Simple living may look different for each person, but generally a simplified life means getting rid of any extra mental and physical clutter, so you can have more time for the things that actually matter to you.
This sounds great, but life is complicated sometimes, and simplifying things can feel overwhelming—which, of course, is exactly the opposite of what simplifying your life is all about. Don’t worry, you do not have to change everything at once. Simplifying your life will eventually give you more time, space, and energy. But simple doesn’t always mean easy. Simplifying your life means taking responsibility for oneself, reflecting on your habits and choices, and developing discipline and willpower.
Set a Single Goal
The secret to simplifying your life isn’t a secret. Instead of having many goals, simplify it to one important goal. Not only will this make you less stressed, it will make you more successful. You will be able to focus on that one small, attainable goal, and give it all your energy. That gives you much better chances for success.
Reduce Your To-Do List
Do you create a long list of things to do each day? Writing a long list of things you probably won’t get done by the end of the day sets a stressful and unrealistic expectation for yourself. Instead, identify just three very important things you want to accomplish each day. Choose items that will make you feel like you accomplished and not overwhelmed.
Design Your Day
Studies show people 60+ spend an average of 6 hours per day watching TV. How do you spend your day? What things do you do, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep? Make a list and evaluate whether the activities you are doing are in line with your priorities. If not, eliminate the things that aren’t, and focus on what’s important. The key to keeping your life simple is to create simple routines — a morning routine, a bill-paying routine, an evening routine. Designing your day with routine builds habits that will enable you to be mindful of how you spend your time each day. Daily practices also help you add new, desired behaviors into your daily routine. These new habits and routines can help you navigate your way to a healthier and more satisfying life at a time in history when most older adults will experience longer lives than ever before.
Health is made up of several things including nutrition and exercise. It might not be obvious how prioritizing health relates to simplicity, but think about the opposite: if you eat unhealthy foods all the time and rarely care for your body by exercising, you are sure to have higher medical needs over the long term. We could be talking years from now, but imagine frequent doctor visits, hospitalization, going to the pharmacist, getting therapy, having surgery, taking insulin shots. Being unhealthy is complicated. Establishing healthy eating and exercise habits simplifies all of that greatly.
Practicing gratitude helps you focus on what you have done in your life as well as what you can still accomplish. Making time to practice gratitude clears the mental clutter and unnecessary chatter. When you catch yourself engaging in toxic thinking habits, take a deep breath, remind yourself it’s not helpful, and proactively list three things you are grateful for today. This helpful habit will shift your mindset to a more positive one and will help you focus on the good things in your life!
Simplifying your life is a journey, not a destination. It can often be a journey of two steps forward, and one backward. As you establish your habits and plans for the new year, stop and ask yourself, “will this simplify my life?” If the answer is no, you may want to reconsider.