Limitless Simplicity

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity

New Year Resolutions 2015

Looking back at 2014, I can safely say that it was a great year personally. Hopefully yours was too.

It’s that time of year where we look forward to 2015 and see how we can change ourselves for the better.

Last year, we as a family committed to simplifying our diet, influenced by wanting to set a good example to our baby, and stuck to it throughout the year. The plan was to only have natural food in our house, additive free. On the rare occasion we were to eat out, it didn’t really matter; moderation is key and as 99% of the time we were to eat naturally, treats were okay.

It wasn’t something we dived into head first, we gradually got more and more into it. It was hard at first, not knowing what to cook. It was difficult to plan meals out as we had to research which ingredients we could find without any additives in. Supermarket trips took hours rather than minutes, reading the back of diced tomato tins to discover acidity regulators or the likes. Once it did get easier we began looking for meat without any nasties in. It’s still a work in progress, but we are delighted about where we are. My wife used to suffer from a lot of headaches but hasn’t had one since the change in diet. She’s also dropped two sizes in clothes, without really trying or going hungry. We’ve probably eaten out once a month.

It isn’t Paleo or Atkins or anything that can really be pigeon holed, we just eat the things we feel are right for us, which are free of crap.

Where to go this year? After reading an article this morning it’s pretty clear.

The Telegraph published a paper which mentioned that 112 Empire State Building’s worth of natural resources are used each day to maintain the growth of consumerism and the ‘greed culture’. Now, I’m no scientist but that does sound like an awful lot, and it is only getting worse.

We know that too much reusable stuff is thrown away, it’s just too convenient to replace than to reuse, and that feeling of buying something new is a buzz we often crave. Maybe the tide is turning; upcycling has become pretty popular in the last few years.

We are to be the change we wish to see in the world, and I’m making the effort in 2015 to further reduce my consumerist footprint.

My 2015 resolution is to buy, wherever possible pre-owned stuff. Or, ethically produced products if not feasible to source second hand.

I’m committing to not buying anything new unless I have to, and then I’ll only go for ethically produced stuff. eBay, Gumtree and Craigslist are to be my best friends, albeit only when I truly need something. I’ll try to avoid the carbon footprint of postage as much as possible by trying to source locally too.

The path that this will take is a little unclear at the moment, but I’ll keep you all updated on how it is going.

What are you looking at for 2015?

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Doing Little Isnt Lazy

I often find that when people hear of my lifestyle, they think I am being lazy and settling through a lack of effort.

Many of us are brought up to work, work and work a little more as that is just what people do. To buy a house, settle down, start a family and work to provide the family with the best (perceived) education. Some people never question this and are genuinely happy. Fantastic!

But I was never like that. Whenever I was working, whilst I had more money, I could never stop thinking about where I could be. I’d dream of fishing, reading or enjoying a picnic with my better half. The problem with Mon-Fri 9-5 working is that we have to do the majority of things we love to do only at the weekends. Working five days to have two free. That math grated on me.

Minimalism and simple living saved me from the world of the full-time worker, but often when we remove one problem another takes it’s place. People often asked what I did with my day and at first I struggled to answer. It felt as though I was doing something wrong. Just what did I do with my time? Was I wasting it?

I was enjoying my time being happy, living in the moment. In fact, it’s the best way to answer that question.

It is okay for us to say no to doing things. We can’t be productive all the time, or not to the highest level. Our aim is to live life as happily as we can, and often that means doing very little and relaxing. It isn’t lazy to do less. Lazy would be wanting more than what we have, knowing what we need to be happy, but not going out and getting it. There is a huge difference.

Saying no to extra hours in the office, declining an invitation to go shopping with friends, turning down a career opportunity due to the potential for extra hours.

It isn’t lazy or a lack of motivation, regardless of what other folk think. We know that it is what is best for us and that’s what counts.

Direction Vs Distractions

If you are reading this, then it’s probable that you are either interested in simplifying every day life and living in the moment. Doing what you are passionate about each and every day.

How do we get there? We have jobs and children, debt too. Some of us have to stay in a job we hate to pay-off the stuff we already have. Everything is so cluttered.

Whilst it is important to live in the moment and to start being happy right now (it’s pretty much nailed on that the majority of the world’s people have it much worse than us), dropping everything straight away and starting anew isn’t feasible for us all. We want to maximise our happiness and know we have to change things to get there, by ridding ourselves of the things that make us miserable.

Knowing the direction we want to go in is crucial. Its about knowing where to head to get out of the situation that isn’t where we want to stay.

It’s a congruency between now and the future.

My wife wants to be a doctor as she has many experiences from the patient side of medicine, and believes that she’d be well suited to the profession knowing both sides of it. It’s something she has always dreamed about but had written it off due to age and financial issues. A few years ago she was accepted into Uni but knocked it back. She’s very happy yet still thinks about it daily. Even after she graduates, it would take ten years to reach the same level of salary that she currently earns. These are only distractions from the direction she wants to take. She has to do it, and we are going to do everything we can to make it happen.

Whilst it would be great to be able to pay off debt today and continue to coach soccer and write whilst my wife studies, we can’t just yet. We have to put the hard work in now to do what we are truly passionate about later on. It makes us happier knowing that our direction is sound. It makes each day better, knowing that it is a step closer to where we want to be.

Living well, families and friendships aside, anything else just isn’t important. It’s a distraction.

Simplify direction by going the right way.

The Barrier of Starting

The saying goes that “it’s always darkest before dawn”, but I’m not sure I agree with it. I find that the hardest part is starting.

Now and again I come up with an idea which I think is great: a new exercise technique or a recipe to try, yet they remain as just that, ideas. I don’t think I’m alone with this problem either. I know folk who have spoken about writing a book for years and others that have been on the cusp of establishing a business for as long as I have known them. Certain things do require a lot of preparation, but eventually a time comes when it has to begin.

Sometimes we go off the idea or start doubting the soundness of it. It’s easier to dissuade ourselves from doing something new than actually starting it. The comfort of what we are used to appears more attractive than the journey into the unknown that is now available to us. We struggle to see what we could gain from the journey itself, or it’s outcome, and instead focus on it’s pitfalls.

We are all to often scared of being seen as a failure and so stick to what we know.

The name and style of this blog recently changed, but it’s not a name I’m totally happy with. I spent a few hours struggling to come up with something that I loved but I realised that the time would be better spent by writing. I settled on Limitless Simplicity and then began.

Limitless Simplicity comes from my belief that the more simpler one’s life is, the more possibilities that are available, due to not being tied down with stuff that doesn’t actually matter.

The barrier was removed in an instant. I had begun.

I can always go back and change the name later on and I’ll be further along the journey than I would have been had I waited.

Getting rid of stuff isn’t the answer

Getting rid of stuff is not the answer, it’s only like reseting.

Going back to basics can help jump start a new You and a better life. But if we only have less things then we can still be as miserable as we were before. It isn’t about just throwing everything out.

It’s similar to using the factory reset function on a PC. Afterwards, all the clutter is gone and things are simpler, cleaner. But if we don’t alter our habits then as time goes by, it’s likely to return to it’s previous state.

Look at minimalism as a mindset. It isn’t just having less things that helps, it’s the studying of each decision we make. Its the evaluation of how we use our time to see if we are doing the things that really make us happy. It’s the conscious decision we make every time we make a decision. It’s figuring out what is worth doing and what is actually a waste of our time.

It’s hard work to be minimalist. Social pressures and expectations work against us. Turned down a job promotion as you don’t want to spend any more of your time away from your family? That may be called unambitious, a word viewed with negative connotations in today’s world. Advertisements are thrown at us all day and it’s difficult to avoid developing an unnecessary ‘want’ of some new piece of technology. We are often encouraged by the government to ‘go out and shop as usual following a national disaster as they do not want the economy to suffer any further problems. The modern world wants us to be all consuming, materialists and focused on capitalism.

I’d much rather focus on what I believe is important; family, friends, looking after our bodies, learning, protecting the environment, giving something back to the community.

Getting rid of stuff is not the answer, not the whole answer anyway. It’s just the starting point. It can open our eyes and help us to focus on what really does matter in life.

Doing things, not owning things.

Thoughts of a Minimalist

I started this blog nearly eighteen months ago, at the beginning of my new minimalist approach to life.

Initially the blog documented what I did and how I was becoming minimalist and living more simply, being mindful and enjoying each moment. I wrote about getting rid of stuff and of not buying things. I feel as though the time has come to move on from this and concentrate more on what I think minimalism and a more simplified life really is and how materialism can and does affect day to day living. A blog based on observations rather than focused on an individual’s own approach to it.

The way I live my life won’t be compatible with everyone, but the throwaway society shapes how we all take on each day.

 

 

 

The “One in, Two out” Policy

As I have found out, having a youngster isn’t naturally compatible with being minimalist. Whilst a lot of stuff is absolutely needed, most isn’t. The problem is that as first time parents, it’s near impossible to know this without learning the hard way.

To combat the increasing amount of stuff in our home, we’ve decided to implement a one in, two out policy to help us continue simplifying. It’s as simple as it sounds; for everything new brought into the home, two things we don’t need must go.

It is as simple as that.

Minimalism as a Dad

Pairing minimalism and parenthood is tough.

The last four months have been wild. Good and bad, but always magical. Being a parent has changed me in more ways than I could ever have imagined. Yes, I know people say it does and of course I had expected to change… just not this much. Things that would have made me anxious before now have no effect, whereas previously trivial matters now often consume my thoughts. I’m a different, better person.

I’ve tried to stay as minimalist as possible, but in truth it hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind. Adapting was. Now though, routines are beginning to settle in and my minimalist journey is to continue onwards.

Just how minimalist I have become has surprised me. It was my birthday and when my wife asked me what I wanted, I honestly had nothing to ask for. It’s taken a few days to realise how minimalist this  was. Without actively thinking about doing minimalism, I unconsciously stuck to the realisation that I need nothing other than what I already have. I received three birthday cards and two Lotto scratchies.

While I have unwittingly stuck to self-minimalism, our baby has more stuff than she could ever need. We’ve found it hard to know what she really really does need as we’ve never been in this position before. We have no family or friend support around us (over 20k miles away) and aren’t willing to risk missing out on a cream, nappy or something that we do actually need. As time has gone by, we’ve learnt a little more and are starting to pair down a bit… and now she’s starting to crawl so we’ll start all over again. I’ve failed to find any material regarding minimalists with new born babies so I’ll write more often to share our story. Hopefully it will help someone else.

It’s reaffirmed to me that minimalism is always a work in progress. Although I’ve taken to it well in regards to myself, having a baby has caused my minimalist chi to become unbalanced again. Minimalism is something to work on each day and pairing down will never be truly finished.

What I am sure of, however, is that you cannot have enough nappies in the house.  Or clean pacifiers.

Newborn

Just a quick update regarding the lack of updates;

My wife and I have added to our family. Thea was born on November the 14th, and so my own time really hasn’t ever been more valuable to me or us. AJ is off work until April at the earliest. I will still be writing on this blog, it will just be a little less often for a while.

What is important to us has just changed, and it truly is amazing.

Becoming Minimalist in 21 Days

Being minimalist is appropriately simple: You create and add value to things that matter, look to grow, do less crap, buy less stuff and live more simply.

Minimalist advocates Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus (TheMinimalists.com) believe that because it can take 21 days to form a new habit, spending this amount of time learning more about and delving deeper into minimalism is an ideal way to get stuck in. I gave it a shot and suggest you do too. It changed my life and helped me to find happiness. More information can be found on their website.

You can read about my 21 day journey into minimalism via the links below:

Day 1 : My Minimalism

Day 2 : Real Life Issues

Day 3 : Being Offline

Day 4 : The First Change

Day 5 : Noticing

Day 6 : Closet Cull

Day 7 : Minimalism: A Gateway Drug

Day 8 : My Things

Day 9 : Advertising

Day 10 : A Better Me

Day 11 : Recap

Day 12 : Selling

Day 13 : Tell Everyone, Everything, Now

Day 14 : My Direction

Day 15 : Minimalist Grocery Shopping

Day 16 : Exercise

Day 17 : The Mall

Day 18 : Fire

Day 19 : Minimalist Cleaning

Day 20 : Blog

Day 21 : The New Me