What Do You Value?

silver and gold coins

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

“To be mature you have to realize what you value most. It is extraordinary to discover that comparatively few people reach this level of maturity. They seem never to have paused to consider what has value for them. They spend great effort and sometimes make great sacrifices for values that, fundamentally, meet no real needs of their own. Perhaps they have imbibed the values of their particular profession or job, of their community or their neighbors, of their parents or family. Not to arrive at a clear understanding of one’s own values is a tragic waste. You have missed the whole point of what life is for.” –Eleanor Roosevelt, You Learn by Living

So what do you really want from your life? What do you want to accomplish? When you reach the end of your life, what will you regret not doing? What do you want to be remembered for?

Who do you enjoy spending time with? Who are the people in your life that you can let your guard down with and totally be yourself around?

How do you want to fill your days? What did you love to do when you were a kid? What did you dream of doing when you grew up? 

Has anyone ever asked you what you value? What is important to you? What matters to you? And most importantly, have you ever asked yourself? If not, isn’t it about time?

~PEACE~

Advertisements

Downshifting the TO DO List

blue bell alarm clock

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I had written a completely different post for today about working in 10-minute increments to get things done: clean the bathroom for 10 minutes; write for 10 minutes; exercise for 10 minutes. That’s my strategy, in a nutshell, for successfully managing my daily TO DO list.

But then I thought, “Who cares?” Honestly, I don’t even care about most of the things on my list! So why do I worry so much about getting everything done? The real purpose of downshifting is to work less and enjoy life more. Here, I really want to address that “enjoy life” part.

Even though I started downshifting my career over 15 years ago, I still struggle with enjoying my life outside of work. If I’m not working at my job, I constantly feel the need to be performing some type of household chore, or running some stupid errand. I feel guilty if I’m not legitimately “busy” all the time.

I try to just sit on the porch and read a book in the afternoon, or take a nap, but I always feel like I should be doing something else. I rush through tasks so that I can move on to the next thing, hurrying for no reason, never being fully present in whatever I’m doing. And most of the time, I’m not even aware that I’m doing it. This is the part of downshifting that I still need to work on.

That’s where my 10 minute rule does come in handy. Setting limits on how much of my time I’m willing to sacrifice for the things I have to do — cleaning the house, washing dishes, paying bills, doing laundry — frees up more time for the things I want to do — taking long walks, reading, writing, playing with my dogs. And sometimes I even allow myself to enjoy these things!

I just need to learn to relax and not feel guilty for enjoying my life! After all, if we’re not here on earth to be happy and enjoy ourselves, then what’s the point?! That should be #1 on everyone’s TO DO list.

~PEACE~

Take One Step Toward Financial Freedom

So many of us say that we want to work less and enjoy our lives more, but what’s keeping us from actually doing so? For most people, the obvious barrier is money. After all, who would go to work every day if we didn’t need the money?

But why do we need all this money? To pay the bills, of course! But wait. Why do we have all these bills in the first place? Umm…

The less money we spend, the less money we need. When we need less money, we don’t have to spend as much time working. The less time we spend working to make money to pay our bills, the more time we have to actually enjoy our lives.

Sounds simple enough, right? It is and it isn’t. Learning new financial habits definitely requires some reprogramming.

A fundamental first step toward reducing our spending calls for an honest assessment of where our hard-earned money is actually going. How much do we spend on the things that we truly need, vs. those that we simply want, or merely like?

For guidance, The Minimalists’ insightful essay NEED, WANT, LIKE breaks down this essential process of separating our basic needs from our various wants and likes (many of which often masquerade as needs in our complicated modern lives), and recommends action steps to move us closer to our ultimate goal of financial freedom.

Everyone’s different, but most of us don’t really need as much as we think. Once we start casting a critical eye on everything in our lives and asking, “Do I really need this?” it’s surprising to discover how often the answer is “No!”

~PEACE~

The Importance of Finding Your Tribe

As I strive to embrace simplicity, turn my back on mindless consumption, and form positive habits in my daily life, I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle every day. All around me, friends, family, coworkers, and even casual acquaintances question why I want to live this way.

Why don’t I want to eat a bag of Cheetos and a box of cookies every night?

How can I possibly be satisfied with a 3 year-old cell phone and a 5 year-old TV?

Why don’t I want to go to Wal-Mart?

How could I even consider giving up such a “good job” at the post office, when I’ll be “all set” with a pension for life if I just “hang in there” until I’m 60 years old?

Why don’t I want to make more money?  

Why am I giving away half the clothes in my closet?

Sometimes, in my darker moments, I even start to ask myself those same questions.

Then, every once in a while, I meet someone who gets it. Or I listen to the latest episode of The Minimalists’ podcast. Or I read a new blog post from Leo Babauta or Joshua Becker or Courtney Carver. And I remember that I’m not alone. I’m not crazy. I just want to do things a little differently. I want to live my life a little more deliberately.

If you’re following this blog, then chances are, you’re interested in living a simpler and more purposeful life as well. Some of the people around you probably don’t understand. But remember that there are plenty of us out here who do. Those are the people you have to surround yourself with. They are your inspiration and your allies.

Thanks for reading, and for being on my team. I hope we can continue to help and inspire each other to follow our own paths to meaningful living. It isn’t always easy, but it’s always rewarding.

~PEACE~

A Lesson in Passion, and Balance, from Dr. Dre

Yesterday afternoon, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Tim Ferriss Show. He was interviewing Cal Fussman, the “interview master” himself, best known for his “What I Learned” feature in Esquire magazine. At one point in the three-hour segment, they briefly touched on Cal’s interview with Dr. Dre – specifically, Dr. Dre’s take on passionate pursuits.

Fussman asked him, “What’s the longest you’ve gone, working on a passion project, without sleep?” His answer? 72 hours. 72 hours! That’s THREE days! This was just unimaginable to me. I have never felt passionate enough about anything to stay up for 3 days. I need my 8 hours, right? So I felt kinda bummed out. I guess I’m just not a passionate person, or maybe I haven’t found my passion yet, I thought. How boring am I? What’s wrong with me?

Then this morning it hit me. My health and maintaining balance in my life ARE my passions! Getting enough rest is something that I’m passionate about! Does that count? I don’t know. I’ll admit that I’m (sometimes) a little envious of people who are so passionate about the activities in their lives that they’re willing to sacrifice just about anything for them – sleep, health, relationships. Am I missing something there?

I suppose my slow-living, everything-in-moderation, baby-steps, super-balanced, small-incremental-changes way of life isn’t for everybody. I’m a postal worker and a writer, not a rap star. It’s not very exciting or glamorous, but it’s who I am, and I’m (mostly) OK with that.

Mostly.

~PEACE~

Cool Podcasts for Downshifters

I recently started listening to podcasts during my half-hour commute to & from work every day. I know, I know… I’m arriving at this party a little late, but this is by far the best new thing to happen to my daily routine in a long time! Why didn’t I think of this before? Now I’m arriving at my day job energized and motivated, with my mind full of new input for my writing and creative pursuits. By the time I get home, I’ve usually jotted down a few new ideas and resources that I can’t wait to research and start working with.

Plus, podcasts are FREE, and soooo much safer than trying to read a book while I’m driving.

Since I’m just getting started, this is my very short list of the podcasts that have inspired me so far. I hope they’ll do the same for you. If you know of any other great podcasts that have helped you find balance, simplify your life, improve your writing, pursue your passions, live a healthier life, or form good habits, please share!

The Minimalists Podcast

In their new podcast, just launched last month, The Minimalists Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss living a meaningful life with less stuff. This is the podcast that convinced me that podcasts were a good idea, so if you need convincing too, start here.

The Portfolio Life with Jeff Goins

As he does in his books, Jeff Goins shares thoughts and ideas that will help you to pursue work that matters, make a difference with your art, and discover your true voice. Episode 003, “How to Chase a Dream Without Quitting Your Job,” is a must-listen. His guest list is a who’s-who of today’s heavy-hitting inspirational speakers and authors. The episodes featuring interviews with Gretchen Rubin (018) and Tim Ferriss (004) are among my favorites so far.

Speaking of Gretchen Rubin…

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

The #1 best-selling author of The Happiness Project shares her practical advice about happiness and good habits in this “lively, thought-provoking podcast.” Sometimes it gets a little corny, and her topics are widely varied, so I’m picky about which episodes I listen to, but Gretchen’s honest tried-and-true advice usually manages to enhance my happiness in unexpected ways.

And Tim Ferriss…

The Tim Ferriss Show

“Self-experimenter” and best-selling author Tim Ferriss “deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, chess, pro sports, etc.), digging deep to find the tools, tactics, and tricks that listeners can use.” I haven’t had a chance to listen to many episodes, but I love everything Tim does, and his wide-reaching guest list – from Seth Godin to Jamie Foxx – is guaranteed to engage and inspire.

Over It And On With It with Christine Hassler

Life coach and author Christine Hassler coaches live callers on the problems – and opportunities – we all face in relationships, careers, health, transitions, finances, life purpose, spirituality, or anything else they have questions about. She uses her signature balance of practical tools and spiritual principles to help us all overcome the obstacles that hold us back from living the lives we were meant to live.

All of these podcasts, and thousands more, are easily accessible via the iTunes store. Happy listening (and learning)!

~PEACE~

Dining Out, Downshifter Style

Since I began my downshifting journey, I’ve read hundreds of books and articles on saving money and living below one’s means. Most of them recommend preparing meals at home and eliminating restaurant meals as a way to cut costs. I won’t deny that dining in is a great way to save. It’s a no-brainer, really, but…

I truly enjoy going out to eat. As the only person in my house who cooks, sometimes I just get sick of cooking. Seriously sick of it. For me, trying different foods and new restaurants is one of life’s greatest pleasures. So what’s a frugal downshifter to do?

Fortunately, I’ve discovered a few simple ways to save in this area, so if dining out is important to you too, read on. We really can have our cake and eat it too!

  1. I don’t do “DINNER.” Perhaps due to my early morning work schedule, I’m not a big night eater. I like to get most of my eating out of the way earlier in the day, when I’m working, moving around, and burning calories. (Also recommended for good digestion and weight loss too!) I love to go out for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and/or happy hour, then just have a light snack at home in the evening.
  2. I try to keep it light. Kind of related to # 1 above. When I go out, I usually opt for lighter fare: soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers. Or if I get a bigger meal, I take half (or more) of it home and get another meal or two out of it. (Also another good diet tip!)
  3. I don’t eat a lot of meat. I’m not a vegetarian, but keeping my meals light and simple often means not eating much meat. Even when I cook at home, I often use half the meat and twice the veggies that most recipes call for. It’s cheaper, and again, healthier!
  4.  I take advantage of specials whenever I can. Weekdays are an especially good time to take advantage of happy hour deals, half-price appetizers, buy-one-get-one-free offers, coupons, etc.
  5. I enjoy a drink. One. Sometimes two. Not three or four. Booze is expensive — and loaded with useless calories! Have a drink, then switch to water. Your wallet and waistline will thank you.
  6. I pay with cash most of the time. I hate credit card bills even more than I hate cooking. Dining on plastic just doesn’t make sense to me.
  7. I tip well, especially at places where I’m a regular customer. When you take good care of your waitstaff and bartenders, they’ll take good care of you, sometimes with free drinks, “samples,” etc. They work hard for their money. Don’t skimp on the gratuity.

While saving money is an important component of downshifting, mindful spending is key to living life according to your priorities. For me, this means never passing up an opportunity to share a drink and a good meal with a loved one. After all, isn’t that what life’s all about?

~PEACE~

Balance – Duh!

So I’ve reached the end of my month of daily blogging, and I have to admit, I’m glad it’s over! Don’t get me wrong. It was a great challenge, and I’m certainly proud of my accomplishment, but sometimes I felt like I was neglecting some other important areas of my life. Sleep, exercise, reading — all things I enjoy and need — were pushed to the back burner on more than one occasion.

Thinking about Downshifter’s Journal all the time occasionally detracted from my ability to be fully present and live in the moment. Pleasant diversions became annoying interruptions. The looming daily deadline sometimes got in the way of enjoying time with friends and family.

But it was SO worth it! I learned a lot about prioritizing. And focus. I learned that I can accomplish a lot more in a day than I previously gave myself credit for. Now I’m looking forward to relaxing for a few days and catching up on my reading. And I fully intend to maintain a regular, although probably not daily, blogging habit.

I’m hooked!

~PEACE~