Over the last few days I’ve been feverishly reading this wonderful book. We’ve had it for quite some time and while I’ve flicked through it and read bits and pieces here and there, this is the first time I sat down to really read it properly. Now that I’ve started, I can’t put it down. I’m almost finished it now, and it’s made me feel so inspired!
If you’ve ever read our about us page, or even just the little blurb about us in the left column, you’ll know we hope to live a “simple, mindful, beautiful life”. Of course, “simple living” is one of those ambiguous terms that can mean just about anything, but reading Down To Earth has made me stop and think about what that really means to me. As Reuben and I approach a new chapter in our lives, I think this is the perfect time to stop, take stock of our current situation and make changes. In the first chapter of Down To Earth, A Guide to Simple Living, author Rhonda recommends thinking about how you want to live and writing a list of all your ideas. She suggests then writing a list of the actions you need to take in order to make those ideas a reality (I think no matter what your goals in life, be they “simple” or not, this is a great little exercise for formulating an action plan.) Today I thought I’d share my lists with you. Perhaps making these goals public will make me less inclined to slack off!
In my life I want…
- To do work that enriches my life, reflects my passions and motivates me to get up in the morning.
- To nurture my relationships with the people I love and spend plenty of quality time with my friends and family.
- To be generous and compassionate and help others in need wherever possible.
- To travel the world and experience a variety of cultures.
- To live in a way that is environmentally sustainable, and have a minimal impact on the earth.
- To create a warm home for our little family that is comfortable, beautiful and ours.
- To build a secure financial future for ourselves and our future children.
- To make a rich, fullfilling life for myself that isn’t centred around the accumulation of material possessions.
- To be surrounded by things that are either practical, meaningful or beautiful, without clutter.
- To feel contentment that occassionally explodes into happiness (I lifted this one straight from Rhonda’s list. I really couldn’t have said it better myself!)
In the last year or so, Reuben and I have taken many steps and made small changes to our lifestyle to facilitate these desires. We left Sydney where the cost of living was unsustainable for us, and we’d never be able to afford to buy our own home. We cut back on shopping at regular retail stores and got more serious about being thrifty. We also got rid of TV. While we were living in Sydney we had pay TV which cost us money, made us more inclined to laze around at home and constantly bombarded us with advertising for stuff we didn’t need. Though we still watch television shows on DVD and online, we now only watch programs we are really interested in, when we want to, and we are no longer blasted with ads. I stopped reading fashion magazines for similar reasons. Though I still read magazines like Frankie, Mollie Makes and Peppermint I now only read magazines that inspire and motivate me, not ones that just tell me to spend, spend, spend! (I think I need to apply this strategy to the blogs I read too…) We’ve reduced our clutter and have thrown out a lot of stuff we no longer needed or loved. We’ve also really focused on paying off our debt. I accumulated a little bit of credit card debt way back in uni, and when we were living in Sydney we never managed to pay it off because our expenses were so high (and we were always buying more stuff!) but since cutting back we have managed to completely pay that debt off.
Though we’ve made some changes there are lots more things we can do to simplify more, realise our goals faster and build the life we want. Some of these actions include:
- Starting a little business (This has been a dream of mine for such a long time and I feel like now is finally the right time to make that happen. Yes!)
- Starting a savings account for a home deposit and travel, and making regular contributions (This will be much more achievable for us when we move in with my mum.)
- Cooking from scratch more (Sadly, since moving to this little house with it’s horrible, pokey kitchen we’ve become rather slack about cooking. Takeaway and convenience foods are expensive, unhealthy and nowhere near as satisfying as a lovely homemade meal. I’m really looking forward to getting back into cooking once we’ve moved.)
- Growing some of our own food (We plan to set up a little veggie patch at the end of mum’s garden and we are very excited about it!)
- Using homemade, green cleaners (Rhonda’s recipes for homemade cleaners work out to be much cheaper than the stuff we currently buy, plus they don’t contain nasty chemicals so they are better for the environment and our bodies.)
- Getting more organised and paying bills on time to avoid late fees (I’m generally disorganised and pretty hopeless when it comes to remembering to pay bills. Obviously I need to work on that!)
- Riding our bikes and walking more (We often drive to places that we could ride or walk to instead. Riding/walking would be better for the environment, our health and our fuel bills.)
- Thinking carefully about non-essential purchases and only buying items we truly love and will want in our lives long term. This includes clothes, furniture and vintage knick-knacks. (Like most people I want to have nice things, but I’d much rather be surrounded by beautiful, good quality “investment pieces”, rather than trend-based items and fast fashion. I am slowly getting better with this!)
- Having regular spring cleans, decluttering often and donating the things we don’t need (We are actually pretty good at this already, but there is always room for improvement.)
I’m sure there are more little changes we can make, and this list will continue to grow and evolve as we work towards our goals.
I hope that sharing all this here with you will help hold me accountable. I am feeling very inspired and motivated right now, but I know from past experience those feelings don’t always last forever, so it’s nice to have things written down. It feels good to make plans and feel like we are actually doing something! Oh and if you are interested in simple living, I cannot recommend Rhonda’s book and blog enough. This lady knows her stuff!
Have you got any suggestions for goal setting? Or for simplifying? What are you working towards right now? I’d love if you’d share your thoughts!