Small steps simplicity

13 August 2007

I've had a number of emails this past month from readers who asked about significant changes - the grand gestures of life - and how their move to a simple life will have to wait until the large change falls into place. While there is no right or wrong way to look at simplifying your life, I think that waiting for the big changes might complicate lives rather than simplify them.

You can start living
simply right at this moment if you choose to. It will take no change in your circumstances, no change in location, no more money, nor less of it, no joint decision with your partner or change in employment. Small steps are the way to go. Do tiny things, little gestures that make a small difference. Small steps are easy and you will be more inclined to do a small thing rather than wait for the major ones. And when you look back on them, those small steps make all the difference.

So just what is a small step
- it is anything that makes you smile, makes you feel good, makes you feel that you've done the right thing, such as ...

Put a small bunch of flowers in a cup or glass - it doesn't have to be fancy, just a little bit of nature brought inside for your pleasure.

Talk to your next door neighbour.

Phone your sister, a friend, your mum or dad and say whatever is in your heart.

Declutter your cutlery drawer.

Enjoy what's around you.

Take your old magazines to the doctors surgery.

Make your husband's favourite meal for dinner tonight and tell him it's because you appreciate him.

Take the dog for a walk.


Start a change jar.

Make yourself a cup of your favourite tea or coffee and sit down to enjoy it.

Write a real letter to your best friend.

Make bread, soap or laundry liquid.

Look critically at your values and what you think is important to you and your family. Don't be afraid to reinvent parts of your life that need changing.

Plant some seeds.

Breathe in really deep and think to yourself: 'this feels really good'.

Write up a budget.

Change your idea of success. If you have the view that success means living in a big house, driving an expensive car and living the high life, reassess that. When you live a simple life, old symbols will be replaced by innovative ones and a shiny new car will just symbolise petrol consumption and too many dollars spent on transport.

So you can see that starting your simple journey need not be a grand statement. It's more than likely going to be small, easy to do steps. There are many things that are very difficult in this life, starting to simplify is not one of them. All it takes is your decision to start.


  1. I think another important one for moms in particular is: just say NO. When you are asked to head the PTO committee that no one else wants because it is a major time commitment. When your kids ask to sign up for yet another activity. When a neighbor asks you to watch her kids "for just a little while", yet again.

  2. Very pertinent in my life atm. Thanks for the food for thought.

  3. well said Rhonda ~ that's what I've done! all of the small steps do add up ~ and when I look at them all I have ended up making BIG changes without realising it (and they are all simple to do)

  4. I want to add to my previous comment;

    For years I thought unless I did ALL the changes at once I wouldn't be "making a difference" and now I realise how that mind set was holding me back from doing what I wanted and from being happy doing those things :)

  5. I too am taking the small steps without realising how far I have already come. Your thoughts and list have inspired me to think of other things I can do to make more small changes. Thank you Rhonda :)

  6. Yes we can make changes if we are willing to step out from the familiar! If I can so can others! While home looking after my ill son (no 1) last week I found some wahing soda in my laundry and had no excuse but to grate some soap, add soda and water and hey presto! I had 10 litres of soap to store! I even bought a shaker to make using carb soda cleaning easier! It's fantastic and I have got so much joy out of these 2 little efforts! Today I am home again with sick son (no 2) and we are going to make some cards and send them to our loved ones! Spending time, working alongside one another is a great joy for me! It builds friendship, love, trust and creativity! Have a wonderful day RJ. Lynette from SA

  7. Hi Rhonda,
    I guess I figured out now...grin... good to visit you again.
    Lovely posts specialy on the changes... you have a lovely garden too.

  8. sometimes it's quite amazing when you look back to see just how far you have come, with all those small changes.


  9. a truly wonderful post.

    I can relate so much to it, its been the littler changes tat are bringing about the bigger changes here.

    and most of all I feel good, all the little things I do that make me smile, make me proud of myself and I feel connected to friends and family more than before.

  10. yay for Rhonda! your words ring so true. I reckon Elegant Frugality is a way of life - a journey rather than a destination for sure for sure, and there is so much joy in each of the tiny gestures, steps and little decisions,and any or all of these can be made right now.....especially when we have finally mastered the whole sourdough thing! :o)

  11. "And when you look back on them, those small steps make all the difference."

    How right you are! Plus a good reminder when you are feeling like what you're doing is futile -- perhaps in this moment, may be not in the next...


  12. Good Monday Morning, Rhonda -
    You words are so true!! When I first moved to northern Idaho, I believed my housing situation was 'temporary', until I was able to get into a more permanent situation. Well, that wasn't to be, & I've gradually come to think of my temp. spot as home. I don't own; I rent - half of a duplex with a very large yard. But best of all, understanding landlords who allow me to develop the yard into my own little garden paradise. Lucky me!
    I currently work full-time, so my "off hours" are spent living my frugal & simple lifestyle as much as I can while I look forward to retirement in about 4 years. Starting small is the only way I could manage, but I realize now that I've done a little bit more each year. Just last week, after being inspired by one of your earlier postings, I tried to make some sourdough starter again. Was even more successful this time & treated myself & one of my visiting grandsons to sourdough flapjacks on Sunday morning - yum!
    The most limiting factor for me is that there IS only one of me, so anything that needs doing, I have to make the time to do it...
    LOL - I find I'm budgeting my time as much as my pennies!!
    Okay - this has gotten much longer than expected so I'll close for now. Keep up the great posts, Rhonda - you're an inspiration to me!!
    Carla in North Idaho
    p.s. I mailed your dishcloth package last Friday after work; was told it would take about a week to get to you. You'll probably be on your trip when it arrives!

  13. I agree with you, marianna. Saying no to some things give you the time to develop your own world. We all need to cultivate that skill.

    Kez, we all need reminders along the way. : )

    Yes Ali, all the small step do up to a big difference. It's amazing when you look back and see how far you've progressed.

    Keep going, Lisa. You'll surprise yourself when you look back and review.

    Lynette, working alongside your sons, showing them how to do ordinary things does build love and trust and all those good things we want to nuture in our children. I hope the boys are well now.

    Hello Pat! Good to see you here. Thank you for visiting. : )

    True words those, Lenny. Have we had our cuppa today? : )

  14. Thanks, this post is so inspiring...I think we usually forget how easy things are and how good we feel living simple.
    Kind regards from Spain,

  15. I'm playing catch-up on this blog, but this post was especially helpful to me so I wanted to thank you for it!

    My partners and I are two students and an underemployed person, with two kids in the house, two adult siblings for roommates and child support for three other children. Neither of my partners is the least interested in the simple life. When my dreams of such a life seem distant, it does me good to be reminded I've already done a lot to simplify--cloth nappies, kitchen towels, and shopping bags, utilizing public transit and the libraries, cooking most of our meals at home, sharing living expenses with roommates, etc. I needed the reminder that the little things DO count. Thanks!



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