Transcript of Recording
Happy New Year and welcome to Simply Clearly! If you’ve never been here before, my name is Laura Stevenson, and this website is where I share my thoughts, ideas and tips for living simply and intentionally. This year, I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from trying to live up to a strict blogging schedule.
Instead, I am going to use a few minutes of my quiet time each morning and write down my thoughts surrounding what I am working on that week in the area of simple living. Then, each Sunday, I’ll be sharing it in a longer blog post like this one, along with some helpful resources and content.
Since I’ll be writing on a daily basis, I’m breaking it up into daily pieces of reading for you. If you look below, you’ll see an individual header for each day of the week. You can click on those each day for some great reading, as well as any resources and other content I share about that day’s topic.
I hope you’ll enjoy this, and please let me know in the comments if you have any feedback! Also, if you’d like to receive these weekly posts by email, just sign up below.
Have a great week!
This year, I’m getting back to the basics. The basics of why I began this blog, to share my personal feelings and benefits of living a simpler life with fewer distractions and belongings. To live more intentionally.
In order to do this, I am switching to one post each week, that I will publish on Sundays. The post will contain short thoughts with corresponding resources that I have found personally inspiring and useful. I’ll break these thoughts up into readable chunks for each day of the coming week.
My hope is that I can share more of what really inspires me to live simply, what I read and think about on a daily basis, with you in a more personal way. We’ll see how it goes!
Monday: Finding Focus
I like to start my week with simplicity and refocusing my personal efforts at living intentionally. Usually that means spending some time Sunday night and Monday morning reading other people’s writings about simple living. It helps to look outside my own thoughts on a regular basis to find new views on life, relationships and what it might look like for someone else who is living their own version of simplicity. Often when I am reading another viewpoint is when I get a spark of inspiration to live more focused in an area of my life that I feel is lacking.
When I was looking for a simpler way to prepare healthy meals for my family, I found Jules over at TheStoneSoup my inspiration for menus and quick cooking in the evenings.
During times when I have felt overwhelmed with life and commitments, and have felt like I am less than I should be, I have found Leo Babauta’s words about self-compassion to be just what I needed.
Those days when I become tired of swimming against the cultural norm of consuming and wanting more, I turn to someone like Joshua Becker for encouragement and a reminder of why I initially chose this lifestyle.
Today, take some time to refocus your own self on what is important to you to see happen this coming week. Leo Babauta has published a free ebook download Focus that is amazing, or you could also check out some of my personal recommendations.
Tuesday: Let's Talk About Sleep
I have known for a long time that getting enough sleep is crucial to my health and daily energy levels, but it is also the area, along with healthy meals, that is usually sacrificed when I try to do too much, eventually experiencing burnout. In the past, I have skimped on sleep all week long and tried to catch up on the weekends so I could start all over again Monday mornings.
I am a natural early riser, and there have been many morning routines over the years that have included getting up in the 4am range. Getting up early hasn’t been the problem though, I am very productive early mornings, the issue comes when I stay up until 10 or 11pm to ‘get more done’, then continue to get up early. I become sleep deprived and no amount of caffeine can fix it after a couple of weeks.
Once the sleep deprivation sets in, I find myself too tired to cook and more likely to make decisions like ordering out again for dinner, or allowing the kids ‘extra’ screen time because I’m too tired to interact with them and have no patience. My productivity suffers as well because no amount of caffeine or energy drink can bring me out of the zombie like state of not enough sleep, and my brain is not clear enough to put out quality work of any kind.
It wasn’t until about a year ago that I really committed to allowing my body enough sleep. It might seem strange, but I looked at sleeping as a sacrifice of my ‘productive time’ and awareness. I felt like I was losing out on life by spending so much of it sleeping. I wanted to get by on as little as possible so I could ‘do’ as much as possible. The problem was that I was too tired while awake to ‘do’ much of anything that was truly productive. It was difficult to work and difficult to concentrate on my family, but I thought I was!
I can’t say that anything extraordinary happened that changed my thinking about sleep. I’m lucky I didn’t have to experience extreme health problems to realize that my quality of life was suffering, my body included. The process of slowing down, evaluating my commitments and goals and focusing on what was really important to me, allowed me to see what activities I needed to remove.
In the end, living a simpler life just naturally evolved to the point where health became more important to me, and I actually had the time to sleep because of how much I had simplified in other areas. Now that I have been getting enough sleep most nights for quite a while, I can see a huge difference in my life, in ALL areas. I’m happier and calmer, I have a nice surge of energy around 5pm which allows me to get just a little more done than I would have before. I’m able to focus more on what’s important.
Consider your current sleep habits. Are you sleeping too little, too much, just enough? What are you sacrificing, if anything, in terms of health, relationships and quality of life by skimping on sleep, or oversleeping? Don’t wait years to give your body what it needs to be healthy.
Wednesday: Intentionally Setting Goals
Goals have long been a part of my life, however, being more intentional with which ones I set and only focusing on one at a time has been a fairly recent development. For many years I have been the type of person to set many goals and only at the beginning of a new year. The past couple of years as I’ve worked towards a simpler lifestyle, I’ve realized the value in setting goals on a more regular basis, and making them achievable in shorter increments of time.
I still set goals at the beginning of the New Year, but my method of achieving them is different, as I work on one at a time, and they are broken into smaller, 30-day segments. I also don’t hesitate to make new goals throughout the year if I feel the need. The latter part of 2015, I spent much of my time creating an Intentional Goal Setting Course if you are interested in using my methods for yourself.
As I have considered new goals for the coming year, I’ve taken time to read some really inspiring words that have motivated me to make changes, you might like them too-
This article, by Chelsea, wife of the late Scott Dinsmore of LiveYourLegend.
Zen Habits by Leo Babauta is a must read for me each year, to help reclaim my focus.
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Thursday: Creating Happiness
I am a believer that our happiness level is a choice we make on a daily basis, but that choice can be heavily influenced by those around us and by external factors that we don’t always have control over.
In a recent TED talk, Robert Waldinger, a Harvard researcher, talked about one of the longest studies ever completed, over a span of 75 years, specifically studying the happiness levels of 720 men over the course of their lives. Regardless of any other factors in their lives, their happiness was affected most by one thing: the quality of their relationships.
Deep down, most of us already know that this makes sense, yet I find that there are still times I forget. I find myself spending too much time online, watching too much TV or doing things that just fill my time instead of intentionally thinking about what would contribute most positively to my life and to my relationships.
Dan Erickson’s free e-Book, The Happiness of Simple is a masterpiece of written word. His wisdom is timeless and provides solid guidance for simplifying life, and the underlying reasons to do so. Happiness is within reach of every individual, no matter our circumstances, and Dan does a superb job in expressing this in his book.
I highly recommend downloading and reading it multiple times, I am reading some of my favorite excerpts from it this morning.
If you are interested in watching the TED talk, it is available below and is 13 minutes long.
Friday: Living A Simple Life
Living a simple life means so many different things to different people. Depending on what stage of life you are in, single, married, parents to young children, older parents, the meaning of simple living will look different.
Even with all the differences, there is one similarity that is found amongst all, living life in its simplest form so you can focus on what is most important to you.
Rather than rewrite a lot of what I’ve already written about what simple living means to me, I thought I’d invite you to read a few of the prior posts I’ve written over the past three years as I’ve focused on living more simply. Enjoy!
This coming year, I want to be more intentional. I want to look closer at why I do what I do, how is it benefiting me? Is it a positive or negative benefit? There are still a lot of days in life that I feel like I am just ‘along for the ride’, and still catering to cultural expectations. I don’t want to do that as much any more.
I know I won’t be perfect at living more intentionally, but I am going to make some slow, hopefully lasting changes in areas like decluttering and not replacing, more controlled purchasing, spending more time with my children and making relationships a higher priority.
I hope you’ll stick around and maybe some of my words will help you as well on your journey. Please feel free to comment so we can both help each other get to where we want to be.