With Labor Day Weekend behind us and school starting up everywhere, autumn will be upon us soon. Here comes the season that launches a whole new gamut of celebrations, commitments, and obligations that vie for our time, money, and attention. If we aren’t intentional about it, this season has the potential to fill us up and overwhelm– leaving us exhausted and over-committed just in time for the holidays.
Chaotic seasons come in waves, but busy-ness can make itself at home in our lives without any signs of leaving. If your goal, like mine, is to live simply and purposefully, then we need to guard against the notion that busy-ness is just a normal way of life.
Attending to various commitments is not inherently bad; it’s committing without purpose that can make us feel out-of-control. Autumn is when most of us start expecting busy-ness to come knocking, but I think that if we choose to, we can still keep our priorities in sight. Just because the seasons are changing does not mean we have to get lost in it.
The truth about simple living is that sometimes you and I have to make unpopular choices. In a world where most everyone bites off more than they can chew and then proceed to barely come through, we must be different in order to achieve different results.
This fall, I’m continuing to simplify various areas of my life. I believe that our careers and achievements matter less than our purposes and priorities. Because even if we haven’t reached our goals yet, or if we find ourselves in an otherwise less-than-ideal circumstance, we can still choose intentionality. We can still live by our core commitments.
Want to simplify your life with me? Here are 7 steps I’m taking.
7 Steps to Simplify Your Life This Fall
1) Simplify your priorities: set attainable, measurable goals. Limit to 5.
When we’re faced with urgency, we struggle to see the difference between what’s pressing and what’s actually important. Setting goals based on a few of your biggest priorities can help with that– as long as you limit those goals to a small handful and make a concrete plan for achieving them.
2) Simplify your friendships: communicate, serve, and socialize with purpose.
Why do some of us get entangled in “drama” so much more than others? Evaluate your friendships based on the purposes behind them: are you friends with someone for encouragement, companionship, accountability? Be intentional about the time you spend with them. Communicate clearly, and steer clear of situations that will only bring down everyone involved.
3) Simplify your media: consume only what you need and enjoy.
Whether you like to read, watch television, or scroll through social media feeds, the words and pictures you consume can clutter up your mind. Take this opportunity to throw away any media that hasn’t been good for you. Choose the things that motivate you to further your goals; there’s not enough time in the world for much else.
4) Simplify your schedule: commit carefully and choose wisely.
It’s easy for those of us self-employed individuals to equate time with money. I’m learning more and more that time and money are not the same. Regardless my hourly rate, how I choose to spend any particular hour can be priceless– and there’s no price tag on good relationships or my mental and physical health.
Whether we commit to an event to make money, expand our influence, or connect with others, we must be protective of our priorities first and foremost.
Related: 5 benefits of unstructured free time
5) Simplify your work: seek efficiency and evaluate each task.
If you have control over your task list– or even if you don’t– spend some time going over it and make sure everything you do has a purpose and a measurable outcome. Work is rarely easy, but it should be purposeful; otherwise we’re all just working to keep busy.
For me, responding to email is part of work. Instead of letting them pile up for later, I tackle them during a designated chunk of time and close my inbox when I’m on a different task.
6) Simplify your spending: determine the destination of your earnings prior to spending.
Do you know where your money is going? The good thing about using a debit or credit card is that your expenditures are recorded for you– that is, if you choose to look at them. If you’re struggling to save money, perhaps it’s time to go on a shopping ban. Once autumn is in full swing, marketers will stop at nothing to get you to buy something new for the new season; not long after, they’ll be reminding you that the holidays are “just around the corner.”
If like me, you’ve spent years throwing money every-which-way, spend some time going over your budget and tracking all of your expenses. Make a plan and stick to it.
7) Simplify your nourishment: choose seasonal home-cooked meals over extravagant dinners out.
Eating simple, healthy meals daily does wonders for my mentality. We subscribe to a box of fresh organic produce from our local CSA, and we eat mostly at home. Simple meals remind me that what I need is different from what I might like to indulge in; and while there is a time and place for the latter, what I really need is nourishment, not extravagance.
The bottom line: be true to your convictions
More easily said than done, isn’t it? We all carry convictions about what really matters, and what our lives should really be about, but our daily habits don’t always reflect them. Sometimes in the fury of determination we pursue our goals with zeal, only to lose momentum as soon as something less important presents itself as more urgent.
You and I are easily distractible creatures with a need for structure and a desire for purpose. So if we don’t stand firmly for what we love most, we’ll be swept away by the waves of obligation and temptation that come rolling in these next several months.