, birthdays, and holidays.
I plan my goals. Instead of just saying that I want to publish a book in 6 months, I sit down and map out exactly what will need to happen and when. I also check back to see how I am doing.
How Can You Simplify Your Life?
Find your heart and follow it. This works best if you can state your purpose in one to three sentences. . For example, "I express myself fully by ___________". (This is also known as a personal mission statement.)
Take time alone and make a list of what is important to you. Brainstorm. Look for connections between concepts and values that resonate deeply within you. Do not censure yourself. Let your heart flow freely and let it guide you to your true Purpose. Examine all your options. Don't get locked into thinking that there is only one way to create the life you want. Be willing to change your focus.
Create a plan for your happiness. Be committed and be focused on living out your own personal mission statement.
Act on your plan. Make time for what is important to you. Look for ways to streamline your life so that you can enjoy your life more fully each and every day.
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