January is nearly over, we have celebrated to excess and most of us (if you are like me) are well and truly back into the grind and probably have been for a few weeks.
Just before the Christmas break, some of you may know that Kent and I settled on a small cottage in the Blue Mountains that backs onto a lovely nature reserve. We are in love.
We have spent considerable time ‘fixing it up’ over the holidays ready to launch it on Airbnb. That project was hard work but also VERY, very rewarding, and despite its small size and utter simplicity, that cottage is our family dream.
Being in the mountains with the fresh air and the kids, got me thinking about the whole minimalist movement, using less, slowing down, being content and appreciating the smaller things. Declutter. Simplicity. Minimalism.
So I thought I’d share my 2018 mantra with you – ‘to live life more simply.’
It seems that in our saturated digital world, we are encouraged to believe that the more we have, the happier we will be.
Minimalism and simplicity is about spending less, having less, and needing less, while focusing on living more, experiencing more and doing more of what you love. It is eliminating distractions, clearing away the physical/mental clutter and unnecessary time commitments that keep us from enjoying life, living in the moment, being happy and appreciating life’s simple pleasures.
That sounds bloody good to me.
‘So what?’ I hear you say. ‘Who cares?’
Well before you judge me, here are some things I am going to try to put into practice in 2018 – it won’t be easy but I am determined – and maybe I can convince some of you to join me.
Rule #1: Spend less money on ‘stuff’
Buying less. Or at least investing in the fewer high quality items that I really need.
I know it sounds simple but I can already hear that July David Jones Stocktake Sale calling me.
But I figure that the less I spend on random stuff, the less I will also spend on repairing and maintaining things. And generally the less (made in China) ‘stuff’ I’ll have lying around the house.
As a result, I will be left with more of my hard-earned money, so that I can save, pay off debts like our Katoomba dream, and maybe one day, work less. Or at least, work differently.
Rule #2: Practice less guilt
How many times have you bought something that has sat somewhere in the house, still with the price tags attached or still in a box? At the time of purchase, it seemed like that item would fill a need or make you happy. And maybe it did, for a short while.
I figure that intentionally planning my purchases this year will help me avoid buying things I don’t actually need, and also eliminate that horrible guilty feeling that comes from not using things I’ve bought. That guilt which revolves around waste – mostly of money.
Rule #3: Find more ‘time’ for the important things
Time is so precious. The less time I spend looking at catalogues, Ebay, Gumtree and Facebook, the more time I will have to do the things that are truly important to me.
More time to spend with those I love. More time to do the things I love. More time to look after myself properly. (More time to practice another new years resolution – Jacinta to spend MORE time being mindful and walking for an hour every morning).
Rule #4: Achieve less mental clutter and stress
Mostly we don’t realise it’s happening, but when we are surrounded by physical clutter, our minds feel busy and cluttered too. It’s like a background noise that we don’t realise is there. With a clearer mind, it is easier to be more focused, productive and relaxed.
When our space is calm, our head feels calm and we feel freed up from all of the busy-ness around. It’s like finishing or off-loading a horrible job – you feel a sense of relief once its done.
Rule #5: Get finances in order
OK, I’m an accountant and if my finances aren’t in order you should be worried.
Seriously though, if your financial situation is less than ideal, then talking about it or even thinking about it is likely to cause you stress.
But here’s the point – to make it any better, to escape the financial maze, to free yourself from the constant stress and worry – you need to face facts. And if that means having a difficult conversation with your partner, or with your accountant, or both, then do it.
If you are brave enough, I can guarantee you will feel a huge weight off your shoulders.
Eliminate bad debt, pay your bills on time, get your tax up-to-date, and take time to review your super. You won’t find an extra $10,000 hiding somewhere, but you will at least know where you stand.
Once you understand how much money comes in, what your expenses really are and what financial goals you have, you can create a budgeting system that works for you. Which in turn means you can rest easier and feel more calm.
Rule #6: Enjoy life’s little pleasures
This one is probably my favourite.
I am determined to remember the simple things that bring me joy and happiness. It could be the smell of freshly cut grass, spending quality time with Kent and the boys, the wind blowing through my hair as I walk in the Blue Mountains, or the volunteer work I do with Australian Working Dog Rescue.
These are all things that bring me great pleasure, and cost me next to NIL.
Introducing simplicity into 2018 does not mean having nothing. It does NOT mean that you give away the things that you love and use.
Rather, it means letting go of the things that we do not need, use, or find to add any value in our life. This will then make room for more of the things that make life better.
My 2018 year of ‘practising simplicity’ is going to start with a declutter of my wardrobe. I’ve created 3 piles – one for Vinnies, one for the bin, and one for keeping.
My second task is the kitchen cupboards. And maybe then, I’ll have the conviction to cull the box of the kid’s kindy art projects and old birthday cards.
As for the office, I have a wonderful new VA (Elaine) who is tasked with simplifying my time commitments and my obligations – wish me luck with that one, but so far the results have been insurmountable!
I’d love to hear what you think about my 2018 goals and if any of this blog resonates with you. Or tell me what your goals are for this year – I’m open to all ideas and I’d love to hear yours.
And of course if ‘Rule #5’ hits a raw nerve, pick up the phone and call me NOW on 02 9564 5885.
Lets get you sorted sooner then later – I’m here to help you.