Simplicity isn’t always easy. If you are considering or in the midst of a big project to simplify your life like downsizing, or paying off your debt, it might feel like there is no end in sight. Even though these big changes will add tremendous value to your life, the little changes are just as important. Not only do they encourage the big changes, but they are meaningful all on their own.
Little changes can be accomplished quickly which adds fuel to your simplicity fire. By making a list of 5-10 little things and knocking them out, you’ll build momentum and inspiration for the big stuff. You’ll also create more time and space so you can more thoughtfully approach the other ways you’d like to simplify and live your life.
Identify little changes as things you can complete in an hour or less. Use this list, make your own, or mix and match.
1. Negotiate holiday gift giving.
If you are attempting to own less, or pay off debt, the holidays and traditional gift giving may cause some anxiety and complicate things. Craft an email, give a one less gift certificate, or call your friends and family and see if they would be open to a new way to enjoy the holidays. Don’t make the focus about the changes you want to make in your life, but rather the impact giving differently may have on your relationships and the way you experience the holiday season.
For people who live close by, create an experience together in lieu of gifts.For people who live far away, collaborate to give back and create a campaign for The Hope Effect.For others, simply agree to exchange well wishes or big hugs.
2. Commit to a weekly media fast.
The news, Facebook updates, and other media can feel overwhelming. Take a break for 24 hours a week to be free of the onslaught of incoming information. This will help.
3. Clear up a misunderstanding.
If your mind has been occupied by an uncomfortable conversation, argument, or misunderstanding, make a phone call. You don’t have to come to a resolution, or ever completely agree on the disagreement. It’s usually enough to agree that you really like each other and want the weirdness to go away. Don’t wait.
4. Schedule a solo date.
When was the last time you took yourself out to lunch, for a walk through a museum, or to explore a new neighborhood. Author Julia Cameron calls this an artist’s date. She says, “The Artist Date is a once-weekly, festive, solo expedition to explore something that interests you.
The Artist Date need not be overtly “artistic” — think mischief more than mastery. Artist Dates fire up the imagination. They spark whimsy. They encourage play. When choosing an Artist Date, it is good to ask yourself, “what sounds fun?” — and then allow yourself to try it.”
5. Take a Forest Bath.
I discovered the idea of a Forest Bath in Jonathan Fields’ new book, How to Live a Good Life. (I’ll be telling you more about this remarkable new book that had me in tears by page 2 next week and giving away a few copies on Instagram.) The Japanese phrase for Forest Bath is shinrin-yoku and Fields shares that forest bathers experience tremendous health benefits, “increased happiness, and pleasure, improved sleep and energy, and a calmer, more relaxed state of mind.” Good health makes everything simpler.
Just getting outside and into nature will help. For added benefit, notice your surroundings with wonder and gratitude even if you’ve seen them a thousand times before. If you can’t get into a forest, add plants to your living and work spaces. It makes a difference.
6. Write down all the things.
Get it off your mind and onto paper. Don’t worry about where to put the commas, or censor yourself in any way. Calm your frantic mind and ease a worried heart just by writing what you are thinking. You’ll be surprised how seeing your thoughts in writing puts them in perspective and provides clarity on what to do next. It might lead to a better night of sleep too.
7. Engage in a rapid-fire decluttering session.
Decluttering a whole home takes time, but you’ll be surprised how much you can accomplish in a small amount of time. Set your timer for 10-30 minutes, turn on your favorite music, and go. Fill up a box or bag with stuff you don’t use or enjoy.
8. Boycott busyness.
Take the busy boycott challenge, and trade your busy life for a full one. There is a big difference between busy and full life. A busy life distracts us from what we really care about, and who we really care about. A busy life is all about piling it on, catching up, falling behind, and waking up tired to do it all over again.
A full life invites us to engage in what we really care about, and spend time with who we really care about. A full life isn’t about doing it all, but falling asleep at the end of the day content with how you spent your minutes and hours and a pleasant anticipation of the day to come.