Actively Pursuing a Simple Life: What Comes Next?

If you are actively pursuing a Simple Life, you may be making progress in your journey. You have accomplished the research, trimmed your calendar, and possibly are working on getting your finances under control. But then we begin to wonder, what comes next?

green and red street signs that both say Choice

Making Progress in our Simple Life – What Doesn’t Come Next

It may surprise you, but what you don’t want to do when actively pursuing a Simple Life is sit down and start setting goals. Instead, you need to take time to think through exactly what you want to accomplish. You need time to reflect and process.

When you first made the choice to live a Simple Life, your idea of that lifestyle was probably basic. You wanted more time to spend with your family. The finances needed an overhaul. And more than anything, you needed a quiet Afternoon Tea to gather your thoughts.

Now that you have those things, and you are ready to move forward. We don’t really have time right now to put our goals on paper. What takes place now is another fun dreaming session.

wooden heart painted cream that says Dream - home is a starting place for love and dreams

Where You Go from Here – And it Isn’t Setting Goals

During your dream session, think first about what you have accomplished. Even the smallest changes to your lifestyle may be a major undertaking. It sounds easy to clear your calendar, balance your budget, or start cooking meals from scratch.

But in reality, actively pursuing a Simple Life takes a lot of work. You have commitments to extract yourself from, loans and other debt to pay off, and most importantly, you have to get your entire family onboard – or at least to a point of acceptance for your new way of doing things.

The next step is to ‘fill out’ your vision of a Simple Life. If you have begun cooking meals at home, you may next want to learn how to bake bread. If you already know how to bake bread, you may want to stretch your wings and learn to use sourdough starters, a Biga (which is still a starter but more of a dough, rather than liquid, and primarily used with Italian breads).

crochet pot scrubbers in red and multicolors, yellow handle crochet hook, Learn to Lucet book

You may want to dive in and learn a new skill. Part of your new financial plan may be eliminating as many outside repair professionals as possible. This means you may need to learn how to do simple home repairs yourself.

Or, you may just want to go deeper with the creative side of a Simple Life. This could be making your own cleaning products, creating soap and bath products, or learning how to knit.

Before you start setting goals, you need to know exactly where you want to go next.

open notebook, blue pen, plate of cookies, white tray filled with a pitcher of tea and bright pink daisies

We Still Aren’t Ready to Set Goals

When you began actively pursuing a Simple Life, you probably did start by streamlining your calendar. What you do NOT want to do now is overfill it again – even if it is with goals to make your Simple Life more meaningful.

While you are dreaming, keep a notebook handy to list all of the ideas you come up with. Once you have an idea of where you want to go next, you need to look hard at your list.

It’s time to prioritize. Take each item on your list and think it through. Then ask yourself these questions:

Lavender background, green lines,light purple daisies, and the words ask yourself

  • Why do I want to do this?
  • What is it going to take to adapt it to your new lifestyle?
  • How much, if anything, will it cost?
  • What research needs to be done?
  • Who do I need to get help from?
  • When would be a good time to start?
  • Just how important is it to add this to my Simple Life?

Each of these questions need to be answered to the best of your ability when actively pursuing a Simple Life. By asking and answering these questions, you will be able to determine the priority of each item.

COrkboard filled with sticky notes to help one when actively pursuing a simple life

Actively Pursuing a Simple Life – Be Real About Your Priorities

Now that you have answered the questions, it’s time to start listing them in order of priority. You need to look at each item and the answers to your questions.

This will help you to determine if you are truly ready to add that step, or if it needs to be set aside for a while.

Let’s take starting a home-based business. For this exercise, we are going to assume you want to become a blogger.  In this case, you need to dig deeply into the research and financial angle. Blogging can be expensive, both in time and money.

Just off the top, you need to purchase a theme, a URL, have a hosting plan (this is what gets it on the internet), and subscriptions to a graphics program, newsletter program and more.

Those are only the tip of the iceberg on what having a blog means in financial terms. You also have to have the skills to design products, create regular content, and be creative 24/7. It involves long hours, a strong knowledge of marketing, and so. MUCH. MORE!

a white up of coffee sitting on the corner of a laptop

You may not want to be a blogger, but a home-based business does take time, money, effort, and more time, money, and effort. And while you are getting established, don’t forget you will be without that regular paycheck.

Whether it is a home-based business or other huge endeavor, when actively pursuing a Simple Life be sure you have done your research. Make certain your finances can handle the expenses. And think hard about the best time to get started.

The items on your list may not be as costly financially or timewise as a home-base business. But even something as simple as learning how to can your produce can cost you both ways. You still need to have equipment and supplies.

You Can’t Do It All

When you are actively pursuing a Simple Life, you may have the strong desire to do it all RIGHT NOW. However, part of living this lifestyle is being practical – and doing everything at once isn’t practical at all.

Instead, divide your list into three sections:

  • Quick, easy, and just needs to become a habit
  • Moderately easy – make take a bit more time and money
  • Difficult – takes research, financial planning, more time than I may have right now

Once you have determined the level of work and money it will take, it’s time to make a choice.

open planner with eraser, yellow highlighter, and pen

Actively Pursuing a Simple Life – One Month at a Time

First, in the Quick & Easy category, you may be able to choose up to three items. You still don’t want to do them all at once, but space them out. Think quarterly – start one at the beginning of each quarter.

For the Moderately Easy items, choose one. Go ahead and get started on it. Just be prepared to take it a bit slower, adding to it as time and money allows.

When it comes to the Difficult level, choose the one that is most important to you. Then list out all the steps you need to take to accomplish it. Start with the research. Find out everything you need to know, have, and do.

It may help to take one thing from your lists of steps and assign it as monthly homework. For instance, in January, take a hard look at your budget. Find areas you can start cutting back to accommodate the costs. Then do a ‘loose’ budget strictly for this item.

red, green, and clear piggy bank, vintage blue ball canning jar filled with pennies

A ‘loose’ budget is simply a list of every expenditure you will need to make, and how much it will cost. Creating a ‘firm’ budget will come later. Right now, you need an idea of what you will be spending, including those ‘hidden’ costs.

In February, do a deep dive into research. Learn all you can about your goal. Keep a notebook and write down what you learn. As you come to the areas that involve finances, add them to your ‘loose’ budget.

In March, take a break and think through everything you have learned. Is it affordable? Do I have the time to pursue it? And most importantly, decide if it still looks as good as it once did. There are some things I have truly wanted to do, but once I did the research and a loose budget, somewhere along the line it lost its appeal.

If you do decide to move forward, creating your goals in April. Create a firm budget. And take the first steps. This may seem like the long way of doing things, but by taking your time, doing your research and learning everything you need to know about it will be well worth it in the long run.

Do NOT Get in a Hurry when Actively Pursuing a Simple Life

Anytime we make a lifestyle change, or add levels to the one we are creating, there is a lot of time involved. And our lives aren’t solely focused on making the changes or adding new facets to it. Instead, we still have to live life. Meals have to be made. Bills have to be paid. Grocery shopping still has to be done.

And then there is all the work for the upcoming holidays. Yikes! It feels as if actively pursuing a Simple Life just got complicated!

But it doesn’t have to be that way. When actively pursuing a Simple Life, the blessing is you don’t have to do it all right this second. Instead of making changes right now, let them simmer. Just like a big pot of Vegetable Beef stew, the longer it simmers on the back burner, the better it will taste.

Rather than jump with both feet into making changes or adding anything new, stretch your dream session over the next few months. Do a little bit of research. Answer the questions.

And spend the rest of your time offering gratitude for your blessings at Thanksgiving. Work on your handmade gifts. Enjoy the awe and excitement of Christmas.

Save the hard work and details of actively pursuing a Simple Life for the new year. And then get ready! In the new year get ready for a ‘celebration ceremony’, as the plan for next year is to get engaged! (With your Simple Life, that is!)

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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