Rediscover the Bedrock of Life

Katie's East Coast 2008 033Close relationships are the bedrock of life.  If you have them, nurture them, appreciate them, treasure every moment you have with the people in your life.

If you have lost touch with family, try to reconnect.  If you cannot reconnect, I hope you will consider reaching out to others near you who would benefit from having a friend.

Too many of us spend time alone, either because we are too busy to make the effort necessary to foster a relationship with others, or because being alone is simply what we have gotten used to.  Life is less complicated, and a whole lot easier, when other people are not mucking up our comfortable little nest we have managed to cobble together.

Hawaii 2009 493Simple Life Reboot is all about caring less about things and more about people.  At the end of our days, it will not be the items we own we will treasure, but the people we shared our life with, the experiences we had, the amazing sights, the humor, and the love.

Do not let any more time go to waste.  Connect with the people around you.  Start a conversation with three people in the next week you do not know.  You will be astonished to learn their story. Lives will be enriched, including your own, because you bothered to care.


Originally posted on


How to Increase the Likelihood that You Will Achieve Your Goal

arrrow in bullseyeWhat are your primary objectives?  Is your daily experience something of  a “hit or miss” when it comes to making progress?  Would you like to hit your target with greater frequency?

If you are like Dave and me,  and do not have the gifts of a Hawkeye, Annie Oakley, or Katniss Everdeen,  you might benefit from a bigger steadier target.  Target size can be increased by creating space between resources and obligations.   You can steady your target by meditating upon your faith and/or values. It is no coincidence that the Koine Greek word for sin, hamartia, literally means to miss the mark.

The basic tenets of  marksmanship may also help.

1. Reduce Strain

As you aim at your goal,  seek a comfortable position.  To the extent to which it is in your control,  seek to reduce pain, strain and other issues adverse to health and focus.

2.  Set Your Sight

Set your sight carefully.  Adjust for wind, radiant heat and elements of resistance.

3. Remember to Breathe

Take a shot when most stable; the moment right after a solid exhale.

4.  Maintain  Your Equipment

Maintain your equipment.  Our aim is off when our “stuff” has been been jostled, soiled or bent.  Address these issues before taking a shot.

5.  Practice

Practice steady and even pressure. Do not tense up and fight the recoil.


 You can hit your target, but choose wisely.   As C. S. Lewis said:

“Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in.  Aim at earth and you will get neither. ”


If you are interested in related posts,   margin is described in  The 3 Key Principles of Simple Life Reboot, Margin is not Just for You!, and 5 Step Plan for Protecting New Margin.   Simple Life Reboot’s bullseye diagram  is in   The 4 Zones of Intention.


How do you maintain your aim?   Please let us know by including a comment below.


Originally posted on

Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

C. S. Lewis


Beautiful By Design

Hawaii Nick 2009 056

What does a beautiful life look like?

It is different for each of us, but for many it includes things like family, faith, hard work, adventurous spirit, trips with people we love, creativity, humor, passion, celebrating traditions, and enjoying good health.  Truly, a beautiful life is all of these things, and maybe something more.


Determining our purpose may be the most important element of a beautiful life.  I am not talking about calling, the thing we feel we must do in life in order to fulfill our potentials and gifting.  Rather, purpose has to do with the big picture,  why we exist in the first place. For Sheryl and me, our purpose is defined by our faith.  However,  purpose is an issue we should all address.

In order to determine purpose, we must begin at the end.  It is at the end where we find our final regrets, when everything finally comes into focus.

When that time arrives, and we take our final breath, what we will likely think about is not what thing we never possessed, or what location we never visited, but rather how we could have loved our family and friends better, deeper, and longer.  Our regret will not be what we did for others, but what we did not do.

To love and sacrifice for others is one of the few matters over which we have control.  It is the truest and noblest part of the life we will leave behind.  Understanding this about ourselves, that we have the capacity to unconditionally give our time, our love, and ourselves to others, may be the most powerful reminder of why life is so beautiful.

It is beautiful by design.


Originally posted on



Mr. Darcy’s 5 Points for Staying the Course

DarcyAny person making a significant life change will be familiar with that initial uncomfortable period between making sacrifice and seeing fruit.  It’s much like hiking up a mountain with an obscured summit.  As the intensity increases, we may start to wonder  1) if we’ll  reach a “better” place; and  2) if we do, will it be worth what we gave up to get there.

Dave and I are in that uncomfortable place.  We have reduced our belongings by about 80%, put our house (which we adore) on the market, and said “no” to desirable new activities.  We have announced our  intent to create margin to the world and have burned the figurative boat behind us. Yet, truth be told, we are now finding our life to be more hectic and expensive than ever.  It can be discouraging.

Fortunately, when the doubts begin to creep in,  I need only look at our dog, Mr. Darcy, to be reminded of the basics:

  1. You don’t need to know where you’re going to enjoy the walk.
  2. As long as the pack is together, it’s all good.
  3. You don’t need to own stuff to give to people.
  4. Even big changes are manageable when you have something upon which to chew.
  5. Drooling over other people’s stuff will only get you a puddle of saliva.

Who knew the furry Mr. Darcy could teach us so much?


Originally posted on


The 4 Zones of Intention

bullseyeCan a simple diagram help us understand the common inconsistencies between our intentions and actions?

C. S. Lewis in his  Screwtape Letters uses a bulls-eye model of concentric circles to categorize human behavior.  Our model, described below, relates how we tend to lose focus on our inner values and become drawn to the deferred, displaced or unreal.

For purposes of our model, imagine your life in the shape of a dart board made up of four distinct areas:


The center of the board, the bull’s eye, represents our will.  Our will determines our priorities,  which in turn, translate into our thoughts and actions.  The problem we often encounter is the inconsistency between what we know to be best or true,  and what we actually think and do.

THE LIGHT ZONE – PERSONAL GROWTH                                                                

Outside the central area is the light zone.  This is where growth occurs.  It is where we are creative, productive, and form close personal relationships.  In this zone we pursue things of value.  It is where we experience emotional and physical strength, love and sacrifice for others, as well as some discomfort from time to time.

THE GREY ZONE – EVENTS BEYOND OUR CONTROL                                      

The grey zone represents cultural and environmental factors over which we have little or no individual control.  Our response to these factors, however, and the meaning to which we ascribe to them, is within our control, and helps determine whether we move towards or away from the bull’s eye.

THE DARK ZONE – PERSONAL ATROPHY                                                                  

The outer ring, aka the dark zone, is characterized by avoidance behaviors. This is the zone in which we seek to numb or medicate ourselves, where we engage in self-deception, at times even taking action that is contrary to our priorities, telling ourselves “it’s only for a while”.

In this outer zone we embrace distraction, fantasy, and instant gratification.  We tend to waste time and resources, and shirk responsibility.  It is a zone of procrastination and good deeds deferred.  It is a zone in which we have all spent time.


On our dart board diagram, the area which encompasses the will at the center, and the grey zone,  both remain constant.  The light and dark areas vary in size depending upon our intention.  The target area of Simple Life Reboot is the light zone.  We believe creating margin permits us to enlarge the circumference of the light zone and minimize the dark zone.

We hope you will join us on this journey as we explore this subject matter over time.


If this model describing intentions vs. behavior intrigues you,  whether you agree or disagree, please, let us know by leaving a comment.


Originally posted on

3 Reasons to Kill Your Debt, and How to Start

Simple Life RebootConsider some of the reasons why debt is such an obstacle to our ability to realize our full potential.

Debt impacts margin.  Debt has a debilitating effect on our daily decision-making and our quality of life. Debt can prompt behaviors that are counter-productive at best and self-destructive at worst.


One problem with debt is that it puts us behind both financially and emotionally.  We put ourselves in an upside down position by deciding to pay for something later though we receive it now.  Though we have already enjoyed an item, we continue to pay for it. Also, whether we appreciated it or not, when we went into debt, we attached ourselves to an obligation to pay on something which most likely decreases in value as our monthly payment stays the same or increases.

Later, we need to make another purchase, something we really need, rather than just want.  We feel stupid, trapped, powerless.  By our own short-sighted actions, we have limited our options and have made obtaining necessities more difficult.

Being in debt is like starting a marathon a mile behind the start line with bags of sand tied around our ankles.   “Hey, get those bags of sand off my ankles, I want to fly!”


We are restrained.  We find ourselves short of our goal with impediments in our way.  We may have settled for the shiny, quick pleasures while sacrificing the long term objective of realizing peace, productivity, joy – margin.  That’s okay.  The finish line is still out there, waiting for us.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.”  –  Chinese Proverb

So, stop adding bags of sand to your ankles.  Begin by removing the smallest bags first.  Focus all of your excess energy (extra monthly funds) towards paying off the smallest debts first.  As you make progress towards the start line, paying off ever more debt, you are getting in shape to run the full marathon, which for many of us, is the mortgage debt.


Debt is a master because it creates an incessant obligation to perform.  If you do not perform, penalties are imposed.  The obligation is ongoing and usually costs you more over time than the original cost going in.  We underestimate the full sacrifice we must endure to eliminate the debt.


So, the time has come to do intentional bodily harm to your debt master.  In order to defeat this tyrant, you must devise a plan, and then execute it with extreme prejudice.  Kill your debt with the ferociousness  of a mother bear attacking to defend her cubs.  If the mother bear fails, the wolves kill her offspring.  If she succeeds, her little family grows and prospers.

Treat getting out of debt with the seriousness it deserves.  We are talking financial, emotional and relational survival, not to mention the future health of your family.  Eliminating debt could literally determine whether you get married, stay married, have children, and whether those children get the education/resources they need to succeed.

Killing your debt can change everything.


It is by orders of magnitude easier to incur debt than pay it off!  Why?  Because going into debt involves reward without sacrifice.  Pretty obvious, right?  Getting out of debt involves sacrifice without reward.  Not so much fun.  Ugh.

So, do this.  Every time you pay off a debt, regardless of the size, celebrate by doing something special for yourself and/or your spouse.  Go see a movie, go for a hike, go out to dinner, or take a short pleasure trip.  Do something to recognize your sacrifice, and then get back to it and continue to KILL THAT DEBT!

WARNING:  Do not incur further debt in the celebration of your victories!


Originally posted on

5 Step Plan for Protecting New Margin

life marginOne of the surest ways to improve our lives is to create margin.  However,  when creating margin, it is crucial to keep in mind this principle from Aristotle.

“Nature abhors a vacuum.”

Recently created space is a magnet for less desirable replacement “fillers”.

If you doubt this, please consider the following:

Have you ever scheduled a break in your regular routine in order to get things done around the house, and then found yourself accomplishing little? Did you wonder at the end of the day where all your time went?  Similarly,  consider a recently cleared kitchen counter,  do you luxuriate in the new space,  or do you promptly start stacking other junk on it?

Before we launch into self-recrimination, consider whether simple awareness of this vulnerability, as well as some advance planning, provides the necessary bumper we need to stay on track.  Five sure steps to protecting new margin are as follows:

1) Recognize that new margin may initially feel unnaturally empty. That’s okay.  Don’t rush to fill it in or use it up.

2) View new margin as precious time, space and resources, to be kept available, giving yourself room for error, room to grow.

3) Create and preserve margin in all priority areas of your life.

4) Decide in advance that newly created margin (freed-up time, funds and space) will not be used for a certain predetermined period of time.

5) As you begin to use a portion of newly created margin,  be sure that the new use is more in alignment with your priorities than was  the previous use.


Originally posted on