Simplifying Your Life Does NOT Mean You are Lazy
This post is a guest post by Julie Hage from Filling the Jars. You may have heard me mention her in some of my other posts, where I raving about her meal planning and organization skills. I finally talked her into writing a guest post so my readers could get a little taste of what Julie has to offer. Don’t forget to pop on over to Julie’s site for more great tips about living the simple life.
Tricks I’ve Learned to Survive Simplifying
I have finally managed to simplify some things in my own life, and the benefits have been fantastic. While I wouldn’t go back to doing things the old way, some of the comments I’ve gotten along the way have surprised me. So let’s talk about simplifying and how to do it. If you’re one of those overwhelmed women who just can’t keep up with juggling all the things you’re “supposed” to do, read on…
From the time we are young, we are taught to constantly DO more, WANT more, BE more.
If we are single without children, we are supposed to have a fabulous job, aspire to earn a huge salary, have a perfect-looking home, look perfect ourselves, and be social butterflies.
If we are married, we are supposed to do all of the above AND make sure our spouse fits seamlessly into the equation.
If we are married and have children, we have two choices. Keep the career, deal with the mom guilt of being a working mother, and continue the illusion of perfection. Or become a SAHM (stay-at-home mother) and spend every second of the day keeping up the appearance of the perfect home, perfect relationship, perfect meals, perfect and completely scheduled children.
If we are single with children, we’re supposed to do it all on our own, find a way to have a social life, and STILL try to make it all look perfect.
Why Should you Simplify?
I’ve been most of the above women — except the single mother and the driven woman — at one time or another in my life. It took me far too long to understand that I have the ability to (mostly) structure my life to make it work the best for me and for my family.
I’m not one who can juggle and keep all of the balls in the air. I get to know a LOT of mothers at my day job, and it turns out most of them can’t either. But nobody ever wants to admit it, and very VERY few feel like they can do anything about it.
As women, we need to realize that we can only give fully to others when we are calm and comfortable with ourselves. Simplifying and reducing the number of things we need to deal with every day is necessary to keeping ourselves balanced enough to give fully to those we care about.
An Unfortunate Reaction to Simplifying
Several months ago my husband and I got to the point financially where I only have to work half-time outside the home. It’s not EASY financially, but it’s mentally necessary for me and it works for us right now.
I was honestly quite sad to hear comments from others like these:
“Must be nice.”
“I wish I could only work half-time.”
“Not everyone has time to be lazy.”
“I can’t just sit around and do nothing.”
Sadly, those statements don’t even have to come from other people. Sometimes our own negative self-talk is the problem. Guilt creeps in and we start to fall back into old thought patterns and society’s expectations.
We have to remember that it’s OKAY to slow down. Simplifying your life means you are able to put more effort and attention toward the things that matter most to you and your loved ones.
I was so shocked the first time I heard a negative comment, I couldn’t even respond. Was I supposed to give people a rundown of all the things I do for hours every morning when I’m not at work with them? I finally realized that I don’t owe anyone else an explanation for my life choices.
How Should You Respond to Others?
Here is what I do to keep my privacy and sanity while easing the transition for others:
Smile… always. Remember that some people are jealous and don’t know how to change their lives. Others really don’t want to change, but they think everyone should be just like them. Either way, smiling will help you remember why you’ve made positive changes in your life and soften any words you decide to say.
Remember that “No” is a complete sentence. This has been EXTREMELY important when people expect me to be constantly available for them now that they think I have fewer commitments. (Related post: 5 Ways to Start Putting Your Needs First Without Feeling Guilty – Be Free Project)
Offer to train them. Just… don’t say it that way. Show them how to do the thing they always wanted YOU to do. Say something along the lines of, “Oh, I can show you exactly how to do that! Then you can finish your report every week without having to wait for anyone.”
These responses work for coworkers AND family members. Once in awhile even my husband forgets our past discussions and says something that requires a smile and a reminder.
What Can You Simplify?
There are tons of things you can simplify, you can declutter, meal plan, or shop once per month. You can simplify your wardrobe, delegate chores and learn to say no to social engagements you just don’t want to be a part of. Even reducing your expenses can be a way to simplify your life. If you have 1 bill to pay instead of 5, that is simpler (and cheaper!)
Tips for Simplifying
Journal your feelings, what makes you happy, and your reasons for wanting to simplify. (Related post: How to Start a Happiness Journal – Michele’s Finding Happiness)
Make a list of things that need to change in your life so that you can feel like YOU again.
Commit to ONE thing at a time. Trying to change — even simplifying — everything at once can create more stress and overwhelm.
Develop a creative outlet. (Related post: Why You MUST Discover & Develop A Creative Outlet – Filling the Jars)
Choose a method and go for it. Don’t get stuck in the research phase.
Don’t go so far that you actually DO become lazy. Like cleaning — just because cleaning takes less time now and I can delegate some chores doesn’t mean that I can sit on the couch every night and let everything deteriorate. While I would love to sit around all day and read All.The.Books, I know that sticking to a basic routine is still important.
I want you to feel absolutely FINE about saying “NO” to anything that causes unnecessary stress or that does not further your emotional well-being & family quality. If we can learn to be comfortable with our choices and let the rest go, we can spend our mental energy on making life better instead of running on that meaningless treadmill every day.
Julie Hage is a wife, working mother, and owner of the blog Filling the Jars. Her life philosophy is “Make it Easy” and her passion is teaching women how to build their Best Life through planning, simplifying, and taking action. When Julie is not reading or browsing Pinterest, she is also available for writing services.