Have you ever felt like you had it all but life was still so unfulfilling and without purpose? It seems our grandparents were right, money can’t buy happiness. There has to be a way to simplify life and find more joy. There has to be a better way to be an intentional parent, one that has time to spend with her children and enjoy those silly, wonderful, exhausting moments!
January 2017 was a new beginning for me. It was the year I started a journey to find joy and simplify life. I was tired, stressed and miserable. On the outside, no one knew (well my husband knew based on my ever-changing moods). My husband and I were making good money. My career was taking off. We had no debt. My children were thriving. So, what was wrong?
Anxiety and a need to simplify life
It all seemed perfect, but it wasn’t. I was overworked, anxious and stressed.
I was having small meltdowns almost weekly. My mental status was in crisis mode. It was stressful going from loving my job and moving quickly up the corporate ladder to hating it.
My family and I were taking fewer trips and missing out on new weekend adventures. I was working every free minute I could find so I could continue to move up the corporate ladder and be “successful”.
I went from being an empowered woman who loved providing for her family to feeling like a failure on a regular basis.
What was my reason for failure? We were eating clean meals, many nights. (I admit we ate out more than normal because I was often too exhausted and didn’t have time to go grocery shopping) The house was clean (from staying up late or working all weekend to make sure). Shopping weekly for expensive clothes to fuel my ever-growing career was a hobby I enjoyed, and we were paying for it all in cash. We had the perfect Facebook life.
A New Year’s resolution I kept for a lifetime
Then, in late 2016, something happened. My best friend had been talking about this thing called “minimalism” for a couple years, and I started to think she may be on to something.
Now, I am no minimalist, not by a long stretch. However, in my endeavors to simplify life, I discovered a new concept. That concept was to find joy in everything I touched, whether it was material items, the people I associated with on a regular basis, my work or my experiences.
My New Year’s resolution and my mantra for 2017 was to find joy and simplify everything in my life. It was the most liberating and healthy experience ever. It’s probably the only New Year’s resolution I’ve actually kept for a full year.
Needing to simplify my life started with a simple decision: I needed less stuff so I could focus on things that really mattered. I had no idea where to start, but I read somewhere to start with an area that does not impact your family. Besides, it was my problem I was trying to fix. Therefore, it was only fair to start with my stuff. Little did I know, this would be the beginning of one of the most financially impactful decisions I would make in the quest to simplify life.
After cleaning out my closet, I was empowered and on a mission. I read everything I could get my hands on to guide me on my journey. I had clarity. My anxiety started to melt away. I was no longer surrounded by “stuff”. Cleaning became easier. Shopping was no longer a hobby to pass the time. I was doing free things with my family instead of shopping for a short-term endorphin high.
There were some moments that were painful when I cleaned out my closet. There were several items that still had price tags on them. My thoughts were, why on earth would I just give this away?! The answer was easy. I did not need it, and it did not make me happy. I took six floor-to-ceiling minivan loads to the local Goodwill. Yes, six. That doesn’t count random bags and boxes I took on the way to work some days.
The process took me six months. I saw my house transform. We gained our basement back, which was a storage room of sorts for years. We had a guest room I was no longer embarrassed to have guests stay in.
Something else happened too. When I decided to find joy and simplify life, I no longer went to Target to pass the time and pick up a few items. I no longer perused the seasonal sections and sales items. I had time. So, so much time. I started to trade in stuff for experiences.
Since we were doing more experiences, I started to gain back more time with my sweet family. This act of quality time also helped my anxiety diminish. I was having fun again. It was the most uplifting transformation.
Another remarkable thing happened. Since I was no longer shopping, we had more money in the bank. Like a lot more money. This opened doors to increase our savings astronomically. It also opened doors for vacations and experiences we thought we could not afford. It eventually led to my decision to quit my job, stay home and start a business, something I have dreamed of doing for years.
I learned we needed so much less to be happy. We also learned to be creative and make do rather than run to Target or click-to-buy on Amazon. I learned life was simpler with less stuff.
Time for a change
If you feel this way, take a deep breath. Take on a challenge that may change your life and find the experiences you always dreamed of having up until now. Turn what you want into a reality. Go on that trip to Disney World you always dreamed of taking. Go explore a new city! Make memories.
Less Stuff, More Adventures!
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A simple life doesn’t mean living without. It simply means taking the time and energy to love and enjoy the things that do matter.