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.

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