Creating your version of a simple life: 8 steps to freedom

It’s really easy to feel that achieving a level of simplicity in life or homesteading is harder than what it is. In this post, I talk about ways to shift your mindset to transition to this type of life easier.

When you’ve finally made the move to a homesteading life, or are just about to make the plunge, it can be easy to feel the need to start fresh and take on a new mentality.

It’s not just about moving or starting your homesteading journey. If you’ve come this far and read any of my homesteading posts, you’ll see that I am a great proponent of not doing things to conform. I never have been. Even as a kid I remember, if the fashion or mode was a certain thing, I wanted to do the opposite. It wasn’t to stand out, it was because I didn’t want to be the same. I’ve always hated conformity.

One thing you will find that will emerge, is the need to just get rid of things. You may be moving to an older or smaller house, that simply doesn’t have the storage your modern house did. Or, you may be moving to a more remote locale where you won’t be commuting for an IRL job as your homesteading work will be your new IRL job and so the fancy corporate outfits will need to go.

Regardless of what happens when you get to your homestead, things will have to go. You will need to look at ways of removing clutter and chaos from your life. Remember, homesteading is simplicity. It’s the idea that you can have 1-2 pairs of jeans for a really long time and do a lot of things in them. Or the idea that the dodgy ripped t-shirt doesn’t need to be tossed out entirely, because it could be repurposed into cleaning scraps.

I’ve made another list (because who doesn’t like lists?!) of ways that you can start simplifying your life when you move to your homestead. Don’t fight it, because it will be inevitable. You just won’t need all the ‘stuff’ you once needed to make you happy.

1. Outline Your Goals & What Your Ideal Life Looks Like
Make sure you and your partner are on the same page and you are both working toward common goals. This way you will be supporting one another, even when others think what you’re doing is crazy. Goals will change, and that’s ok. Goals will also be achieved.

I love me a vision board! This ensures your goals remain visible to you at all times. There’s a few ways you can do vision boards. Remember in the post on purging, we wanted to get rid of magazines? Well, maybe you could cut out pictures relevant to your vision board and have them in your study or kitchen so you can see them all the time! I also love Pinterest for vision boards and recently, I’ve been playing with printable ones on Canva. It’s super easy to pull together and doesn’t need to be fancy at all. Simply cut out/print items that represent your goals, or even write them out, on a paper or board and keep it where you will see it daily.

2. Spend Less Time Online/On Your Phone
I’ve talked about this many times on this blog. And let’s admit it, sometimes I can also fall into that trap. But these days our phones are fantastic at giving us options to manage our online time. If you have an iPhone, you can see how much screen time you’ve had, and you can also set timers and lockouts to stop you from being distracted.

I do this on my phone for my sleeping hours. I block any notifications, calls or messages between certain times, and only have my favourite people, my husband, parents and sister, as contacts who can reach me when my phone is blocked off.

Digital distractions take up a lot of time as well as decrease our communication and presence with those we care about. Give yourself timeframes of which you check and respond to email, look at social media and search something, etc. When you jump into any of these tasks unconsciously, hours can quickly pass and you hadn’t even completed what you’d logged on to do. Not to mention the time spent texting…

3. Let Go
The post on 10 quick and easy things to purge discusses this but I want to add some more ways to manage this that wasn’t raised in that post:

• Focus on one room or type of thing at a time.  Don’t feel the need to tackle clothing, books, knick knacks, make-up, candles, and kitchen items all at once. It will be overwhelming and you’ll give up before you even begin.
• Give yourself a reasonable timeframe and stick to it.  If you have a spare half day or a few hours, pick one of the smaller tasks, such as make-up or magazines, and do that instead of something like clothing or books. Don’t set yourself up to fail by picking a gigantic task that needs a week but you only have a day to allocate. A sense of achievement will come when you can see visible progress.
• You Don’t Have To Purge Everything.  If you have collections and you love your collections then keep your collections. If you have fancy pillows and love your fancy pillows, keep the fancy pillows.  Go through and pare down to only the items you love. And be honest.
• Set-Up Space For 4 Piles:  Keep, Donate, Sell, Throw.  There should not be a “thinking about” pile.  Commit to using your initial gut reaction and don’t second guess yourself.
• Get rid of the “sell”, “donate” and “throw” piles immediately.  If you keep them for any length of time, this will lead right into second guessing.  Don’t do it.

4.  Realise That Organising Is Not The Answer
Yes, organization is needed for the items you choose to keep, however, organisation does not fix the problem of keeping items we don’t truly love. If you keep our excess and vow to just better organise it, it doesn’t fix the problem AND you end up spending money on organisation solutions to keep things we shouldn’t have. (yes, this means all those incessant plastic storage tubs you feel you need to buy to store the excess of things in your house!)

5.  Resist A BOGO Mentality & Adopt a More Thrifty Mentality
I’ve never been a shopper, or mall walker. I never understood what people got out of ‘window shopping’ or strolling from store to store. To me it’s a waste of time. Shops are somewhere to get in and out of quickly. And since the advent of online shopping, I have almost completely eradicated my need or requirement to leave my place to shop.

So it’s easy to fall into the trap of BOGO – buy one get one free, or my favourite, spend $50 to get free postage, but really the thing you need is $10.

Let’s examine this for a bit. Postage, for the most part, should only be somewhere between $5-10 for non-bulky items. If you only need the one thing, then get the one thing. If you don’t want to pay the postage, wait until you need more things from that retailer to make the purchase worth it or alternately, find another retailer or way to buy it.

In Australia at least, ebay has become a marketplace for big sellers and stores and many stores opt to become part of the ebay plus program which offers free postage on many items (ebay plus is a membership subscription). With Amazon now here and providing a level of competition, there is also a similar setup with Amazon Prime. The advantage of both of these entities is that you can add to cart and not purchase immediately, or you can add to a wish list. More often than not, you will get a discount code with this arrangement or find other things you need that can satisfy the postage cost initially encountered.

Think about all of the small purchases you’ve made on things that didn’t fall into the “love it” or true “need” categories becsause you were wandering aimlessly through the world wanting to ‘feel’ something. Now think of some of the big-ticket items on your someday list. If you had resisted purchasing many of the smaller items (including clothing you didn’t need), I bet you could have already checked an item or two off the someday list. This ties in as well to mindset. Don’t try and satisfy a need by making a purchase. It will do nothing but create clutter that you will later need to purge because its taking up space.

6. Learn To Say No
No is a complete sentence. You don’t need excuses, reasons or justifications to follow the word. Just no is fine.

Obligation is a huge bug bear of mine. I’ve seen so many examples among my friends and family of sheer anxiety ridden moments when they’ve done or been or seen something or someone out of obligation when they really haven’t wanted to. Heck, I’ve felt it myself many times. It’s ok to not want to do something, and to not do it.

We tend to overbook ourselves because we don’t want to tell others no.  While there are many things we feel obligated to do – for ourselves, for our family, etc., there is likely something in your calendar over the next month that you could have said “no” to.

What does this have to do with simplifying? Well, saying yes all of the time (or not saying no and therefore ending up taking on the task by default) eats away at our time and our energy. The anxiety eggs in your head knowing that you have to go, be, do, something that you don’t want to but feel obligated to is anxiety laden.

The next time you are asked to commit to something, pause for a few seconds before answering. Learn to say, ‘I’ll check my schedule’ if you need to give an answer straight away. Evaluate your current commitments as well as the commitment being asked of you. And remember that you don’t owe anyone an explanation – “I’m sorry, I can’t do that” is an answer that is absolutely good enough! Just like anything else, this change will not happen overnight.  It’s easy to slide back into old habits and get off track.  Cut yourself some slack.  You’ve got to be open and honest with yourself and pick yourself up and try it again.

7. Grow/Make/Create What You Can
Remember the post on homesteading as an ideology? If you missed it, it’s right here. But in this post we talk about the homesteading ideology being that which encourages a shift in life and intends to inspire simplicity in living. I’m a huge proponent of growing, making, creating whatever you can. Everything from food to household cleaners. If you can do so, incorporating these things in your life will help bring a new level of appreciation to slowing down and achieving simplicity.

Start slowly, but again, goals in hand, strive toward making things homemade where it makes sense. Go through the process of determining if each item makes sense: 

  • Is my homemade version superior to what I can purchase?
  • Can I find the time to regularly make it homemade?
  • What is the cost difference?

8. Live In The Moment
Learning to focus on the day at hand and living consciously in each and every moment is a huge part of simplicity. It’s easy when things are calm and good. This becomes increasingly difficult as chaos enters the scene. Things also become challenging when the concept of uber productivity or achievement enters the scene. It’s not a race, we’ve heard this many, many times.

As humans, we also tend to judge ourselves based on the perception of where we believe others are compared to where we see ourselves. When I tell people in the office where I live, and a little snippet of my life, they make it out like it’s an unachievable wonder. Like, achieving this thing is an ultimate goal. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than chuffed to be living the life I did. But it didn’t fall into my lap. I chose this. I made deliberate decisions in my life to get to this point.

It’s easy to look at another with rose coloured glasses. We’ve all heard the saying before, the grass is always greener on the other side. It is. And none of us are immune from it. In fact, I do it myself. How many times have I said I am only a part-time homesteader because I still derive an income from a corporate job?

I’ve made this mistake as well – it’s very easy to do. It’s actually an unconscious action. Finding gratitude for where you currently are can be difficult. It’s challenging to believe the saying “you are right where you should be” but you are. We all are. So set goals for a new home, a new career, or whatever you desire, but begin where you are and be content and grateful for what you have right now. The point is, if you have an idea of what you want your life to look like, then follow that idea. It’s ok to not do what everyone else in society has done. You won’t fail.

Live for today.

What about you? What processes or routines have you incorporated into your life to help simplify things? What shifts have you made in your thinking and overall ideology to achieve these things?

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