A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Backtracking to Simplicity

How do you return to a simple life when you’re finally tired of living in excess? For many, it is a difficult task to reverse the effects of over consumption and a chaotic lifestyle. In a perfect world, we would never fail prey to a lifestyle of living beyond our means or making poor decisions when it comes to our priorities. We can’t change the choices we’ve made, but we can learn from them and work hard to change our future.

Lessons for My Younger Self

If I were living out a scene from the movie Back to the Future, I would choose to return to the younger version of myself and share some very specific advice. I wouldn’t tell myself who to fall in love with and I wouldn’t try to convince myself what career to choose. I would tell my young and impressionable self to appreciate everything that I have and not attempt to purchase a future that I thought I wanted.

I would tell my younger self to avoid credit card debt at all costs. I would tell myself how ridiculous it sounds to buy a dog and a computer on credit. (Did you know you can buy pets on credit? How crazy is that?) I would also tell myself that upgrading to a larger house isn’t as important as everyone makes it seem.

Paying for Yesterday

It’s not easy to backtrack to simplicity. The simple life that I long for now, is farther out of my reach than I wish it was. Today I am stuck paying for a yesterday that I didn’t even need. There are dumpsters full of possessions that we thought we couldn’t live without. Now we can’t get rid of them fast enough. If I stop and think too long about all the money we wasted I will get sick to my stomach. It’s hard to go back and fix our mistakes. Backtracking is never as quick of a journey as running ahead aimlessly without concern of where you’re going.

I began to seek out minimalism when I finally became so fed up with the way we’d been living. Being discontent with our spending habits and being covered in a mountain of clutter gave me a reason to find a solution. I hope to save my children from learning the way I did. If you haven’t buried yourself in debt and clutter, I urge you right now to run from both.

Step Wisely

If you are like me and you’re trying to work your way back to simplicity, know that you aren’t alone and that the journey is doable. A few things you should keep in mind are:

  • The journey back to simplicity is not usually a quick or easy one.
  • Breaking bad habits is challenging but not impossible.
  • Your life is more than a collection of stuff.
  • Save for your future don’t spend it now.
  • Happiness will never be found in possessions.

Do you have lessons you would share with your younger self? How have you managed a journey back to simplicity?


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photo by lusi


The winner of the Toot Your Own Horn Contest is Kathy. Congratulations, Kathy! Thank you all for sharing your decluttering progress. I had a great time reading all your comments. I may have to do another contest like that again soon. Keep up the great work and keep sharing your progress!

Article originally published on 02/07/2011

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