I asked myself a question a couple of years ago. What is (was) the difference between me and the people I read about who are actually living in these tiny houses and Airstreams, doing work they enjoy, and taking control of their lives? Do they have better circumstances, education, or more money? It is true that some do. However, the biggest common factor I can come up with seems to be this: They focus on how they can achieve their goals instead of why they can’t. These people make a decision as to the kind of life they want- be it traveling more, simplifying their lives, becoming debt free, etc. They analyze their priorities, and then they take action. They don’t dwell on all the what if’s and negatives. They take the leap and make the changes needed. They go for it knowing if the original plan doesn’t succeed, it can always be altered.
If you have followed my story for very long, you know the realization that I was overcomplicating things with all of the what if’s and fears led me to re-analyze my priorities, quit daydreaming and start doing. Cliff jumps for me over the past few years include: drastically downsizing into a tiny apartment, quitting a well-paying job to reduce work hours and stress, then drastically downsizing yet even further into the Airstream. So far I have no regrets over any of these decisions. I am not yet completely where I want to be, but at least I feel I’m making progress.
I highly recommend performing your own self assessment. Are you where you want to be? If not, it is never too late to make changes. None of us can change where we’ve already been, or mistakes we’ve made, etc., but we can take better control of where we are going. Believe me, I know it can be easier and perhaps even less frightening to stay in a comfortable rut. The funny thing is that we may not even like it there, but we stay. It is familiar to us. We know what to expect each day. As time goes by the ruts become even deeper trenches until one day we realize we’ve let fear keep us from experiencing the life we want. Maybe it is fear of change, fear of letting go of possessions, and/or simply fear of unknown obstacles that may come up that hold you back. It was for me. Letting go of those fears and taking a few chances has been the best thing I have ever done.
How do you get there? It definitely doesn’t happen overnight. Reading the stories of others who are simplifying and doing the things you want to do is a good place to start. Learn from them. Write down on a piece of paper what you’d really like to do. Make it simple. (Ex.-travel, time for family, better spiritual focus.) There is no need for a long drawn out statement. Mine consisted of two words. Now post that piece of paper where you will see it everyday. Mine goes on the bathroom mirror. This will help you remember what you really want and help you avoid distractions from less important temporary issues. Let it also serve to keep you focused. Life throws us lots of curve balls. It is far too easy to veer away from our goals. Think daily about what it will take to have the life you want. What things are in your power to change? What are not? For instance, you may want to work fewer hours, but right now you cannot afford to. If you move to a smaller place with a lower payment, will you be able to then? If you sell some of the things stacked in the back closet or storage, can you pay off debt? These are just a couple of examples, but they illustrate the point. Focus on what you can change. Some of the other changes you think you can’t make might just follow. Find someone who will be your cheer leader when you get discouraged. Family members and friends can help, but don’t be surprised if some of them think you’ve gone crazy. Not everyone understands when you don’t want the culturally acceptable norm with the traditional full-time job, white picket fence and two car garage. Personally, I find it very encouraging to keep reading the stories I read that started me on this path. At least if I am crazy for wanting to live in a tin can, I know I’m not the only one. I may never reach all the goals or make all the changes I would like to. You may not either. Unfortunately, we all face circumstances at times that are outside of our own control. I can live with that. At least I will know that I did what I could. So far that’s working out pretty good.
Have you made similar changes to simplify your life? Or are you doing so currently? How is it going? I will be happy to be your cheer leader. 🙂