Thursday, 7 May 2015

Do you deal with constant clutter in your home and your car? Do you frequently find yourself wondering if you can afford that $8 coffee?

Are you too stressed to relax with a cup of tea once in awhile?

If so, you're not alone. Many Americans live hurried, harried lives, constantly running from one thing to the next, continually working to pay for the things they want with little time left over to truly appreciate the good things in their lives. While escaping the trappings of our modern, consumerist society and living a more simple life may sound intriguing, it's often difficult to actually implement.

But those who have made a commitment to simplifying their lives say the process is extremely rewarding – and can be easier than you might think. "Simple living is about intentionality in life," says Joshua Becker, who blogs about simplicity at Becoming Minimalist. "It is about focusing as much time, energy, and money as possible on the things that matter most. The most important step toward living a simpler life is to reevaluate what you are hoping to accomplish with your life, and then rearranging your priorities and resources around it."

Here are four steps to get started toward a simpler life:

1. Find your purpose

Before you can really simplify, it helps to have "a compelling reason why you want a simpler life," says Mohamed Tohami, who blogs at Midway Simplicity. "For me, simple living was the tool that allowed me to preserve my most valuable resources which are time, money and effort, in order to pursue my passions and what matters most to me."

Before you begin taking steps toward simplicity, determine your goal: Do you want more free time? More clutter-free space? More control over your finances?

2. Declutter your life

Once you've figured out why you want to simplify, start eliminating everything that is unnecessary in your life and doesn't help you meet your goal. "Anything that doesn't serve your purpose should be eliminated," Tohami says. "Anything that consumes your time, money and effort without bringing you joy or happiness must be decluttered."

Rather than feeling like you have to say yes to a number of volunteer opportunities at your child's school, choose one or two opportunities that will actually enjoy. Or if you normally overspend by purchasing expensive coffees everyday before work, treat yourself to one per week.

Becker recommends starting by removing the physical possessions from your home "that are no longer used or loved." He suggests starting somewhere easy like a closet or bathroom. "Don't worry about the difficult or overwhelming projects yet," Becker says. "You'll get there in time."

Tohami's philosophy for simple living follows the quote by Hans Hofmann: "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak."

3. Get organized

Once you've decluttered, take whatever's left in your life and organize it "for maximum productivity and for doing more with less," Tohami says. Remember that everything should have a place–a rule that applies for activities as well as physical items. For example, "if you're a writer, you must create a home space for your writing work," Tohami says. "This way, you build a routine that optimizes your brain's performance and enhances creativity."

4. Maintain your new lifestyle

Once you begin experiencing the benefits of simplicity, you won't want to return to your old ways. To avoid it, Tohami recommends practicing the one-in, one-out rule: Anything new that enters your life must replace something else. If you buy a new sweater, another one in your closet must be given away or sold.

"Simple living allowed me to focus on what matters most to me, find happiness within reach and boost the quality of my life," Tohami says. "It is peaceful, joyful and ultra fulfilling. When you realize that it is possible and easy to enjoy much more with much less, you feel that you own the world."


The content provided is for informational purposes only. Neither BBVA USA, nor any of its affiliates, is providing legal, tax, or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax, or financial consultant about your personal situation. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BBVA USA or any of its affiliates.

Links to third party sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement. BBVA USA does not provide, is not responsible for, and does not guarantee the products, services or overall content available at third party sites. These sites may not have the same privacy, security or accessibility standards.