The Simple Life

It all started with a mention from Mark Hodgkin on the Sports Leadership Podcast. I can’t even recall the episode or quite exactly the date I listened to it on my way to work. But, it stuck with me. He mentioned changes he’d been making personally and said he had read a book and then watched a documentary by two men who dubbed themselves “The Minimalists.”


He mentioned how they stressed intentional living and living with less. “Living with less.” That phrase really stuck with me. It sounds so simple, yet many people struggle with it. Including myself at the time. My life had recently turned for the better as I had just begun my new job at Aflac.


Why So Anxious?

Gone were the days of wondering where the money for our next mortgage payment would come. I had new employment and a nice new paycheck. But, as is often the case, money isn’t everything. It brought a lot of peace of mind, but I was still feeling…un-settled. Maybe even anxious?


I tend to be a natural worrier, but this was different. So, I asked my wife Megan  if she’d heard of these gentlemen (she had!) and if she’d be willing to watch their documentary. Thankfully she said yes and we watched it the next time we had a weekend alone. I had no idea how life changing the show would be for both of us!


Tod Meisner


How did it change our perspective? Well, we realized that we are not our things. We also realized what we should really value in our lives.  By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.


To put it simply, we now try to live a lifestyle where we only bring things into our lives if they add value. What did we cut out you may ask? Old furniture that took up space, extra clothes that we hadn’t worn in months, knick-knacks that sat on shelves serving no purpose. The list was long!


There was also digital minimalizing. As in, so long Snapchat. See you later Facebook and other apps from my phone that only served as distractions. We began scanning pictures and putting them on flash drives. Scanning articles and old clippings so we still had a record of things, but not the paper trail.



Minimalism is Different for Everyone

Now, minimalism comes in different flavors and it may not look the same for everyone. It’s not like we sit around on the floor and stare at stark white walls. You may not know we consider ourselves minimalists if you visit our ho


Minimalism to us is really the mindset of living with less. And living that way intentionally moving forward. We constantly ask ourselves what items are adding value to our lives. We regularly take stock of our belongings and do regular purges.

If living with less seems appealing to you, but you’re not sure where to start, let me offer you some simple tasks taken straight from “The Minimalists” themselves.


Start here with some of their basic resources.

Try the  “30-Day Minimalism Game.”

Try a packing party.

Or just start getting rid of your crap. Because let’s face it, most of what we own is crap.


Living with less has made me focus on the more important things in my life. My mind is way more calm and free of worry because I don’t feel trapped by all my “stuff.” By focusing on health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution, I know I am putting a priority on five areas that truly matter.

Thinking like a minimalist didn’t happen overnight for Megan or myself. But, by adopting its principles and living them intentionally each day, we’ve completely transformed our lives.


So what about you? What changes can you make in your life to begin living with less?


The Simple Life

I began my journey into minimalism just under two years ago. In the beginning letting go of the clutter was easy.


I said goodbye to extra pots and pans that made my last two moves with me. I said goodbye to outdated clothes and those extra pairs of shoes lying around. Also said goodbye to extra towels, linens, utensils, tools, etc. Items just sitting in closets and drawers that collect over time. I use the term “said goodbye” because we are not our stuff. Our things don’t define us. We don’t have to hold on to things “just in case.”


New Rules

By using Josh and Ryan’s simple and helpful 90/90 Rule, it was no trouble at all letting go of things that didn’t provide value to me. The 90/90 Rule is simple: Have you used this things in the past 90 days? If not, will you use it in the next 90 days?


However, we often also hold on to things “just in case” we need them. We refuse to let go because we might need these things in some made up, non-existent future-state. We stash away things in the remote chance that we might need it “just in case.”


Tod Meisner


An additional easy way to help let go of these “just in case” items is the 20/20 Rule. As you define “just in case” items, ask yourself, “Can I replace this item for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from my current location?”


If the answer is yes, then get rid of it. Although I’ve yet to replace any item I had previously saved “just in case,” I now know that I can replace them all for less than $20 and not have to travel more than 20 minutes to get them.


Following these rules I feel much less confined and burdened by the things I do own. I know the things I have in my home serve a purpose. I know that I have just what I need and I can get anything else I may need with minimal effort (see what I did there!).


What About Gifts

That said, there’s one set of items which was difficult for me to fully detach from. Items that prevented me from fully feeling like I had simplified my life. Items that did hold some perceived value. Those items were gifs.


It really wasn’t me who had a problem getting rid of them, but it was my feelings for the people who gave them to me. There are different memories in these items and I knew the people who gave them to me might get a bit upset.  I’m a people pleaser by nature and I didn’t want to offend anyone as I was progressing in my new lifestyle.

Tod Meisner


Then I had to remember that this is MY journey into minimalism and not anyone else’s. Most people won’t notice or won’t care. It’s not like I’d broadcast to them, “Hey, I got rid of that gift you got me!” Even if someone does get offended, that a “them” problem and not a “me” problem and that’s OK.

As I let go of negative relationships because of my focus on intentional living, some people got offended. As I stopped commenting and participating on Facebook so much, people got offended. When I’m more intentional with things that matter to me, some people get offended when it’s not what matters to them.


You can’t let these things bother you. There’s nothing you can do about it. The more you stand for something, the more respect you will command. People will truly respect you when you draw a line and say, “I’m doing this for me and not for anyone else.” As a natural pleaser, it’s hard for me to put aside what other people feel. It really is. But through this journey, I’ve come to realize that what other people think about your decisions don’t really matter.


Be Intentional

If you’re making intentional decisions to better your life, that’s what’s important. It is OK to get rid of the clutter and gifts in your life that aren’t adding value. Minimalism is all about letting go of what isn’t important so you can focus on what’s truly important in your life.


Tod Meisner


The people who truly care about you and love you won’t even notice what you’re giving up if they know it’s making you happy. The people who do care or get offended by your new actions? They probably won’t approve of what you do no matter what. So why try to please them?


When you can truly move past what other people think and begin to live a more intentional life, one where your short term decisions and actions align with your long tern values and beliefs, you will begin to find true happiness. Happiness that comes from relationships and experiences, not from material things.


So what about you?

What are you doing about all those things you hold on to “just in case?”