How would you describe your 2017? Could you benefit from a lighter, simpler, or less busy 2018? Living with less has been shown to ease stress and increase happiness.
An unexpected, favorite book of mine from 2017 was You Can Buy Happiness (and it’s Cheap) by Tammy Strobel. Strobel provides firsthand experience, mixed with research, on how “smart-sizing” and micro-actions can change your life.
In my experience, small changes over time have made big differences in my attitude and outlook on life. Even if you’re not ready to dive into a minimalist lifestyle, here are some quick tips to clean up your life for 2018. This is my Minimalist Starter Kit:
- Opt-out: This category can represent so much, but let’s stick with mail for now. Receiving catalogs and mailed advertisements are just a part of life. Well, they don’t have to be. They call it junk mail, right? You don’t have to transfer these directly from your mailbox to the (I hope) recycling box. It’s fairly easy to opt-out of receiving catalogs through Catalog Choice. If a catalog or mailed advertisement is not on this site, you can do a simple google search with the catalog name followed by “opt out” for instructions. These catalogs and coupons are directly related to that spending problem you may have. You will decrease spending and waste.
- Recurring Monthly Expenses: This can be a huge pocket-drainer if you’re not careful. Take time to really assess those seemingly small amounts coming out of your account throughout the month. They really add up. Think about: buying lunch daily or weekly, gym memberships, cable, streaming service(s), high car insurance rates, and other superfluous subscriptions or memberships (ex: Wine Club, Stitch Fix, Bespoke Post).
- Declutter: You may have a lot of clothes, books, movies, and home decor cluttering your home, but you may not realize how much it’s cluttering your mind. Free your mind by letting go of the clothes you don’t wear and things you don’t use. There is a certain guilt that comes with giving up on an item you really want to like, but just don’t end up wearing or using. It may still have the tags on it. If you donate it, someone may actually use it and you won’t have that constant reminder hanging over your head and in your closet. For clothing, this is a good source on how to pare down your closet. If you really wanted to get into it, try Project 333 or a shopping hiatus like Cait Flanders. Beyond clothes, do a sweep of all your closets and storage spaces. If you haven’t seen it in years, chances are you don’t need it. Check out the 100 Thing Challenge for some inspiration.
- E-clutter: The intangible clutter in our lives might be the easiest to miss. Many companies have weekly (or more frequent) emails to remind you that there’s something out there you need. Typically, it’s something you didn’t know you needed. It’s easy to stop the cycle by opting out of emails or just simply saying “no thanks” when asked for your email address at a storefront. FOMO got you down? Think about how much you’re missing by spending time staring at your inbox when you can be spending time doing something productive, or at least something that brings you actual joy. Duplicate pictures, files, and useless software on your computer is just adding to the noise. See more about E-clutter under the Unplug category below.
- Unplug: Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. What are we looking for? Being plugged in all the time gives us the sense of being busy when all we’re doing is wasting time. Personally, seeing content on Facebook just makes me unhappy. That’s why I’m planning to spend 2018 (and perhaps beyond) without it. I plan to check other social media 1-2 times per day max, and not at all on the weekends. Taking baby steps toward this has already improved my mentality and outlook on life. One book I’m really looking forward to reading in 2018 is Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi.
- Give to a Good Cause: Whatcha gonna do with all that cash? Aside from investing and saving (a whole other blog post), why not give it to those in need? This is the kind of spending that is ok to go a little overboard on if you have the means. If you don’t, donate your time and, most easily, your stuff.
2018 is a ray of hope that will include challenges, sadness, and losses we cannot avoid. At least we can start it off by lifting some of that invisible, yet present, weight off of our shoulders. Lead a life that’s more conscious and connected, sustainable and sustaining, heartfelt and happy. Give one of the above tips a try and let me know how it works out for you. Lighten up and have a great year!