Designing a deliberately simple life
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and to see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Last New Year's day I made it my goal to focus on cultivating growth and stillness in 2016. I think I was successful, at least in the growth goal. I've learned a whole lot about online businesses, taken courses, developed coaching skills, learned more about our health and wellness, and begun offering new services to help others simplify their lifestyles and spaces.
I've been in learning overdrive, in fact. The rapidly changing world of business is so much to keep up to that I feel like I've been using every ounce of energy to learn and build and grow, but now I need to stop and be more deliberate in taking the correct actions as an outcome of all this learning.
And so my word for 2017 is: deliberate.
I strongly believe that we all have the power to design the life that we want, no matter our circumstances. You may not have enough time, or the perfect job, nor a lot of money, or you may not be in perfect health at the moment, but you can design your life to correct all of this, if that's what you choose.
First, you must acknowledge that if you do not create and design your life, other people and circumstances will make choices for you. Before you know it, your life is based on other peoples' or society's values and way of life, rather than your own.
Second, simplify your life. Simple living is living deliberately.
It means choosing what's most important and eliminating the rest. It's about choosing your existence instead of sailing through life on autopilot. It means making space for people and things that are meaningful and have purpose. It's about making the time to contribute to the world, to the community, and to people around you. It's about making simple and healthy choices for your mind, body, and soul. And it's about making the time for things that make you happy and align with your values. Because simply being happy, healthy, and present has a funny way of enlightening others as well.
You don't have to be like Thoreau and live in the woods. The key words are "to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life." I coach my clients to figure out what kind of life they want, and then identify the essential things - activities, spending, relationships, work, learning, giving, etc. that are needed to achieve it. They are fronting only the essential facts of life. Their life.
This will, of course, be different for everyone. But no matter what life you choose - big house, big car and big job, small home, bicycle and modest job plus volunteering, no home, traveling the world and freelance work, or something entirely different - if you live it consciously, deliberately and thoughtfully you will enjoy it and reach impressive heights. You'll feel balanced and alive and not stressed and overwhelmed. If you live on autopilot you often end up with a life that's not what you really wanted- and you get stuck on the treadmill of work, spend, sleep...
I'm happy to report that you can get off the treadmill if you are already there. I did it. Many others have as well. Start right now by making deliberate choices in your life. Begin simplifying at home, at work, in your lifestyle and in your activities that take up your time. Simple living doesn't mean living in the woods or on the farm (unless that's what you want) - it just means living an intentional, deliberate, and therefore happier, more meaningful life.
So here's how I'm going to be deliberate in 2017, and I hope this may give you ideas on how you can take steps to deliberately design your ideal life as well.
1. Deliberately design a healthy lifestyle so I can be motivated and have the energy and focus needed to live my ideal life and accomplish my goals.
- take my plant-based diet further by eliminating sugar and caffeine
- make it a habit to get moving outdoors every single day
- practice yoga 3 times per week
- meditate daily
- keep a journal of my moods and track my habits so that I can recognize when I need to deliberately realign if I get off-course
2. Be selective with my time.
- I'm not going to sell physical goods any longer as they take too much time and don't give me as much joy as helping people directly with coaching.
- I'm going to use the knowledge I learned taking courses over the past year to now take action, and deliberately resist the temptation to spend time learning more instead of just doing.
- I'm going to spend less time on interior design jobs and instead write more articles on simple living, as I've found that spending time simply writing is a passion that can positively affect a greater number of people.
- I'm going to split my work week between growing my own business and going back to traditional employment. This is a deliberate move to supplement my income so that I'm not hustling 24-7 to make ends meet while my business is still in growth mode.
- Use the time I gain back to try new things with new people. I want to spend more time with friends, and meet new ones by volunteering, joining clubs - perhaps a running club? - and even hosting gatherings of like-minded individuals to support one another and explore simple, healthy living further.
3. Carefully plan my year, weeks and days, with room for unexpected opportunities.
- I'm planning out every aspect of my year starting with reevaluating my mission, then setting annual goals, and then breaking those down into 13-week action steps that will allow me to deliberately progress.
- I'm using the Best Self Journal to keep me on track daily with my schedule, my habits, my progress and my gratitude. It's based on 13-weeks (1 quarter) so that you can focus on medium term goals and specific actions.
- Deliberately leave flexibility in my planned-out year and calendar for new opportunities as well as play time. As much as I think designing life is the key to experiencing a deeply fulfilling one, I also believe that if we remain open to positive experiences and new things that may come our way, our lives will be even more abundant than we dreamed!
Designing a deliberate life simply means making active and intentional decisions instead of falling victim to habit or 'the way it's always been done'. If we bring intention to our days, simplify our spaces and lifestyles, and plan to accomplish our dreams, we'll enjoy a fulfilled and contented life.