For a long time, I have been writing about building a bigger smaller life. Something less complicated and with less pressure. I feel that I am closer than ever. I like how life is now but there were some things I had to do to get to now.
What I have learned on creating a simpler life.
1) I needed stable, reliable work. I have freelanced for several years. While in theory, freelancing is terrific, for me it was either boom or bust. Getting a regular hours job and have strong boundaries around this for my writing is vital for mental health and being able to plan. Not having money is a huge trigger for me, so I needed to know when my pay was coming in.
2) I need more sleep. Going to bed earlier means I get more done during the day. Weird, right? I noticed that I was staying up late for the sake of it but not doing anything with the extra time and waking up feeling jetlagged. An hour earlier and I now have more energy and better mental health.
3) I moved someone smaller. A smaller house means fewer possessions and less storage which means less stuff. Less stuff means I only have the stuff I love around me. The things that mean something and make me happy to look at when I pass them. Also, I can clean this place in an hour, so well done me!
4) I got real about managing money. Tracking my expenses and money like a muthafucka. I use YNAB and The Barefoot Investor Excel spreadsheet to make me doubly accountable. It gives you peace of mind when you know what you are going to pay for the month ahead, and even though things are tight, with school fees, and university rent for kid and stuff, it’s doable because I know what I am working with. Meanwhile, have been adding to superannuation and doing things with that to make it fatter, so I will have some money to live on when I am much older, which is also good because freelancers don’t get superannuation!
5) I untethered myself from a busy place. Making a concerted effort to no be busy. Busy is bullshit because busy means I don’t do anything properly and busy also means I don’t think at a deeper level. When I take the time to think, to question myself and the world around me, I am in a better place mentally. You get time with yourself, to know yourself and improve yourself.
6) I said no to things or events that are not necessary. I said yes for a very, very long time I said yes because I was trying to get approval for being me because I was born a disappointment. So I said yes to everyone to try and make everything better. I realised I can’t make anything better for anyone. Only for me. So I say no to more than I say yes to. And that’s okay. I permitted myself.
7) I worked out my values and checking in with them regularly. I check my values with Martin Seligman’s tests. To have happiness and contentment in your life, then it should include the top three values. Knowing what these are, and tailoring my life to include them has made a huge difference to me and my quality of daily living.
8) I made more time by slowing down. More time to do things I like, such as gardening and writing. Reading and listening to music. This echoes my values and is such a nice way to live. A walk with the dogs and peering into neighbours gardens is one of my most favourite things to do.
9) I spent more time with friends. I have a few close friends. About six of them. They are the people I ring when shit goes down. They ring me when their shit goes down. They are exceptional people who thrill me and who I lose time with when I hang out with them. I have a group chat with two of them which could be the funniest chat group ever, at least to us. They keep me sane. They are my logical family who knows me and loves me more than my biological family ever did.
10) I found more quality in the relationships with partner and children. Less busy means I can be more there for them and yet they don’t need me as much, which is also nice but knowing I am there for them, and them knowing that matters. There is a balance that I didn’t have when they were younger and so demanding, and I was working like a demon and trying to “have it all” and realising there is no “all”, there is only now.
11) I need blocks of time. Writing a book requires focus, deep work. You cannot dip in and out on occasion and expect the story to flow. You must plant your bum on the seat and write. Hours at a time. get it out first then hone it later. This is my craft, and this is how I need to work. Simplifying my life has allowed me to get those blocks of time. This is why I have been able to do such a great job on my next book. I loved writing it because I had time. it was a gift that I have worked hard to earn.
And that’s all I know right now. That’s my life as I stand today. It can be topsy-turvey but that’s easier to cope with because I am in the centre of the wheel now, and life keeps spinning around me, and somehow I am here, in the middle, just doing my thing.
I am now off to make a roast chicken for dinner and water the plants. Peace at last, peace at last..