Option One) The Ideal Day
This exercise is intended to give you a sense of what really matters to you.
Close your eyes and imagine a day in your life that you are living exactly as you would most like to live. This is an ordinary everyday kind of day, not a special occasion or vacation, just you living your regular life. Imagine it in as much detail as you can from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. Make it as ideal day, from the people you are with to the activities you are doing.
Write it down in detail – the details that matter to you. Where are you? Who are you with? What did you do over the day?
When you have finished describing it in detail, read it over. What is the most noticeable aspect of your day? Anything surprise you? How do you feel reading your ideal day?
Take a break of a few minutes or few days. When you come back, evaluate what you have described in terms of luxuries and essentials. What must you have in your day for it to be ideal? What would be lovely, but you don’t feel is absolutely necessary? For example, you need your best friend to be part of your ideal day, but a butler bringing you breakfast in bed would be a luxury.
Once you have decided on what you truly need for an ideal day, compare it to your life right now. What do you already have in your life? What is there, perhaps in a different way? What’s missing? Choose one change and take a step this month to come closer to your ideal day.
Option Two) De-Clutter Your Decision Life
Simplicity is not just about materialism. For many, the most oppressive clutter is not the stuff packed into our physical space but the millions of decisions we have to make each day. Psychologists have even given this struggle a name: “Decision Fatigue”:
They see willpower functioning like a muscle that can get quickly exhausted. Too many decisions, they show, quickly weaken our ability to think clearly, and even be kind. Spending too much will power on the inconsequential stuff ends up damaging our ability to address the important decisions of our lives. For this reason, many people – including President Obama and Mark Zuckerberg – are now simplifying their “decision life” by routinizing basic daily activities, for instance wearing the same outfits or eating the same breakfast or lunch:
Simply pick a daily routine and take the decision out of it. For one week at least, wear the same basic outfit or part of the same outfit, eat the same breakfast or pack the same lunch. You get the drift. Find some way of your own to de-clutter your decision life!
Come and share your story at the theme group.
Option Three) Track the Cash
Living simply is about living consciously, being aware of the choices we make in how we spend our money and our time. Spending according to our values is part of simple living. With the rise of debit cards and electronic interactions, it’s easy to lose track of our spending habits. Small amounts, even a daily Tim Hortons coffee, can add up over a year.
This is not to say simple living is about being cheap; it is about living intentionally. If you are struggling to save for a special event or purchase, tracking daily spending may help you find some easy ways to save more money towards a bigger ticket item, or reducing a debt.
For one week this month, track your spending on food, travel, going out, and on household and discretionary items. Don’t worry about your fixed expenses like housing and bills. Get a budget app for your phone, use an excel spreadsheet, or write it all down on a piece of paper. Accept receipts for every transaction and record them at the end of each day. Before you buy any item, consider if you really need it. How many hours did you have to work to pay for it?
At the end of the week, look over your spending. Is there anything that surprised you? Where does most of your extra cash go? Were the activities worth the price? Are items purchased still needed a week later?