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 despite my minimalist lifestyle, 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?
THE OFTEN OVERLOOKED KEY TO SIMPLE LIVING
WHY ARE SIMPLE THINGS SO HARD TO DO?
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:
- Decluttering our closets
- Spending more time with loved ones
- Investing in self-care
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?
IT’S NOT ALWAYS EASY TO BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES
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: 7 Questions to Declutter Your Closet
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.
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
WHY HONESTY IS WORTH IT
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
DO YOU WANT TO KICK-START YOUR SIMPLE LIVING JOURNEY?
If you’re feeling inspired by this post, why not do something right now to kick-start your simple living journey. (After all, you can read about simplifying your life on Pinterest or you can take action and make it happen!)
I created 7 Simple Days for anyone who feels like their life is cluttered, busy and out of alignment. It’s a short course designed to help you find clarity, define your priorities, and take small, practical steps forward.
Here are what just a few of the more than 2,500 like-minded souls that have participated in 7 Simple Days have to say about the experience:
“Wow I just think that anyone wanting to change how they manage their life should look into this course. It was a real eye opener. After the death of my husband last month I needed help to understand my new life and how to prepare going forward.” -Robin J, Maryland, USA
“I’m on day four and already I feel a clarity in my life. My wife and I are doing 7 Simple Days together and we’ve found that it helps us get on the same page. It’s strengthening our marriage and making us happier.” -Jenna W
“I realised that my ‘ideal life’ is not about external circumstances, but small rituals that I can put into place now. I experimented with scattering them throughout my day and felt better for it.” -Lauren, 24, UK
“Over the years I have done research, reading blog post, following workbooks etc etc. on personal development, minimalism and living intentionally. 7 Simple Days summarizes everything I found out and experienced in my life in such a clear and inspiring way, PLUS I learned more by asking a lot of questions. Thanks!” – Ellen F
“Very thought provoking exercises. They really helped me to understand what I value most and take steps to make sure I’m dedicating more of my time to those things. Thanks for sharing this mini-course. It was fun, eye opening and helped with self improvement.“– Tonya E
Ready to get started? Click here to learn more about how you can join 7 Simple Days and kick-start your simple and intentional living journey today.
8 thoughts on “The Often Overlooked Key to Simple Living”
I have gradually made my life more and more simple. I have learned to accept the place I’m at when I’m there. I sometimes feel like I should get rid of more but I don’t feel ready. This year has been a real struggle with my clothing because I feel like my style is finally making a drastic change from my young boho self to a new adult classic style and it’s hard for me to let go of my fun clothes even tho that’s not where I am anymore. It’s funny how simplifying is not just about who you are and what you want out of life. It’s about who you are NOW. Because we are all so multifaceted it’s hard to know who we are NOW sometimes.
This bit: “It’s about who you are NOW” <-- absolutely! This is why I think of minimalism as a lifestyle choice vs. something you "achieve". It's a constant process of clarifying who you are and what you believe (and then aligning your life accordingly). Thanks for sharing x
How do I know that I’m being honest with myself?
Great post, I really enjoyed that. I am on a major clearout buzz at the moment and have spent most of the weekend putting stuff up for sale. It’s taken me quite a long time to get where I am, but the next major downshift in possessions is on the horizon and it feels great!
Oh – congrats Jim! It’s so freeing to let go, isn’t it? Thanks for reading 🙂
I struggle with the fact that I have recently decided to be very intentional about the people I spend my time with and I choose to keep a very, very small circle, but I also feel guilty and like I’m being selfish for this. I have no idea why.
I completely understand this! I’ve been dealing with this lately too – as I get further along in my pregnancy, I have less and less energy so I’m having to say “no” to a lot of things. I know it’s the best thing for me but I often feel guilty/selfish too.
I think one of the keys is to focus on who you DO choose time spend time with and to frame your decision in this positive light – ie: “I’m spending more time with the people who matter most to me” vs “I’m cutting people out of my life” – hope this makes sense! It’s easier said than done but I’m working on it 🙂
Thanks for reading! x