Cover image of Simple Life Reboot - Transformational / Healthy / Minimalism / Lifestyle / Edit
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Education

Simple Life Reboot - Transformational / Healthy / Minimalism / Lifestyle / Edit

Updated about 4 hours ago

Education
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Dave and Sheryl Balthrop are a husband and wife team sharing their transformational journey to a simpler priority-driven life. After raising their children and achieving the “American Dream”, Dave (a mentor to persons with disabilities) and Sheryl (an attorney), discovered they were investing more resources in stuff than people. They decided to change their lives. They put their dream house on the market, edited 85% of their belongings, and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. In this audio version of the couple’s articles posted on http://www.SimpleLifeReboot.com, Dave and Sheryl share their personal successes and failures. In these entertaining recordings, you will discover how to have more time, energy and focus plus less stress and debt in your life. Each episode provides tools and encouragement to make desired changes in your life, including practical tips on simplifying, reducing clutter, changing habits, living intentionally, overcoming obstacles and more.

Read more

Dave and Sheryl Balthrop are a husband and wife team sharing their transformational journey to a simpler priority-driven life. After raising their children and achieving the “American Dream”, Dave (a mentor to persons with disabilities) and Sheryl (an attorney), discovered they were investing more resources in stuff than people. They decided to change their lives. They put their dream house on the market, edited 85% of their belongings, and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. In this audio version of the couple’s articles posted on http://www.SimpleLifeReboot.com, Dave and Sheryl share their personal successes and failures. In these entertaining recordings, you will discover how to have more time, energy and focus plus less stress and debt in your life. Each episode provides tools and encouragement to make desired changes in your life, including practical tips on simplifying, reducing clutter, changing habits, living intentionally, overcoming obstacles and more.

iTunes Ratings

23 Ratings
Average Ratings
16
3
2
0
2

Do NOT listen

By kaylaward015 - Oct 23 2018
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Terrible! This podcast does not need to exist. Waste of my time.

Fresh & practical

By Melkenni - Oct 16 2014
Read more
Appreciate the option of taking in Dave and Sheryl's thoughtful content in an audio format. I gain, most of all, from their key message that minimizing our stuff leads the way for maximizing our personal relationships as well as our time, energy, and finances.

iTunes Ratings

23 Ratings
Average Ratings
16
3
2
0
2

Do NOT listen

By kaylaward015 - Oct 23 2018
Read more
Terrible! This podcast does not need to exist. Waste of my time.

Fresh & practical

By Melkenni - Oct 16 2014
Read more
Appreciate the option of taking in Dave and Sheryl's thoughtful content in an audio format. I gain, most of all, from their key message that minimizing our stuff leads the way for maximizing our personal relationships as well as our time, energy, and finances.

Listen to:

Cover image of Simple Life Reboot - Transformational / Healthy / Minimalism / Lifestyle / Edit

Simple Life Reboot - Transformational / Healthy / Minimalism / Lifestyle / Edit

Updated about 4 hours ago

Read more

Dave and Sheryl Balthrop are a husband and wife team sharing their transformational journey to a simpler priority-driven life. After raising their children and achieving the “American Dream”, Dave (a mentor to persons with disabilities) and Sheryl (an attorney), discovered they were investing more resources in stuff than people. They decided to change their lives. They put their dream house on the market, edited 85% of their belongings, and embarked on an adventure of a lifetime. In this audio version of the couple’s articles posted on http://www.SimpleLifeReboot.com, Dave and Sheryl share their personal successes and failures. In these entertaining recordings, you will discover how to have more time, energy and focus plus less stress and debt in your life. Each episode provides tools and encouragement to make desired changes in your life, including practical tips on simplifying, reducing clutter, changing habits, living intentionally, overcoming obstacles and more.

SLR 061: 6 Steps to a Simpler Life

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Many of us come to a point in our lives when we sense that something is wrong.

We work harder and harder, and yet, never quite seem to achieve our desired lifestyle. Is the goalpost moving? Or, is some other dynamic at work?

For those of us seeking to edit the non-essentials from our lives so as to devote ourselves to the things that matter most, the journey to a simpler lifestyle can seem rather amorphous, if not foofoo, at times.  Such is tragic as there are few more worthy objectives in life.

1. Begin with the End in Mind

We often engage in activities without an end goal in mind. Such activities are fine and healthy, but will be, at best, recreational diversions or hobbies. In contrast, if we intend for our actions to facilitate lifestyle changes, we need intentionality.

The touchstone of intentionality is Stephen Covey’s principle, “begin with the end in mind“.  To employ this principle, we need to be able to describe the desired end state.

2. Carefully Define the Objective

The mistake most of us make is to launch into an endeavor without a clear picture of the goal. Such is much like trying to put together a complex jigsaw puzzle with only some of the pieces and no box top to guide us.

If the objective is a simpler, priority-driven life, one must carefully and comprehensively develop a personal definition of what such lifestyle entails. For example, for Dave and me, such a lifestyle includes:

  • Balanced work and family time;
  • Financial and physical resources to care for others;
  • Creative space; and
  • Adventure!

3. Consider Creative or Unconventional Approaches

When the objective is clearly defined, moving towards it becomes much easier. However, creativity and flexibility are still required. Achieving a simpler life is not simple, easy or quick.

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s latest book, Think Like a Freak, encourages the exploration of unconventional approaches to achieve the desired objective. “To think like a freak”, Dubner says, “is to observe, define, deconstruct and re-contextualize the elements of a problem.”

In the context of a simpler life, creative approaches come in all flavors and include tiny house living, minimalism and entrepreneurship.

4. Deconstruct the Elements Needed

The ancient Zen adage “When the student is ready, the teacher appears“, provides guidance on the next step. One can and should commit to a worthy goal even before knowing exactly how he or she will accomplish it.

Obstacles such as existing debt and the perceived need to project social status may seem like insurmountable barriers to a simpler lifestyle. However, if one is truly committed, one can find a way.

Necessary elements will likely include financial planning, redefining social status, and patience.  Seeking community with others simplifying their lives by connecting online and at meet-ups may be helpful. Reducing living space and number of possessions may also be of assistance.

It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. – Confucius

5. Reduce Distractions and Impediments

In order to achieve anything of significance, most of us will need to reduce distractions so as to focus on the essential.  Steve Jobs wore a black turtleneck and jeans each day so that he did not spend time on clothing choice. Savvy dieters remove unhealthy food choices from their homes.  Authors write from a blank screen.

Be boring and orderly in your life so that you may be violent and original in your work.

Gustave Flaubert

Each person’s distractions are unique to the person.  However, in the simple living context, reduction of common distractions include  limiting digital use and new purchases, and creating a quiet space.  Elements that impede progress without providing a greater corresponding benefit also need to be examined and edited as appropriate.

6. Maintain Sense of Purpose

Perhaps the most important element of the process is to never lose sight of why we seek a simpler life.  Is it to be there for our loved ones?   Is it to develop and share our creative gifts?  Is it to live a healthier and more fulfilling life?

Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.

– Joshua Marine

Without meaning, the entire 6 step  framework for achieving the objective fails.  However, if we maintain our sense of purpose for seeking a simpler, priority-driven life, challenges can be overcome and lives can be changed.

Enjoy the journey!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Jun 26 2014

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10 Steps to Getting Rid of Stuff

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Have you ever wanted to start editing your possessions, but didn’t know where to start?  Is it an overwhelming prospect?  Please consider whether the following steps would help you with the process.

  1. Start with an attitude of thankfulness for the abundance we enjoy
  2. Enlist the help of  an accountability partner to help you with the process
  3. Select one area of focus at a time  (e.g. car interior,  bathroom,  linen closet)(exclude art,  family heirlooms and significant sentimental items)
  4. At least a few days ahead of the work date,  and with minimal review of the items in the focus area,  prepare a budget of the number of items you will keep (e.g. # of pairs of shorts, # of shoes etc.)  Get comfortable with and committed to the maximum number you will keep before beginning the culling process
  5. Lay out all the items from the focus area grouped with like-kind items in  “item budget” piles
  6. Choose your very favorite items to keep up to the maximum number in your “item budget”.  Every item should be the exact item you would purchase now for full price if you did not already own it.  Each item should also be something you have used in the past 12 months. None of the  items should be “just-in-case” or “something-I-might-need-someday” items
  7. Immediately place “keeper” items in their designated permanent home.  Put items to be donated into a bag designated “To Charity”, and place items to be disposed of  in a trash bag
  8. Remove the culled item bags from your space as soon as possible.  Do not look in or go back through the charity or disposal bags.
  9. Give yourself time to adjust to and appreciate the space made available by the culling process.  You now have your favorite items easily accessible.
  10. If tempted to replace a culled item,  ask yourself two questions :  Do I really need to replace the item?   If so, what like-kind item will I get rid of so as to make space for the new item.

[If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading The Poison of Wanting More and The High Cost of Not Living.]

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 01 2013

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SLR 067: An Interview with Mom

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Far too often the journey to simplicity focuses on our own needs and desires. In an effort to share another perspective, Dave and I sat down for a candid talk with my mother, Carolyn.

Mom has had a front row seat on this roller coaster ride to greater margin.  Though not a “fan” of reducing possessions, she stood by us as we let go of 85% of our belongings. She not only opened her home,  she cheered us through some rough patches.

In this podcast,  Carolyn shares how our journey has affected our family.  She is our hero … and we wanted you to hear her words of wisdom.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Aug 07 2014

12mins

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SLR 081: Inspiring Snapshots of Simplicity

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“Tell your story.” – Joshua Becker,  Becoming Minimalist, speaking at  SimpleREV 2014

There is something beautiful about hearing a person’s story that allows us to connect with both the individual and his or her experience.

Whether a person’s circumstances are dramatic or cumulative, the sharing of a struggle to overcome challenges has the extraordinary power to instruct and inspire.

Courtney Carver of  “Be More With Less” is a beautiful example.  In 2006, Courtney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  When she learned that stress could complicate her symptoms, she began exploring ways to simplify.  In five short years,  she transformed her life.  Her inspiring story can be read in the March 2014 issue of “O” (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine).

For an account of hope and determination, Tico and Tina’s unflinching  “Messy Beginnings” is a must read.  Their ongoing 10+ year journey from drudgery to lives of purpose and passion is shared on their website “Make Room for Greatness” . Tico and Tina lay bare the challenges of supporting a young family while providing practical guidance on transitioning to creative and missional work. Their desire to help others is palpable.

Equally impactful is the story of Brooke McAlary of “Slow Your Home“.  Brooke was a high-strung perfectionist with clear expectations of what life should be. Her world was turned upside down when she and her husband were assaulted in separate incidents. Not long after the assaults,  she was overwhelmed by post-natal depression and anxiety.  Unable to function well,  she was forced to pare her life down to the essentials. As she recovered,  Brooke discovered a new way to live.  She now shares the joy of a simpler, slower life with the world.

A powerful example of intentionality is Christy King of “The Simple White Rabbit”.  Christy,  an accomplished attorney, author and life-long learner, had been intrigued by minimalism for years.  Until recently,  she believed she needed to defer desired changes until the children were grown or she retired.  A few years  ago,  she decided to begin making modest, incremental changes.  She discovered that even small changes produced significant gains.  She discovered more time and energy for family and friends, enjoyed healthier living and found new interests in additional activities.

This is just a handful of stories of the life-changing impact of simplicity and minimalism.  What is yours?

As Joshua Becker urged us all to do,  please tell your story.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 13 2014

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Margin Is Not Just For You!

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I want to share with you one of the most essential concepts when it comes to improving your life.  Let’s talk about margin.

First of all, what is margin?

“Margin is the space between our load and our limits,” says author Richard Swenson in his book, Margin.

In simple terms, margin is having room to breathe.  It is what happens when we have sufficient time and resources to maneuver.  With margin we find we have options and can more easily make our desirable choices possible.

Margin is getting a score on a final exam of 110 percent.  It is having money at the end of the month after paying all of the bills.  It is arriving at the next meeting 10 minutes early.  Margin is being able to park in the garage without banging the door against stuff when you exit.

So, if margin is so great, how do we get it?

We either create margin, or we create a lack of margin.  It is all about planning ahead and following through.  Ahh, is that all?  Yes, it is that simple and at times,  that hard.

Planning and completion are two of the hardest skills often never learned in life.  A deficiency in these skills is why so many folks, me included, have struggled with margin for so long.  I am a great one to be writing this post, because I am the one who can tell you first hand about what it feels like NOT to have margin, to almost always have fewer choices, to almost always be a day late and a dollar short.  I still do not have enough margin in my life, but I am working on it, because over the past few years I have come to understand for the first time what it means for me, for my wife, for my family, and for others around me.

MARGIN IS NOT JUST FOR YOU!

Margin is for the people you love.  Creating more margin in your life is the secret to fulfilling our basic human desire to help others, to give our time, our energy, and our resources, to those we love, and to those we wish to help.  Without margin, we always come up short, never quite able to be there for others, unable to offer our thoughtful insight – given our own overloaded circumstances, never quite able to find enough energy to go the final lap, or to offer resources to help someone in need.

So, stop letting circumstances, or the environment, discourage you.  Recognize that you are  in control.  Again, either you have created margin, or you have created lack of margin.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 01 2013

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The Secret to Overcoming Obstacles

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We’ve all been there.  We encounter an obstacle which separates us from what we want or need.  How do we respond?  Do we become discouraged and give up?  Do we become frustrated and rail against the obstacle?  Or do we do something else?   What is the best approach when faced with an obstacle? Leo Babauta in his Zen Habits post “The Obstacle is the Path” shares the Zen proverb that “The Obstacle is the way.”  Let’s explore this a bit  with common obstacles many of us face.  The secret to overcoming each obstacle is the same.

  • You have been unable to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.  Instead of pretending to ignore your weight and the associated embarrassment and frustration, acknowledge it fully to a trusted friend or loved one.  Confront the obstacle. What needs to change permanently?   Run toward rather than away from the obstacle. Obtain qualified help.  If at all financially possible, work with a nutritionist and a trainer for an extended period of time.  Commit to the long term. Your health is worth it.
  • You are burdened by debt. Again, the secret is to confront the obstacle rather than avoid it.  Do not let shame prevent you from seeking the help you need. Work with a qualified financial adviser.  Immerse yourself in good personal finance resources such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University and Clark Howard’s podcast. Recognize that being burdened by debt, though common, is not the way to fully live.  Reduce expenses and begin the journey to recovery.
  • You struggle with implementing needed life changes.  Embrace the discomfort of change. If your objective is worthy, the discomfort is merely confirmation that you are on the right path.  Redefine your success as your daily re-commitment to and execution of that day’s incremental steps towards your goal.  If you back-track one day, re-start the next day.  Do not give up.  Celebrate your growing skill of confronting and overcoming obstacles.  Who knows,  at some point, you might even look forward to tackling the next obstacle!

[If you enjoyed this article,  please consider reading The Secret to Growth and How to Harness the Power of Stress.]

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 01 2013

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Beware of the 3 Dangers of Organization

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I am profoundly fond of organization and yearn to replace chaos with order.  Though I have failed to maintain organized spaces and events on numerous occasions, I am never willing to abandon the quest.  Imagine my consternation when I learned that organization could be misused!

It was not until I started cleaning other people’s houses that I realized that organization was only a tool and not a big “V” virtue.  Perhaps I could only see deficiencies in others’  behavior rather than in my own. Or, perhaps I needed to have multiple encounters with the phenomena  before I would finally catch on.  In any event,  I  became aware the following:

Organizational Smugness – If we are fond of organization,  we must ask ourselves why?  The purpose of thoughtful structure should be to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.  If our real purpose is to better showcase our stuff or our abilities, to pack more stuff or activities in,  or to simply project an image that we have it all under control,  then something is wrong and needs to be corrected.

Organized Stuffing – We must also examine the nature of the things we are “organizing”.  If we are organizing items we use regularly and are  planning our schedule to be more productive,  such is positive.  If,  however, we are  boxing and labeling an accumulation of unused belongings or scheduling additional events on an already overstuffed calendar,  we are engaging in nothing other than well-ordered hoarding and busyness.

Organization As Procrastination  –  We must ask ourselves, “Am I organizing things in order to avoid something else?”  For some, organizing can be a soothing distraction from an underlying problem.  For instance,  it might be more fun to experiment with productivity tools than to actually do the work.  Similarly,  it might be preferable to get bigger boxes and stack it all a little straighter and a little higher than to actually get rid of stuff. Organization might also be a way of dressing up a major lack in our lives.  We need to remove the varnish and carefully consider what we are doing.

Let’s face these dangers head-on  and use this valuable tool properly!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 01 2013

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The 4 Zones of Intention

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Can a simple diagram help us understand the common inconsistencies between our intentions and actions?

C. S. Lewis in his  Screwtape Letters uses a bulls-eye model of concentric circles to categorize human behavior.  Our model, described below, relates how we tend to lose focus on our inner values and become drawn to the deferred, displaced or unreal.

For purposes of our model, imagine your life in the shape of a dart board made up of four distinct areas:

THE CENTRAL ZONE – WILL

The center of the board, the bull’s eye, represents our will.  Our will determines our priorities,  which in turn, translate into our thoughts and actions.  The problem we often encounter is the inconsistency between what we know to be best or true,  and what we actually think and do.

THE LIGHT ZONE – PERSONAL GROWTH                                                                

Outside the central area is the light zone.  This is where growth occurs.  It is where we are creative, productive, and form close personal relationships.  In this zone we pursue things of value.  It is where we experience emotional and physical strength, love and sacrifice for others, as well as some discomfort from time to time.

THE GREY ZONE – EVENTS BEYOND OUR CONTROL                                      

The grey zone represents cultural and environmental factors over which we have little or no individual control.  Our response to these factors, however, and the meaning to which we ascribe to them, is within our control, and helps determine whether we move towards or away from the bull’s eye.

THE DARK ZONE – PERSONAL ATROPHY                                                                  

The outer ring, aka the dark zone, is characterized by avoidance behaviors. This is the zone in which we seek to numb or medicate ourselves, where we engage in self-deception, at times even taking action that is contrary to our priorities, telling ourselves “it’s only for a while”.

In this outer zone we embrace distraction, fantasy, and instant gratification.  We tend to waste time and resources, and shirk responsibility.  It is a zone of procrastination and good deeds deferred.  It is a zone in which we have all spent time.

THE EXPANSION/CONTRACTION OF THE LIGHT/DARK ZONES           

On our dart board diagram, the area which encompasses the will at the center, and the grey zone,  both remain constant.  The light and dark areas vary in size depending upon our intention.  The target area of Simple Life Reboot is the light zone.  We believe creating margin permits us to enlarge the circumference of the light zone and minimize the dark zone.

We hope you will join us on this journey as we explore this subject matter over time.

*********************************************************************

If this model describing intentions vs. behavior intrigues you,  whether you agree or disagree, please, let us know by leaving a comment.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 15 2013

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Things Your Attorney Should Tell You About Avoiding Family Disputes

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Voltaire had it right when he quipped that the problem with common sense is that it is not common enough. Far too often families are ending up in court.  In most of these situations,  the dispute could have, and should have been avoided.

One of the objectives of Simple Life Reboot is to strengthen and protect family relationships.

Here are a few basic recommendations:

1.  Don’t Sue Family Members.  Don’t place yourself in the position of believing you need to sue a family member  to recover on a loan or transaction.  If you cannot afford to lose money to a family member,  don’t loan it to or enter into the transaction with the family member.  Family relationships are infinitely more valuable than the money involved.

If you determine that it is important to enter into a transaction with a family member, only do so if you are prepared to forgive the family member for nonperformance. Let the transaction fail,  not the familial relationship.

2. Don’t Keep Financial Secrets from Spouses and Family Business Partners.  Keep your spouse and business partners fully apprised of financial matters. Period.  You are not “protecting” loved ones by denying them the opportunity to work with you on finding solutions. Secrets often hurt.

3. Have an Estate Plan.  The ugliest litigation by far involves family members fighting over the care of a loved one, and later, the division of the estate. Many disagreements can be anticipated and  prevented with well-drafted estate planning documents.  Take action now to reduce family conflict both before and after your death. Make an estate plan and communicate it as appropriate to your family members.

DISCLAIMER:  The information and communications in Simple Life Reboot do not constitute legal advice and do not create an attorney-client relationship for any purpose.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 01 2013

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3 Pieces of Advice for My Younger Self

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If you are reading this and are over the age of 40, please stop.  Wait, on second thought, nix that. Whatever your age, please keep reading… but only for the purpose of ultimately sharing or implementing the simple lessons it has taken me nearly five decades to learn.

Now, as a disclaimer, this article is not about regrets or wistful “what-if’s”.  Rather, it is a candid sharing of some missteps made and opportunities missed. While I recognize these experiences have taught me precious lessons, they also made my journey, and that of those around me, a bit rougher than needed at times.  So, without further ado, 3 pieces of advice I would have liked to have shared with my younger self:

1.   Love People – Not Status or Things.  Spend more of your time and money on people than on entertainment, stuff and status.  For decades I considered myself too busy pursuing professional objectives to have appreciable time for family and friends. This resulted in casual acquaintances receiving more attention than friends, and networking trumping family time.  Growth in this area is ongoing.

2.   Admit It When You Don’t Know. Pride is crippling. Far too many times I pretended to understand, only to suffer the consequences later.  As an exchange student learning French, I pretended to understand directions.  As a result,  I ended up lost and afraid in a rural area.  I have also broken more things than I care to recall given my refusal to read the directions.

I have learned it is both humbling and liberating to confess lack of knowledge.  Now, however, instead of pretending, I  am happily learning new programs from 7 year olds on YouTube.  It’s amazing what we can learn if we simply admit we need help.

3.   Celebrate Modest Beginnings.  I have gone through numerous periods of embarrassment when learning something new.   Whether it was running,  my first trial or becoming a step-mom to four children,  I was so anxious to get to the next “level”  that I missed being able to appreciate the joy of new beginnings,  the encouragement of progress,  and the opportunity to not take myself so seriously.  All good and worthy things start modestly and should be celebrated.

Well,  this is the advice I would have given to my younger self.   I wonder if I would have listened….

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

May 01 2014

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Defining a Simple Lifestyle in 10 Words or Less

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What is a simple lifestyle?

Time and again I have seen how a thoughtful, concise explanation of values and objectives permits even very different people to understand and relate to one another.

As an attorney, I make my living with words. You can imagine my consternation on the occasions when I have been unable to come up with a meaningful definition  of the journey to a simpler lifestyle.

I resolved to find a definition.

One of the primary challenges in defining the journey is that it is different for each of us.  Fellow travelers include pastors,  young families,  solo world travelers, students, tiny home dwellers, entrepreneurs and retirees.  Fellow travelers’ world views are varied and include a broad spectrum of  faith traditions and theoretical concepts such as intentional living, life design, life editing, simplicity, minimalism, and margin.

Nonetheless, in spite of the spectrum, there are unifying concepts.  Therefore, I continued my quest for a functional definition in the manner of most attorneys,  by reviewing quotes from authorities:

Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist described the journey this way:  “… the intentional promotion of the things we value most and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.”

The “Mins“, as they are affectionately known, Joshua Field Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus of  The Minimalists defined it this way: “… a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth and contribution.”

Richard Swenson, M.D. explained that creating margin was the objective of the journey and stated, “Margin is the space between our load and our limits and is related to our reserves and resilience. It is a buffer, a leeway, a gap; the place we go to heal, to relate, to reflect, to recharge our batteries, to focus on the things which matter most.

Antoine de Saint Exupery defined the objective this way: “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.”

***

Now,  a wise author would end this post with St. Exupery’s quote – but I promised a definition in 10 words or less, so I must continue.

In our quest to develop a working definition, it has become clear that the travelers are  a  “work in progress”.  The journey is not to attain a status or condition, or to arrive at a destination.  Rather, fellow travelers are intentionally pursuing a life lived in greater conformance with faith and priorities.

And while it does not remotely capture the complexity and beauty of the intentional-simple-minimal-margin lifestyle,  our working definition of our Simple Life Reboot journey is:

Making Room for That Which Matters Most

***

 If you enjoyed this post and would like a more comprehensive description,  please see our “3 Key Principles of Simple Life Reboot“.   Also, please let us know how you would define the journey in the comments section below.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Feb 19 2014

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Season of the Snail

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Transitioning from a life with narrow margin to one that offers freedom and opportunity can be a slow-moving process.  Sheryl and I started on our journey in June of this year (2013).  We began by having two moving sales to reduce our belongings by about 80%.  We then updated floors, counter tops, interior paint, and made minor improvements to our large home before putting it on the market.

We did not expect to sell our home quickly.  Here in Eugene, Oregon, the housing market is stronger than in other areas of the country. Nonetheless, the general economy poses many unanswered questions.  For those looking to purchase a home in our price range,  careful shopping is the norm.

***

Every year about this time (July to October) a little creature appears here in Oregon that reminds me of the current crop of home buyers moving about in search of their next home.

This is the season of the snail, that tiny, slow-moving Gastropod Mollusc that slides along with its house on its back, taking in the world micro-inch by micro-inch.  I think they are God’s little accountants, come to make their calculations on the business of the world; the lushness of the vegetation, Earth’s solidity, water acidity, and, of course, the precise distance between objects.

The creatures move so gradually, at least by our human standards, that they seem methodical in their purpose.

Patience has never been a strong suit for me.  Who knew the common snail could provide instruction?  As I encounter conditions that do not match my expectations, the snail teaches 5 basic principles:

1)  Slow-moving objects may be moving faster than they appear;

2)  Staying busy when waiting on others to decide requires less patience;

3)  Knowing you are moving in the right direction alleviates much doubt and fear;

4)  Planning and executing well, assures that you have prepared for success, not that you are guaranteed to achieve it; and

5)  Watching nature, particularly snails, in your back yard can be instructive and soothing.

***

No animals were harmed in the contemplation or writing of this post.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 29 2013

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The 7 Phases of Your Heroic Journey to Margin and Simplicity

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What is the course of your life?  How we understand the unfolding of our lives not only impacts our ability to weather life’s storms, it also shapes the journey itself.

As Dave and I get to know people creating margin and focusing on priorities rather than stuff, we cannot help but draw parallels between the quest for simplicity and the heroic journey narrative described by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949).

Though from all walks of life, fellow travelers on the road to simplicity relate similar experiences.  As you consider the following phases, please reflect on whether you have had similar experiences.

1.   Starting Point

Each traveler starts at a point of compliance with cultural expectations.  The traveler, often perceived by others as “successful”, neither questions the norm nor the desirability of other options.

2.   Call to Adventure

The traveler receives information that questions the status quo and invites the traveler into the unknown.  In the simplicity realm, this might take the form of exposure to a simplicity podcast or article.

3.   Refusal of the Call

The traveler initially declines the call. Though he may perceive that something is amiss, the traveler believes he must maintain his current circumstances out of duty or fear.  In the simplicity context, such initial reluctance reflects the traveler’s prudence and consideration of  potential impact on others.

4.    A Helper Appears

After careful reflection, the traveler recognizes that a quest into the unknown is needed. A helper then appears providing needed tools and encouragement for the journey.  The Obi-Wan Kenobis of simplicity are numerous and include Henry David Theroux, Joshua BeckerLeo Babauta, Courtney Carver, Daniel and Vanessa Hayes, and Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus.

5.   Trials and Temptation

The traveler ventures into the unknown.  The traveler is tested and repeatedly tempted to abandon the quest and return to the familiar.  For those on the simplicity journey, such testing may take the form of  reluctance to let go of excess possessions and lesser priority activities, and the discomfort of sharing counter-cultural simplicity objectives with others.

6.   Confronting the Adversary

As the journey continues,  the traveler must ultimately confront and overcome the powerful force that previously limited or crippled him.  The Darth Vaders of the quest for simplicity include the traveler’s desire to signal success or significance, lack of intentionality and impulse control.

7.   Return to the People

The ultimate value of the journey is the extent to which it benefits others.  The transformed traveler returns to liberate his people from deception and bondage.  Though not as grandiose as the Campbell articulation,  the quest for simplicity achieves its greatest objective when the traveler’s experience benefits and encourages others.

***

Please share your heroic journey in the comments below.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Apr 23 2014

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The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

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In modern American culture, being a big consumer has almost become a badge of honor.

We enjoy acquiring and displaying material wealth.  Our approach of spend now – pay later, is based on the faulty premise that happiness can be purchased with  the acquisition, collection and consumption of things.

Truly, to live is to consume. However, when we make consumption our primary objective,  rather than a limited necessity,  we abuse  the very framework that made the objects of our desire possible.

The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

How do we, as responsible consumers, know when we are making wise purchasing decisions and are avoiding the cultural trap of excess consumption?

Where can we find the ultimate buyer’s guide?

Three Questions

Before purchasing any item, ask yourself three questions:

1)  Do I need it NOW? (as opposed to want it)

2)  How often will I use it?

3)  Would it make more sense to rent or borrow it rather than buy it?

The ultimate buyer’s guide is you.  Only you can know what level of consumption is appropriate for you.

We need to recognize that our relationships, experiences together, the help we give, our love, and our encouragement to one another are the elements that result in happiness. They cannot be purchased.  They can be more fully realized, however, by purchasing less.  Knowing this may prove the ultimate guide – the ultimate living guide.

The Ultimate Living Guide

What are 4 ways we can experience deeper, more satisfying relationships, through intentionally limited consumption?

1)  More margin – more ability to be nimble as we have more resources, time and energy, at our disposal.

2)  The inclination to be more generous with resources – less focused on self

3)  Less manipulation by popular culture

4)  More awareness of things beyond our material desires

That Which Matters Most

Stepping off the treadmill of over-consumption forces us to look beyond the latest baubles and toys, and  toward the greater purpose for our lives.  If we slow down on consumption,  we will realize that we are “filled-up”  by relationships with people.

Buying less stuff allows us to focus on that which matters most – each other.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Jun 05 2014

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Give It Away

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Do you have trouble showing people the true you?  I mean the you that is buried beneath the armor we put on every day to keep others from hurting us.  I mean the you that emerges on your very best days.  I mean the you that will remain when everything else goes away.

When we are very young we have the courage to be true, but lack the knowledge of life.  When we are older we have gained more knowledge, but in the process, may have lost the courage to show our true selves.  Why?

Perhaps we simply do not want to be thought  of as foolish, and so we guard against revealing too much of our thoughts, feelings, convictions.

But how does revealing these things put us at risk of looking foolish?

Showing our true self is not an excuse to use bad judgment

There is a world of difference between being foolish and being authentic.    We still need to utilize our intellect to discern what is appropriate.  This involves being aware, not commenting or acting prematurely.  It involves being thoughtful, considerate, and sensitive to timing.

But being authentic also means you are not afraid to give it away.

Showing our true self means we give it away

“Give what away?”

The thing you are afraid of losing.  The key is to not be afraid of losing it.

“Losing what?”

The thing within you that others need.  The thing you learned to conceal so long ago so the bullies of the world could not take it and twirl it in the air like a baton, only to let it fall hard to the ground.

“I still don’t know what to give away.”

The best part of yourself.  The you that you always thought you could be.  The you that is true and that only God knows fully.

When was the last time you needed something extraordinary?  The truth is, when we are not afraid to give it away, the best part of ourselves brings out the best part of others, the extraordinary part.

When we are not afraid of losing it, we are filled up with more than we can ever give away.  Call it the law of unintended goodness, the law of reciprocation.  Call it whatever you want.  It always works.  It is always true.

Show others who you are, the best that is in you.  You will be extraordinary, and bring out the best in others.

So, don’t be afraid.  Give it away!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

One of the Key Principles here at Simple Life Reboot is how gaining margin helps us to express our true selves, and realize a life well lived.  If you enjoyed this article, please consider reading Beautiful By Design, 5 Step Plan for Protecting New Margin, and The 3 Key Principles of Simple Life Reboot.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Dec 18 2013

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A Fast Car on a Slow Budget

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I had just been discharged from the U.S. Air Force, and after four years as an Administrative Specialist, I could not leave Dover, Delaware, fast enough.  I drove towards Oregon in my hot, blood-red Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, making record time.  It took roughly two and a half days to cross the country, burning up 250 gallons of gas at $1.25 per gallon.  But the cost of gas on this particular trip did not matter.  All that mattered was getting home.

After settling back in Eugene, attending the University of Oregon, it felt pretty cool driving a Trans Am to school every day.  It appealed to my sense of being a post-military man.  I was a rebel with a red car.  I was a road-warrior, an adventurer with a big engine.  Oh yes, I was a sports car enthusiast.  But ultimately, I was broke.  Trying to keep the tank full in that gas guzzler was like trying to catch butterflies with your bare hands.  After awhile it begins to look desperate.

It did not take long before my blood-red ’73 Firebird (blood-red for blood sucker) was replaced with a dull orange ’69 VW bug.  My post-military status had taken a very practical turn.  Having run out of margin, the VW bug had become the solution.  I had to swallow my pride and admit I just could not afford the luxury of owning a fast car on a slow budget.

Looking back, I never really missed the Firebird as much as I thought I would.  The big engine and its status had to be sacrificed for the small engine that could get me where I needed to go with a few extra dollars left in my pocket.

***

Have you had a similar experience? Do you recall a time when you downsized to a smaller car, a less-expensive house, or changed your life in some way in order to find margin?

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 10 2013

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Can You Simplify at Work?

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Would you like to simplify at work but fear you cannot do so without jeopardizing your position or prospects?  If so, you are not alone.  This can be a paralyzing dilemma, particularly when others are dependent upon your work performance and/or income.

Rather than take rash action or settle for permanent quiet desperation, consider whether implementing baby simplification steps would assist in determining     1) if improvement within existing work parameters is possible; and  2) if greater life changes are needed.

Too Important to Simplify?

The greatest obstacle to pursuing simplicity at work may be our self-concept. We may bristle at the suggestion that our important and highly skilled work could be performed as well or better if we implemented simplification techniques.

We may also wish to maintain a maximum hour, full throttle persona as proof of our commitment, drive and excellence. We may fear that any boundary setting will suggest to our superiors, colleagues and patrons that we “just can’t cut it”.

It is in this uncomfortable place that making even minor changes to pursue simplicity  requires thoughtful consideration and courage.

Simplicity Steps to Implement at Work

If you decide to take action to simplify at work, there are numerous helpful resources. One of my favorites is Leo Babauta’s post at http://zenhabits.net/simplify-your-workday/ which lays out basic steps which most of us can take at work with minimal risk.  These steps include starting early, batching distraction and de-cluttering our work space. Other steps could include automation or delegation of routine tasks.

Simplicity Is Unique to Each Person

Finally,  remember that simplicity is not a cookie-cutter methodology. Each individual’s circumstances, responsibilities, strengths and passions are unique. Simplicity at work can and should take a variety of forms.  In any event, most of us will be pleasantly surprised at how even very small tweaks can yield significant results.

***

Please let us know what simplicity steps have been successful for you at work in our comments section below. Dave and I would enjoy hearing from you.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 13 2013

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Mr. Darcy’s 5 Points for Staying the Course

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Any person making a significant life change will be familiar with that initial uncomfortable period between making sacrifice and seeing fruit.  It’s much like hiking up a mountain with an obscured summit.  As the intensity increases, we may start to wonder  1) if we’ll  reach a “better” place; and  2) if we do, will it be worth what we gave up to get there.

Dave and I are in that uncomfortable place.  We have reduced our belongings by about 80%, put our house (which we adore) on the market, and said “no” to desirable new activities.  We have announced our  intent to create margin to the world and have burned the figurative boat behind us. Yet, truth be told, we are now finding our life to be more hectic and expensive than ever.  It can be discouraging.

Fortunately, when the doubts begin to creep in,  I need only look at our dog, Mr. Darcy, to be reminded of the basics:

  1. You don’t need to know where you’re going to enjoy the walk.
  2. As long as the pack is together, it’s all good.
  3. You don’t need to own stuff to give to people.
  4. Even big changes are manageable when you have something upon which to chew.
  5. Drooling over other people’s stuff will only get you a puddle of saliva.

Who knew the furry Mr. Darcy could teach us so much?

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 17 2013

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Deep Living in a Shallow World

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Do you find yourself increasingly distracted by life’s daily obligations that leave you too little time, thought or energy, to feel renewed, refreshed, or inspired?

That’s what vacations are for, right?  But many times our vacations can leave us more tired and frazzled than daily life.

We can spend a lot of money getting to that special destination, and there is an investment of time being away from work.  The ego can also be involved – did we select the best faraway paradise to smooth the wrinkles of life?  Having so much capital on the line, it becomes natural to feel we cannot waste a minute of time, or miss out on seeing everything possible during our vacation.

But this same frantic attitude that has followed us from our daily life, might be why we needed the vacation to begin with.  How can we hope to escape our own shallow living by taking a shallow vacation?  We return home more tired and disappointed than ever.

Some possible solutions.

Deep Living Exercises

By taking measures to renew ourselves daily, we do not necessarily have to wait for that future vacation to alleviate what ails us.

Try any of these daily exercises, or all of them, to add layers of contentment and meaning to your life.

1)  Spend some time deep in thought every day.  By devoting sustained attention to a project or idea that means something to you, your intellectual compass gets reset back to true north.  Choose a time when you are alone, free from distractions, and immerse your mind in something substantive.  If you never know where you currently stand, it is hard to know where you are going.

2)  Spend time deep in work.  Engage in a difficult problem at work.  Take on the principal challenge of the day, and find a real solution that creates value.

3)  Ask a friend about how life is going, and listen.  Do not settle for the standard answer most people give.  You can be breezy, not inappropriate or too probing, but show genuine interest in how a project is going, or how the kids are doing, the new job, or about the sail boat he is building.  Offer to help out on a project, or be a sounding board if they need to talk through an idea or problem.

4)  Look for the positive attributes in your partner.  Remind yourself daily, and let them know, how much you appreciate and love them.  When they enter the room, acknowledge them.  Treat them as if they are the most important person in the world to you, because they are.

5)  Exercise regularly and eat well.  The body needs movement and good nutrition to regain energy.  Exercise with your partner.  Train for an upcoming event.  Stay motivated by creating goals that you can attain with some effort.

6)  Spend time in prayer. The words you say will be heard.  We are not alone in life.  Acknowledge Him and give thanks for everything you have.

Remember, life is continually diluted with mundane tasks and mediocre effort.  To regain energy and find inspiration, we must devote ourselves deeply and regularly to the things that matter.  Only then will we find ourselves  renewed and in touch with the genius of our life.

Only then will we know where we stand, and who stands with us.

Deep Thinking – Deep Working – Deep Friendship – Deep Loving – Deep Faith

Do not settle for mediocrity!

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Dec 04 2013

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SLR 085: Topics to Avoid at Christmas

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This Christmas, when you gather with family and friends, remember that it is not about pretense or appearance.  Love everyone as they are, just as you are loved by God, who came among us to make things right.

Focus on the needs of others.  Give your loved ones what they need from you, – a hug, an affirmation that they are doing well, your attention, an encouraging nod.

There is usually plenty to talk about when family and friends get together to celebrate Christmas, but try to AVOID these topics to assure everyone enjoys a peaceful and relaxing day.

Religion

Seriously, Christmas is not about religion. It’s about the birth of the Savior for those who believe, and for those who do not, it’s about peace, love, and kinship among family and friends.  Do not compare your religious views with those of your guests.

Politics

Relationships are more important than who is right or wrong in their politics.  Keep your socioeconomic political philosophy to yourself this visit.  You will astound everyone with your gracious good humor.

* * *

Sheryl and I would like to wish everyone this holiday season a peaceful Merry Christmas!

* * *

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Dec 11 2014

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SLR 090: Subtract to Add

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As many of the readers of Simple Life Reboot know, our journey to a simpler, more fulfilling life, began in the Spring of 2013. (see:  The Trip that Changed Everything)

But before we “changed everything”, the over-arching feeling had been that we never had enough, enough money, enough time, enough of anything.  Our solution had always been to work longer hours, make more money, get ahead of what we owed, get ahead of everything we needed, and stay ahead.  What we discovered, however, was that the faster we rushed to stay ahead, the more our obligations and demands outpaced us.  Clearly, we were not achieving anything close to the life we intended.  But why?

It would take a change of attitude to find the solution.

Do We Settle for Less?

We always thought we could solve any problem without giving up anything.  After all, you never give up anything to get the next thing, right?  If you want something, you find a way to make it work without surrendering to a position of LESS.  To surrender is to lose, to submit to an opponent.  Our opponent in this case – the settling for less.

But thinking deeper, and longer, about our desires, our true desires, left us realizing something profound.

True Desires

What we had really been surrendering to was our pride, our refusal to let go of the appearance of success.  What we really desired was not a big house, and lots of stuff, but a loving relationship with our family and friends.  Suddenly, the threads of abundance that had been holding our little party together began unraveling before our eyes, but not because it was beyond our control.  Quite the contrary.  We were doing the unraveling, ourselves, intentionally selling our big house, holding garage sales to dispense with 85 percent of our possessions, freeing ourselves from “appearances”, in order to reach for true success, the kind of success that values people ahead of things.

Ask anyone who has done this, who has deliberately gotten rid of most of the stuff they have accumulated over the years, and they will describe the feeling as – “liberating!”

Adopting the simplicity lifestyle really just comes down to this:  the reduction and subtraction of the unnecessary trappings of life so that you can focus on the really important things, like relationships and life experiences.

Do not let pride keep you chasing after the wrong things!

Subtract the obstacles from your life that do not contribute to your true desires, and take a deep breath.  You will have more room to maneuver, to be nimble (see:  The Value of Nimble), with the necessary resources, time, energy, and creativity, to contribute to those around you.

Stop chasing after the wrong things for the wrong reasons, and begin moving toward your true desires, and know that it is not the stuff we acquire that makes us happy, but life, itself.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 12 2015

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SLR 089: Own Your Work

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“If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.” – Abigail van Buren

My Uncle Russ once told me about a neighbor who sent his son over to ask if he could wash his car.  My uncle told the boy he would pay him $5, but the boy declined, saying his father paid him $20 per wash.  When the boy got older and went to apply for his first job, he could not find an employer who would pay him what he thought he was worth. He eventually became a drug dealer and a thief.  The last my uncle heard, the boy was in prison.

The father of the young man had set an unreasonable expectation…convincing his son that he was entitled to an enhanced reward for his labor. I suspect the man created unrealistic expectations in other areas of his son’s life, as well.  He probably meant well.  Maybe he thought his son needed a boost in ego, but of all the things we want to encourage in our children, inflated pride, or a sense of entitlement, is not one of them.  We should never confuse inflated self-pride with hard-earned self-confidence.  Self-confidence is an attribute that is earned.  It grows naturally over time from having gained the knowledge and experience.

Encourage your children to do regular chores around the house.  You might choose to compensate some extracurricular chores with a small amount of money, while most chores, you can explain, are to be done as a contributing member of the household.

Teach your children to focus on the job at hand.  It is the work that matters, not the monetary reward from having done the work.

The Big Picture

When giving your child work to do, give them the big picture of what needs to be done.  For example, “the lawn needs to be kept green”, or “this area needs to be picked up”, etc., but tell them that how they accomplish the job is up to them.  If they have any questions, or need some help, they can ask, but the job belongs to them.  They are the boss.  Once or twice a week you will walk the job with them to see how they are doing.

I like Stephen Covey’s “green and clean” principle from his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  See “green and clean“.

There are “methods” we learn over time to do certain jobs, but if you offer your child too much help, or supervise too closely, with specific instructions, you stifle their sense of “owning the job”, their independence and sense of accomplishment.  The benefit they might derive from learning “the method” of doing the job a certain way, will in large measure be lost when you take control, because they no longer feel invested in the job.   Sit back and observe, unseen.  Watch how they do the job, and don’t interrupt, even when you know you could show them a faster, better, more efficient way to do it.

At these early stages of teaching your child to work, they need to feel it is their job, not yours with them doing it.  At this point all you want to do is set a reasonably high expectation that the job will be done thoroughly and completely, i.e., “no part of the lawn missed,” or, “everything picked up and things put in their proper place,” etc.  If they can accomplish the job doing it their way, leave them alone for now to do it.  If they do a good job, praise them.  If they miss something, calmly point it out and set the clear expectation of completing the job.  Encourage them to always finish strong.

There will be time later to ask them if they’d like a tip on how they could do a specific thing better in the job they do.  They can choose to accept your advice, or decline it.  If they want to be shown “the method” of doing something a certain way, then show them only that one thing, even if you know you could show them so much more.  If they ask you to show them more, do so.  Let them figure out as much as they can on their own.  By doing this you will build independence, confidence, resourcefulness, and a pride of ownership in a job well done.

Owning the Work

The emphasis should always be on “owning” the work, not on what they will get once the work is done.  As a practical matter, we all must work for compensation at some point, but if taught at an early age that the work, itself, is the valuable thing, regardless of the kind of work it is, then you have done your job as parent.  This work “ethic” should transfer to other areas, as well, like gaining knowledge studying in school.

If your children learn these lessons with loving guidance, you will have taught them so much more than the subject of work.  You will have taught them how to guide others, having been guided well by you.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Jul 09 2015

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SLR 088: The 7 Deadly Sins and Simplicity

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Daily we stand against the tide, the relentless negative forces of human nature that work to bring us down.  The challenge to be better, and do better, is never ending, and ever present, in each of our lives.

How do the 7 deadly sins; wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony, play against the simplicity lifestyle?  Does living with simplicity make it easier, or harder, to keep these hosts of misery at bay?

1. WRATH

The simplicity movement is all about ridding ourselves of life’s clutter to make room for that which matters most.  Whether that clutter comes in the form of debt, or a junk pile blocking access to the backyard, it’s all about zeroing in on those things that are getting in the way, the things that are keeping us from living the life we should be living.

When we proactively scan our environment for what needs to be removed, or what needs to change, we take control of the things we can control by engaging in an intentional editing process.

The Editing Process

Years ago, at a time when I owned and operated a couple of restaurants, I faced mounting insurance costs due to a funding crisis in our state’s worker’s compensation system.  Many businesses, including my own, had been thrown into a high risk insurance pool, causing costs to triple.  I decided to not let my frustration and “anger” keep me from doing what was within my control.  By focusing on the essentials and ridding our operations of lesser practices, we moved to a higher level of operation and received an award for having the best improved worker-safety record in the state.

Through the process, I learned that in order to move from “wrath” to a place where one can make needed changes, the following “get” steps are necessary:

1) “Get over” any sense of “unfairness” and focus all energy on the solution;
2) “Get creative” in developing strategies to achieve the desired result; and
3) “Get on” with taking needed action.

Humility is in order here, since nobody can control all circumstances.  But we can control the degree to which we take action to cause or prevent things from blocking access to our goals and a better life.

The 1st deadly sin, Wrath, is an emotion that is impossible to sustain when we accept responsibility for our actions.  Since anger most often arises from feeling a loss of personal control and power, taking action is the antidote, but only if we remain humble, and remember that there is a higher power than what we, alone, possess.

Action and Humility

When we combine acts of intentional living and personal humility, we are rewarded with a clearer perspective of purpose, which is to love and care for others.

Acting with intention, a cornerstone of the simplicity lifestyle, de-fangs the ugly wrath-monster that lurks inside us all.

2. GREED

The more we become focused on the essentials, the things that truly enrich our lives, the more we discover that the material acquisitions and status symbols we once chased after shrink in comparison to the more important things, like relationships.

As we practice intentional living, and move away from the need to acquire, we realize that it is our actions and relationships that define us, not the things we own.  It’s so true, that service, contentment and gratitude abound in relationships, not in stuff.

Greed and simplicity exist on opposite ends of the life-behaviors spectrum.  When we actively seek one, we adversely impact the other.

3. SLOTH

There are no lazy people pursuing the simplicity lifestyle. Simplicity requires intention, action, and follow-through.  Simplicity folks are not lounging back letting important work go undone.  If and when we lounge, it is not to avoid work, but to celebrate the work that has been done by enjoying a still moment, a quiet reflection, a shared meal, and a simple conversation.

4. PRIDE

Having suffered this particular deadly sin my entire life, I can tell you that having a high opinion of yourself can be damaging when it is not also coupled with a recognition of your deep personal flaws.
We human beings are laughably prideful.  I say laughably, because it becomes comical, in a tragic sense, to imagine an emotion that serves us less authentically, or causes more damage.

Over time we can become impressed with ourselves, so much so that we actually ignore reality.
When was the last time you changed your mind about something you once knew to be true?  Think about it – if everything we believe to be true is actually true, we would be truth machines, walking around absorbing the world in perfect order, with perfect memories, and perfect understanding.  Since none of us is perfect, then our perceptions must at some level be flawed.

But….

…it is interesting that when we make up our minds about something, not only do we establish our perceptions as permanent reality, we immediately begin setting up roadblocks to challenge any future change to those perceptions.  Our willingness to accept new evidence, and change our minds, diminishes over time. In fact, the longer we hold our beliefs, the less flexible we become.

Our attitudes and perceptions could be described as a wagon wheel that has slipped into a rut.  Once there, it fits comfortably into its little niche, and turns happily along.   It takes significantly less effort to stay with the usual, than to try out new, bumpy ground.

But the problem with staying in the rut is that we are more likely to become complacent, smug, and self-satisfied.  We convince ourselves that what we know, and who we are, is accurate, made so by perfectly formed knowledge.  When presented with evidence to the contrary, it is not our own perceptions we question, but the validity of the source of the new evidence.

Even when we are clearly shown the better route, a route that gets us closer to the truth, it is too late for the prideful.  The prideful would rather reject a new and better approach than alter the long-established dogma they have embraced.

Simplicity Challenges the Norm

The simplicity philosophy caused me to rethink everything, but what first led me to even consider simplicity as an alternative to my long-established norm ?

Quite simply, my wagon wheel began crashing up against the rut wall enough times to make me finally question whether the rut was indeed a good fit.  The point is, once I was willing to drive out of the rut, what became clear to me was that the rut had kept me complacent way too long.

Once out of the rut, however, I began looking at the assumptions I had held over time.  My most fundamental beliefs about God were not shaken, but believing I had all the answers about life definitely were.

Simplicity celebrates life not within the context of the things we accumulate, which are temporary, but within the context of the relationships we foster, which last forever.

Simplicity does not kill pride, but it does dampen its harmful effects.  Recognition that we fall short, that we don’t deserve everything we might fancy, and that we will have to let go of things at times, is a humbling but affirming process.

5. LUST

Lust occurs when we allow our baser impulses to go unchecked.

Simplicity forces us to acknowledge our fallen nature, and to come face-to-face with urges that no amount of engine power, lipstick or home decor can paper over.

Each of us choose every day whether we practice habits that lead to a positive life, or habits that lead to a degradation of our life.  In the case of lust, relationships are damaged if not destroyed.

Lust relies upon imagination; the fantasy our mind creates of a pleasure we desire. Lust snowballs as we entertain the fantasy over time.  If we entertain the fantasy long enough, what we imagine we desire transforms into some form of action that is taken.  When we act on our lust, we relinquish self-control and enslave ourselves to our baser instincts.

The pleasure we experience from acting on lust is at best temporary.  In contrast, the damage done is likely permanent. Furthermore, we weaken the very self-control “muscle” that we need to overcome the other deadly sins.

In contrast to lust, simplicity helps us focus on activities that strengthen us  and reinforces the foundation upon which our moral selves flourish.

Lust and the Effect of Simplicity

1) Simplicity makes us re-evaluate the things that make us content;
2) Simplicity enables us to rethink what we desire;
3) Simplicity causes our desires to come into alignment with reality;
4) Simplicity makes us want to be less self-centered, and more charitable to others; and
5) Simplicity encourages us to deal with the true problems of life.

The simplicity lifestyle is more complimentary to our higher selves, as we become tempered by a deeper contemplation of what gives life meaning. (See e.g.:  The 4 Zones of Intention)

6. ENVY

It has been shown that the excitement we feel as we anticipate acquiring something we desire is much more intense than the satisfaction we feel after having acquired it.  In other words, once we have acquired the thing we desire, the increase in our happiness quotient is negligible.  We feel more pleasure from the anticipation, than from the acquisition, itself.

Perhaps the trick is to understand the impulse, and to overcome it by remaining focused on our long term goal.  Maybe you want to be out of debt, or to pay off a mortgage, to have funds to travel, to embark on a creative or educational endeavor; or to generously assist family members.

By focusing on the important things we want to accomplish, envy takes a back seat.

5 ways in which simplicity kills envy:

1)  When people are valued above things;
2)  When you are less likely to feel you are missing something you desire;
3)  When you are responsible for what you own;
4)  When you are not responsible for what others own; and
5)  When you value peace and contentment above fleeting acquisitions.

Having what we need in life is better than wanting what we do not have for all the wrong reasons.

7. GLUTTONY

There is no deadly sin that more represents the opposite of simplicity than gluttony.
Gluttony occurs when we consume beyond satiation, with little regard for the amount we are consuming or why we are consuming it.

The consuming occurs for the sake of the consumption itself, not to achieve anything more than the feeling of “taking in” or “using” the thing that we desire.

STAND AGAINST THE TIDE

The 7 deadly sins are a form of self-idolatry, an ageless warning against the narcissism of the time.

Simplicity does not make me, or anyone else, immune from human failing.  I believe it does, however, change our focus, from needing more to needing less, to being truly grateful and content.

Simplicity makes it more likely that we will draw upon the deep well of life and find satisfaction in owning fewer things while giving more of ourselves away.

The Good News….

You can stop being controlled by negative things.  Assert yourself in a positive manner.  Do not look back and wish things had been different.  Do not regret what you cannot change, but also, do not let another day go by without making  changes you know you need to make.  Regretting and bemoaning the past is a waste of precious time.  Do not wallow in what you cannot change, but act on your future today.

Develop a plan, and take action now!   Your life depends upon it!

____

This post was first published on SimpleLifeReboot.com.

May 28 2015

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SLR 087: The “Perspective” Benefit

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Butchart Gardens Victoria, B.C.

Sheryl and I recently took a trip to Victoria, B.C., to wipe the cobwebs off our dashboard GPS map, and to fulfill one of the original intentions of our embracing simplicity almost two years ago, now.

For those who are not familiar with our story, it was that first trip down the California coastline back in May of 2013, that spurred the changes in our lives, the selling of our over-sized home, the elimination of 85 percent of our belongings, and the start of this blog, Simple Life Reboot, which has allowed us to share our decision, and our journey, with all of you.  (See, The Trip That Changed Everything)

The recent trip to Victoria included many of the same aspects of the California trip, minus the life-changing revelations.  Hanging out in Victoria did not bring about a sudden awareness that something needed to be changed in our lives, but rather helped confirm the changes that we’ve made, the simplicity lifestyle we have embraced, has been working.

The Necessary Ingredient

But there seems to be a specific ingredient that must be present in the extended trips we take (more than 3 days) for the full “perspective” benefit to be realized.  See if you can identify the common ingredient from the list below.

1)  Travel unfamiliar territory

2)  Stay overnight in an unfamiliar place

3)  Speak with many unfamiliar people

4)  See many unfamiliar things

5)  Hear many unfamiliar voices

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with returning to that familiar place that acts as a balm to your soul;  that cabin on the beach, that meandering river through the forest, or mountain trail that slips behind the waterfall.  Return there…and be soothed.  (see, Deep Living in a Shallow World)

But if you are in the mood for something new, experiencing unfamiliar territory does not so much soothe, as it informs.  It forces the brain to recalculate.  The internal map of ourselves automatically compares what it is presently experiencing to what it has just left behind.  The positive or negative aspect of the new experience is not so much the key ingredient, but that the experience is unfamiliar.

Certainly, traveling away from home for a time can be beneficial whether the destination is familiar or not, but for Sheryl and I, going someplace new is like being let out on recess, whereas the cabin on the beach feels more like God giving you a hug.

A Refreshed View of Your Life

If you desire to gain a refreshed view of your life, travel someplace unfamiliar for an extended stay, a place where all the blanks are not already filled in.  The brain will be forced to pay attention, and by being in the moment, attentive to your surroundings, you will re-discover the significance of the path from whence you came – aka “perspective”.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Apr 18 2015

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SLR 086: Walk To Run!

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Sheryl crossing the finish line at the 2002 Ironman Canada

It happens every year about this time, mid-way through January, after the holiday meals and desserts have fully accreted and solidified in the form of “love” handles.

Now comes the not-so-glamorous work of unpacking the storage shed, of taking off the extra pounds that have accumulated over the past couple of months, and getting back on track to be in better shape than ever this year – 2015.

If you are wanting to get in better shape, or are starting back after taking a break, we recommend a walk/run program, to strengthen tendons, ligaments, and muscle, in preparation for a run program.

Why Running Is The Goal

It is said that walking can be nearly as good for you as running, but since running is more rigorous, it maximizes aerobic conditioning in minimum time.  With a smart, gradual routine, executed over a period of time, you can prepare your body to perform at higher levels.

I cannot claim to be a fitness expert, but I am a fitness “enthusiast”.  I enjoy getting in shape, and when you get to be my age (56), that becomes a never-ending challenge.

Three Basic Rules of Good Fitness

Rest, Diet, Exercise

REST

1)  Go to bed early.

2)  Do not spend an hour staring at a bright screen on your phone or tablet before turning out the lights.

3)  Get a solid 7-8 hours sleep every night.

4)  Choose at least one day per week to NOT exercise.

DIET

A well-balanced diet is needed to support our body’s fitness.

Regarding Weight-Loss

For smart, maximum weight loss, we like a high protein diet, with a calorie to protein ratio of 10/1.  Example:  a 200 calorie meal has approx. 20 grams of protein.  And if this ratio exists, the product must, by necessity, be low in sugar and fat.

When we are attempting to lose weight, we eat small meals of around 200 calories, 6-8 times per day.  Eating smaller meals, more frequently, speeds our metabolism.

EXERCISE

The following routine sets forth the basics of a walk-to-run program which is both enjoyable and sustainable long term.

SET A TIME – ESTABLISH A ROUTINE

Walk every morning, whether you feel like it or not.  It takes about three weeks to establish a new habit.  Get up early and START, go slow, and go short.

WHY WORKOUT EARLY?

If it is always the first thing we do, we find it is easier to remain focused and committed.  We do the workout automatically when we get up, and so it gets done before daily distractions can interfere.

WALK

Start by walking a short distance.  The distance and/or difficulty is not your goal at this point.  You are simply establishing the habit of getting up and getting out.  You are telling the body it is time to get strong.  You are laying a foundation, strengthening ligaments, tendons, joints, and muscles, and preparing the body for the next level of training.

WALK-TO-RUN

We have found the “walk-to-run” fitness principle to be the most effective way to return to fitness after a long, or short, hiatus.

You should plan to walk a set distance every morning.  One morning per week, plan to increase the regular distance by 25 percent, then take one rest day.

In the following week, return to the shorter walk, but with an increase in distance of 10-15 percent.  Your long-walk day is still a 25 percent increase, but as you can see, your distance gradually increases week by week, increasing your endurance.

As you progress, begin to add run sections.  For instance, a section could be from one lamppost to another.  Starting out, the ratio could be 5:1, five sections walked for each one ran.  As your fitness improves, the ratio shifts from walking to running, for example 1:5.  Your training has become a RUN-TO-WALK routine, where walking simply becomes a brief scheduled rest interval during your run.

ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO TRAIN WITH YOU

It is always better to work out with a partner, for the support, and to help each other stay accountable.

STAY MOTIVATED – REGISTER FOR AN UPCOMING EVENT

One way to stay motivated is to register for an upcoming athletic event.

Sheryl and I have our sights set on Disney’s Dumbo Double Dare this year (2015), and would be delighted to enter our family running team into next year’s Hood to Coast race – 2016.

KEEP US UPDATED ON YOUR PROGRESS!

We encourage you to get fit. Share the steps you are taking in our COMMENTS section.  We can all learn from each other.

Happy Training Everyone – 2015!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Jan 15 2015

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SLR 085: Topics to Avoid at Christmas

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This Christmas, when you gather with family and friends, remember that it is not about pretense or appearance.  Love everyone as they are, just as you are loved by God, who came among us to make things right.

Focus on the needs of others.  Give your loved ones what they need from you, – a hug, an affirmation that they are doing well, your attention, an encouraging nod.

There is usually plenty to talk about when family and friends get together to celebrate Christmas, but try to AVOID these topics to assure everyone enjoys a peaceful and relaxing day.

Religion

Seriously, Christmas is not about religion. It’s about the birth of the Savior for those who believe, and for those who do not, it’s about peace, love, and kinship among family and friends.  Do not compare your religious views with those of your guests.

Politics

Relationships are more important than who is right or wrong in their politics.  Keep your socioeconomic political philosophy to yourself this visit.  You will astound everyone with your gracious good humor.

* * *

Sheryl and I would like to wish everyone this holiday season a peaceful Merry Christmas!

* * *

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Dec 11 2014

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SLR 084: The Hidden Gift

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“The only true gift is a portion of thyself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sheryl and I love Christmas.

For those of us who have discovered the value of the simple and minimalist lifestyle, the gift-giving portion of the holiday has become less important…to a degree.  The concept of gift-giving is beautiful, but for many at Christmas time it has become more about the gift and less about the giving.

But there is a gift that can be given that is unique, and can fulfill a heartfelt need in the person receiving it.

The Gift

The gift is love, but amazingly, expressing that love may be harder than we think.  In fact, the love we intend to express may actually remain hidden from view, until we begin to understand what it is our loved one needs from us to feel loved.

According to Dr. Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages“, what makes one person feel loved is not necessarily the same thing that makes another person feel loved.  I find this concept – how love is perceived – to be fascinating, because it defines love from the receiving end, rather than the giving end.  Love is not a monolithic, well-defined, unchanging emotion that pours forth to be absorbed and appreciated equally by anyone in its wake.  Love occurs when the receiver feels understood and affirmed, based upon actions the giver of love has intentionally taken.

Dr. Chapman discovered over years of relationship counseling, that the things people complained about in their relationships, the things they felt they were not getting, basically fell into one of five categories.  Dr. Chapman named these categories…

The Five Love Languages

1)  Words of Affirmation
2)  Acts of Service
3)  Receiving Gifts
4)  Quality Time
5)  Physical Touch

What is your primary love language?

We each have a primary love language.  Perhaps you feel most loved when you receive words of affirmation, or when a loved one takes care of the chores without being prodded, like mowing the lawn or doing the dishes.  Maybe you feel most loved when gifts are given, or when your loved one takes the time to spend quality moments with you.  Perhaps it is a tender touch that best expresses love and caring toward you.

What is the primary love language of your loved one?

Whatever your primary love language, it is perhaps more important to know the primary love language of the person you intend to express love to, so that you better understand what they need from you in order to feel loved and cared for?

So, the hidden gift is that thing you can give to another, that makes them feel loved.

Do you know the primary love language of your loved ones, what they need from you to feel loved and cared for?

This Christmas, consider giving the hidden gift, the one that surpasses all other gifts, because this one lasts a life time, and makes everything else we do make sense.

* * *

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Dec 04 2014

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SLR 083: Giving Thanks!

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Giving Grandma a hug at graduation

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.” – O. Henry

I give thanks to God and Country, for without God, I would have no life, and without America, I would have no liberty.

I GIVE THANKS

…to AMERICA

Consider for a moment the absence of America from the world. How thankful I am for a nation that secures our liberty. The idea that a human being should be left alone by its government to live his or her life is not an unreasonable expectation, but it is a condition that is less common in the world than it should be.

“Thanksgiving, our eminent moral holiday, doesn’t have much for children. At its heart are conversation, food, drink, and fellowship – all perks of adulthood.” – Rosecrans Baldwin

…to OUR MILITARY VETERANS

I also give thanks for America’s Veterans, who serve honorably every day to protect us, our nation and its sovereignty, its sacred honor, its right to exist peaceably. Without the daily commitment and sacrifice by our Veterans, our nation would not long endure.

…and to GOD

And consider for a moment the absence of God from our lives, from the world, and you realize the utter darkness within which all suffering in this life would endure.

* * *
On September 28, 1863, a 74-year old magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, wrote a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, urging him to have the “day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.”

Shortly thereafter, on October 3rd, 1863, the President declared a Proclamation of Thanksgiving, a small portion of which reads as follows:

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 27 2014

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SLR 082: Life Is Not A Race!

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“Humility is the foundation of all the other virtues hence, in the soul in which this virtue does not exist there cannot be any other virtue except in mere appearance.” – Saint Augustine

When it comes to our work, there is nothing wrong with hustle.  I believe that highly productive people are to be admired.  When it comes to life in general, however, it is of great value to yourself, and to others, to establish a more relaxed, consistent rhythm.

Life is not a race!

But still…

When I stand in line at the grocery store, I choose the shortest line.  After I have chosen it, I still look at how fast the other lines are moving in relation to my own. I become unhappy if the longer line next to my own moves faster?

AND…

When I’m driving on the Interstate, I automatically pass the next vehicle ahead of me, and feel a sense of satisfaction once I’ve gone by, believing I will beat them to where they are going, even though they started out three hours before me and have a hundred miles further to go.

We live in a world that is competitive, but I think at times I lose perspective on when and where I need to be competitive.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” —Theodore Roosevelt

In any endeavor outside an actual race, where all participants begin on an equal footing, it is folly to compare your position at any given time to that of others.  Trying to measure success or standing based on the success or standing of others is a mistake, and here is why.

Comparing one human being to another can never be remotely accurate due to the fundamental truth of how unique each of us are.  When it comes to things like motivation, innate ability in a given area, personal determination, where we started out in “the race”, how far we have come, or even the definition of success, measurement becomes meaningless.

“Don’t judge a man by where he is, because you don’t know how far he has come.” – C. S. Lewis

I think Joshua Becker said it best in his blog post, “A Helpful Guide to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others,” when he spoke of the “infinite number of categories upon which we can compare ourselves and an almost infinite number of people to compare ourselves to.”  Indeed, where does it end, once we begin comparing “the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others”?

Let’s be competitive in our work, but gracious in our living.

If you enter an actual race, race to win!  But as for life, let us not be fooled by the appearance of success, or trip over the folly of comparisons.  We are each unique in who and where we are in life.  Celebrate the effort made by others, as you continue along your own path.

And never forget…

“If you’re lucky enough to do well, it’s your responsibility to send the elevator back down.” – Kevin Spacey

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 20 2014

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SLR 081: Inspiring Snapshots of Simplicity

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“Tell your story.” – Joshua Becker,  Becoming Minimalist, speaking at  SimpleREV 2014

There is something beautiful about hearing a person’s story that allows us to connect with both the individual and his or her experience.

Whether a person’s circumstances are dramatic or cumulative, the sharing of a struggle to overcome challenges has the extraordinary power to instruct and inspire.

Courtney Carver of  “Be More With Less” is a beautiful example.  In 2006, Courtney was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  When she learned that stress could complicate her symptoms, she began exploring ways to simplify.  In five short years,  she transformed her life.  Her inspiring story can be read in the March 2014 issue of “O” (Oprah Winfrey’s magazine).

For an account of hope and determination, Tico and Tina’s unflinching  “Messy Beginnings” is a must read.  Their ongoing 10+ year journey from drudgery to lives of purpose and passion is shared on their website “Make Room for Greatness” . Tico and Tina lay bare the challenges of supporting a young family while providing practical guidance on transitioning to creative and missional work. Their desire to help others is palpable.

Equally impactful is the story of Brooke McAlary of “Slow Your Home“.  Brooke was a high-strung perfectionist with clear expectations of what life should be. Her world was turned upside down when she and her husband were assaulted in separate incidents. Not long after the assaults,  she was overwhelmed by post-natal depression and anxiety.  Unable to function well,  she was forced to pare her life down to the essentials. As she recovered,  Brooke discovered a new way to live.  She now shares the joy of a simpler, slower life with the world.

A powerful example of intentionality is Christy King of “The Simple White Rabbit”.  Christy,  an accomplished attorney, author and life-long learner, had been intrigued by minimalism for years.  Until recently,  she believed she needed to defer desired changes until the children were grown or she retired.  A few years  ago,  she decided to begin making modest, incremental changes.  She discovered that even small changes produced significant gains.  She discovered more time and energy for family and friends, enjoyed healthier living and found new interests in additional activities.

This is just a handful of stories of the life-changing impact of simplicity and minimalism.  What is yours?

As Joshua Becker urged us all to do,  please tell your story.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 13 2014

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SLR 080: Create A Living Masterpiece With Intention

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“A great artist can paint a great picture on a small canvas.” – Charles Dudley Warner

What does your life canvas look like?

Are you filling up your canvas quickly, with an array of colors assembled as an afterthought, or are you painting with intention?

When we act with intention, we exhibit a higher purpose, but does this mean we automatically produce a beautiful canvas, a beautiful life?

The beauty of your life is not for me, or anyone else, to define. You are a beautiful creation just as you are, right now.  No addition or subtraction can make you any less remarkable.  But…

The Life You Create Is Up To You

By taking certain actions, we determine certain outcomes.

The part of our lives that creates the beautiful brush strokes comes about every day through the deep love and caring we exhibit for one another.

By listening, spending time with, and caring for others, about their loves, their concerns, their hopes, their fears, and their dreams, we carefully and lovingly apply the paint across our canvas, and encourage others in creating a beautiful canvas of their own.

“The colors live a remarkable life of their own after they have been applied to the canvas.” – Edward Munch

Make It A Beautiful Life

Place the colors lovingly on your canvas, with intention, and your painting will flourish before the eye in brilliant splendor.

Love and care for others, with intention, and in the end you will produce a masterpiece, unique and unparalleled in history.

“My philosophy is that I’m an artist.  I perform an art not with a paint brush or a camera.  I perform with bodily movement.  Instead of exhibiting my art in a museum or a book or on a canvas, I exhibit my art in front of the multitudes.” – Steve Prefontaine

If you enjoyed this post,  please see Beautiful By Design and Your Life Depends on Your Creativity.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Nov 06 2014

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SLR 079: Unmasking Our Fears About Essentialism and Simplicity

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Fear is deceptive. It often masquerades as something else, fooling us into believing an outright lie or otherwise thwarting our ability to make lasting positive change.

Far too many of us yearn to reboot our lives into ones of greater simplicity, but we are stopped short by fears we cannot bring ourselves to face.

Essentialism calls us to relinquish our armor of possessions and busyness. Unfortunately, such leaves us feeling vulnerable to unacceptable loss.  Bowing to fear, we hang on to the armor and forfeit what would have been a more abundant, joy filled life.

***

The goal of this post is to cut deeply into those noxious hidden emotional pockets. It’s only when we acknowledge our fears and contributing shortcomings,  that we can undergo the necessary surgery to heal and move forward.

Disclaimer and  Explanation

Many of the following articulations may seem overly harsh.  The list is not meant to discourage or condemn,  but rather to expose the full fear spectrum as it might relate in some degree to  us.  Also, this list is for personal reflection and application only. It is not properly imposed on others. Accordingly, the references are in the first person.  Finally, the term “stuff” is used as shorthand to comprehensively describe property, activities and overload of any nature.

So, without further ado…  fears hindering our ability to edit our “stuff”  so as to lead a simpler life include:

1.   Fear of Engagement.  Developing a genuine connection with people is costly and time-consuming. Focusing on my stuff permits me to limit my engagement with people.

2.   Fear of “Oblivion” or Lack of Significance.  Like Augustus Waters, a cancer patient in the novel “A Fault in Our Stars“,  my greatest fear is “oblivion”.  I am afraid of having no significance. My stuff is evidence that I exist and that I have an impact.

3.   Fear of  Missing Out or of Emptiness.  I cannot bear emptiness, empty space, or potentially missing out on anything. Besides, I’m sure the next thing will finally satisfy me and fill that nagging void.

4.   Fear of Being Overlooked or Underappreciated.  I crave recognition. I fear that people will lose interest in me. My stuff demonstrates my accomplishments,  skills, sophistication,  and worth to the world.  How can people appreciate who I am if I have no stuff to display?

5.   Fear of  Settling or Mediocrity.  I do not want to be like the fox in Aesop’s fable “Fox and the Grapes”  -pretending to despise “stuff” when the truth is that I deeply desire the stuff but cannot attain or maintain it.  If I “settle” for just the essentials, it will only prove that I lack ambition, work ethic and the ability to achieve.

6.   Fear of Lack of Control.  I fear letting go.  I need my old stuff to keep a connection to the past.  I need my current stuff to protect me against the uncertainties of the future.  Stated differently,  I must hang on to stuff  “just because” for my past and “just-in-case” for my future.  It’s the only part of life over which I have control.

***

If any of the above apply to you,  please do not  “feel the fear and do it anyway“.   Making major life edits before you have worked through significant fear is reckless.  The important takeaway is to commit to not being held captive by fear.  If you determine that living a life of greater simplicity and margin is best for you,  but are unable to act due to fear,  please consider seeking guidance from clergy or counselor. You are precious. Your life is precious.  The effort is worth it.

***

Do you have any suggestions?   What applicable fears did I omit or mischaracterize?  Please share in the comments section.

***

If you enjoyed this post,  please see  “What Are You Afraid Of ?”   and   “But What Will People Think?”

Originally posted at http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 30 2014

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SLR 078: Are You “in Control”? Try the Clutter Experiment!

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“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” – William Morris

When Sheryl and I moved from our large colonial home to smaller accommodations next door, we found ourselves faced with the necessity of reducing our possessions.  After a couple of moving sales and multiple trips to charities, we had sold or given away about 85% of our belongings.

What we did not expect from the process was the resulting feeling of self-determination and liberation.  But why?  What was it about the stuff we had accumulated around us, that over time, had begun to hold us captive?

SENSE OF CONTROL?

According to psychologists, excessive clutter can be caused by or can cause flawed thinking.

Clutter can also be a symptom of seeking to control our environment.  Having more stuff sometimes gives us the false sense of having more options so as to have greater control over future events.

If you doubt this,  please consider:  How many of us have hung onto an inconvenient, unused item believing that “I might need this someday,” or “This might be worth something someday?”

According to Dr. Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., a healthy approach to letting go of unneeded items is to substitute the fearful thought with intentional action that might benefit another,  as “Somebody else could use this now, so I will give it away.”

What we discover is that retaining the unused item does not give us control or well-being, but rather hanging on to the item holds us in the grip of burden, regret, shame or fear.  In contrast,  letting go of an item to benefit another gives us a sense of  self-mastery,  greater control over our environment, and improved well-being.

If you want to find out if this is true for you,  please try the following experiment:

Clutter Experiment

1)  Start becoming aware of the things around you that do not add to your life.  These may be items you have not paid attention to or used in the past 3 months.

2)  Start placing these items in a box, one by one, as you become aware of them.

3)  Discover over time how many of the items you retrieve from the box to use.

4)  After some period of time, sell, donate or discard the items in the box you have not retrieved.

5)  Then,  please report what you discover to your loved ones, and/or to us here at Simple Life Reboot.

Note:  Ryan Nicodemus (The Minimalists) tackled this problem in reverse order.  He placed virtually every item in his apartment in boxes.  When he needed an item, he would retrieve it. Check out the moving TEDx talk to hear the full story.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 23 2014

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SLR 077: 7 Steps to Help a Loved One Embrace Change

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One of the most difficult questions we get is:

“What do I do when I want to make changes,  but my loved one does not?”

Whether the desired change is to rightsize, de-clutter, reduce activity  or financial overload or otherwise,  we generally encourage the inquiring party to make individual changes, and then wait patiently in the hope that demonstrated benefit will persuade the reluctant party to embrace mutual change at some point.

While we continue to recommend this approach,  we recognize that additional advice might be helpful, particularly when the “just-be-an-example” approach appears to be failing.

We have boiled our recommendations down to the following 7 points:

1. Maintain the relationship as the priority.  As a starting point, resolve that if a choice must be made,  your relationship with your loved one will always trump your desired life edits.  The greater purpose for the desired change should be to benefit the relationship.

2. Identify loved one’s pain.  Many of us become so accustomed to bearing a burden that we fail to recognize that such even exists.  Be sure to identify what pain your loved one is experiencing that your desired changes will relieve.  Resistance may be lessened if changes are understood to be a mutual solution,  as opposed to a life change that is simply your personal preference.

3. Do NOT pressure loved one.  Resist the urge to pressure (or nag) your loved one into making changes s/he is not ready to make. Making significant life changes and edits is complex and often involves deeper issues of security and identity.  Attempting to coerce or shame a loved one into letting go of cherished items and/or activities will be counterproductive at best.

4. Maximize individual changes. Implement as many individually-impactful changes as possible. Such increases the likelihood that there will be measurable,  persuasive benefits that can be observed over a period of time by the reluctant party.

5. Use “Season in Life” as context for change.  Provide a new perspective on desired edits.  Change might be easier if it is understood as a natural transition or transfer as opposed to  “loss” or “letting go”  of something.   Examples might include donating outgrown baby clothes or selling an oversized empty-nesters’ house to a growing family so that such property can again be used and enjoyed as intended.

6.  Propose a trial period or game approach. Consider proposing a limited, no-commitment trial period.  An example would be Courtney Carver’s 3 month fashion challenge, Project 333.  Other approaches include permanently editing items such as playing the Minimalist’s game for a month,  or trying Simple Life Together’s year long “Edit and Forget It” challenge.

7. Inspire and encourage.  Keep two words in mind when trying to help a loved one with change.  To “inspire” is  to breathe life into someone.  To “encourage”  is to imbue with courage.  Recognize and celebrate how momentous even small changes can be in you and your loved one’s life.  Commit to serve, inspire, encourage and be a source of hope for a better future.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 16 2014

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SLR 076: A Shout Out for SimpleREV 2014!

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Joshua Becker delivers opening remarks. Joel Zaslofsky and Dan & Vanessa Hayes in background, front row.

Having just returned from Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.  a heartfelt “THANK YOU!” to Joel Zaslofsky and Dan Hayes for putting together the first ever SimpleREV conference where folks from around the world came together to share stories and discuss how the simplicity/minimalism movement is changing lives and communities.

Sheryl and I were honored to speak.  We told our story of how we came to realize in May of 2013 that we needed to move from a life of chasing after more stuff, to a life enriched by quality experiences and deeper relationships.  Even though we had a great time telling our story at SimpleREV,  we were even more thrilled and inspired by others’ stories.

One of the many takeaways from the conference was this:  people in this simplicity/minimalism movement are well grounded folks seeking to serve others.  The spirit and passion conveyed by attendees was tempered only by their insight and wisdom.

Nobody embraces the simplicity/minimalism movement without having pondered the most basic and critically important questions regarding what makes life meaningful.  People, not things.

Bring simplicity folks together at a conference in a friendly city like Minneapolis, and what you get is several days of unforgettable stories, inspiration and long lasting friendships.

We were so honored to participate!

Again, thanks Joel and Dan!

And thanks to all the volunteers that made this great event possible!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 09 2014

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SLR 075: 5 Proven Strategies to Crush the “Sophomore Slump” of Lifestyle Design

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Have you had this experience?  You start out strong, buoyed by the excitement of a new challenge and the promise of better things to come.  Then,  somehow,  as you move beyond the initial phase,  the load intensifies, progress slows and you lose some degree of confidence in the attainability, if not the desirability, of the objective.

It can happen to the best students, athletes and artists,  and it can certainly happen to those of us seeking to increase margin, de-clutter and otherwise simplify or “re-boot” our lives.

Instead of beating ourselves up,  we need to recognize a “slump” for what it is – a complication common to many passionate achievers that can be temporary or permanent,  depending upon our response.

So how do we make sure the “slump” is only a temporary drag?

Employing the following 5 tactics is key:

1.  BE AWARE OF THE SIGNS

Awareness is our best defense. If we can unmask perceived apathy, fatigue, confusion, failure, or disillusionment as nothing more than hallmarks of a “slump“,  these feelings lose their hold on us.  Not only can we continue,  but in the very act of continuing, we strengthen our ‘overcomers’ muscle and become better equipped for the next challenge.

2.  LET GO OF FALSE EXPECTATIONS

We need to let go of any hidden hope that the road to lasting positive change is simple, easy or fast. Living intentionally is a lifelong process of growth, and foundation building is not without its complications. We need to give ourselves permission to stumble and travel slowly at times.  The critical element is to keep going.  Period.

3)  CHANGE IT UP

Experiment and try different approaches.  If a routine flounders,  try another.  Focus and commitment is demonstrated by retaining the objective, not by throwing oneself against a wall of personally ineffective or stale processes.

4)   RE-CONNECT

Isolation is jet fuel for a “slump“.   Starve a “slump” by reconnecting with others in the community.   Attend in-person lifestyle design events, conferences, talks, and meetups, if at all possible.   Participate in, or better yet host your own  online gatherings via Google hangouts, Skype, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, etc.

5)  TRACK RESULTS

Recognize that significant progress may not be evident to you.   Seek out opportunities to measure progress.  Examples include “before and after” photos, journaling, and habit/objective tracker apps.   Reflecting upon the progress made can be a great encouragement.

BONUS … and,  as a bonus tactic for crushing a slump... contact us and we’ll cheer you on!   Your goal is worth it!  You can do it!  So,  keep going!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Oct 02 2014

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SLR 074: Why Roughing It Can Be So Much Fun!

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Like many, I spend my fair share of time and effort trying to avoid physical discomfort. An example would be my strong preference for a comfortable bed.  So, why do I fondly remember sleeping on that bumpy mattress jammed in the back of our car on that California trip?    (Read:  The Trip That Changed Everything!)

Maybe because life is an adventure, from beginning to end.  Those moments in life that offer less than comfortable circumstances, can also prove to amplify the experience and transform us if we let them.

Our family often jokes about “embracing the horror”.  This is our way of encouraging one another to accept an unpleasant condition for a greater purpose.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s a failure.  But – when it does work… it can be pure joy to experience.

The D.C. Downpour

In late summer 2008, we traveled to Washington, D.C., on a family vacation. The plan was to see as much of our nation’s capitol over three days,  then rent a car and head south to visit historic sites.

We took the subway from the airport to our rental.  Emerging from the subway, we walked 7 sketchy blocks to find the little house.  As we arrived, a huge thunderstorm broke.

We all scurried inside to escape the downpour. Within seconds, our second oldest son turned around and stepped back out into the rain.  We all stood watching, perplexed.

It didn’t take long before his younger brother ran out to join him.  After all, what’s a little rain on a warm summer day on the trip of a lifetime?  They wanted to experience it all, even the rain.

***

We all enjoy smooth sailing, but think about what might be gained if we were willing to embrace less comfortable circumstances.  Is a rough patch all that separates us from the life we seek to live?   (Read:  The Challenge to Change)

As we get older, many of us tend to avoid discomfort like the plague.  We perceive this as responsible, mature behavior.  But maybe there is something to be learned from those youngsters who were more concerned about the experience than the associated temporary discomfort.

Watching my sons cavort in that D.C. downpour spoke to me about my approach to life.  I decided to embrace the moment in all its fullness… so I did what any responsible father would do…. I joined them!

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 25 2014

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SLR 073: The Exquisite Beauty of Living Simply

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“It sure seems like you’re working pretty hard just to ‘simplify‘ your life”,  a somewhat skeptical friend observed.

He was, of course, right … though I did not want to admit it.

Fortunately, we both had other pressing commitments, otherwise I would have had to acknowledge that taking steps to simplify our life continues to be anything but a smooth or simple process.

BUT – IT IS WORTH IT

In moments of doubt, it helps to reflect upon why a commitment to the essentials is worth the effort. The “why” can be summed up in one word,  “beauty”.  We are simplifying in order to live a beautiful life.

WHAT DOES A LIFE OF BEAUTY LOOK LIKE?

Leo Babauta sums it up this way:

“The point of simple living, for me, has got to be:

A soft place to land

A wide margin for error

Room to breathe

Lots of places to find baseline happiness in each and every day.”

CONTENTMENT

It is slowing down and making the time to luxuriate in the smile of a loved one.   A shared moment.  A hearty, belly laugh.

It is contentment, gratitude and peace.

It is commitment to something greater than ourselves.

MAXIMIZE SHARING OF GIFTS

It is the clearing out of the useless things in our lives so as to focus on our priorities – our God, our loved ones, our potential.

It is personal weeding and pruning, so as to make room for the development and sharing of our unique gifts for the benefit of others.

It is the maximizing of our potential.   As stated by the poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

In character, in manner, in style, in all the things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.

….  and that is a very beautiful life indeed.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 18 2014

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SLR 072: The 5 Essentials of Being Nimble

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Nimbleness is the ability to pivot, to adapt to new circumstances and keep moving.  It is achieved, primarily, through the creation of margin in our lives.

In this fast-paced, unpredictable world, our ability to remain calm, constant, and in control is in direct proportion to the resources and options we can muster at any given time.

So, to be nimble, create margin in your life in the following 5 essential areas:

1)    Financial margin

Financial margin occurs when you can pay all of your monthly obligations and still have funds left over to put towards long-term goals, including the all-important emergency fund (a savings account built up as quickly as you can reasonably accomplish – the equivalent of 3 months of income – with the goal being at least 6 months set aside).

Having financial margin is a liberating thing!  But achieving it is not always easy.

Far too many of us have saddled ourselves with homes, possessions and other obligations which are greater than what we need or perhaps, can afford.   While they might seem like a desirable possession, they can become more of a burden than a blessing.

The good news! 

Financial margin is possible!  Getting out of the habit of overspending  is achievable!  It may take some time, but you can begin making progress TODAY.

For information on what options are available, we encourage you check out daveramsey.com.   We like Dave’s philosophy, his approach, and his practical advice.  We get nothing from you going to his site, except the satisfaction that we have steered you to a resource that changes lives.

Addressing the problem of financial margin is a MUST in order to become nimble.  For too many people, a big mortgage or student debt may be the main culprit, but other problem areas can exist,  like eating out too often, or buying items we don’t really need.  These things sap our finances, time and energy.  Many of us spend money on stuff that makes us feel better short-term. It is a temporary salve we apply to the worry, pain, and stress we feel.  It’s not a fun place to be, but we don’t have to accept it as a permanent condition.  Once we recognize the problem, and that there is a clear way out, it is only a matter of time – we WILL muster the willpower to extract ourselves from the overspending prison we’ve constructed for ourselves.

DO IT…for yourself, and for your family!
2.  Time Margin

Simply stated, time margin occurs by limiting obligations and by reducing activities that are not constructive or restorative.

For many of us, debt determines our workload.  Working longer hours may be taken on to pay down debt. Unfortunately, what often happens is that as we earn more, we spend more, defeating the original purpose of working the increased hours.

To achieve time margin, we must have the ability to easily pay our monthly obligations without overworking. 

Lower your monthly obligations until the above-mentioned condition becomes true. Then, you will have more resources for the things that matter most.

3)    Energy margin

Our bodies are biological engines.  Understanding the mechanics of these miraculous machines informs us as to why we might be low on energy, and what we must do to generate more.

If you are like most people, your energy reserves are constantly running down.  Building an energy reserve can be a challenge.  We can create an energy reserve by working on 5 key areas:  sleep, fuel, muscle strength/endurance, core endurance, and metabolism.

Sleep – Far too many people skimp on sleep in order to get in some “play” time.  We seek distraction from the day’s fatigue.  But increasingly, we sacrifice sleep to get our distraction fix.  We then end up even more fatigued and  unable to perform well, often needing to work longer hours to accomplish the same work.  The vicious cycle then repeats.  Staying up late also leads to a more sedentary lifestyle as we become more tired and sleep deprived.  We can also put on weight when we eat a second meal late at night before we finally go to bed, or snack during the day to “prop” us up when feeling short on energy.

Fuel – Many of us fail to eat nourishing food, whether due to fatigue, time pressures, or due to a short-term craving.  In addition, we routinely trade the time it takes to prepare healthy food for a diversionary activity, necessitating the consumption of something “easy”.  Sheryl and I have both struggled with these challenges.  But what we have found is that with a small amount of effort, and a modicum of planning, preparing and eating a good meal is possible.  Our taste buds and habits adapt quicker than one might think.  And when we stop dumping garbage into our engines, we begin to see and feel the results – a contented body happily purring along.  Take the time and effort to put high-quality fuel into your engine, and enjoy new-found energy!

Muscle Strength/Endurance/Core/Metabolism – Our bodies achieve the greatest health and balance doing physical work.  Without regular exercise, our muscles shrink in size, strength and endurance.

I often imagine my body responding like electrons do as they move between levels.  Electrons orbit the nucleus, and only exist in incremental energy states, or levels.  The higher the energy input to the atom, the more levels the electrons jump.  But the electrons can also act rather “resistant” in that they really don’t like to get excited.  After reaching the higher energy state, they soon drop back down to the lower level where they started, unless some additional energy influx occurs.

Muscles reach higher levels of potential in much the same way.  The more energy we put in, the stronger they become.  But muscles are not electrons, and can only strengthen so fast. The energy we apply to them, the load, the reps, the sets, must increase or intensify in small increments over time.  If our muscles never get worked, they remain in their lowest potential state, requiring little input of energy to operate.  But in this lower energy state, they never demonstrate their extraordinary potential.

To achieve energy margin, we must build up our body’s reserves by strengthening our muscle potential.  If we do this, our body is prepared to walk a long distance,  lift a heavy load, or engage in physical work or play, as circumstances arise.

4)    Learning margin

When under stress, whether it be financial, time related, or any number of circumstances we face on a daily basis, we tend to function in survival mode.  Under stress we become careful, reactive, and perhaps fearful.  To be open to learning new things, we must feel safe and secure.  Creating margin in our lives affords us the time, and the safety, that permits us to read, study, and absorb new  knowledge.  With margin, we thrive, and enjoy virtuous cycles of growth, satisfaction and higher capacity to learn.

5)    Emotional margin

When we lack margin in the 4 essential areas listed above,  we experience a loss of personal power.  We might even feel out of control, beset or even desperate.  This state can eventually lead to emotional debilitation and an inability to enjoy relationships and experiences.  We may also become isolated and emotionally numb.

When we create margin in these areas, however, particularly with finances, we can enjoy the moment and envision a better tomorrow. We experience new possibilities and have a greater capacity for generosity and thankfulness.  We feel in control, that we are making progress.  In this environment of having margin, we become nimble.

The Power of Nimble

When we foster the 5 essentials of being nimble, our relationships thrive, because we are safer and more secure.  We are no longer in survival mode, but rather in flourish mode.

Now, that’s true power…the ability to meet the challenges of life and make a positive difference in the lives of those we love.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 11 2014

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SLR 071: The Value of Nimble

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The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
–H.P. Lovecraft

Change is something people have always resisted. It’s something we fear and try to avoid, even knowing it is inevitable, part of life, itself.

Today, change is occurring at a pace never before seen in history, making it virtually impossible to predict the future. Whether it’s the work we do, the products we buy or produce, or the laws we rely upon, the life we lead increasingly resembles a Picasso painting rather than a paint-by-numbers.

It seems we have created a world of disruptive innovation, a term coined by Clayton M. Christensen, in his book, “The Innovator’s Dilemma”.

Disruptive Innovation:  A process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors.

And while such an economy is dynamic and exciting, it seems no sector is safe, not lawyers, doctors, accountants, or taxi drivers. While change has always been part of our economy, creating new products, new companies being formed, the difference, now, is that the speed at which products, companies, and even whole sectors, are displaced, is outstripping our capacity to react and to cope.

So, what is the solution?

Our ability to adapt, to pivot quickly when circumstances dictate, has never been more needed than it is today.

Consider what mind scientist John Medina says about human history and our ability to adapt:

“How, then, did we go from such a wobbly, fragile minority population to a staggering tide of humanity 7 billion strong and growing? There is only one way. You give up on stability. You don’t try to beat back the changes. You begin not to care about consistency within a given habitat, because such consistency isn’t an option. You adapt to variation itself.”

Being Nimble

We believe that personal and financial nimbleness is a key factor in determining to what degree we retain control over our circumstances, and still maintain the level of safety and security we desire.

Nimbleness occurs when we have fewer physical, emotional, and financial obligations, weighing us down, when we are able to pivot and keep moving without losing momentum and power. When we have the time and inclination to learn, to think, and to grow.

As a practical matter, being nimble looks like this.

The 10 Qualities of Being Nimble

1)    Financial margin
2)    Time margin
3)    Energy margin
4)    Learning margin
5)    Career margin
6)    Family margin
7)    Living-Space margin
8)    Physical margin
9)    Emotional margin
10) Vocational margin

In our list, financial margin comes first, because without it, the other goals become more difficult to achieve. With financial margin, however, the other qualities become easier to reach.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by life, by debt, by the sheer speed at which the world is changing, you are not alone. We believe the steps we can take to become happier and more adaptable in this environment, includes understanding and adopting the 10 qualities of being nimble.

***

Originally posted on http://SimpleLifeReboot.com

Sep 04 2014

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