I have been traveling this month (September 2013) to visit family, making the rounds to Portland, Oregon to visit my son and my sister and her family, on down to Corvallis (my alma mater…go Beavers) to visit a long-time girlfriend and then over the Cascade Mountains to visit my house-bound mother who has COPD (this is doctor-speak for smoked cigarettes for decades and now can’t breath without the help of an oxygen machine) where I clean, re-organize, run errands and so forth for a week or so.
I also get to connect with my younger (but taller!) brother who I adore in ways he probably doesn’t know.
While doing all of this traveling and visiting, I also get to meet a lot of people who, for whatever reason, seem to need to share the trials of their lives with me. The sharing of those trials is what today’s blog is about.
A little about me…I have always wanted a simple life; a life that didn’t take a lot of money to maintain and a life where I felt purposeful. I’ve never seen the point of ‘finding’ my one purpose because quite honestly, I have never believed in that high pressure idea. I noticed early on that if I was helping someone with something, I felt great about it and realized that that was living my purpose.
OK, back to the story…
What constantly amazes me is how so many human beings have chosen to create such complicated, overwhelming and expensive lives that cost a fortune in time, energy and money to maintain.
The sadder piece is that these same people don’t seem to be enjoying the lives they’ve created because they don’t have enough TIME to enjoy them…they are too busy working to support their created lives.
How to Create a Simple Life
All of this expressed stress and overwhelm gets me thinking about my own continual quest to make life as simple and easy to maintain as possible. I believe it comes down to one thing…THINKING AHEAD.
Notice I didn’t say setting goals or planning or changing your belief system or any of the other common notions being presented by today’s new-age money and lifestyle gurus.
I said THINK AHEAD…specifically, think about every choice you make concerning your lifestyle:
- Partner…are they high maintenance or not? Are they healthy or now? Will their habits keep them safe and healthy or….?
- Cars…are they going to cost you a fortune in gas, maintenance and insurance? How much do you have to work to afford the payments if you’re about to take on a car loan? Is there a less expensive way to acquire reliable transportation that is easier to support?
- Homes (rental)…are you taking on too high a monthly rental payment for your current income level? Could you be sharing an apartment or home with someone else to cut costs or chores? Cooperative living is increasing in several age brackets for just this reason.
- Homes (purchase)…can you really afford it? Do you really want to owe someone that much money? Do you really want to be strapped to a building without the freedom to leave it anytime you wish? (Security is a myth). Have you fallen for the ‘but you can write off all of the interest’ idea to the point where you’re working harder than ever to make the payments for that house that’s giving you such a wonderful write off?
- Children…do you know how much having one healthy child costs to raise? How about two? Three? Have you thought ahead to the amount of money you’re going to have to be making when they are teens (unless you buy into my idea of getting them to create businesses as early as possible to make their own money).
- Pets…do you know what it costs to feed a dog for 15 years? What about getting them shots, taking them to the vet when they get hit by a car or develop hip issues (and they will)? Note: don’t get a bird unless you want a lifetime companion that never grows up!
- School loans…yes, I said school loans. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT investments. They are huge unpleasant chains around yours and your children’s futures. Borrow money for education wisely!
I could go on but you get the idea.
The point is to THINK AHEAD…as far ahead as you can…when you’re about to make a choice that may affect your time, energy and money for years to come. The challenge seems to stem from our inability to realize we WILL get older and we may just not want to continue living the same way we lived in our 20s or 30s.
If you really want to be tied to whatever it is you’re thinking of buying or acquiring and are willing to support whatever it is you’re about to add to your life, then go for it.
If you realize, like I do, that many of the things that you might enjoy in life come with huge time, energy and money requirements, you might just want to choose otherwise.
What I can tell you from personal experience is this…every time I make a choice that makes my life simpler, I breath easier and every time I make a choice that complicates any part of my life, I feel the burden of that choice and wish I’d chosen differently.
How to Uncomplicate Your Life
My coaching clients often ask me how to uncomplicate their lives once they have already made the choices that are costing them too much time, energy and money to maintain.
My favorite answer (and I often remind myself of this) is something I remind myself of all of the time and that I coined a couple of years ago:
“The only way to stop doing something is to simply stop doing it!”
Yes, sometimes it takes a little planning to stop doing something but it’s almost always worth it!
OK…go uncomplicate some aspect of your life and let us know how it feels!