The Often Overlooked Key to Simple Living

Last night, I sat down to write a short proposal for a freelance project I’m working on. I didn’t expect it to take long—it’s not a big project—but it turns out I was having one of those days.

Do you know what I mean? One of those days when nothing feels simple, everything falls into the “too hard” basket, and all you really want is to throw in the towel, get into bed, and hide for a bit. (Tell me you can relate!) Unfortunately, hiding in bed wasn’t an option, so I sat in front of my laptop and tore my hair out for a few hours.

I knew I was overcomplicating things, but I just couldn’t seem to find the path to simple.

I could feel myself approaching breaking point, so I closed my eyes, took a deep breath—and then a thought popped into my head:

“Just be honest … “

I opened my eyes, exhaled, and started typing from the heart. I explained what I could, couldn’t, and didn’t want to do and within 30 minutes, my proposal was finished and sent.

Relieved, I sat and basked in that wonderful “checked something off my to-do list” glow—but my mind couldn’t help reflecting on why I struggled so much at the start.

Why are things that are supposed to be simple, sometimes so hard to do?

Why are things that are supposed to be simple, sometimes so hard to do? Find out the often overlooked key to simple living.

If you’ve read my story, you’ll know that my journey towards simple living has been anything but simple—and I know I’m not the only one who feels this way! Every day I get emails from readers about their own struggles and if there’s one common thread, it’s this: choosing to live a simple life isn’t always easy.

Let’s look at a few examples:

On the surface, these are all simple ideas but I know for a fact that in real life, they can all be so hard to put into practice.

Why is that?


Simplicity is knowing what you value and then making choices accordingly. It’s simple because it makes sense—do more of what matters and let go of all the rest—and in theory, it should be intrinsic and easy to do.

Unfortunately, life gets complicated because we often get the first step wrong. It’s not always easy to be honest about what matters, about what we value, or even about what we want out of life.

Let’s take another look at those “simple” ideas mentioned above …

Decluttering our closets involves letting go of unworn clothes—and this means admitting we made mistakes (sometimes very expensive mistakes!). I know in my case, it was embarrassing to admit I spent so much on things I was never going to wear.

And perhaps even worse, clearing out your wardrobe can mean admitting we might not be the person we thought we were because let’s face it, sometimes the clothes we own say a lot more about who we wish we were than who we really are. I personally had tons of heels and party dresses for my imaginary social life, when in reality I’m an introvert who’d much prefer to stay home than head out to a nightclub—but it wasn’t easy for me to let go of this illusion.

RELATED POST: Confidence + Minimalism (Finding the Courage to Chase Your Dreams)

Why are things that are supposed to be simple, sometimes so hard to do? Find out the often overlooked key to simple living.

Deciding to spend more time with loved ones requires being honest about what makes us happy because time is a limited commodity; spending more with someone means spending less time doing something else.

Finding this balance might mean taking a long hard look at your values and your definition of success. What role does your career play in your life? What about your social life? What are you really doing with your time?

These aren’t easy questions and they can open the door to self-doubt and fear; after all, the answers might mean changing course after you’ve invested years of your life on a certain path or breaking with social norms—and these aren’t always easy pills to swallow.

Learn More About Simple Living

Investing in self-care can also be a struggle because it means being honest about our limitations. For many of us (myself included!) it’s SO hard to acknowledge we can’t do it all. It’s hard to admit when we’re struggling, when we need a break—or even tougher—when we need help.

Sometimes it’s easier to pretend we’ve got everything under control, even when we don’t.

RELATED POST: 12 Practical Self Care Tips + Ideas


If you’re struggling to find simplicity in your life, try letting go of the decluttering lists and looking in the mirror for a long, honest chat with yourself instead.

Clearly, honesty isn’t always easy (at least not in the short-term) but it’s only when you find the courage to face who you really are, to accept what you really want, and to define your boundaries that you can begin living a life true to what you feel in your heart.

And what could be more simple than that?

What have you learned about yourself on your simple living journey? Have you struggled to be honest with yourself? (I know I have!) Let me know your story in the comments x

photo credit: // Used with permission

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Author: Jennifer

Hello there! I'm Jennifer and welcome to Simply + Fiercely, a community of women striving to live simpler, more intentional lives. As a former shopaholic and workaholic, I know how it feels to live a life that doesn't feel true to what's in your heart. Fortunately, I've transformed my life and gone from feeling cluttered and confused to living a curated life filled with purpose and joy. Now I'm here to help you do the same.