A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Why Do You Do What You Do?

If you didn’t care about being productive, popular, or successful how different would your life be?

If you only focused on love and passion instead of work and finances, would you be doing the work you’re doing now?

If your main responsibility was to your family and friends, would you spend your time differently?

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately wondering why I do what I do. I often feel pulled in a million different directions when it comes down to how I must spend my time. So I wonder if my life pursuits are worthy of the time I give to them. Your list will look different than mine, but some of the questions I ask myself include:

Why am I spending all this time decluttering my life? Why do I homeschool my kids? Why am I trying to become a minimalist? Why did I move our family to live with my parents? Why do I stay up late writing all these blog posts? Why do I want to write books?

Why Ask Why?

I pretty much live my life in a constant state of exhaustion. Basically, I started asking myself these questions to see if there was something I could give up in order to get more sleep. I realize that’s not the most philosophical method to measure one’s life choices, but it is practical and very real to me.

I also ask why because I want to know if what I’m doing will matter in the long run.

Are Your Priorities Clear to Others?

If you asked me what my priorities are, I can crank out a list as quick as a wink. But if you asked my kids or my husband what my priorities are, I’m not totally confident that their list would match my own. Would your family friends know what your priorities are based on your actions and not just your intentions?

Delayed Gratification

Sometimes life is unpleasant in the short-term in preparation for the realization of our long-term goals. Being on a budget and going without certain things isn’t always pleasant. But seeing a pile of debt shrink over time is worth the sacrifice. I’m currently working a part-time job that I can’t stand. It takes me away from doing things I enjoy. It’s my hope that as we pay down debt and after we sell our house that the job can be eliminated. Staying focused on my goals is what keeps me going.

Leaving a Legacy

When others look back on my life, how will I be remembered? “Oh remember Faith, she only owned three purses. She was a minimalist.” I don’t really want to be remembered as a minimalist. I am a minimalist so that I can make time for what matters.

I am pursuing minimalism and decluttering our lives in order to make time for family. I teach our kids at home so that we have the chance to travel and create family adventures together. I stay up late writing posts and working on books in an effort to show others the benefit of living with less. If something I write helps someone else, then I’m happy.

Why Do YOU Do What You Do?

Take the time to ask yourself why you’re spending your days doing what you do. Examine your priorities. Determine your goals and values. Reevaluating your life often is necessary for your happiness. Ask yourself if you need to change something in your life. Awareness is the first step towards that change. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments today.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider signing up for updates to Minimalist at Home or follow me on Twitter. Thanks so much for reading!

photo by Jamie87

Article originally published on 01/31/2011

Share the love
Get free updates


  1. Is this career week? I also just posted about work and leaving the corporate world.
    Sending positive thoughts your way that you will be out of your soul sucking part-time work soon. You’re a great writer, Faith, and passionate and motivated. I think those things will propel you into your dream scenario – home schooling and writing on the road!! – soon.

  2. I’m constantly asking myself these kinds of questions (wrote a post about it last week, actually). Glad to know I’m not the only one asking questions and seeking answers. The only thing I’ve learned is that we are all searching for something and asking questions helps us get where we are going (wherever that is). 🙂

    • Faith Janes says

      Hi Clara,
      I just read your post (great reading. go check it out everybody: http://bit.ly/fvkVX2)
      I love this line from your post: “Remember, what we want out of life changes over time. How can we make choices in anticipation of our future wants/needs/desires?” You are so right, asking questions is what helps us get where we are going.

      Best of luck on finishing your Ph.D. program. That’s pretty awesome! I stopped part way through my Masters degree because the reasons I started it weren’t important anymore. I look forward to hearing what your dissertation is about.

  3. Faith, great post and these are also great questions to ask yourself all the time. I’m in the middle of my minimalist journey, but loving every minute, and when things get out of whack a bit (like this week as I was blogging about decluttering my desk in my home office! yikes!), I always come back to these questions and ask myself why I am really doing it. It always reconfirms to me the importance (or lack thereof, sometimes) of what I am doing. I can then continue with confidence, or stop, knowing that I am not on the right path. My life goal is to leave a legacy, so I measure everything against that.

    Dr. Laura

  4. Beautiful.

    I sure hope I can be known for something more than being the chick with one purse too! I’m lucky. I enjoy the hell out of what I do. I’ve been blessed by that. And before, even when I was working outside the home, I was still doing stuff I felt great about (working at a health Co-op with all those awesome co-operative principles, it was a friendly group of people).


  5. Faith,
    Great post, we are on a very similar wavelength this week I think! I also agree with you and Tanja about the whole purse thing, as evidenced by my post late Monday. And I used to be something of a purse person! 🙂 At any rate, these deeper questions about why we do what we do have been on my mind, so nice to see them on someone else’s too!
    With Aloha!

  6. That’s an interesting angle of looking at your priorities – through the eyes of those to whom you’re closest. I’ve never thought of my priorities that way and it gives me a completely new perspective. I may have some changes to make…

  7. This has been a huge part of determining what I want from my blog and where I want it to go. I left my corporate job for health reasons. I created my blog as a way to talk about those issues, as well as help others along the way. In the future of my blog, I want to write ebooks, create online workshops, and do life coaching, all with the intent goal of helping people to be the best *them* that they can be. Helping them determine what that is and how they can get there. I was miserable for so long and if I can help someone avoid that mess or get out of it, then I will be achieving my mission.
    Thanks for asking these questions Faith. It is hard to address this, but once you have the answers, your direction becomes so much more clear.
    Be authentic, be engaging, and be ready for change

  8. Do what I do so I can enjoy life. Before when things like finances and work always got in the way I was miserable. I love to be able to go out on adventures with my family. I am able to do it because I live minimalism as best I can.

  9. Great article Faith. My ultimate goal if to bless my family and others, and glorify my God. Having less clutter, more order, and more time helps me with that goal, and your encouraging words keep me motivated.

  10. In the Air Force, an NCO Leadership School Instructor asked the same question more than 20 years ago, and I’m still trying to figure out the answers for myself.

    Like you, I’m trying to be more of a minimalist, and I’m trying to find the passion that will fuel me for the rest of my life. I just discovered your blog today, so I’ll be interested in reading your findings as they unfold.

    In the Air Force, the instructor said it probably wasn’t about the pay, probably wasn’t about the hours. He didn’t really give an answer, but did assure us that when and if w found the reason, it’d be worth it.

    Good luck in your search, and keep up the good work!


  1. […] Why Do You Do What You Do? – Faith Janes Valentine’s Day is about love (and chocolate, but mostly about love). This Valentine’s Day, why not skip the drug store chocolate and instead choose a treat that is both delicious and beneficial to the people who produce it? […]

  2. […] us from the important questions we need to be asking ourselves. Take the time to ask yourself why you do what you do. The awareness you will gain is important but keeping it is the vital missing piece to the […]

Speak Your Mind