Raise your hand if all you want is a simple life. Hmm, thought so - we all do.
But what if we've already committed ourselves to a life that's not so simple? What if we have a stressful job with long hours, a huge mortgage, payments on a gas-guzzling family car, social, sporting and community commitments, house repairs, credit card debt.... Need I go on?
Fear not. If you're really committed to regaining or attaining balance and simplicity and really want to do whatever it takes, you can make it happen.
First of all, let's look at your job.
Are you doing what you really want to be doing?
Are you able to control the amount of hours you put into the job?
Do you feel that what you're doing is important in a bigger picture?
I've always believed that what you do is far more important than how much you earn. Because we spend such a huge chunk of our lives at our workplace we have to like what we're doing, or at least know that what we're doing matters.
If you feel that you need to work your tail off in a soul destroying job, or to work ridiculously long hours just to maintain your lifestyle, please think seriously about it. In a well-balanced and serene life our job needs to reflect our principles and give us a sense of accomplishment. If we're compromising that to support our lifestyle then our lifestyle needs to change. I can't stress this enough. Where there is a will to change your situation - there is a way.
There are countless websites that will give you advice on changing your career and working at what you love.
Now let’s look at where you live.
Are you currently paying a huge mortgage or monthly rent?
Either way the first thing you need to determine is why you live where you do.
You may live close to your work, school or within easy commuting distance to a city. Are you paying more for this convenience? Is it working for you? Really?
We all know that property is cheaper the further away from the city you live, but have you actually thought about it seriously? Have you ever stopped to weigh up the cost of your mortgage or rent and the cost of your lifestyle against the cost of commuting a little further?
When my children were younger I knew that I wanted to buy a house rather than rent and I knew my financial situation limited my choices. I took the chance and bought a cheap house in a small town about 40 kilometres from suburbia and found out some surprising things.
- If you choose wisely and care for it well your cheap house in the country can gain in value quite quickly.
- Commuting 40 minutes down the highway uses around the same petrol as commuting 15 minutes around suburbia. Maybe it's because there are less stops and starts.
- A country upbringing is great for kids.
- Country schools can be a much better option for personalised learning (and this involved no school runs for me as my children took the school bus.)
- Not having a supermarket or takeaway shops close by meant I shopped more wisely, used what I had more cleverly and didn't waste money unnecessarily.
- You can't beat the serenity of hearing nothing but birds, being able to see the stars so clearly at night, and driving past fields of cows and sheep on your way to work.
- A country house can be a haven for you and your family, a unique reflection of your life and personality and a lovely place for friends to visit. Think about it.
There is a website called Action for Happiness that provides a list of 18 ‘things’ we might have in our lives and asks us to list them in order of importance to us. This exercise and your responses to it could be the wakeup call you need to start simplifying your life.