Category Archives: Minimalism

Live Simple, Live Healthy, Live Doing What You Love

I would like to invite you to the new Live Your Future Now blog! In the past this blog’s focus has been on living a life free from clutter, removing the objects and activities that keep you from doing the things you love.  That focus has not changed.

What I realize now is that there is so much more to achieving this lifestyle then just cleaning out your closets and garages. It can be a long and sometimes painful journey full of small successes and setbacks. You not only need to remove the material objects that are weighing you down, but the physical and emotional obstacles as well.

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This new banner shows the goal I have for my life. Future blog posts will be about my journey to achieve that goal. I will write about the things that help me make progress and tools which move me past obstacles. I will write about the things that cause me setbacks. My hope is that along the way you will find some encouragement and practical resources to help you achieve your goals.

Here is an update of my progress since my last post in May. I am still running on a regular basis and have reduced my 5K time to under 36 minutes. I still have not entered an official 5K race but plan to do so this year. To improve on my times, I will need to do more exercises geared to strengthening my core and glutes.

I’m not sure what my weight was in my last post, but I do know I weighed 194 pounds on February 21st and I weighed 158 on August 22nd. I am not on any diet plan, just making healthier food choices. There will be future posts on the subject of healthy eating.

Although I have done some writing since my last post, I still have some fears and obstacles to overcome to be anywhere near my goals for my writing. I believe I can make a difference for some people through my writing and also generate some income from my efforts.

At this time, my biggest challenge is in the area of living doing what I love as my current job is definitely not what I love.

Your goals and struggles may not be the same as mine, but we can all learn from each other’ experiences. If you have read this far, then maybe something is striking a chord with you and I invite you to follow my blog, like my Facebook page and leave a comment on this post. Please share this with anyone you believe may benefit from my blog. Join me on my journey.

I want to leave you with a video that has inspired me to push myself. I watch it almost every day. I hope it inspires you also. Follow this link Unbroken

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Breaking the Unhappiness Curve

It’s all downhill from high school. Recent  studies indicate that Americans in general show their level of happiness steadily decreases

Happiness level by age

from their late teens and bottoms out in their late 40s, early 50s.  The good news for those of us in our 50s is that the study also shows happiness levels increasing through the rest of life.

Not everyone’s life follows this curve.  No matter what age you are, you can break the curve!

It’s the American way of life.

In my last post I said that no one would hire me as a politician or a financial planner.  This post I will add that no one would hire me as sociologist either.  However, I did do some research for this post.  I don’t want to bore you with all the research, but I would like to share this excerpt from one of the articles I studied.

“In explanation of the non-linear age effect,  it is argued that aspired consumption (including marriage, etc.) grows faster in age than do one’s financial resources for its realization, finally resulting in what is often called “midlife crises”.  From the age of between 35 and 50 on, a re-evaluation of aspirations occurs that leads to their downward adjustment.”

In plain English this study says that our desire for things (great marriage, fantastic kids, nice home and car, successful career, etc.) occurs sooner than our ability to obtain them.  We want to own things right now, even though we don’t have the money for them, and we want success in our careers, marriages, and parenting before we have paid the price of experience.

This difference between our aspirations and our ability to achieve them can lead to stress, debt, depression and finally result in mid-life crises.  When the crises point is reached, we re-evaluate our wants and begin to determine what we truly need to be happy. Maybe that 3000 sq. ft. house and the $50,000 car weren’t really that important.  And maybe we notice that the guy who got the job we wanted has the nice house and car, but is never there to enjoy them, his wife is divorcing him, and his kids are a wreck.

What can we learn from our senior citizens?

Ask yourself why happiness improves in people from their mid-50s until old age?  I think there are several reasons.

A big reason is that their financial situation has improved. Their salary has continued to climb with time and experience and they are at the peak of their earning potential.  The house is close to being paid off and the children have left the nest and are making their own way.

Another reason is that there is usually less demands on their time, freeing them to do things that they enjoy.  The soccer mom days are over. They may have grand kids in soccer now, but they don’t have to buy their equipment, take them to practices and help coach the team if they don’t want to do so.  Many older people stay active, but they have discarded the activities they did not enjoy and focus on doing the ones that make them happy.

A third reason is that they have already re-evaluated their lives and have determined what is really important to them.  They are no longer chasing the American Dream as portrayed on TV and are instead chasing their own dreams.

You can break the curve.

You don’t have to wait until your mid-life crises to change your life.  You can break the curve no matter what your age.  Taking what we have learned from the study about the causes of the unhappiness curve and from the example of senior citizens, we can deduce these curve-busting solutions.

  1. Determine what truly makes you happy.  Don’t base your decisions on what TV tells you will make you happy or on what your neighbors and co-workers are doing.  Make a list of everything you think would make you happy, and then review each item and question the reason why you included it on the list.  Focus your time and resources on the items remaining on the list.
  2. Control you spending and your debt.  The study shows that people desire things before they can afford them.  Unfortunately, many people turn to credit to fulfill those desires.  Everyone knows the stress debt can cause on families and health.  Base your purchases on the items you really need and the things on your happiness list.  Avoid making purchases based on false need created by advertisers or because it looked good on a neighbor.
  3. Clear the clutter from your life.  Clutter is the stuff we no longer need or want that is filling up our closets, garages and storage sheds.  Clutter is also the activities that take time away from doing the things that are needed and/or important to us.  Read “Clear Away Clutter – 4 Steps to get Started” to begin decluttering your life.

If you determine what is really important to you and focus your time and resources towards those things, you will break the unhappiness curve.  I know accomplishing the above three steps is not as easy as I make it sound.  In fact, it is hard to do, but well worth the effort.  Fortunately for us, there are books and resources we can draw on help. My Recommended Reading page has books to help you in all three of the steps above.

Please feel free to comment or contact me with any questions and concerns you may have.  If you have not read my post “A Call for Change, Make 2011 the Less of Less, I recommend you do so now.

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Why is Getting Simple So Hard? The Joys of Selling on Craigslist.

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Where have you been you ask???  You made such a big deal proclaiming 2011 as The Year of Less, and we haven’t heard anything from you since.  Did you minimalize yourself into nothingness? I’ve heard the questions about my lack … Continue reading

A Call for Change… Make 2011 the Year of Less

There comes a time when the people recognize the need for change.  The movement begins with a few pioneers brave enough to voice their dissatisfaction with the way things are now and who paint a picture of how things could be.  The movement grows as their voices resonate with the hearts of the people.

Such a call for change is echoing around the world.  Voices for change tell us that we can opt out of a culture which preaches that buying more will buy us happiness.  They tell us that a fulfilling life is not about who has the newest car, the biggest house, and the most toys, but that  fulfillment comes from truly caring for the possessions and people that surround us.   Instead of working more hours in jobs that penalize our creativity, these innovators show us how to turn our passions into our occupations.

Are the voices for change calling out to you?  Is it time to end the destructive pursuit of more possessions and to begin construction of a fulfilling, uncluttered life?  The path to your new life will be difficult, but trail blazers have forged ahead and cleared the way.

NOW IS THE TIME, TODAY IS THE DAY

It is time to make your Declaration of Independence from the consumer-driven, workaholic culture and join the movement to make 2011 the year of less.

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Official Proclamation, 2011 is the Year of Less

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for a people to dissolve the ties that bind them to a life of bondage to their jobs, possessions and commitments, mankind requires that they should declare the causes that impel them to separate from such way of life.  To support said separation, let the following facts be presented to a candid world.

  • Corporations and their marketing agencies have led the people to take the wrong path in the pursuit of happiness, a path leading to an excess of possessions and expanding home sizes to house these possessions.
  • These excesses have the people climbing over mountains of clutter and swimming in oceans of debt.
  • Governments encourage this excess consumer spending to stimulate their economies and raise tax revenue to pay on their insurmountable levels of debt.
  • The people have become trapped in jobs for which they have no passion, working too many hours in a day and too many years of their lives, to pay for things that they are told they need, but bring no happiness.
  • Work and obligations leave the people with little time and energy to do the things they love.

Knowing these facts to be true, we must separate ourselves from the pursuit of excess material possessions and free ourselves to live and work where and how we choose.  Therefore, we do solemnly publish and declare the year 2011 as The Year of Less.  In support of this proclamation, we, the undersigned, swear to Own Less, Buy Less, and Do Less in 2011 and the years beyond.

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Are you ready to break away from a life where you are owned by your possessions and debt?   Do you want the freedom to support yourself and your family doing work that you truly enjoy and love?  No matter your age or your current situation, it is possible  to change your life for the better.  There is a clear direction for the pursuit of happiness.  Take the first step today.  Sign the 2011, The Year of Less proclamation by leaving a comment stating your participation.   Share this post with your family, friends, and co-workers and give them the opportunity to join you on the journey to freedom and happiness.

Become a voice for change and sign the proclamation.

The Stuff You Need For the Stuff You Got

Blu-ray Discs

Image by William Hook via Flickr

The week after Christmas brings almost as many customers to the big retail stores as the week before Christmas.  Shoppers flood the stores to exchange clothes for different sizes, spend their gift cards and refund items so they can buy what no one got the hint to buy them.  Customers are also looking for accessories to go along with the presents they received.  You need batteries for all the new toys and electronic items and new shoes and a purse to match the new outfit.  One of the retailers I worked for had an ad campaign that started after Christmas based on the theme “the stuff you need for the stuff you got”.

It seems that stuff just leads to more and more stuff.  A new TV leads to a new TV stand, a Blu-Ray player and home theater system.  You’ll need someplace to keep all your new Blu-Ray discs and someplace to store all those old DVDs you just replaced.  New clothes lead to matching clothes and accessories.  Stuff grows exponentially.

Every general merchandise store has every kind of storage crate you can imagine advertised.  They know that you need at least one more crate to store the new decorations you bought this year.   Old toys need to be packed up to make room for the new toys.  You’ll need a closet organizing system to fit in the new clothes and accessories.  Where are all the new storage totes going?   Even with the new organizers, the closets are packed.  Last year you started parking one of your cars outside so you could use half of the garage to store your barely used exercise equipment.  Space is getting tight.  It’s time to check the budget and see if you can afford a bigger house or if it would make more sense to just put an addition on the current house.

You can get so caught up in stuff that you never notice when the line is crossed and the stuff starts owning you instead of you owning it.  Take this time to resolve to make 2011 the year you return to the right side of the line.  Instead of buying the closet organizer, go through your closet and remove the items you haven’t worn in the last year.  Donate them to a local shelter.  Don’t buy totes to store old toys.  You know the toys that the kids never play with anymore.  Teach your children about giving and let them come with you when you give their old toys to a Children’s Home.  Sell the unused exercise equipment and use the money to pay down debt.  Resolve to make 2011 the year you evaluate everything you own and simplify your life by clearing out your clutter.

I got my start in minimizing my possessions through the writings of Tammy StrobelEverett Bogue, and Leo Babauta.  The books “The Art of Being Minimalist”  and “The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life” are great resources that can help you begin and complete the process of simplifying your life.  If you follow their advice, you can empty your storage totes, park your car in the garage again and move to a smaller house.

A common Christmas wish is for Peace on Earth.  You won’t be able to grant that wish, but you can bring some peace to yourself and your family.  When you choose to take control of your stuff, when you remove the clutter surrounding you, when you cut the unnecessary expenses out of your life, you free yourself from the responsibilities and the financial burden associated with them.  This freedom leads to peace.

If you already bought those new storage totes and organizers, TAKE THEM BACK!  Get a refund and use the money for something practical, like one on the resources on my recommended reading page.

Will you resolve to make 2011 the year of less stuff?  Please leave a comment and let the world know that this year, stuff is not going to win!

I Didn’t Want to Change the World, I Just Wanted to Change My Life

“You write in order to change the world…

the world changes according to the way people see it,

and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people

look at reality, then you can change it.” – James Baldwin

I didn’t set out to reduce carbon emissions.  Digging water wells in Ethiopia was not in my plans.  I’ve always done a little bit through my church and other charities to feed the poor, but it was never a mission in my life.  No one ever accused me of being a tree-hugger and I never really did a good job of recycling.  Like many people, I was more concerned with meeting my daily obligations:  got to pay the mortgage, make sure the kids have school clothes, keep two cars operating and have 100’s of channels to watch on our HDTV.

Over the last few years, I had lost enthusiasm for the field of work I had been involved in for over 25 years.  Credit card debt had piled up to the point that I was barely able to make the minimum payments each month.   A recent law forces card companies to inform you on your monthly statement how long it would take to pay your balance to zero making only minimum payments.  One card in which we carried a $5000 balance informed us that we would be customers of theirs for 22 years if we continued to make the minimum payment.  Can you imagine still paying for 2009’s Christmas presents in 2131?   It made me physically sick to face up to that prospect.

Something had to change or I would be working into my late 70’s just to get out of debt.  Those of you who have read my blog before know that my life changed the first time I visited Tammy Strobel’s blog, RowdyKittens.   She showed me that there were people in the world who were cleaning the clutter from their homes and lives.  People were reducing their expenses and paying off debt.  Pioneers were walking away from their day jobs and making a living with their laptops.  Nomads were traveling the country and the world without owning a car. Tammy’s work led me to the works of Leo Babauta, Everett Bogue, Eric LaForest, and Karol Gajda among others, and my life was forever changed.

Over the last few months, my life has changed dramatically.  I no longer have a full time job.  Over $12,000 in credit card debt has been paid and I am hoping to be totally debt free soon.  By the end of January, we plan to be clutter free.  By reducing our debt and expenses, I plan to be able to totally support myself and my wife by working online.  But what about changing the world?

Picture from Chris Guillebeau's Charity: Water in Ethiopia

The high unemployment rate is all over the news, but books like Passionate Living and You Don’t Need a Job, You Need Guts show us how we can make a living on the internet doing things we love.  These books show us it is possible to escape the traditional 9-5 and find security by turning your passion into your job.  This new way of working is changing the world.  Recently, a group of writers combined forces to offer over 1000 dollars of books for $97, with a portion of the proceeds going to Charity:Water, an organization supported by Chris Guillebeau and his Art of Non-Conformity book.  My purchase of these books will help build 5 new water wells in Ethiopia.

Although at this time I may not be a crusader for world change, I realize that everything I do can make some kind of change.  For now, I’m going to continue to work on changing my life.  I know that the things I do may supply clean water for a child, or something I write may change the life of one of my readers.  Every act and every word can change the world.

What are you doing to change the world?  Share your story with my readers below.

Mid-life Minimalism, Changing your Life After 50

Adopting a minimalist lifestyle when you are middle-aged presents some unique challenges.  My wife and I have over 30 years of experience acquiring possessions, and only about 3 months experience in reducing possessions.  Our home is filled with the memories of our children and now our grandchildren are adding new memories all the time.  Can you really part with that tote full of crayon drawings, Halloween and birthday pictures, and the homemade Valentine’s Day cards your kids so lovingly made?

Fortunately, you can choose how far you want to go in your minimalist journey.  I’ve been inspired by the stories of people like Tammy Strobel, Everett Bogue, and Karol Gajda who can fit their possessions in a backpack, travel the world while making a living from their laptop, or live in a 80 sq. ft. house on wheels.  However, these people are young and haven’t raised a family or spent 30 years working in corporate America; although Leo Babauta is living the lifestyle with six kids.  Those of us with more baggage to carry may opt for a smaller house or apartment and to stay in one place.  All of us have things that are easy to part with.   Start clearing these easy items from your house and you will find your home a more peaceful place to live.  Then listen to your heart and it will tell you how to handle the items which are harder to part with.  Many minimalists have set the goal of owning 100 things or less.  I have set the goal of only possessing those things that I use and/or love, whatever number of items that may be.

An Apple IIe with DuoDisk and Monitor //.

Image via Wikipedia

I was in high school before the first personal calculators came on the market and I was in my 30’s when I got my first computer, an Apple 2E.  Public access to the internet was still just a twinkle in Al Gore’s eye.  These young bloggers have grown up alongside the computer and the internet.  Although we did not have the advantage of learning computer skills while we were young, we can certainly learn those skills from the young writers mentioned above.

Most minimalist writers share a common base.  They got rid of the unnecessary items cluttering their homes, simplified their lives, and reduced their expenses.  The lack of possessions gave them the freedom to easily change locations to where they wanted to be or to where an opportunity opened.  The simple lifestyle and reduced expenses allowed them to survive on little income until they were able to make a living doing what they love.  Many of them choose to make a living online through writing, teaching and consulting, and/or selling products that would help people live a happier, healthier life.  They share their expertise with us through their blogs and their books.  Since I also want to support myself by writing and helping others, I regularly read minimalist blogs and have purchased and read some very helpful guides to help me achieve my goal.  Please see my recommended reading page for titles that I personally have used.  Purchasing any of these books helps to support me as well as the authors.

Making a living from a laptop is not for everyone and you don’t have to start a blog.  Maybe your interest is woodworking or painting.  Simplifying your life and reducing your expenses may make it possible for you to turn your hobby into a living.  Take the money you make selling your stuff and the money you save reducing your expenses and apply it to your debt.  If you are debt free, then apply the money to starting the business that you are passionate about.  Soon you will be living the life of your dreams!

Share with me how you are trying to simplify your life!

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Thanks for your support. :)