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You Can’t Force Simplicity. Do This Instead. [Episode 14]

Are you struggling to declutter and simplify? Do you often rely on willpower or feel like you’re forcing yourself to make changes? If this sounds familiar, this episode of The Simply + Fiercely Show is for you. I’m sharing a values-led approach that will help you get results while also enjoying the process.

In This Episode

  • The #1 mistake people make when they’re trying to simplify
  • How decluttering helps you step into the life you want
  • A simple reframe that will help you shop less often
  • How to fuel massive change in a way that feels good

Featured In This Episode

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You Can’t Force Simplicity. Do This Instead. [Episode 14]

Note: this is not an exact transcript and has been edited for clarity.

Hey there, it’s Jen from the Simply and Fiercely Show. In today’s episode, I want to talk about a common mistake that I see people make when they’re trying to simplify their lives. Whether it’s decluttering, changing spending habits, or scaling back their schedule, all of these actions fall under the umbrella of simple living.

However, there’s a huge mistake that I see people make that makes the whole process harder than it needs to be, and it prevents them from achieving their desired results.

But don’t worry, there’s a simple solution! So, let’s dive into this mistake and how to overcome it.

The mistake almost everyone makes when trying to simplify their life

When trying to simplify our lives, the common mistake I see people make is quite ironic: they try to force simplicity.

Whether it’s decluttering or any aspect of simple living, people often resort to bullying themselves into letting go, or they rely heavily on willpower. For example, when decluttering, people may have a negative inner voice that pushes them to get rid of things. (“Just get rid of it! Why is this so hard for you, get over yourself!“)

They may also force themselves to hold back when shopping, but it requires a lot of effort and doesn’t come from an intentional place. It’s a bit like going on a diet—you force yourself not to eat certain things, but it doesn’t come easily or feel very good.

Similarly, when trying to manage their schedules, people may pick a few priorities for the day and ignore the rest of their to-do lists, but yet again, it feels like crap because everything still feels important. They are forcing themselves to do less.

Why forcing simplicity doesn’t work

There are two key reasons why this is a bad strategy for simplifying.

1. It’s not sustainable

When it comes to decluttering and simplifying, many people have trouble accomplishing what they set out to do.

It can be overwhelming to tackle a large project like decluttering an entire house full of stuff. The constant struggle of letting go is draining and can lead to procrastination or even giving up on the project entirely.

The same applies to shopping – relying on willpower to resist buying things can only last so long before it becomes exhausting and you end up giving in. Similarly, enforcing strict boundaries around your time is tiring and unsustainable when it comes from a forced place.

2. You miss out on the emotional benefits of simplifying

While there are practical benefits to simplifying, such as having less to clean or more money from shopping less, the emotional benefits are often overlooked.

For me, decluttering was not just about having less stuff but also about inner change, like finding self-acceptance through a minimalist wardrobe. By intentionally simplifying from the inside out, we can experience bigger benefits than simply reducing physical possessions or busyness.

However, forcing simplicity through willpower is not the answer. It can be challenging to maintain and likely won’t result in the full transformation we desire.

How to simplify without forcing it or relying on willpower

There’s a simple approach that everyone can take instead of forcing change: leading by your values.

Yes, it’s true that there are many layers to simplifying, and as someone who teaches a decluttering course, I know firsthand the complexity of the process. But at its core, simplifying your life starts with identifying your values and the vision you have for the life you want.

Now, I understand that for some, the idea of leading by your values may sound like corporate buzz speak. But trust me, it’s more than just a catchphrase.

Values-led living means making decisions based on what matters most to you and aligning your actions accordingly. It’s about living intentionally and with purpose rather than relying on willpower to force yourself into a simplified life.

So, if you’re looking to simplify your life but don’t know where to start, begin by identifying your values and using them to guide your decisions. It may sound simple, but it’s a powerful approach that can lead to a more fulfilling and intentional life.

Your values provide motivation and inform the “how”

Let me give you a practical example of how I use my values and vision in my everyday life.

As you might know, I have a podcast, a blog that I’ve been writing since 2015, and various social media channels. I also send emails to a large mailing list, teach live workshops, and now I’m even experimenting with YouTube.

In other words, I create a LOT of content, which is my passion, but also my job—so when I sit down to write, I try to work off a content calendar and plan what I’m going to say.

Sounds logical, right?

But here’s the problem. Even after almost a decade of writing, it can still feel like pulling teeth from time to time. There are days when I can sit for hours and only write one or two sentences, deleting them and rewriting them repeatedly.

It’s not enjoyable, and sometimes I just want to throw in the towel and walk away. (Sound familiar? Maybe you’ve felt this way while decluttering or working on other projects?)

When this happens, I deal with these feelings by turning to my values and vision for guidance. I remember my passion for sharing ideas, and this motivates me to keep going.

But it’s more than just motivation. My life vision provides clues on how I can create content in a more sustainable—even pleasurable!—way.

I am passionate about sharing ideas and have always been good at connecting random dots to see things in ways that others don’t. This is reflected in my personal vision: exploring new things, new ideas, and new places and then sharing in a way that creates meaningful change in people’s lives.

This perspective encourages me to take an outside-the-box approach to my work. Instead of spending hours staring at my computer, I look for ideas everywhere.

For example, I recently wrote a story about buying a watermelon that’s really about decluttering. (You can check it out on Instagram if you’re curious.) But this idea didn’t come to me while sitting at my desk.

I was going about my life … cleaning my fridge, actually! But what I was doing doesn’t matter—the point is I didn’t force myself to sit down and write. Instead, my content creation was (and is) fuelled by the joy I find in creating and sharing ideas and aided by the space I allowed myself to explore.

This approach aligns with my values and what matters to me. Overall, my creative process is built on the foundations of what I care about, which makes it more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Where can I learn more about values-led living?

This concept of values-led living can apply to everything. It will help you simplify and declutter with more ease, but it’s more than that. It’s also a path to more opportunities and more joy in our lives.

If you’d like to learn more, I’d like to invite you to join me for 4 Weeks Of Intentional Living, a special session of my program Values + Vision.

When you join, you get the course (which will help you clarify your values and use them to guide your life), and for the first time ever, I’m including four live calls at no additional charge. We’ll do the “work”, but it will also be a celebration of intentional living—think of it as part online course, part virtual retreat.

It all kicks off on 30 April (just in time for my birthday month in May), and I’d love to have you celebrate with me. Click here for all the details.

Tips on how to simplify using your values

Whether you decide to join me in May or not, I thought I’d leave you with a few tips that will help you tap into the power of your values and vision.

First, think about your current dreams, any dreams you might have. For example, you might have a dream of owning a beach house one day.

That’s a lovely dream, but ask yourself, “What does it really represent?” Because trust me, what you really want isn’t the home. Instead, it’s the lifestyle you imagine having there.

Maybe that looks like long walks on the beach and spending more time in nature. Or maybe it’s having more time for yourself, sitting on your deck, drinking coffee and watching the sunrise.

Whatever it is for you, tap into the dream behind your dream—and then use that information to make changes now. You might be years away from buying a beach house (or it might never happen), but can you find a few minutes to watch the sunrise? Or can you find ways to spend more time outdoors?

I know it’s not easy, but these are little ways that you can start to live that life that you want most, and you can live it now. But then it doesn’t stop there; you can take that feeling and use it as a tool to make decisions.

For example, let’s say you’re decluttering and you’re struggling to let go of a shirt. It might feel like a really difficult decision until you tap into your vision.

Imagine the life you want—how it will feel with the sun on your skin—or whatever’s important to you. How will you feel when you’re living true to yourself, create a picture of it in your mind … and then take another look at the shirt.

Do you still have to force yourself to let go?

Or perhaps now, letting go feels easy because that shirt doesn’t belong in the life you’re creating.

Okay, so thanks everyone for listening. I hope you have a wonderful day and start living true to yourself; step into your vision and make it happen every day.

Thank you for listening to The Simply and Fiercely Show. If you want to learn more, you can download my free mindful decluttering guide and learn all the secrets that helped me go from shopaholic to minimalist using the form below. Until next time, thanks again.

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