Creating Your Simple Life


My life, up until about 10 years ago, looked very different.  I worked long hours in a job that I had no passion for and did not fulfill me, I was obsessed with material possessions and addicted to productivity and efficiency.  We went away on vacation twice a year and I spent a good portion of that "time off" checking and responding to emails, sitting in our B&B on "emergency" conference calls, and regularly checking in with my staff in an effort to put out fires before my return.  I knew this wasn't an actual vacation, but it's what my workplace required of me, and I accepted it.  I thought that "someday" in retirement I would be able to slow down enough to enjoy my life.  A good portion of my life was me living as I'd been brought up - materialism and debt were the norm and if you weren't always busy doing something then you were lazy.

Although I've had the simple living lightbulb go off a number of times in the past 15 years, it wasn't until 10 years ago that I started making the effort to actually make changes.  To get off of the hamster wheel and change pretty much everything about how I was living my life.  It wasn't immediate and it took many tries, but I kept getting back on the bike each time I fell off and continued on my path.  It can be a complicated process partly because our world isn't set up to live "simply", partly because each path can look different, and also, many of us have friends and family members who just don't understand why you're suddenly making different decisions about pretty much everything.  Lack of support or at least understanding can be a large obstacle at times.

How To Create A Simple Life

I'm asked regularly for a guide that others can follow to simplify their lives.  I get it - it's so much easier if we can receive a map of sorts that says if you do a, b, and c then you are now living a simpler life.  Unfortunately, it's just not that easy.  I see that as a good thing though.  All of our journeys to simple living will look different, depending on what we want for our life.  And ultimately, our actual simple life may look drastically different as well.  The two things we will all have in common, however, are living more intentionally and finding contentment.  

Creating your own version of a simple life is essentially a 2-step process:  1. figure out who you are and what you want out of life, and 2. create that life.  I don't mean to give the impression that because it's 2 steps it's easy, because it definitely is not.  To many, myself included at one time, those 2 steps can seem very overwhelming.  Particularly when you're still living life on the hamster wheel.  Simple living is an inside job.  It's not something that can be determined for you by anyone else and requires you to take the time to think about what you truly want out of this one life you've got.  This means you must take some time out of your hectic life for quiet and reflection. Be honest with yourself, even if your vision goes against what others would expect from you or for you.  

Simple living is living that truth.

And remember that although you can (and should) start today, it could take years to walk the walk.  It's one thing to start setting goals and desires but actually taking the steps to change your life can be scary and take time.  Of course, you have to be realistic about your dreams, desires, and goals, but I think it's important to try to stay loyal to what your deepest desires are, even if it seems unattainable.  And remember that there are costs to everything.  The costs of not slowing down, de-stressing, neglecting to trim your very full family calendar, and not living the life that fulfills you can be high.  

As an example, when I began outlining my own simple life, I knew that working for myself was one of the most important parts of my journey.  Working for the two companies that I did for the past 18 years had left me highly stressed, exhausted, sick all of the time (and I mean ALL of the time), and unhappy.  But how could I leave that kind of a paycheck behind?  Friends, family, and society told me it was reckless to give up the security of a paycheck for the unknown.  Ultimately, it was my health that I realized was taking the largest toll and, well, without your health you won't live a very long life.  So, I came to the realization that I truly did not want to work for someone else, but I had no idea what in the world I would do for a business.  It seemed nearly impossible because I was afraid of trading in a 60+ hour workweek working for a team of ungrateful jerks but making good money, to trying to not only start a business but also to succeed at that business.  I was also concerned about never having time for my husband and I to live our lives.  Sometimes self-employment equals working even more hours than if you work for someone else.  The big dream, the seemingly impossible dream, was to ultimately have time to enjoy our life AND work for ourselves.  How was this going to be possible?

As my journey unfolded, it did require putting in a lot of hours per week working for our business, but I knew in my heart that it would not be like this forever.  It was for a few years while my husband and I were building it.  I will be honest and tell you that we came very close toward the beginning of this journey to setting aside our simple living dream and falling for the trap of chasing the money and building the business up to include employees, better margins, and, essentially, a better paycheck for ourselves.  But thankfully we made ourselves stop and think it all through.  In the end we discussed it and chose to stay true to our desired journey, which was running a micro business, having no debt, and having no employees.  

Doing work that we enjoy, and making money to pay for our lifestyle while having time to actually enjoy our lives is a large part of our vision of simple living.  We stayed true to our definition of success.  Financially it can be challenging but ultimately, it is very much worth it to us.  And, not trying to sound dramatic, but I do wholeheartedly believe that making the change when I did saved my life.  Many people don't understand this decision, so we've learned to not answer the questions others ask regarding building our business bigger because the American way is to build it up and make a lot of money.  Who wouldn't want to do that???  There's always a trade-off and you have to decide, for each hurdle you come upon, which best fits your journey.  And you don't have to answer to anyone but yourself.

What Simple Living Isn't

Living a simple life isn't an anti-work movement.  This lifestyle is not necessarily about retiring early, becoming self-employed, or quitting your job (although if those are your goals, then it is about that for you).  It also isn't about deprivation or rejecting the material comforts in life.  Despite many people thinking otherwise, it's also not about minimalism, moving off-grid, reducing your hours worked to where you struggle to get by, or homesteading.  

What Simple Living Is

It is about unburdening our lives and living more lightly and with fewer distractions (material things, too many activities, unhealthy relationships, the constant grind, etc.).  Learning to say "no" is incredibly important.  It is also about letting go of a reliance on consumerism and the things that interfere with a fulfilling and peaceful life.  

It is about having enough, and each of us has to decide what our "enough" is in all aspects of our lives.  

It is about not taking anything for granted and having the freedom to be present in our life.    Simple living is about living a life designed by you (not one dictated by societal pressures) - being who you really are.  It is a lifelong process where we abandon the quest for more wealth, status, and power in favor of an authentic life of peace and contentment.  These, quite honestly, are luxuries that many believe we are not able to achieve.  I once thought that as well, but I now know different.  

Choose to live your own definition of success and happiness.  Choose to reset your life.

Simple Living = Intentional Living

Intentional living has been a game changer for me.  It has allowed me to slow down, appreciate and have gratitude for where I'm at in any given moment, live in the now, and look forward as needed.  It has allowed me to set my purpose so that all decisions that I make (which, will ideally be made intentionally) are made specifically because it supports my purpose.

Does Simple Living Mean Frugal Living?

I have come to discover that while simple living does not mean frugal living, it does go hand-in-hand with it.  To those of you who have immediate visions of deprivation - counting toilet paper squares, spending hours clipping coupons to save $5, or never eating out again, we're not talking about that type of frugality.  Like simple living, you can tailor your frugality journey specific to you.  The two things we will all have in common is spending intentionally and living within our means.  

Both frugal living and simple living require you to get rid of debt and take borrowing money off of the table as an option.  No credit card debt, no car payments, and definitely no car leasing.  When you have money in the bank, are free of debt, and aren't living paycheck-to-paycheck, you have options in how you utilize two of your most precious resources: time and money.  Because the reality is, the less money you need to enjoy your simple life, the more freedom you have to pursue all aspects of it.

Don't wait for "someday" to start living the life you dream of.  The sad reality is that for some of us, that day will never come.  Adjust your dream, if need be, to fit your life right now and then get yourself on a journey to your own simple life.  I can honestly say that it's not always easy, but every single second of the day, no matter the struggle, it is worth it.


  1. Well said my friend. I know that being debt-free is a game changer. I wish more folks understood that it is worth the short-term sacrifices to have the freedom it allows later on. We have been so fortunate to have never had a mortgage during our marriage. Part of that was deciding to buy less land with our last move, so that we could stay debt-free. I would have liked to have a bit more space, but it just wasn't worth the long term consequence.
    Brava to you for being a guiding light. So happy that you made the move to self employment.
    Peace and mighty blessings!

    1. Awww thanks Daisy. I think that's incredible that you've never had a mortgage in your married life. Good for you both. Peace and blessings to you as well. 💗

  2. Lots of wisdom here. Though it isn't without stresses, working for yourself really is a gift, knowing your energy is now benefitting yourself (& loved ones), rather than a corporation who doesn't value it. It's been wonderful to see, over time, how many aspects of this lifestyle are catching on in the mainstream... gardens and chickens, for example. Peace and contentment sum it up well. How wonderful you realized how to craft a life you love!

    1. Thanks Laurie. So true about what you said regarding self-employment. I also agree about aspects of this lifestyle catching on - it's wonderful indeed!

  3. I enjoyed reading this blog post and like you say working out what is meaningful to you is different for everyone. Years ago when I found Rhonda [Down to Earth Blog] in fact it was about 2007 and I also read another girls blog from Canada. You don't need to move to the country and live off the land to homestead. Homesteading in the suburbs really was a game changer. Learn to bake sourdough bread, pasta, home made pizza, sewing, gardening etc. You can still do all of those things and pay off debt in the suburbs vs the country. I have just been going down memory lane in the last week with all of this myself, remembering all the things I've done. My goal this week is to week my two veggie patches and start planting as I have neglected it and the last week have been sick with a virus but am on the mend. Have a good week. Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    1. Thanks so much Kathy! Hope you are feeling better. I've been missing your posts! Yes, learning that you can homestead where you are is a game changer indeed. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Such well thought-out wisdom - truly Staci,, this needs to be published! Maybe Mother Earth News or GRIT?? It seems so many magazines show immaculate homesteads, perfect gardens, and stunningly beautiful women doing it all with ease - it looks easy but that’s not the reality, it takes planning and time (or yikes, maybe it’s only me with dirt under my unpolished nails while I’m swinging a chainsaw?!) Thanks for taking the time to write down the steps to consider and sharing your journey!

    1. Thanks so much Mary! P.S. you're definitely not the only one with dirt under her fingernails. lol


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