15 January 2009

Motivation is the key

Temptation is a terrible thing. The attraction of convenience is ever present, the habit of doing things the old way pulls us back and before we know it, we've stopped budgeting and shopping with our cotton bags, and we're back in the mall.

Let's face it, living simply and pulling away from the mainstream can be difficult. We have to learn new skills, what we make usually takes more time than any store bought product, and there is more carrying, working, doing, mending, sweeping, cleaning, cooking, washing up and tending than ever before. Don't let anyone tell you it's easy. It gives you a better life, but it's more work. Some days it's just too much. So how do you stay motivated?

The internet is the biggest library in the world. At any time of the day or night you can log on and find the ingredients for making anything - headcheese, government writing ink, or Mawmenee. You can find the instructions for making any obscure object you can think of, as well as all the necessary tasks you need to know to run a home efficiently. If I wanted to rig up a flying fox in the backyard or build a worm farm or darn a pair of socks or make bread or soap, I could Google the words, read the results of the search and by lunchtime I could be working hard on my project. But where does the motivation come from?

When I started living simply, I removed myself from much of the temptation. I didn't go to the mall, I stopped watching advertising on TV, and buying magazines and newspapers. That helped a lot - I didn't know what was out there and I didn't miss what I didn't know. After a while, that kind of life became normal for me and now, several years down the track, I can go into a mall, buy the one item I went there for and walk away. I don't want anything and I don't want to look around at the new products. So where does the motivation come from?

I have come to believe simple living is about 80% motivation, 10% skill and 10% opportunity. It certainly is that way for me. I have to work on the motivation less now than I did before, but it's still up there. The skill part of the equation is easily taken care of by googling or reading books to learn the new skills we need in this life, the opportunity usually has a lot to do with the stage of life you're at, but where does the motivation reside?

Visiting blogs, reading books and thinking about my values keeps me motivated. The world of blogs is an amazing place that is only possible via the internet. Had you told me ten years ago that I could read about someone living happily in the wilds of John o' Groats or Kakadu or that I could write about my days and simply by pressing a button have people, world-wide, comment, well, I would have thought you were crazy. But that is the truth of it. I find that reading what other people do, who are striving to live as I do, with the ups and downs of it, with the successes and failures, that motivates me to do what I do every day. When I see it and do it every day, it becomes normal. It's like living in a small village that is different to the other villages. What we do here is normal, while being alien to those around us, but being involved in each others lives via our blogs, sharing what we do, learning from each other, that, my friends, provides the motivation to keep going.

Seeing others do what we want to do, reading and seeing how others live their version of simplicity, urges us to do something similar. And motivation is the key to it all. You could have all the knowledge in the world but unless you are motivated to use it, to live the kind of life you aspire to, that knowledge is hollow and of little value. I am rarely motivated now by learning new skills, my motivation comes from seeing how those skills fit into lives - mine and others. Seeing how people use those skills to help them live.

I believe we all have a responsibility to share what we know, to pass on knowledge, and encouragement, and to actively help others move towards a more sustainable life. It's a selfish act really. The more people living a greener life, the better off we'll all be, and, more importantly, the better the world will be when our grandchildren are our age. I hope my blog gives you the kind of information you need to skill yourself and make your home the place you need to live well. But more than that, I hope you find motivation here, I hope what I write makes you get up and move. There is a lot to be said for simple life and I hope you can fashion your life to live to your best potential. You will pick up the skills you need as you go, a little at a time, but you need to work on the motivation, because if that goes, you will just be left with a plan.

Photo from allposters.com


  1. Great post, Rhonda!!!
    You are so inspirational, and I am thankful time, and time again, to be able to come to your blog, and others like it and "fit in".
    I've learned recently that I'm different than the people I know IRL. And while most agree with my philosophies in principle, none actually have the motivation to do it!!
    A friend yesterday was griping about not having enough money for new cloth diapers for her son. She just started using them, so I suggested that every time she go to get groceries, or every week, she set aside the $15 she would have spent on sposies, and save up. That was too much for her, apparently. About 20 minutes after our conversation, she went to the mall, and bought the whole family each a new name brand outfit that (in her words) she "probably shouldn't have". It shocks me. And makes me ever more thankful for the lifestyle we're learning to live.
    So, big thanks for your motivational blog, Rhonda...and to the other blogs I visit, and to the few friends I have IRL who motivate and inspire me, too!!

  2. I rarely comment here anymore, as I have little to say that hasn't already been said by you or in the comments. But I'm a faithful reader. That said (;o), I want to thank you for the work you are doing and the vision of putting together a village via the internet. (I hadn't thought of it that way before - such a beautiful thought!)

    You have been an inspiration to me. Today, I was trying to update a running shopping list from an old one and realized how many things have changed for me over the last couple of years. Especially in the cleaning, cosmetic, and processed food catagories! Much of it is b/c of your tutorials and encouragment to look at the world around me with different eyes. My daughter (12yo) has picked up on it too, and will point out obvious marketing stratagies in commericials and in town when we go shopping. It is having an effect on the next generation, and perhaps she will take it to levels I only dream about yet.

    Many thanks and abundant blessings to you and yours for the blessings you bring us of knowledge and encouragement.

  3. Another great post! And what you say is true, it may be a simpler life, but it isn't "easier."

    I have no problem skipping the mall, or most shops for that matter. i don't need much, and thankfully, don't feel the pull to have something just for the sake of having it.

    Sometimes, though, with all the tasks that do take a bit longer to do, I feel like I'm not making much progress. This life is a journey with no real end, I know, but I need to get better organized (and motivated) to tackle the daily "stuff" so I can get to the other projects.

    Thanks for always encouraging us!

  4. Thanks Rhonda,
    you are so right. But your blog and others like it motivate me. Everytime I think Im too tired and just want that quick fix I remember all my friends in blog land and all your voices say, go on ange you can do it.
    So thank you

  5. "Visiting blogs, reading books and thinking about my values keeps me motivated. "
    "I find that reading what other people do, who are striving to live as I do, with the ups and downs of it, with the successes and failures, that motivates me to do what I do every day."
    "Seeing others do what we want to do, reading and seeing how others live their version of simplicity, urges us to do something similar."

    Well said, Rhonda. I totally agree. That's why I stop by here every day. Thanks for helping us stay motivated on the path to simplicity.

  6. Once again, good information, Rhonda!! This past weekend, I attended a quilt show that comes to my area only once a year. I completely blew it and spent a wad of $$. During the spending spree, I bordered on euphoria, but boy-oh-boy whenever I got home, I was kicking myself. I love what I bought, but did I need it?...NO... NO...NO. My momentary insanity and your post have brought me back to my senses. I pulled out the list that I had buried in the back of my desk drawer entitled "Ten Sure Ways to Save Money". It reads: 1.Don't go shopping. 2.Live within your means. 3.Take care of what you have. 4.Wear it out. 5.Do it yourself. 6.Anticipate your needs. 7.Research value, quality, durability and multiple use. 8.Get it for less. 9.Buy it used. 10. Follow the nine steps of this program. From now on the list will no longer be in the back of my desk drawer. Thank you, my friend, for constantly helping me find the right path.

    Diane from North Carolina

  7. Rhonda:

    What I find motivational is seeing a fellow homesteader's home, kitchen, garden, project whatever.

    Even unintentional backgrounds make me feel like I'm visiting their home.

    It lends a bit of reality rather than a perfectly contrived photo of an apple pie or something.

    Comparing, sympathizing and relating are so important to us (women)--and don't we communicate and nurture through our homes?

    For me, this is the motivational difference between a blog like yours and some dry reading material found in the library.

    Illustrations are educational and sometimes lovely. But nothing replaces a visual that makes me feel at home.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Working hard at www.sccworlds.com

  8. Good morning Rhonda,

    This message is so true. Planning is fine but as you say the real task is to keep motivated. I am amazed that when I was in the paid workforce I was able to keep focussed on the job at hand and would work through my day one job a time with great efficiency. Now that I am a homebody I tend to go from one thing to another and feel guilty if I sit to sew or read. I now realize that the simple life is not meant to be hurried through. Its a lifestyle which takes in work and rest and allowing myself to enjoy both is as it should be. When we get it all in its proper perspective we can then realize what a wonderful way of life it is. Forgive me if I am gabbling on but the transition to this lifestyle is just sinking in for me. I am really starting to wake up each morning with a real sense of anticipation for the times ahead. AND LOVING IT!!!

    Blessings Gail

  9. Yes Yes Yes! Motivation is everything! Thanks for the encouragement today. I have dough rising on the counter for bread (3 loaves), a ham in the oven for supper and will have potatoes to go with it and my canned green beans. I am motivated to live simply and it's wonderful.

  10. Excellent points! I feel like I'm still at the very beginning, although I've never been one to want all of the things other people have. But old habits can be so hard to break and if you lapse in concentration... For instance, I am trying to improve the health of my family and follow dietary guidelines from a naturopath. On a regular trip to the supermarket, post-christmas, many junk food items were marked down. I wasn't focused that day, keen to get home. When I unpacked the groceries I was stunned by how much junk I had bought. Because it was cheap. It was a wake up call to always be thoughtful and focused when shopping.
    Some days it does seem all too much to change and discouragement sets in. But then I think of where we have been. And I remind myself that I don't have to do it all at once.
    If anyone is lurking and thinking they can't change, its all too much, just set yourself one thing to change. It may be plastic bags, eliminating one form of junk food, replacing the Domestos with vinegar. Just one thing and when you are doing that comfortably, choose another.
    I am gradually adding more sustainable living blogs to my reading list. Like many readers here, no one I know in the flesh is actively pursuing this life. And like Melanie, I have friends who are struggling financially; one confided in me that their business has not made money in three years. But they still go and see almost every new movie that comes to the cinemas. And their kids have computers in each room, ipods and all the latest gadgets. But people will only see when they are ready. Reading blogs keeps me positive and on track.

  11. Now, I really want to go to John O' Grouts. Fantastic looking place. And you wrote a beautiful piece. Thank you. :)

  12. Hi Rhonda, Love your blog. Hope you don't mind if I go back to the topic of chooks, one of mine has stopped laying, could it be the heat or should I investigate for health problems? Thx Deb

  13. Rhonda, I don't want this to be out of place, but I don't want it to be missed, either! :) I made an entry for the kitchen table.


    Please include it if you find it suitable. Sorry for being tardy.

  14. Good morning everyone! It's a warm and sunny day here but not hot like it is down south.

    Greenfumb, if the chooks don't look sick, but only hot, it's probably the heat. I checked your blog and know you're in Sydney. I was talking with my sister yesterday (she's in the Blue Mountains) and she said it was very hot. Heat (and cold and less daylight) will stop your chooks laying. The heat is a real trial for them and they need all their energy to cool themselves - egg laying is put off for the time being. When it's very hot here we always let the girls out to free range so they find the coolist spot. Usually it's until the palm tree, in the understory, so before they sit there to wait out the day, we spray some water around to cool the soil for them. They're quite content to sit there all day. Oh, make sure their drinking water is not in the sun.

  15. thank you for your comment on my blog. i love the feel of this one.

  16. This is so true. I am much more motivated to stop buying certain disposable items this month because our budget is tighter than usual, and I'd rather take my photography class than pay for more Ziplocs, detergent, etc. I was already heading in that direction, but the budget's given me that final little push.

  17. What an interesting read this blog is, many thanks! :)

  18. Sometimes I think you MUST read my mind. I am on holidays and ususally this would involve lolling around eating lots of takeaway and junk food, visiting the shops, doing as little as possible.... BUT at the end of yesterday after a day of watering and weeding, harvesting yet another bucket and half of tomotoes, cooking up my own pasta sauce, cooking breakfast lunch and dinner from scratch and then baking some chocolate cakes for dessert, and doing a little bit of knitting in between - I sat down at the end of the day and thought BOY this simply living is anything but simple - it's hard work!!

    The interesting thing was that I didn't feel totally exhausted as I used to feel after a day at work - I felt...satisfied...I felt happy that I had taken care of my family and home. This is a very good feeling that can't be bought in a shopping centre - I guess that feeling is part of my motivation!

    Blessings Always

  19. Rhonda
    Love that picture.. reminds me of my growing up years in Iowa....
    everything home grown from the garden. No malls... no shopping.

  20. Those are amazing thoughts. And I think just making one decision at a time is a good way to approach anything, but especially this. Lowering your carbon footprint might seem like a huge goal, but making your next shower 2 minutes is certainly an obtainable one.

  21. I love the internet, I love reading about different people and yes, people like you inspire and motivate me.

  22. Thank you Rhonda. Your blog and other like yours motivate me everyday so thank you.

  23. Like so many others I get my motivation from blogs, including this one where the comments are an important part of it for me. No one I know IRL really understands what I'm doing but I don't mind because I can come here and read and know that I'm not the one who's crazy! :)


  24. Thank you for your blog. Yours and a few others help me motivate. I get so excited to hear about others ideas etc. I don't comment everyday and I should- to thank you. I feel like you and others are my friends in my pursuit of the simple life.

    cathy c

  25. I'm slowly but surely changing from a consumer to a conserver. I feel this is the way to live and I'm going to do it.

    My friends and I were having a discussion today about homemade laundry products and some were concerned that the powdered version will cause damage to their septic systems. Can you shed any light on that subject. I wasn't really sure where to ask this question. I hope it's ok to do it here.

  26. Thanks Rhonda for another inspirational post. I'm a recent reader to your blog & look forward everyday to sitting down & reading your post. Thank you for the daily dose of motivation I receive from your posts & all the fantastic info.

  27. Your blog is very inspiring. So much so, that I will be giving it a shout-out on my next podcast episode. It's a knitting podcast, Belle of the Ball Podcast, but I do chat about gardening, raising my chickens, my small farm, and such.

    Now...to dig deeper into your archives for more reading.

  28. As always, I'm motivated again to MOVE IT lol, and follow up on the changes we have made, although I admit I'm moving a little slower right now (only a few weeks till our new bub arrives!)

    Thank you for your wonderful blog, and for sharing so much of your self and your life with us - you really are a inspiration :)

  29. So many have commented with sentiments that I feel about your blog.
    I leave you with a simple, yet sincere
    Thank You Rhonda

  30. This is a great post Rhonda, and a motivation in itself for me.
    I'm happy my son asked "to bake cookies together" this morning, instead of asking me to buy them for him at the store. For me that is motivation too, to see my children grow up with the example we're trying to set for them and hopefully taking it with them for the rest of their lives.


  31. Hi Rhonda
    I agree that motivation is the key. I started on this life, not by choice but by necessity. We had our twins in a town we had just moved to and had no support at all. We decided it was best to live on one income until the kids got to school. This meant living frugal (and we didn't like it at all at first). Eventually, I became interested in things like peak oil, food shortages, the environment, finances and surviving harder times. I made the choice to continue to dedicate myself to the children even when they were in school. My motivation for much of what I do is simply that it is an act of love for my family. By avoiding the mainstream, I feel that I am showing the children a different and better life while attempting to leave a better world behind for them and this includes avoiding the burden of having to take care of their parents financially when they are older. I feel I have given them the gift of freedom by not letting them be followers in the mainstream. I can write an entire essay on this but the bottom line is that my motivation is simply an act of love.
    I also wanted to tell you that my husband has lately become a fan of your blog. He is an Aussie so reading your blog really brings him home in many ways. He also ensures that I follow your tips by reminding me daily of what we both have read here.
    Thank you so much for being here.

  32. I've found for myself that 'action preceeds motivation' many times. If I'm having a hard time getting started at something, I convince myself do one little thing toward the goal, giving myself permission to stop if I want. What I find is that once I begin, the motivation comes. (Like losing weight...lose a little then motivation comes to lose more).

    Good post, thanks,

  33. Beautiful post! One of the most rewarding things about starting my blog has been discovering other bloggers living with similar values, learning and thinking about similar things. Not only does it keep me motivated, it keeps me sane!
    I have learned so much from other bloggers as well. I am shaped and influenced by their experiences and I feel a sense of connection to a way of life that is more meaningful and makes a difference.
    Thank you for the inspiration you instill and the motivation I get from visiting here!

  34. I've already commented on this post, but just wanted to add:
    Naomi: I, too, am moving pretty slow these days, and having some trouble with the motivation! I still have about 12 weeks to go, though...but hopefully I'll get some steam back before then!
    Linda: I LOVE how you stated that your motivation is an act of love! SO, SO, SO true! Thanks for putting it like that for me :)


  36. inspiring, as always, rhonda. i still need it to keep me motivated. absolutely. you are a true blessing to us all.

    if only the whole world would suddenly drop hat and follow ...!!

  37. 80% motivation - that sounds about right. With the economy the way it it, a whole lot more folks will have the motivation THIS year I'm certain, which is something positive to come from such an awful negative.

    Yes, it IS harder making things from scratch, making things which you could buy ready made, but the satisfaction from making your own things, be it meals, preserves, dishcloths, clothing, whatever is SO amazing. That's what people don't realize - what a high they are missing out on.

    BTW, I've always said that about the Internet - it's like having the biggest library in the world at your fingertips. Amazing!

  38. Thank You for inspiration and motivation.

  39. Hi Rhonda,
    I have two questions for you about growing Potatoes. The first is do you have to cope with potato beetles?
    The second is do you know of any organic method to keep them from eating up the vines.
    Last year we picked the nasty little creatures off by hand. UGH!!!
    Any advice you could send would be greatly appreciated. Thanks Debbie

  40. I popped over here from Sandra's Diary of a Stay at Home Mom. I loved this post and can't wait to come back and spend some time perusing your blog ! I love the look of it ...


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