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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2 thoughts on “How to Tell People You Are Simplifying Your Life

  1. Love reading your blog and so true. We decided to simplify 3 years ago and find it liberating, however friends/family are at all different stages in their lives. We have to remember that at one time those “things” or attaining “stuff” was also important to us. Timing is everything and we’ve put our foot in our mouth more than once during our simplification of life.