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How to Live a Simplistic Lifestyle

How to Live a Simplistic Lifestyle

Many people long for a simple life away from all the chaos that seems self-inflicted. The first step to embracing this new form of lifestyle is to understand what simplicity means to you and then live by that definition. Here are eight suggestions on how to live a simplistic lifestyle.

1. Limit your information intake

Your world is awash with information. The traditional forms of media are ever-increasing in number, and each of them has content that fills 24 hours of every day. The internet is another information whale. Your contacts will also have a lot to share with you at any particular time. Today, its easy to bury yourself with information. You can follow thousands of people on their social profiles. You can also follow thousands of websites, blogs, and even companies. For many people, the need to keep up with all this incoming information is unbearable. A simplistic life for you needs no information overload. You have to accept the fact that you can never exhaust all of the information that is available in the world today. Just dedicate some time, and when that elapses, stop consuming until the next day.

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2. Savor each moment

You should think more in a less-hurried way. Drink or eat slowly so that you actually feel the taste of the food in your mouth. If you are doing a task such as driving or reading, then try not to rush to finish the task and jump to another one. You have to stay in the moment for some time before you are able to make it memorable. Do not ruin the experience by rushing through it. The good news with savoring experiences is that the people who follow the simple suggestion become relaxed and happy, even if they change nothing else in their lives. Savoring each moment brings a feeling of contentment in you.

3. Create a list, but only work at one item at a time

Without a plan that leads you to simplicity, you will not be able to live the simplistic life. Come up with a list of all the things that you need to do to have the life you want. Lists rarely make people change their behaviors, and that is why for this particular list, you will only have to deal with one item at a time, then cross it off the list. Do not create timelines or goals other than the resolve to finish doing the item on the list. Come up with another list when you are done with the present one.

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4. Spend more time with the people who matter in your life

The Pareto principle states that eighty percent of our successes and results come from twenty percent of the things you do and the people you deal with on a daily basis. Let this 80/20 rule work to your advantage. Identify the people who matter in your life, such as your family and close friends, and then spend most of your time with them at all costs. Soon, you will discover that you are peaceful and feel no obligation to do unnecessary things just to impress strangers.

5. Make big cuts

When you are transitioning from a chaotic life to a simplistic life, it will be hard for you to notice any change. Absence of change evidence can cause you to slump back into your chaotic life. The best way to get past this resistance problem is by undertaking big transition steps. Make a big cut. For example, you can get rid of your car and that will take care of parking expenses, cleaning expenses, insurance, and a host of other duties related to owning a car. You will feel like someone just took away a burden from your life. This experience will give you the strength to keep adopting a simplistic life.

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6. Learn to stay idle and alone

You will only be contented with your life if you can be comfortable in your own company. Materials and people do not necessarily make you a better or worse person; it is your attitude and view of life that makes you good or bad. Take time off and just do nothing. Stay off of your phone, do not listen to anything, and do nothing. This time off can last for at least five minutes to as much as a day, but do not use it an excuse to avoid doing your duties. Take time off regularly and you will understand yourself better. In addition, you will make better decisions and be comfortable with changes that are ongoing in your life.

7. Embrace a filling and storage system

Order is an essential thing in life. A simplistic life is full of order. Come up with a filling system for all your physical and electronic files. Store them under clear labels so that you will not spend much time and effort when you need to retrieve them. Use a search program for your electronic documents and embrace services that allow you to sync files from one device to another. In your offline world, buy baskets, bins, and anything that can hold your items when they are not in use. Store everything in appropriate places every time you are through with them.

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8. Embrace minimalism and frugality

Many people avoid talk about minimalism and frugality because to them, these words imply that they have to let go everything that they love. Just like simplicity, the concept of being frugal or minimal varies with every individual. This does not mean that it is necessarily a bad thing. To have a simple life, you need the power to manage your desires and intentions. One way to do that is by taming the materialistic urge inside you. Accept that there will always be newer, shinier, better-looking things that appeal to you. Most of these things are merely complimentary or substitute goods and services. The key to staying frugal and embracing a minimalist lifestyle is to know what you need and then avoid the urge to take up its additions. Think of the whole concept as a way to live an efficient life; your first step would definitely be to eliminate wasteful purchases and desires that lead to those purchases.

You may choose many other things to make your life simpler but the eight suggestions highlighted above will have the most impact in your life.

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Last Updated on March 21, 2019

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

11 Important Things to Remember When Changing Habits

Most gurus talk about habits in a way that doesn’t help you:

You need to push yourself more. You can’t be lazy. You need to wake up at 5 am. You need more motivation. You can never fail…blah blah “insert more gibberish here.”

But let me share with you the unconventional truths I found out:

To build and change habits, you don’t need motivation or wake up at 5 am. Heck, you can fail multiple times, be lazy, have no motivation and still pull it off with ease.

It’s quite simple and easy to do, especially with the following list I’m going to show to you. But remember, Jim Rohn used to say,

“What is simple and easy to do is also simple and easy not to do.”

The important things to remember when changing your habits are both simple and easy, just don’t think that they don’t make any difference because they do.

In fact, they are the only things that make a difference.

Let’s see what those small things are, shall we?

1. Start Small

The biggest mistake I see people doing with habits is by going big. You don’t go big…ever. You start small with your habits.

Want to grow a book reading habit? Don’t start reading a book a day. Start with 10 pages a day.

Want to become a writer? Don’t start writing 10,000 words a day. Start with 300 words.

Want to lose weight? Don’t stop eating ice cream. Eat one less ball of it.

Whatever it is, you need to start small. Starting big always leads to failure. It has to, because it’s not sustainable.

Start small. How small? The amount needs to be in your comfort zone. So if you think that reading 20 pages of a book is a bit too much, start with 10 or 5.

It needs to appear easy and be easy to do.

Do less today to do more in a year.

2. Stay Small

There is a notion of Kaizen which means continuous improvement. They use this notion in habits where they tell you to start with reading 1 page of a book a day and then gradually increase the amount you do over time.

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But the problem with this approach is the end line — where the “improvement” stops.

If I go from reading 1 page of a book a day and gradually reach 75 and 100, when do I stop? When I reach 1 book a day? That is just absurd.

When you start a habit, stay at it in the intensity you have decided. Don’t push yourself for more.

I started reading 20 pages of a book a day. It’s been more than 2 years now and I’ve read 101 books in that period. There is no way I will increase the number in the future.

Why?

Because reading 40 to 50 books a year is enough.

The same thing applies to every other habit out there.

Pick a (small) number and stay at it.

3. Bad Days Are 100 Percent Occurrence

No matter how great you are, you will have bad days where you won’t do your habit. Period.

There is no way of going around this. So it’s better to prepare yourself for when that happens instead of thinking that it won’t ever happen.

What I do when I miss a day of my habit(s) is that I try to bounce back the next day while trying to do habits for both of those days.

Example for that is if I read 20 pages of a book a day and I miss a day, the next day I will have to read 40 pages of a book. If I miss writing 500 words, the next day I need to write 1000.

This is a really important point we will discuss later on rewards and punishments.

This is how I prepare for the bad days when I skip my habit(s) and it’s a model you should take as well.

4. Those Who Track It, Hack It

When you track an activity, you can objectively tell what you did in the past days, weeks, months, and years. If you don’t track, you will for sure forget everything you did.

There are many different ways you can track your activities today, from Habitica to a simple Excel sheet that I use, to even a Whatsapp Tracker.

Peter Drucker said,

“What you track is what you do.”

So track it to do it — it really helps.

But tracking is accompanied by one more easy activity — measuring.

5. Measure Once, Do Twice

Peter Drucker also said,

“What you measure is what you improve.”

So alongside my tracker, I have numbers with which I measure doses of daily activities:

For reading, it’s 20 pages.
For writing, it’s 500 words.
For the gym, it’s 1 (I went) or 0 (didn’t go).
For budgeting, it’s writing down the incomes and expenses.

Tracking and measuring go hand in hand, they take less than 20 seconds a day but they create so much momentum that it’s unbelievable.

6. All Days Make a Difference

Will one day in the gym make you fit? It won’t.

Will two? They won’t.

Will three? They won’t.

Which means that a single gym session won’t make you fit. But after 100 gym sessions, you will look and feel fit.

What happened? Which one made you fit?

The answer to this (Sorites paradox)[1] is that no single gym session made you fit, they all did.

No single day makes a difference, but when combined, they all do. So trust the process and keep on going (small).

7. They Are Never Fully Automated

Gurus tell you that habits become automatic. And yes, some of them do, like showering a certain way of brushing your teeth.

But some habits don’t become automatic, they become a lifestyle.

What I mean by that is that you won’t automatically “wake up” in the gym and wonder how you got there.

It will just become a part of your lifestyle.

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The difference is that you do the first one automatically, without conscious thought, while the other is a part of how you live your life.

It’s not automatic, but it’s a decision you don’t ponder on or think about — you simply do it.

It will become easy at a certain point, but they will never become fully automated.

8. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There

Marshall Goldsmith has a great book with the same title to it. The phrase means that sometimes, you will need to ditch certain habits to make room for other ones which will bring you to the next step.

Don’t be afraid to evolve your habits when you sense that they don’t bring you where you want to go.

When I started reading, it was about reading business and tactic books. But two years into it, I switched to philosophy books which don’t teach me anything “applicable,” but instead teach me how to think.

The most important ability of the 21st century is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn. The strongest tree is the willow tree – not because it has the strongest root or biggest trunk, but because it is flexible enough to endure and sustain anything.

Be like a willow, adapting to the new ways of doing things.

9. Set a Goal and Then Forget It

The most successful of us know what they want to achieve, but they don’t focus on it.

Sounds paradoxical? You’re right, it does. But here is the logic behind it.

You need to have a goal of doing something – “I want to become a healthy individual” – and then, you need to reverse engineer how to get there with your habits- “I will go to the gym four times a week.”

But once you have your goal, you need to “forget” about it and only focus on the process. Because you are working on the process of becoming healthy and it’s always in the making. You will only be as healthy as you take care of your body.

So you have a goal which isn’t static but keeps on moving.

If you went to the gym 150 times year and you hit your goal, what would you do then? You would stop going to the gym.

This is why goal-oriented people experience yo-yo effect[2] and why process-oriented people don’t.

The difference between process-oriented and goal-oriented people is that the first focus on daily actions while others only focus on the reward at the finish line.

Set a goal but then forget about it and reap massive awards.

10. Punish Yourself

Last two sections are pure Pavlovian – you need to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior. You are the only person who decides what is good and what is bad for you, but when you do, you need to rigorously follow that.

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I’ve told you in point #3 about bad days and how after one occurs, I do double the work on the next day. That is one of my forms of punishments.

It’s the need to tell your brain that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they lead to bad outcomes. That’s what punishments are for.

You want to tell your brain that there are real consequences to missing your daily habits.[3]

No favorite food to eat or favorite show to watch or going to the cinema for a new Marvel movie- none, zero, zilch.

The brain will remember these bad feelings and will try to avoid the behaviors that led to them as much as possible.

But don’t forget the other side of the same coin.

11. Reward Yourself

When you follow and execute on your plan, reward yourself. It’s how the brain knows that you did something good.

Whenever I finish one of my habits for the day, I open my tracker (who am I kidding, I always keep it open on my desktop) and fill it with a number. As soon as I finish reading 20 pages of a book a day (or a bit more), I open the tracker and write the number down.

The cell becomes green and gives me an instant boost of endorphin – a great success for the day. Then, it becomes all about not breaking the chain and having as many green fields as possible.

After 100 days, I crunch some numbers and see how I did.

If I have less than 10 cheat days, I reward myself with a great meal in a restaurant. You can create your own rewards and they can be daily, weekly, monthly or any arbitrary time table that you create.

Primoz Bozic, a productivity coach, has gold, silver, and bronze medals as his reward system.[4]

If you’re having problems creating a system which works for you, contact me via email and we can discuss specifics.

In the End, It Matters

What you do matters not only to you but to the people around you.

When you increase the quality of your life, you indirectly increase the quality of life of people around you. And sometimes, that is all the “motivation” we need to start.

And that’s the best quote for the end of this article:

“Motivation gets you started, but habits keep you going.”

Keep going.

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More Resources to Help You Build Habits

Featured photo credit: Anete Lūsiņa via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Sorites paradox
[2] Muscle Zone: What causes yo-yo effect and how to avoid it?
[3] Growth Habits: 5 Missteps That Cause You To Quit Building A Habit
[4] Primoz Bozic: The Lean Review: How to Plan Your 2019 in 20 Minutes

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