Minimalism

Don’t Wait to Enjoy the Simple Life

September 1, 2017

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 feeling 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 simple living 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.

I know it can be difficult to embrace and enjoy your life when you a have a vision of simple living 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?

RELATED POST: How I Became a Minimalist (Why I Choose to Live With Less)

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.

I know it can be difficult to embrace and enjoy your life when you a have a vision of simple living 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.

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.

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.

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

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  • Great post on a very similar note to some things I’ve written recently – mainly about being introverted and how simple living has helped me find some time and space that I think I would otherwise not have discovered. Do you think there is some real synergy between simple living and introversion? I think so! Another big one for me is flexibility – I made a career change and have done quite a bit of travelling off the back of the flexibility simple living has afforded me. As you say this thing is a journey and I’m learning so much and how it impacts all areas of life – finances, home choice, future dreams, right down to daily decisions. I think you have summarised many of these themes wonderfully here. The decluttering and all that is necessary, but just the tip of the iceberg!

    • Hey Jim! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 Hmm… I haven’t thought much about simple living and introversion before but it does make sense. For me, simple living is closely related to self-awareness and I suppose this might be related to introversion? But I definitely agree about flexibility. That’s probably been the #1 benefit for me—I’ve found the freedom to try so many new things (travel, changing careers, even pursuing a new relationship)—all things that felt impossible when my life was overly cluttered! Thanks for the interesting questions 🙂 Cheers Jen

    • Hey Jim, I just read this post today, and your observation struck me. I started out as an extroverted hoarder, and actually became more introverted as I got more minimalist. I think it depends why extro/introversion has worked for you, and how that reason changes as minimalism changes you.

      In my case, part of my extroversion was an insecurity of not being my best (or in my teens, THE best) and being found to be uncool/boring as a result. Minimalism helped me become more self-aware, enough to let go of being so tied to people’s expectations and to care more over what I expect of me. So when I want to be on my own and quiet these days, I go with it instead of feeling I’m missing out by not putting myself out there. Because through this philosophy, I realized the gains I get by not listening to my introverted instincts outweigh how being alone with myself has been good for me.

      Hope that over-long rambling of my thoughts was helpful! 😂

  • I so agree with this– simple living is *not* a destination. I love that Joyce Meyer quote; it’s easy to say but much harder to put into practice. Thanks for writing this!

    • Oh yes Daisy, you are so right about that quote! I find it’s something I have to work on, mindfully, all the time—but it’s so worth it 🙂 Thanks for reading! xo

  • Great points! Thank you for sharing and reminding us!

  • Sepideh

    I think you’re making a great point that I’m trying to apply in my whole life: your goals aren’t a destination but a learning path. Yes, accomplishing a goal feels AMAZING, but along the way, there are so many steps that you can enjoy and I think that being aware of your emotions throughout the process and trying to be in the moment are so important.
    I think it always starts little – consciously enjoy the little things – meditate while doing chores, try to do something pleasant while commuting (i.e. listen to a podcast) Once you start infusing your day-to-day with small and positive habits, I think you start learning a different appreciation of life and appreciating the simple things (like having quiet time to do the dishes and just being with your thoughts!)
    I hope I’m making sense, I’m quite tired today so I’m not sure that I was able to convey all my thoughts fully!
    http://www.elleisforlove.com

    • Hi lovely! Yes—I absolutely agree that one of the biggest keys to enjoying life is find the joy in little day-to-day moments. It really i the tiny things that make life worth living. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts! xx Jen

  • I really enjoyed this blog post, Jennifer. There are certain things I’ve invested too much energy in. I should embrace the joy of letting go. 🙂

    • Hi Gabriella! I’m sorry about the delay in responding to your comment, I haven’t been online as much as normal with a new baby 🙂 But thank you SO much for taking the time to comment, I really appreciate it! Have a great day xx

  • The whole “creating a sacred space suggestion” resonated, Jen! As you know, I’ve been decluttering but the setback I experienced this year meant I also took a few steps back on killing my hoarding habit. I’ve forgiven myself for it and taken steps forward, but you’re right that looking at the progress undone depresses me. I just cleaned out a sacred space for myself, and it has been lovely.

    Thank you, friend!

    • Aww, I’m so glad you found that tip helpful Daisy! All the best in the new year and hopefully I’ll see you in Australia sometime soon 🙂