This is a guest post by Sue Peters.
I was on a roll, intently focused on discarding a few more unnecessaries from my life. A collection of purses lay on my bed, awaiting deliberation.
My train of thought was interrupted by a loud protest from my cat of 14 years. As he sauntered in and out of the room, I realized his agitation was caused by the association of a familiar overnight bag with a temporary loss of my companionship. Mind you, Simon is not a neglected feline during my occasional absence. His sitter of many years still provides his tuna treat in the afternoon; his litter box meticulously maintained.
Simon's disruption is testimony to a process which has changed the course of my life. It is a reminder of the why for slowing down–that in simplifying my career, belongings, diet, and activities, I am experiencing a more meaningful life and strengthened relationships important to me.
These days I cherish the time I spend with my pet. But it was not always that way. I was often too “busy” to enjoy his company. I spent long hours away from home working. Mornings were a frantic get-up-and-go routine. I was so focused on filling each moment being “productive,” that I missed what really mattered. Life as I knew it was one big sense of urgency.
The loving companionship I now have with Simon speaks volumes to the effort I put forth to create a life of greater intention and attention.
Illness and personal tragedy are often catalysts for those seeking lifestyle changes. My story is no different. After the death of my father, I sought simplicity in order to deal with the overwhelming feelings and responsibility of caring for a mother with dementia.
Each step thus far has made me happier, healthier, more centered. As I take one step forward, the next seems to magically present itself. Here are is my progress to date and some of the important choices I have made thus far:
1. I Changed My Career
My decision to resign as a retail store manager was based on the time-consuming responsibilities of the position. On further reflection, my personal values were often compromised by the hard-driving sales tactics and expectations of the company. I chose a customer service oriented position in a different company which allows me to be true to the customer and true to myself.
Authenticity is the single most important gift we can give ourselves and others. Never compromise who you are.
2. I Simplified My Home and Wardrobe
Although I would not classify myself as a “shopper”, I did enjoy browsing catalogs. Once “unsubscribed” and no longer under the influence of mass marketing, it became an easier task to choose my most valued items and discard the rest. The contents of my closet now represents a streamlined personal style. My home only contains cherished and/or useful items.
Never underestimate the power of mass marketing. Unplug and unsubscribe are the most powerful tools in creating a simple life.
3. I Live Below My Means
Following my career change, I now live on half my salary. I did not have an adequate emergency fund. I had a good amount of consumer debt. Through sacrifice and frugal living I have made significant progress in digging out. I live on a monthly zero-based budget. I also have a plan for my financial future.
4. I Spend Time in Activities and with People Who Give Meaning to My Life
I grew up believing I could do all things and be all things to all people. I now give myself permission to focus on what and whom I love.
Hone a talent that brings value and joy to your life. Give and share abundantly with those appreciative of your time and love.
Sue Peters, a member of the Baby Boomer generation, has stories to tell and experiences to share. She spent most of her working life as an overachiever, always striving to accomplish more and more, sacrificing tremendous amounts of her time for her career, yet feeling that what she received in return never equaled her efforts. It took the loss of a parent in 2013 to realize that happiness could be achieved through a simpler, more grateful life focused on meaningful experiences and fulfilling relationships. She blogs at TheBoomingMinimalist.com.