Simple Life Assessment – Moving from a Good to a Great Life

We are at the midpoint for the year. If one of your goals for the new year was to shift your lifestyle, it may be time to do a Simple Life Assessment.

For any big project, about halfway through we stop to do an assessment. This assessment tells us several things.

  • What we have Accomplished to Date
  • What Adjustments Need to be Made
  • What We Need to Focus on Next

And shifting your lifestyle can definitely be a big project. There are many facets to living a Simple Life. But as with all big undertakings, you need to start your Simple Life Assessment with a few basics. These basics would be:

Defining Your Simple Life

a linen pillow with hope emboridered in white; a white vase filled with blue hydrangeas

For every person alive there will be a different definition of what a simple life means. Some people just want more time in their days to pursue their passions. Some need to spend more time with their family. Others want to be financially stable. And there are those who want to find a way to become full time homemakers.

Whatever your definition is for living a simple life, you need to have it in writing. Defining your Simple Life will help you know what direction you want to go.

Having a definition in place when you do your Simple Life Assessment will also help you stay focused. You won’t be getting sidetracked or lose steam when you hit a snag or plateau.

Learning How to Dream

sepia print of a wooden garden bench

Dreaming is where it all starts. If we are unhappy with the job we have, we often dream of what it would be like to have a different one. If we are so busy every day, we aren’t sure if we are coming or going, we often dream of slowing down. If that busyness stops us from pursuing our passions, it’s even worse.

Learning how to dream and finding the time to do it will help you to create your definition of what your Simple Life should look like.

Setting Goals

Once you have finished dreaming and created your definition, it’s time to set a few goals. Goals help you to get to where you want to be. With each goal comes action steps. And once those goals are completed, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done!

Clearing Your Calendar of Unnecessary Busyness

Once you have your goals in place, it is time to clear your calendar of any unnecessary busyness. These can be things you no longer enjoy doing, or just don’t fit with your priorities. Once you have cleared your calendar, you will have more time for family, finding and pursuing your passions, and doing the things that are important to you.

Finding your Passions

Books by The Farm Wife

By having extra time on your hands, you can start using some of it to pursue your passions. Look deep inside yourself. Discover what you love. Passions are the things that drive us. They encourage curiosity. We become fully engaged when taking time for our passions.

Passions are also a large portion of who we are. Whether it is cooking, baking, crafting, or organizing, it tells us what we love to do.

Never give up on your passions. These are what make your life worthwhile. And it’s what gives you a sense of contentment and joy in all you do.

The Hazards of Skipping the Basic Steps

a black and white chicken behind greenery with a blue plastic swimming pool in the background

Consider these basic steps as a blueprint for your Simple Life. These will guide you in the direction you need to go. As with building a home, these blueprints act as your step-by-step guide. A house built with no foundation won’t withstand the weight of the structure. And even if it did, the first big storm will knock it to the ground.

If you haven’t taken the time to do the basic steps, it will greatly benefit you to take time to do it now. Add them to the top of your Simple Life Assessment. Just follow the links in each section. These will lead you to helpful podcasts, posts, and more.

Your Current Accomplishments

Let’s begin your Simple Life Assessment with what you have accomplished so far. There are five things you need to look at to see your accomplishments.

a white pitcher pouring water into a a small tea cup with a rabbit carrying a carrot on the side which is overflowing into a white china tea cup

What Have You Accomplished So Far

It helps to look back and see everything you have accomplished. First, this let’s you know your progress. It will also help you to know what to do next.

Second, looking at your accomplishments gives you a measure of success. It is an opportunity to applaud yourself. We need the encouragement and support that a job well done gives us.

Tweaks and Adjustments

No matter how hard you try, you won’t do it perfectly the first time. Look at all your accomplishments and see which ones can be tweaked or improved. You can even add a section on your Simple Life Assessment for needed improvements.

If you find there still isn’t enough time in the day, take another look at your calendar. Find at least one or two more things you can eliminate.

If money is still an issue, see if there is any other ways you can reduce expenses. If you have done all you can do for the moment, see if there is something you can do to earn a little extra. Keep in mind, if you are just starting to gain control of your finances, it can take time to see the results. Learn to be patient.

Benefits

raised bed gardens with trellises and straw mulch

Be sure to note the benefits of what you have accomplished while doing your Simple Life Assessment. If you are growing a garden for the first time, enjoy the taste of your efforts. Are you cooking more at home? You should be able to see the benefits not only in the taste, but also in your budget.

Recognizing the benefits of everything you have accomplished is what will keep you wanting to move forward in your simple life.

Obstacles

A Simple Life Assessment also keeps tracks of any obstacles you may face. There may be some things you really want to do now, but aren’t able to do. These obstacles may be time, money, manpower, or knowledge.

When you overcame the obstacles to accomplish your goal, how did you handle it? For each goal, make a note of the obstacle. Then make a note a to how you were able to overcome it. When you face another one, see how you overcame these. You may be able to apply the same principle to new obstacles.

A Simple Life eWorkbook

How Does It Feel?

Never underestimate your feelings. These can be early signs of either warning or encouragement. If something makes you feel uncomfortable in a bad sort of way, then remove yourself from it quickly.

But don’t confuse the level of discomfort. There are times when we are starting something new, and the challenge makes us nervous. This is more uncertainty for the task at hand. Do your research. Read the instructions. Go ahead and make mistakes you can learn from. But accept the challenge and move forward.

The other form of discomfort comes from intuition. This inner voice is telling you the situation is or can become dangerous. If this is the case, don’t walk. Run.

If something stirs your curiosity, or offers encouragement, then stick around.  Look it over. See if it is the right fit for you. Keep in mind that you may not have the time or money to pursue it now. If that’s the case, see where you can free up your calendar. Look for ways to add it to the budget.

If it is of interest, it is more than worth pursuing. And remember, there are somethings we think we won’t like, and end up falling in love with.

And be sure to make notes of what you like most and/or least on your Simple Life Assessment. This information can be helpful in the future.

The Next Step in your Simple Life Assessment

a table covered in a vintage floral tablecloth with bright pink daisies, a plate of cookies and an open planning notebook

Now that you are comfortable with where you want to go, it’s time to ask ‘What’s Next?’.  If you haven’t already done so, it helps to use a checklist.

A checklist is a great tool when doing a Simple Life Assessment. The one I use is a guideline of what I want to learn. It can be anything from adjusting my calendar to finding more time in my day. It can be learning a new skill. Or it can be finding a bit of quiet time.

To help you out, you can start with this Simple Life Checklist. This list gives a few ideas to incorporate into your new lifestyle. It also gives you a grading scale of where you stand.

You can use just this checklist or use it to adapt one to your own goals. Keep it posted in a visual place. This way you can check your progress as you go.

Choose Three

an enamel pot filled with red geraniums; a black and white wooden cow; a vintage milk bottle with red print

Something New

To move forward with a Simple Life Assessment, we need to do something we haven’t done before. Look at your checklist to see what the next thing is. See if there is anything that will blend into something else you are already doing.

For instance, if you are now cooking meals at home, try a new recipe. Add a ‘theme night’ to your meal plan.

If you are growing a garden, try a different type of herb, fruit, or vegetable. Add a few more planting areas to your container garden. And if you just have a plot in the backyard, think about a theme garden.

You can even stretch your wings and try something totally different. If you have never created things by hand, think about learning. Handmade items make great gifts.

Something to Improve Upon

Take a look at your Simple Life Assessment and see what you have accomplished so far. Is there something you think you can do better?

Examine closely what you have accomplished so far. Then make a list of things you can do to make it better. Handmade items is a great place to start. Practice your knitting with dishcloths.

Something Challenging

When you look at the list of things you want to accomplish, which one has the potential to challenge you? Choose one and get started.

Challenging yourself has some great benefits. Some of them are:

  • Personal Growth
  • Professional Growth
  • Additional Skills and Knowledge
  • Gives you stronger control over your life
  • Strengthens your Mental Accuity
  • Adds to your Confidence Level

A good challenge is also a great way to exercise your creativity. And by learning new skills, you may even save money as well!

Helpful Tracking Methods

a set of notebooks with a chicken and a stoneware crock as bookends

Keeping track of all you do in your Simple Life journey has benefits. You can see your starting point, and map your progress.

There are two ways to track your progress:

Simple Life Notebook

Keeping a dedicated notebook comes in handy when you are doing a Simple Life Assessment. In it you can keep valuable research, checklists, and have a section for your goals.

Having this information in one place makes it easy to flip through and see what you need to do next. Using divider tabs makes it even easier.

My Simple Life Notebook has these sections:

  • Faith
  • Home
  • Family
  • Garden
  • Passions
  • Goals
  • Notes
  • Journal Pages

Each section holds information I need to start, continue, or add to my skills. As for the goals section, I keep the current ones in that section. Once they are completed, I move it to the section to which it pertains.

Journal

a woman wearing blue jeans with her knees bent and a journal propped on her knees

Keeping a journal is a great way to not only track your progress, but also helps you to remember a few extra details. My journal pages includes information about the weather, goals I worked on, my thoughts, feelings and more.

I make notes in my Journal for things I would like to ponder during afternoon tea. I also write down any challenges I had that day, or any successes. This gives me encouragement later on to know I have faced other obstacles and were able to overcome them.

The Importance of a Simple Life Assessment

a tea set with pink rims, a pink flower and green leaves painted on the side; a bright pink flower resting on a vintage book of poetry

A Simple Life Assessment should be done at least every six months. We usually get excited when we first start a project. But like going on a diet, after a bit of time we hit a plateau. Finding things to encourage us to keep moving forward can be difficult.

This is where a Simple Life Assessment comes in handy. It shows us where we have been. It gives us encouragement to continue. And it gives us a sense of accomplishment.

If you have started shifting to a Simple Life and are starting to wane a bit, maybe it’s time to do a Simple Life Assessment. It may end up being the encouragement you have been needing.

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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