Hands up if you’ve ever fallen into the trap of waiting to enjoy life?
You know what I mean, right?
It’s feeling like the future will be AH-mazing once something finally happens—maybe you’ll find a new job, lose weight, or finally declutter your home?
Whatever you’re waiting for, sometimes it feels like our lives are on hold while we wait for some magic moment in the future, when everything is going to change.
This is something that’s been on my mind a bit lately because, as many of you know, I’m waiting for our little one to join us (she’s due next week!). As much as my brain knows I should relax and enjoy the present moment, I can help but feel impatient—like I’m waiting for the next stage of my life to hurry up and begin.
While expecting a baby might be a new feeling for me, this feeling of impatience and waiting isn’t. I’ve been there before: waiting to pay off debt, waiting to quit my job, waiting to move house—and waiting to simplify my life.
From personal experience and many reader emails, I know it can be difficult to enjoy your life when you have a vision of a minimalist lifestyle that’s still miles away from the reality of your day-to-day life.
Maybe your home, schedule, and mind are all still more cluttered than you’d like? What then?
The good news is you don’t – and shouldn’t – have to wait to enjoy the simple life.
WHEN SIMPLICITY FEELS SO FAR AWAY
When I first decided to embrace minimalism and simple living, I had a beautiful picture in my mind of what my life would eventually look and feel like:
I’d come home from work (on time!) to a clean, decluttered house.
I’d be in control of my schedule and my inbox.
I’d have a small, perfect wardrobe and I’d always feel stylish and well dressed.
I’d make time for myself; I’d eat better, do yoga, and write regularly in my journal.
I’d feel calm, peaceful, and happy.
Sounds good, right? 🙂
But here’s the thing—six years ago, this life was nothing more than a fantasy.
I was a shopaholic and a workaholic. I worked long hours, I was always stressed, and my home was a cluttered mess. I had an overflowing closet and over a hundred pairs of shoes … but I never had anything to wear. I was in debt and shopped compulsively. I was always tired, I survived on takeaway and fast food, and I took horrible care of myself.
I felt stuck, stressed, and hopeless. It was like I was just going through the motions and not truly living my life.
I know many of you feel the same way and you’ve shared your stories with me—you’re excited and inspired by your vision of a simple life, but it can feel so very far away…
When there’s an ocean between where you are and where you want to be, it can be disheartening. How can you enjoy life while you’re waiting?
SIMPLE LIVING IS NOT A DESTINATION
I’ll be sharing some practical tips about how to enjoy the simple life when you feel like you’re still a work in progress—but there one’s think I need to make clear first.
What I didn’t know six years ago about simple living is it’s not something you achieve by owning a certain number of things or by reaching inbox zero. There are no official standards for becoming a minimalist and there is no playbook for simplicity.
We can judge our progress by looking at how far we’ve come, but if you pin your hopes and happiness on crossing a certain finish line, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment.
Simple living is not a destination; instead, it’s a way of living—a set of guiding principles that help us make decisions in our everyday lives.
This distinction is important because it means anyone can enjoy the simple life, no matter where you are on your journey. Whatever your starting point, you have the power to make small decisions, right now, to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t.
Here are some tips to help you start to enjoy the simple life today.
Related Post: 6 Gentle Reminders About Minimalism
LET GO OF PERFECT
First and foremost, start by letting go of perfection. That vision of a simple life you have in your mind? Keep in mind it’s just a vision. Minimalists homes still get messy. Your capsule wardrobe will still frustrate you every once in awhile. You can meditate every day and practice self-care up the wazoo and occasionally you will still lose your mind over something that doesn’t really matter.
For me, simple living is better, but it’s not a magic solution to all of life’s problems. Don’t let expectations or the pursuit of perfect hold you back from seeing all the positive changes you’re making in your life.
P.S. Be especially mindful of this when decluttering your home. I’ve heard so many stories of people who, after getting rid of bags and bags of stuff, still can’t shake the feeling that it’s not “enough”. This is pretty much the opposite of what you want to achieve through simple living!
RELATED POST: 5 Steps to Letting Go of Expectations
CREATE A SPACE FOR YOURSELF
I firmly believe minimalism and simple living are about so much more than just decluttering, but there’s no denying it’s a big part of the journey (especially in the beginning). When you’re living in a cluttered space, your home can feel like a source of constant stress and anxiety, instead of a welcoming place to return to at the end of the day.
So how can you start to enjoy your home while you’re still in the midst of downsizing?
By creating a sacred space for yourself. Choose one place—a closet, your desk, a reading nook—and make it the minimalist retreat you’ve been dreaming of.
Enjoy your special spot and use it as motivation while you work through the rest of your home. This is especially helpful if you live with “non-minimalists” who aren’t supportive of your decluttering. Remember, you can’t control what other people want or think, so do your best with what is within your control.
Sidenote: Learn exactly how I finally decluttered my life … for good.
I wrote Mindful Decluttering, a free guide and workbook, to share step-by-step exactly how I decluttered my home and life. It includes practical advice, personal stories, and a troubleshooting guide to help you overcome your decluttering challenges! Subscribe to get your free copy.
DO MORE OF WHAT YOU LOVE
This is an important yet often overlooked part of simple living: don’t forget to do more of what you love.
I know that “doing more” isn’t something you hear a lot about when discussing simple living, but the truth is it’s an absolutely vital piece of the puzzle. After all, what is the point of clearing the clutter from our lives if not to make more space for the things that matter most?
Challenge yourself to do something for yourself every day—even if it’s just for a few minutes. Read a few pages of a book, spend a few minutes enjoying the company of loved ones, or just stare out the window with a hot drink.
Whatever you do, make sure it matters to you and make it a priority. This is one of the most powerful ways you can start to enjoy the simple life, no matter where you are on your journey.
Related Post: Doing Less + A Lesson In Self-Worth
CHOOSE TO WALK AWAY FROM SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T SERVE YOU
Are you looking for a quick win? Something simple to do that will instantly make a big impact on your quality of life?
Then choose to walk away from something that doesn’t serve you.
Look over your schedule and your responsibilities with a critical eye. It’s easy to believe that everything we do is important but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, if you reflect mindfully on your values and vision—the things that matter most to you—I guarantee you’ll find something in your life that isn’t really worth the time, energy and resources you’ve been investing.
It might be saying no to a social commitment, abandoning a project, or even ending a relationship—but whatever it is, give yourself permission to walk away and embrace the joy of letting go.
What would you add to this list? Do you have any tips on enjoying the simple life? Let me know in the comments! x
photo credit: Life Of Pix // Used with permission