Living In A Simple Life: Our 4 Stage Journey To Freedom

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In this post, we’re going to detail our journey from clutter and chaos to a life of simplicity.

We also provide the 4 stage framework that moved us towards living in a simple life. 

If you want to learn how we simplified our lives (and how you can do it too), this post is for you!

Let’s dive right in..

Our Story

When I look at our current day-to-day life, I tend to forget how far we’ve come, and how exactly we got to where we are today. It’s almost as if I’m talking about completely different people!

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I took a step back and saw how everything worked out to get us to the place we are now.

So how exactly did we end up choosing a simple life?

Stage 1: Life Before Simplicity

Now it might sound as if I’m being a bit dramatic, but I can assure you that this was very much our life at the beginning of this journey..

living in a simple life

So to start, we were far from living in a simple life: the two of us were living in a large 4 bedroom house with a 2 car garage, and a loft which was filled to the top with boxes, spare furniture, and more.

We had so many vehicles (I won’t give an exact number, but in addition to cars and work trucks, we even had a motorcycle and multiple riding lawn mowers). 

We even had a lake house and a couple boats!

Moving on to just myself: I had several boxes of shoes that I never wore, stacks of purses that I never used, and a variety of clothes hanging in my closet.. some with tags still attached.

All while having the feeling that I needed this or that because I ‘never had anything to wear’.

How did we get here?

It was a bit out of hand to say the least. But how did we get to this point of what some might consider unnecessary excess?

My observation looking back is that it was a combination of a few things, the main one being the mindless motions of the ‘day to day’.

At the time we were running a property management business, keeping up with bills & bookkeeping, being very involved with church, community, and family events; all while trying to eat a balanced diet, work out, stay hydrated, and get a full eight hours of sleep.

You know, everyday life stuff.

Like it says in one of my favorite living a simple life quotes:

The less you own, the less owns you.

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However, the problem was that we were allowing our life to run on autopilot. We didn’t intentionally plan our days, or ask the questions of what was truly necessary and what was not.

We surely didn’t have (or make) the time to deal with the accumulating clutter and  ‘unconscious consuming’  that was all around us.

We ended up accumulating “stuff” all along the way. It was just life.

We were too caught up in the busyness of it all.

It seemed the solution at the time was to just keep moving faster and working harder; but what we actually needed to do was slow down, relax, take a step back, and take a hard realistic look at what we were caught up in.

We had to decide for ourselves what we truly wanted and valued.

So we did just that, and decided to make a change.

Stage 2: Gaining Clarity

When we began to look over everything, we realized we weren't living in a simple life, we were merely living the life that was handed to us, so to speak. 

We never took the time to consider if this was the life we saw for ourselves.

We started to imagine what it would be like starting from ground zero, would this be the life we chose? Would we rather be living a simple life in the country?

We began to practice zero-based thinking. We got clear on what we wanted for ourselves. Basically, if we were to start from square one, we discovered we wouldn't have chosen the current lifestyle we found ourselves in. 

We began to see with more clarity that we were not happy or fulfilled. Nor did we feel we could live to our full potential in the area we built our life in. We needed to learn how to live a simple life and be happy.

We were ready for a change.

We wanted to experience a new scene, pace of life, environment etc. One we felt lined up more with the values, goals and vision we saw for ourselves.

We didn't feel we could get the life we wanted where we were.

We decided we wanted to try living in a few different places to see what we liked best, but ‘where to move to live a simple life’ was an open question.

We wanted a fresh start in a new area, but honestly weren't entirely sure what this new area looked like. However, we knew we wanted to experience it for ourselves.. to explore to find out more.

And that's when the downsizing and decluttering came into play. We were drowning in ‘stuff’. We realized so much of our 'stuff' was holding us back, and making us feel ‘trapped’.

We needed to make some major cuts in many areas of our life. This is where we needed a game plan.

Where do we start? What stays, what goes? 

However, before we got into the nitty-gritty of downsizing, we had to define our values.

Stage 3: Adopting Minimalist Principles

We found that there were 7 Key Areas that needed to be addressed, the first area being our mindset. We had to make a shift in our perspective, and decide what was important to us.

With that, we sat down and started to get clear on what it was we were looking to gain.

Defining Our Values

In a nutshell, our list looked something like this:

  • More freedom
  • Peace of mind
  • A sense of control
  • More organization (in our possessions, schedules, and life overall)
  • Efficiency 

All of these things were important to us, however we couldn't get much of a grasp on them living our current lifestyle. Without realizing it, or officially 'labeling it', we started implementing the principles of minimalism.

On our path to a more minimalistic way of life, we never self identified as minimalists. It wasn't until later in life that we even heard much of this 'buzzword' anyhow. 

We found along the way that we were using the principles of minimalism to help us achieve the aforementioned objectives we were seeking. 

We also began to see putting a label on it gave us the feeling of being 'boxed in' to a persona. It’s almost as if you are then expected to act and behave in a certain way.

We use the tips & insights gathered as more of a personal philosophy that we can apply to areas of our life as we see fit. That has helped us achieve even more of the flexibility and freedom we were after.

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3 Principles of Minimalism

Here are three of the principles we started implementing to help us achieve our new ideal life:

  1. Intention: Making an effort to be more intentional with our time, focus, energy, and so forth. Not allowing ourselves to get swept away by whatever seemed pressing and urgent in the moment, but having a plan and executing it.
  2. Mindfulness: This goes hand in hand with intention, it is about bringing awareness to what we allow in our life. From being more mindful with finances, more conscious of purchases made, more insight on any waste or inefficiencies that in the past would have been overlooked.
  3. Moderation: Being aware of waste and unnecessary excess. It’s not about living a simple life with little money. It's being reasonable about what you truly need and what things are just 'wants'. It is an opportunity to practice self control and discipline.

Along with applying these three principles, we also began working on ourselves in other ways as well.

We continued to work on our personal development as well as our mindset by reading and discovering several life changing books that truly set us on course.

We also started setting goals for ourselves to guide us along our way. And we began simplifying many areas of our lives to gain back some control, starting with our finances.

Stage 4: Living In A Simple Life

Fast forward to the present day.. After years of intention & curation of our material items as well as mindset and attitude, I feel as if we have gained so much; living a simple life in a modern world.

Our life now

We discovered along the way the place we wanted to settle and build our life. This is when we began to utilize more of the mindful consuming habit.

Once we downsized, we were left with what was truly important to us, that is when ‘mindful consuming’ became a regular part of our lives. We started building back and curating our life & our possessions with more purpose & intention than ever before.

Honestly, it was hard at first. It's not easy starting down a new path. It can be uncomfortable approaching things in a different way from what you're used to. 

It's also hard to think about giving up what you've acquired because it feels as if you are losing something. You don't want to feel as if you're failing. You always want to feel as if you are moving forward and gaining more.

No one wants to feel as if they're going backwards.

However, once you can let go, you begin to see it as a chance to start fresh; to intentionally choose what you want. It's an opportunity for you to curate your life. It's truly a chance for you to gain so much more!

Final Thoughts

We know firsthand what it's like to feel stressed and overwhelmed, along with the general lack of organization, direction, creativity and so on.

We also know the peace of mind that comes from taking back your clarity and control, by implementing systems, organizing, simplifying, and making choices with mindful, intentional awareness.

The difference it has made for us was huge, which is why we feel it is so important for us to share what we've discovered here on the blog in hopes of encouraging others as well!

For someone just getting started, living in a simple life may seem a long way away.

If you don't know where to begin, our Free 7-Day Email Course would be a good place to start.

Slow Down, Reset, and Simplify

Our own self improvement journey is never really over. We are constantly trying to approach things in life through this minimalist lens.

What about you? 

What are some ways you plan to simplify life? 

Let us know in the comments below!

  • At first I was confused about why this was so short… and then I remembered what blog I was reading! I love it!

    • Yes Connor we like to keep things minimal around here;) Glad you enjoyed it!

  • This whole exercise brings me peace. Such an important statement, “It seemed the solution at the time was to just keep moving faster and working harder; but what we actually needed to do was slow down, take a step back, and take a hard realistic look at what we were caught up in. “

    • I am glad to hear that, Deanna! Yes a little mindful awareness can go a long way. Many times I thought I could get more accomplished if I just moved faster but there is so much power in slowing down.

  • You do not take into account that others may not be like you. l do have too many material things, however, l think dumping them all would send me into emotional overload!

    • Yes Lynette I do realize that our method may not be realistic for everyone. We are simply sharing our story and what has worked for us in hopes that it may encourage others.

  • Very inspiring that such big changes can be made!

    • Thanks, Seline! So glad you were able to find some inspiration in our journey 🙂

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