How to Tell People You Are Simplifying Your Life

Hawaii 2009 363“So, I heard you were downsizing.”

The question from a business acquaintance at a Chamber of Commerce event caught me off guard.

Gulp. I paused, desperate for a response which recast what sounded, at least to my ears, quite negative. I wanted to share the joyful, enriching and values-driven journey of simplifying my life and how it harmonized with my professional life.  Instead, I blurted out  “…kind of…” and scampered off feeling embarrassed and inadequate.

It was not my brightest moment.  I resolved to be better equipped the next time and gathered the following tips through trial and error:

1. Choose the Right Time and Location. Be thoughtful. Telling others while on a cruise, a shopping excursion or while opening Christmas presents may not be the best time to let people know you are simplifying.  Similarly, sharing a voluntary journey of simplicity and margin creation with someone who is struggling financially (and who had not asked for advice) may not be particularly considerate.

2. BRIEFLY Tell Your Story. While you may be passionate about the topic, limit yourself to just a few sentences.  Share what prompted you to simplify. For example:  “For years I have been filling my life with more and more stuff. Then I read/listened to _______ and started thinking about making changes. I resolved to let go of things and activities of lesser importance so as to make room for the precious ones in my life.” Pause.  If the listener does not ask a follow up question, leave it at that.

3. Discuss the Impact of Changes. Have an open and honest discussion with your loved ones regarding the impact your simplified life will have on them.  For instance, you might discuss your plan for editing possessions and your preference for shared experiences in lieu of physical gifts. If you move to a smaller space, reassure your loved ones of their place within the new space, and explain how you will accommodate visits and activities in new ways.  Also, reassure non-household members that this journey is unique to each individual, and that you do not wish to make them feel uncomfortable or pressured to make similar changes.


If this post was of interest – please see “But What Will People Think?”.


How would you share a decision to simplify with others?   Please let us know in the comments below.


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5 Fabulous Reasons to Travel with Your Kids

Creating margin is crucial to having the necessary resources to do the things in life which are important to you.

East Coast 2008 139Over the past few years Sheryl and I wanted to share some experiences with our children before they began leaving the nest.  We decided to plan a few trips.  As it turns out, each of these trips  became a memorable experience, reminding us of some of the fabulous reasons we travel with our kids.

1)  To Learn Together

You will, of course, discover new facts about the places you visit, and about the events that took place there.  But more importantly, when you travel with your kids, you allow them to see you, the parent, in situations in which you are learning something new, as well.  The kids discover you do not know it all, and that you are not afraid to admit it.  They will love and respect you all the more for this.  And they will be excited at the prospect of you all being on this journey of discovery together.

Our east coast trip stands out as a East Coast 2008 119particularly wonderful adventure.   Beginning in Washington, D.C., we visited a number of buildings and monuments.  A few particularly memorable places included the Washington Monument, U.S. Capitol, and the Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Each day one of the kids would take their turn as tour guide, in charge of getting the group from our rental house in the D.C. suburbs, to the subway, and finally to the designated place we were visiting that day.

From Washington we drove to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, a 300-acre living history museum with hundreds of restored, reconstructed, and historically furnished buildings.

2)  To Play Together

After our time at Washington and Williamsburg, we drove  to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

East Coast 2008 303How often do you get to play alongside your kids, enjoy a fun-filled ride, go on a pretend-safari, or be entertained by amazingly tall furry creatures?  The kids, having appreciated our history tour the previous few days, were now ready for the big pay-off, five days at Disney World.  There is a joy and a wonderment you experience in this place that fulfills your highest expectations.

3)  To Dream Together

Traveling together affords you the opportunity to talk with your kids about things you never think about in everyday life, like outer space, for instance.

In between days at Disney World, we took in the NASA complex at Cape Canaveral.  We are all passionate believers in discovery and in our nation’s space program.East Coast 2008 406  To share our passion together, in this place, walking through the history of the program, standing next to these awesome machines and reading the stories of the people who were and are involved, was  inspirational.

There is no better place than NASA to evoke images of the future, and to carry on conversations about the hard work and courage that has gone into mankind’s endeavor to reach beyond earth’s environment.

4)  To Eat Together

It is such a basic activity. One East Coast 2008 217might ask, “why would eating together be on this list of fabulous reasons to travel together?”

The sad reality is that many families do not share mealtimes anymore.

Traveling allowed us to share a meal without interruption. Simple time together, enjoying the most basic things, sometimes, is all you need to be content.

5)  To Laugh Together

Laughter is so beneficial to our health.  Laughing with your kids is doubly good.  It not only smooths the rough spots,  it strengthens  our relationships.  Traveling, experiencing new places and people, seems to multiply the opportunities to find the lighter side of things.  When was the last time you and your kids laughed at the same thing, or at each other?Katie's East Coast 2008 020

We can take life pretty serious at times.  Life often deserves to be taken seriously, but without laughter to balance things out, the weighty issues of the day can become overwhelming.

Enjoy being silly together.  Show your kids you are not afraid to look and act foolish. They will probably appreciate your attempt at humor.  Even when you fail miserably, they will most likely fill in the awkward moments with some truly funny routines of their own.

Do not underestimate the enduring memories of traveling with your kids.  There is something for everyone out there.  When you experience the world together, you create a bond that you will enjoy for a lifetime.



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Can You Simplify at Work?

Little ShoeWould you like to simplify at work but fear you cannot do so without jeopardizing your position or prospects?  If so, you are not alone.  This can be a paralyzing dilemma, particularly when others are dependent upon your work performance and/or income.

Rather than take rash action or settle for permanent quiet desperation, consider whether implementing baby simplification steps would assist in determining     1) if improvement within existing work parameters is possible; and  2) if greater life changes are needed.

Too Important to Simplify?

The greatest obstacle to pursuing simplicity at work may be our self-concept. We may bristle at the suggestion that our important and highly skilled work could be performed as well or better if we implemented simplification techniques.

We may also wish to maintain a maximum hour, full throttle persona as proof of our commitment, drive and excellence. We may fear that any boundary setting will suggest to our superiors, colleagues and patrons that we “just can’t cut it”.

It is in this uncomfortable place that making even minor changes to pursue simplicity  requires thoughtful consideration and courage.

Simplicity Steps to Implement at Work

If you decide to take action to simplify at work, there are numerous helpful resources. One of my favorites is Leo Babauta’s post at which lays out basic steps which most of us can take at work with minimal risk.  These steps include starting early, batching distraction and de-cluttering our work space. Other steps could include automation or delegation of routine tasks.

Simplicity Is Unique to Each Person

Finally,  remember that simplicity is not a cookie-cutter methodology. Each individual’s circumstances, responsibilities, strengths and passions are unique. Simplicity at work can and should take a variety of forms.  In any event, most of us will be pleasantly surprised at how even very small tweaks can yield significant results.


Please let us know what simplicity steps have been successful for you at work in our comments section below. Dave and I would enjoy hearing from you.


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A Simple Step You Must Take Now to Reduce Information Overload

screenshot“You can do anything, but not everything. ”  David Allen


The Problem

We live in an exciting time.  With easy access to the internet and quality podcasts, blogs, books, webcasts,  forums, and MOOCs, the sky is the limit for growth and service. The problem is our inability to deal with abundance. If we attempt to gather, sift and apply the available quality resources,  the end result may be numbness or withdrawal due to exhaustion.

The Solution

In order to stay in the fray, we need to implement safeguards.  The identification of mentors and information curators is the simple solution. Once curators are identified, available time can be used digesting and applying information provided by them.

Our Curators

Dave and I have great respect for curation. It is expertise in selecting, preserving and maintaining assets. The integrity and skill of the curator determines the value of the collection. Dave and I are beholden to quality content on intentional, simple, minimal, faith-based/value-driven living.  The following list, referenced in part in our earlier post,  Thought Leaders Who Have Inspired Us,  though not comprehensive of all the high quality content providers,  lists the experts who have been most influential in our journey thus far.

Principles of Margin:

Timothy Keller @timkellernyc

Dr. Henry Cloud @DrHenryCloud

Simple / Organized Living:

Simple Life Together – Dan and Vanessa Hayes

Zen Habits – Leo Babauta

The Simple White Rabbit – Christy King

Be More With Less – Courtney Carver

The Other Side of Complexity – Mike Burns

Value of Simple – Joel Zaslofsky

Slow Your Home – Brooke McAlary


The Minimalists – Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus

Becoming Minimalist – Joshua Becker

Getting Out the Message:

Michael Hyatt

Linked In Lady – Carol McManus

Become A Blogger – Leslie Samuel


We welcome your suggested additions.  Please make recommendations in the comments section.  Thank you.


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