This has been a tough month for me in my efforts to live more simply. I had several things start up all at once, both work related and volunteer related. I have realized that I have trouble saying no. But what is worse than that is that I have trouble with opening my mouth and volunteering for things that I’m not even asked to do.
I belong to 5 different organizations for which I volunteer my time. Each one of them is important to me for different reasons, but I’m so far in over my head that I have had trouble sleeping and just keeping my head above water. Three of these organizations are work/industry related. They are professional organizations. The other two are personal. I belong to them simply because the cause is important to me.
Aside from my volunteer organizations, the fall semester began at the end of August for the community college where I teach part time. Thus, my workload has increased. This is fine – it is something I knew was coming and I planned for. I just didn’t plan for it very well.
So I’ve really needed some inspiration and motivation this month to keep on working toward simplifying my life. You see, it really is WORK. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. Which brings me to the first blog post I want to share with you.
Mary of Mary Organizes explains that
“The baby step to change approach looks really good on paper, but it doesn’t usually work. Baby steps lack momentum. For each baby step forward, you end up taking a baby step back, so really you are just baby stepping in place like you’re on a treadmill. You’re stuck.”
Yup. This was a very real situation for me this month. I told one organization that after 6 years of volunteering for committees, and even chairing the entire organization for a year, I need move on. The very next thing I did was ask another organization if they needed help with a big project! Hello?!?! That is ZERO progress toward reducing my volunteer commitments. I need to take Mary’s advice and be more intense about making changes. Mary’s post is really about making changes to declutter your home, but her advice is applicable to any situation where you want to make big change happen.
I’ll tell you what, that Miss Millennial over at Millennial on a Budget shares some really great advice. A big part of living more simply is learning to be content. Isn’t it strange that contentment is something that can be learned? It seems like it is something that should just happen. Like when I finish this big project, I’ll be content. Or when I lose 10 pounds, I’ll finally be content. Or when I can afford to gut this old, dated kitchen and install a new fancy kitchen I can finally be content. But that’s just it – contentment doesn’t come from a future event. In order to be truly content, you must be able to accept and be grateful for your life as it is currently. That doesn’t mean you can’t look forward to an accomplishment or a new kitchen! It just means that those things do not define your happiness.
Miss Millennial shares 7 ways to cultivate contentment as a habit, and what I really love about what she writes is that it comes from an honest place. She isn’t saying “I’m so content! Do this and you can be like me!” She comes right out and recognizes that she, herself, has trouble being content. Her tips are wonderful and inspiring. Numbers 2 and 4 are my favorites.
This is a wonderful 21 day guide to help those who have a hard time waking up early change their sleeping habits in order to carve out some time in the early morning hours for a meaningful morning routine. I’m reminded of the time before I had children when I would wake up early every morning and exercise. I loved getting up early. By the time my day really began (2 hours or so after I woke up), I felt energized and ready. Now I long for sleep. I love the feeling of my comfy bed and just want to lay there as long as possible.
Courtney at Be More With Less has reminded me of how wonderful waking up early can be. I am going to start doing this again, and I think I’ll use this time for creativity and reflection.
This goes well with Cultivating Contentment as a Habit. Leo at Zen Habits gives five simple steps to grow beyond gratifying every urge and desire, like eating a donut or checking facebook while sitting at the dinner table. This is something I’ve actually been working on and I guess I didn’t really realize it. I’ve been working hard to stop making impulse buys, which is certainly a kind of instant gratification. I’ve been doing really well at this, and this method has inspired me to work at this in other areas as well. I believe that building the strength to resist instant gratification has so many benefits – better health, more conscious purchases, more meaningful personal interactions, deeper gratitude for life’s gifts, deeper contentment.
I want to hear from you! What inspired you in September? Do you wake up early? What do you do to help you resist instant gratification? Share with me and my readers in the comments below.