You’ve suspected it all along, and you weren’t completely wrong.
There is a shortcut to the life you want – a secret that is hidden behind consumerism, buried under comparison, and covered up by an outdated view of success.
I only wish we had understood this a decade sooner, but it took us that long to get to the point where we were so weary of busy and tired of average that we were just desperate enough to make the kind of “crazy” changes that needed to happen.
Instead of chasing “more”, we could have have had more much sooner by actively pursuing less.
We started out with a pretty average mindset about how to do life.
- We bought into the myth that we had to work harder, do more, and make more in order to finally afford the quality of life we wanted… “someday”.
- We operated with a “more is more” mentality – if we could have it, why not have it? Thankfully we had gone through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, so we didn’t go so far as to take on debt; but our home became filled to the brim with anything that seemed sort of cool or convenient to have – as long as we got it for a good deal, mind you.
- For too long we said “yes” to every seemingly good thing that came along because we were afraid of missing out on a big break or disappointing someone.
- We turned to organization to fix our mess of a life, and we were pretty good at it.
The problem with expecting organization to solve your problems, however, is that organized crap is still crap – whether it’s a well-ordered schedule full of activities you don’t really want to be doing, or a closet that looks like a precarious game of Tetris. So we learned the importance of knowing when to just give up.
We halted our quest to discover the Holy Grail of organization and embraced, instead, the art of streamlining.
To streamline is to make something more efficient and simple – to create the least possible resistance.
Of course there will always be a certain amount of resistance in life, and that’s a good thing – struggle makes us stronger and friction can help to polish off our rough edges.
But how many things in your day-to-day life cause resistance where it isn’t helpful, where it just wears you down and tires you out?
Streamlining can be implemented in every aspect of life – from diet, to closet, to finances, relationships, and anything else you can think of. That’s a big part of what we explore on this site.
There’s nothing wrong with spending more time on some of life’s basics, unless your time becomes enslaved by them at the peril of your true life purpose.
A while ago we sat down together and hashed out what we want our life to be centered around. For us, this means, among other things, that:
- We want household maintenance to take no more than a few hours a week – dishes, cleaning, lawncare, etc.
- We want to do no more than 1 load of laundry per family member per week. (To be honest, it’s more like 5 loads total per month.)
- We want to spend about an hour a day or less in meal planning + prep (for all 3 meals).
- We want getting ready to go out to not take any of us longer than about a half hour or less for the most part – hygiene, outfits, hair, makeup, etc. But at the same time, we do want to look put together and have fun with our style.
- We want to maintain flexibility in our lifestyle – location independence, our children’s schooling, etc. so that we’re able to travel and introduce them to many cultures as well as allow them to spend more time with their grandparents, who live thousands of miles away.
- We want to develop multiple streams of passive income so that we aren’t limited by a “dollar for hours” income cycle.
- We want our finances, and the management of them, to be an efficient tool, not a burden.
Practically speaking, we pursue less to help streamline our finances, for example, by:
- Choosing small, old, and mortgage-free over making payments on the type of home we’d prefer to live in (for now).
- Choosing to purchase or keep only those things which we “know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” (William Morris) – quality over quantity.
- Choosing a small wardrobe with versatile pieces we love over a closet stuffed full with “nothing to wear”.
- Choosing a simple menu over a lot of variety.
- Choosing one paid-for car over more convenient and luxurious travel 🙂
- Choosing to stick to a budget and live below our means – limiting our expenses as much as possible, so that we don’t have a huge burden of income.
- Choosing a lower income with more freedom over being married to a job with a fat paycheck.
And a million other little choices… many of which basically boil down to choosing more long-term gratification over many short-term conveniences.
These choices aren’t somehow “better” than others, and certainly they’re not all feasible for everyone, although I would challenge you that much more is possible in your life than you might be currently inclined to think.
It’s always very difficult to imagine moving “backward” in life, in a standard of living, but the truth is that you can and will get used to what you choose to get used to. And even be surprised with what you might learn to appreciate and enjoy 😉
The point is to decide what is truly most important to you, and recognize ways (maybe “crazy” ways – necessity is the mother of invention, after all) you can streamline your own life to remove unnecessary resistance to those things.
When you are focused on what matters most, the importance of that which you give up quickly fades.
And as your vision begins to clarify, you discover the life you never knew you always wanted is becoming a reality before your eyes, and in your heart.