Joshua Becker’s story begins on a fine spring day:
Our story begins on a beautiful three-day weekend at our home in suburban Vermont. The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming, the grass was beginning to green, and the trees were budding. I was cleaning my garage, my wife was cleaning the bathrooms, and my 5-year old son was in the backyard asking us to come play with him. At that very moment, I struck up an entirely coincidental, life-changing conversation with my neighbor who commented, “Maybe you don’t need to own all this stuff.” The juxtaposition was striking. My possessions piled up in the driveway… my son in the backyard… my day slipping away… I immediately recognized something needed to change. My belongings were not adding value to my life. Instead, they were subtracting from it.
This realization started him and his family to embark on a journey to embark on a “minimalist journey to own less stuff.” He started a blog to document his journey on-line. It quickly became a place to encourage others. Here’s Becker’s list of the ten most important things to simplify your life:
- Your Possessions – Too many material possessions complicate our lives to a greater degree than we ever give them credit. They drain our bank account, our energy, and our attention. They keep us from the ones we love and from living a life based on our values. If you will invest the time to remove nonessential possessions from your life, you will never regret it. For further reading on this, consider Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life.
- Your Time Commitments – Most of us have filled our days full from beginning to end with time commitments: work, home, kid’s activities, community events, religious endeavors, hobbies… the list goes on. When possible, release yourself from the time commitments that are not in line with your greatest values.
- Your Goals – Reduce the number of goals you are intentionally striving for in your life to one or two. By reducing the number of goals that you are striving to accomplish, you will improve your focus and your success rate. Make a list of the things that you want to accomplish in your life and choose the two most important. When you finish one, add another from your list.
- Your Negative Thoughts – Most negative emotions are completely useless. Resentment, bitterness, hate, and jealousy have never improved the quality of life for a single human being. Take responsibility for your mind. Forgive past hurts and replace negative thoughts with positive ones.
- Your Debt – If debt is holding you captive, reduce it. Start today. Do what you’ve got to do to get out from under its weight. Find the help that you need. Sacrifice luxury today to enjoy freedom tomorrow.
- Your Words – Use fewer words. Keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip.
- Your Artificial Ingredients – Avoid trans fats, refined grain (white bread), high-fructose corn syrup, and too much sodium. Minimizing these ingredients will improve your energy level in the short-term and your health in the long-term. Also, as much as possible, reduce your consumption of over-the-counter medicine – allow your body to heal itself naturally as opposed to building a dependency on substances.
- Your Screen Time – Focusing your attention on television, movies, video games, and technology affects your life more than you think. Media rearranges your values. It begins to dominate your life. And it has a profound impact on your attitude and outlook. Unfortunately, when you live in that world on a consistent basis, you don’t even notice how it is impacting you. The only way to fully appreciate its influence in your life is to turn them off.
- Your Connections to the World – Relationships with others are good, but constant streams of distraction are bad. Learn when to power off the blackberry, log off facebook, or not read a text. Focus on the important, not the urgent. A steady flow of distractions from other people may make us feel important, needed, or wanted, but feeling important and accomplishing importance are completely different things.
- Your Multi-Tasking – Research indicates that multi-tasking increases stress and lowers productivity. while single-tasking is becoming a lost art, learn it. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move to the next.