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15 December 2007

Living deliberately

There are times in our lives that are natural turning points. At these times we stop, evaluate and make a deliberate choice about whether to stay on the same path or turn another way. When you simplify you are forced to make some changes, but most of your choices will be intentional. You stop blindly following what everyone else does and decide for yourself what your life will be. You live deliberately.Year's end is one of those natural turning points. It's a time for self-evaluation, for decluttering the excess collected during the year, for getting rid of bad influences and for thinking about what you want your life to be. This is a basic and fundamental part of simple living. If you do this thoroughly and well, you'll throw out what isn't working for you so you have room for progress. I'm going to tell you how I do my evaluation. I hope you will get something from what I do and modify it to how it will best work for you. In two weeks time, the new year will start. You have two weeks to prepare.

In a notebook, I mark two pages. One is 2007, the other is 2008. On those pages I write tasks for myself. Some will be to finish off things I want to be rid of - these are written on my 2007 page, the others will be on the endless possibilities of 2008 page. You won't come up with a list straight away, that's why it's important to do this over a couple of weeks. I generally think about this when I'm going to sleep at night and just as I wake up. When I get up, I write any decisions on either of my pages. You may write down something that is later crossed off. That's fine. What your lists do is give you a number of areas to think about. Right at the end of the year, you go through your list and decide what will go and stay.

Some of the things on your 2007 page might be activities you were interested in in the past but now don't suit your simple lifestyle. These could be anything - groups you belong to, hobbies, services you pay for, or acquaintances or neighbours that take up too much of your time. Think about what you did during the year. What worked for you? What didn't? What areas do you want to develop? If you identify something that doesn't fit in your life now, it's important to get rid of it. Don't take it with you into the new year. It will drag you down.

On your 2008 page - your page of new beginnings, write down a few things you'd like to modify. They could be as simple as changing your hairdo or as difficult as stopping spending on wants so you can increase your mortgage payments, plus a lot in between. If you've been thinking about cutting down on your meat consumption, now is a great time to do something about it. Want to grow your own vegetables? What's stopping you? Want to spend more time with your family? Do it! Now is the time to make those plans.

So when I have a full list and after thinking about the lists for a couple of weeks. I sit down in the new year and decide just how serious I am about what I've written down. I have to tell you that I generally do most of what is written but there are times when I'm not quite ready for something. The important thing is to start. If you want to move towards a more simple way of living, this will help you.

No one will see your lists, so be honest with yourself, both in what you want to do and what you're capable of. Often the most difficult part of anything is starting it. When you see what happens on your lists you might be surprised at how many things you want to change. Or you could be determined to change only one very important and significant thing. Whatever it is, be brave enough to start.


  1. This is a wonderful technique! I have used something similar for the last three years with our schooling here at home. It's been interesting to see the changes we have made and how we have redirected when we lost focus.

    Since Thanksgiving, I've had to go back to what worked for us in our first year of school, which is by not answering the phone during the day as it interrupted lessons or reading just as the story was getting good. It can be difficult for neighbors to understand that while I may be home, I am not always available.

    Have a wonderful day!

  2. I tend to do thisin my head so I like the idea of writing it down :) That way I will always have to it refer to and be accountable to.

  3. I think this is a great idea Rhonda Jean. I also love the picture of your cat keeping the birdbath safe.

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean :) Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea! Love, Q

  5. You said: "If you identify something that doesn't fit in your life now, it's important to get rid of it." (in regards to "acquaintances or neighbours that take up too much of your time")

    When I first read this, I said "RJ, now that's just far too harsh!"

    But then after a night to sleep on it, I realized, I'm going through this simplification process right now, quite naturally, myself...
    So just who is being the harsh one here? Me. Sorry, Rhonda Jean.

    A month or so ago, another simplifying site had suggested to just cross one thing off your list not to worry about anymore -- and for me, not to expend the amount of energy I've put into worrying about relationships with my neighbors and others is one thing that would make a major difference.

    But I can't accept to eliminate attempts to have local community completely. This is too important a component of the simple life. However, I could downsize this into less emotional investment in hoped for outcomes -- and make a point to be appreciative of what postive events, that little added friendliness to the day, no matter how minute, have come about due to getting outside my own skin and reaching out to others!

    Hope I've said that clearly enough. I'm not sure.

  6. What a great idea! I have never been one for New Year's resolutions, but the way you do it has really got me thinking about my life and changes I want to make.

  7. I love this idea! I've had a mental list in my head of things I want to finish and things I want to change but I like the idea of having the 2 lists.
    I started painting my family room and kitchen more than a year ago and am determined to not start the new year with it half done so that is definitley going on my list.
    My dh informed me on the weekend that he no longer wishes to communicate with his step family now that his father has passed away. I always knew he never really got on with them and some of them are not very nice people but family 'protocol' meant he had to be polite to them. Now he has chosen to cut all ties and I am glad as these relationships were quite toxic. I think it's a very brave thing to do as I'm sure his brother and sister will not understand, but he has decided to put bad memories behind him and look to the future.
    Roll on 2008, I'm excited about all the possibilities. :)


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