Simplify and Prosper


NOTE: I wrote this article in 1998, before the simplify movement was taking hold. It’s more valid now than when I wrote it.


More and more people are taking a major step and scaling back their lives in order to have more time for themselves and to discover activities and relationships that make their lives meaningful. Although it would appear that they are giving up material comforts, they are, in fact, letting go of the burdens and responsibilities that often accompany acquisitions.

People who opt for a simpler life, often experience feelings of freedom and satisfaction that they never had when owning more and more was their goal. They become conscious consumers who make carefully considered purchases that add value to their lives.

If you are feeling the urge to simplify, here are some steps you can take:

1. Take a look at your life and ask yourself how much of your time and effort is being spent in the pursuit of material success? How many hours do you have to work each week in order to pay for the basic upkeep of your lifestyle?

2. Ask yourself if your lifestyle is really bringing you satisfaction. If it isn’t, find out why. Many people discover, upon self-examination, that what they are doing is what they think they ought to do, not what they want to do. When you are pleasing others, rather than yourself, you will never feel that you have enough — and your financial condition will reflect that sense of not enough.

3. Give yourself more time. Make a commitment to work one hour less per week. Schedule in that hour for you. Nothing else can happen during that hour, except something that you want to do that you usually don’t have time for. The hour is not for chores. It’s for you. Once you are comfortable with the hour per week, work up to an hour a day. (This can be uncomfortable at first.)

4. Learn to say, “No” and mean it. If your life feels crowded and you are on overwhelm, it won’t change unless you say “No” to a new project, helping other people, volunteer work, etc. Cherish your time.

5. Decide if you are putting too much time, effort and money into acquiring and taking care of your things.

6. Get rid of anything that you haven’t used in the last year. Make space in your life for a clear flow of energy. If you have things in storage, decide if you really need to pay to keep things you never use. If you haven’t needed your things for the last year, you probably won’t need them again. If you are just holding on to memories of the past, decide if you need to carry your past into your future.