- Make a list of your top 4-5 important things. What’s most important to you? What do you value most? What 4-5 things do you most want to do in your life? Simplifying starts with these priorities, as you are trying to make room in your life so you have more time for these things.
The first exercise on the zen-habits.net Simple Living Manifesto is to make a priority list of the things that are important to you. I need to reevaluate my priorities and cut out anything that is extraneous, even though I may feel they are important to me. I am going to try to use as much detail in my list as I can, because this will be my road map to everything that follows.
Like most people, family tops my priority list. If my husband and children, in particular, are not healthy and relatively happy, then nothing else matters. So, #1 priority is
1. The health and happiness of my children, my husband, and myself. We must live our daily lives in a way that preserves this whenever possible.
This isn’t always as easy at it seems. For example, I’ve found that the kids do best when they get to sleep early – by 8:00 pm. Any time past that and they are cranky in the morning, and are more prone to getting sick. They are school-aged, so there are times that soccer practice and school functions go well into the night. So there are times when we have to leave a function early to make our bedtimes. On the occasional weekends we’ll go as late as 8:30, and there have been a handful of times (family weddings, etc) where they’ve stayed up to 11:00 and beyond. I’ve gotten my share of strange looks and gossip from ‘other’ moms who think I’m over the top making sure the kids are in bed by 8:00. But we each have to do what works for our family.
2. To improve, nurture, and care for my relationship with my husband.
Like many marriages, sometimes a marriage relationship suffers under the trials of careers, kids, and outside society. I really want and need to improve my relationship with him. This is a large part of why I’m undertaking this quest for a simpler life. I want to have spend my time more wisely, and focus my energies on my family and making our house a home. I also need to reevaluate how I spend my time and money, and more clearly focus on some of his needs and wants. I hope to achieve balance in this area, but right now we are clearly out of balance.
3. To insure my children have the opportunity and support for a great educational experience.
I loved school, and I want my kids to love school. I want them to get as much out the experience as possible, preferably all positive but even some of the negative things too. We all have to experience life. I also want to expose them to nature, science, the arts, and as many different learning experiences and places as possible. I want to talk about science at the dinner table, and spend hours outside catching, examining, and releasing frogs and salamanders, like we did this summer. This may mean giving up and sacrificing some of the other luxuries of life, but to me, it would be so worth it.
4. To live below my means.
Like most Americans, this one isn’t and hasn’t been always easy for me. And I’m not very high maintenance! But I haven’t always been careful about how I spend my money. And when you aren’t careful about how you spend your money, it tends to slip away like a leaf falling into a rushing stream. But being financially secure will help me in accomplishing the first three goals. Because if I’m constantly concerned about money, and whether I have enough or not, it will be very hard to provide happiness, good relationships, or positive learning experiences for my family.
5. To enjoy this beautiful world and the people in it.
As the line in Desiderata goes “with all it’s sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”
I believe people are basically good, and the world is out to support us. I strive to see the good in people, and tell them when I recognize it in them. I strive to be a better person myself, and leave the world a little brighter in my path.
Well I guess that’s all for today. Next step – Evaluate your commitments.
Be Cheerful. Strive to be Happy.