When I sat down today to make up my to-do list it occurred to me that this was going to be a very busy week. And to make matters worse, I had no one to blame except myself. For much of my life I’ve had trouble saying no to people, especially when it comes in areas I think are important. But as I’ve mentioned before, I recently read Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Not only does the book focus on eliminating everything that is unessential in our lives so we can focus on what really matters, McKeown suggests that learning to say “No” is a critical and courageous step required to do just that. So for those of us on the path to simplifying our lives or those of us who want to live by design rather than default, it is very SMART to learn ways to say No from here on out. [Read more…]
I’ve been writing about the value of sustainability, simplicity and minimalism for over six years. Because it’s a big part of living SMART, I’m always on the lookout for ways to introduce new people to the idea and explain the value and incredible advantages that such a perspective offers. Maybe that is why I synchronistically stumbled across the word “essentialism” during a recent Internet surf about how to create more meaning and purpose in a person’s life. Author Greg McKeown uses it frequently in his best selling book, Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. And after reading the book, it’s possible that Essentialism just might be a new and better way of describing what so many of us seek when pursuing minimalism or a simple life. [Read more…]
A couple of years ago Thom and I came up with the word “right-sizing: to help define our new lifestyle. By simplifying our home, managing our finances, focusing on what gives purpose and meaning to our daily experience, and eliminating the unnecessary, we have gradually right-sized almost every area of our life. It was only recently that I realized that in many ways we have also right-sized our diet, our approach to exercise, and our overall health. And while I don’t consider myself an expert, I do feel that as a student of SMART I’ve learned a few things along the way.
With that in mind, here is a quick list of 25 things we believe are beneficial broken down into three areas: [Read more…]
I believe that writing is like any other artistic creation. A piece is never really done until the artist says it is—and any artist who shoots only for perfection often doesn’t even start, much less finish their art. That’s why I can agree with Mark Zuckerman who has said, “Done is better than perfect.” But lately I’ve seen a number of other bloggers and writers complain on Facebook and their blogs that they are appalled at the poor writing, grammar and spelling that gets posted on the Internet these days. And I have to admit that a part of me, the perfectionist part of me, squirms a bit when I read that. Maybe because I know without question that my writing isn’t perfect, comments like those spark feelings of doubt or guilt around the merit of my work. So what is it about perfectionism, by a person who doesn’t believe she is a perfectionist, that has the power to make us question our gifts to the world? [Read more…]
As some of you know, both Thom and I are self-employed. I get to be the writer and Thom has been a commercial real estate broker for nearly 30 years. While we both enjoy an incredible amount of freedom with our work, now and then things get challenging.
For example, this last week Thom made a commitment to a project he was working on for a client. But instead of being able to finish it as expected, several new opportunities popped up that demanded attention. Yet rather than enjoy the abundance of new business, he started stressing about not being able to meet his previous commitment. Fortunately when his neck and shoulders constricted like tight rubber bands, and he heard the catch in his breath, he knew it was time to stop and figure out what was going on. That’s when he admitted that his thinking was responsible for his stress. In fact, he had built the jail that was slowly closing in around him. [Read more…]
Several months ago a neighbor in her mid-sixties lost her husband due to a heart attack. Even worse than dealing with the unexpected loss and heartbreak of losing her life partner, is her torment with stress and anxiety because of her debt and lack of resources. Unfortunately, she’s not alone. A recent article by CNN Money confirms that most Americans as are deeply worried about their financial future. According to CNN Money, “The Great Recession may be over, but a Great Insecurity seems to have emerged in its wake.” What’s going on here and what can we do? Perhaps a focus on simple living is the way to eliminate the anxiety and stress that so many feel today. [Read more…]
Do you see the glass half-full or half-empty? Do you hunt down risk or avoid it like the plague? Do you prefer the excitement of adventure or the comfort of the familiar? Until recently I was under the impression that those questions simply determined whether a person was an optimist or a pessimist. However, now I know they actually reveal two different but important motivational perspectives—a promotional focus or the prevention focus. And while each of us tends to favor one or the other, we all use both ways to focus from time to time. What’s even more important to understand is how each kind differs and how using one or the other can go a long way toward helping us stay motivated, and live a more fulfilled and rewarding life.
A couple of months ago I received a recommendation on Amazon that caught my eye. The title was Succeed—How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. Frankly, the title didn’t impress me much. Haven’t we all read too many books that claim the same thing, only to nod in agreement while stifling a yawn? What hooked me instead were the reviews. Dozens of reviewers said, “It’s a smart, fun, highly practical look at what we ‘scientifically’ know about setting and achieving goals.” As a person who enjoys learning why people do what they do (or don’t do what they should do), this book backs up its claims with scientific research. And while the pursuit of goals is the focus of the book, it is done in terms of behavior psychology and research. In fact, a key strategy to learning how a person pursues a goal is to discover whether they like to “Be-Good” or “Get-Better.” That choice says a lot about us and often determines whether or not we eventually succeed. [Read more…]
During the last several months I’ve been experimenting with what is called the “list post.” For anyone who isn’t a blogger, a list post is one where you use both a number in the title and then you write the post around the ideas offered by that number. The reason I got started was that one of my favorite bloggers is Leo Babauta of Zen Habits. As a hugely successful blogger he reports one of the strategies behind his enormous growth was using the list blog post. In fact, it is estimated by List.ly that 30% of all blog posts are lists. So as an experiment I’ve been giving it a try and ten of the last eleven posts I have written have been in the form of a list. So do I keep it up or let it go? Here is my list of why I am both for an against list posts. [Read more…]
Okay I’ll admit it—Thom and I enjoy tales of the supernatural. For years we watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer on television. Together we’ve seen all sorts of movies and shows about werewolves, vampires, aliens and all sorts of bizarre characters doing all sorts of strange things. Most of them are pure entertainment. However, one of the more sinister creatures is called a succubus. While never fully fleshed out in most episodes, it needs little description. Simply put, a succubus is something that sucks out the very essence and joy of a person in all sorts of horrifying and painful ways. When you think about it, oppressive debt feels exactly the same. The good news is that just like how Buffy knew ways to slay vampires, there are at least five ways any of us can rise above even the worst sort of debt succubus on the way to a happy life. [Read more…]