Vision 2021: Simplify Life, De-clutter, De-stress

Every new year is a good time for new beginnings – which is the theme of this blog. I prefer using beginnings or opportunities to describe my intentions for 2021 instead of new year resolutions (which often feel daunting and rarely come to fruition).

So, it’s time for a new direction for my blogging, too. In a nutshell, I’ve developed a keen interest in living a simpler life in a busy world – the core of minimalism and essentialism. The new reality prompted me to make some long-overdue changes.

I’ve decided to simplify and re-prioritise my life towards the end of 2019. I felt that something was amiss, and 2020 was to be a fresh start. I needed to feel better, physically and emotionally, too.

Ironically, a few months later, the pandemic struck. Slowing down was a given as if the Universe itself had approved my decision.

Here’s what changed and became my three-part vision for 2021 and manifesto for the future.

Simplify life. Choose intentional living.

The more I live through my years on Earth (35+), the more I agree with Chinese sage Confucius.

“Life is simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” Confucius

I’ve had this inkling of having extraordinary experiences in my younger days, anything but the ordinary. Like most people I know, I got sucked in the rhythm of the fast-paced world, always on the next move to seize opportunities and climb my way to success. Overall, the mental burden felt exhausting.

As the years went by, I’ve found myself drawn to a slower pace of living and the beauty of the simple and ordinary things in life. I was introduced, through some of my writing work, to the benefits of mindfulness practices. From there, it was an easy step to discovering the principles of minimalism and essentialism – living a joyful life, mindfully, with less.

Below I added a brief explanation of both concepts, minimalism and essentialism. There is a fine life of distinction between the two of them, mostly referring to ‘material things’ versus ‘goals and priorities,’ but the central idea is the same: living better and happier with less. Much less.

Minimalism and essentialism

Minimalism is a lifestyle focused on having fewer things – to own, to use, to buy.

Minimalism is, firstly, an intention to keep only the things of true value to you and get rid of the rest that distracts you from enjoying them.

Minimalism is an attitude that slowly becomes a way of life: simplify and de-clutter to free time for what matters. While it centres around material possessions, there is no rule to say it can’t extend beyond other aspects of life and choices, as is with essentialism.

Essentialism promotes a very similar view to minimalism: becoming more intentional in organising life, choosing ‘better’ over ‘more.’ It starts with reducing the endless choices we face daily, from the too-many things we own to the burden of expectations, the too-many goals we want to achieve, and the habits we carry on, sometimes without giving it a second thought. It is determining what is essential and what is not.

In a nutshell, both lifestyles focus on the necessity of trimming down and prioritising to the absolute minimal and essential in order to reach daily enjoyment and fulfilment.

De-clutter.

The first step in embracing a simpler and happier life is cutting down through the everyday clutter – physical, mental and emotional – that prevents from creating freedom, peace of mind and fulfilment.

Clutter clouds judgement. De-clutter is the antidote and the path to less stress, noise, confusion and uncertainty in a busy world.

This is where minimalism comes into action. Once I chose to be more intentional and purposeful with my everyday things and choices, I began to look around what needs to change to reflect this new life and new me.

I’ve started like everyone else, by getting rid of the old things I didn’t need, want or like anymore. Periodically, I would go through my wardrobe and give away, sell, donate to charities or discard unused or older clothing, bags, shoes and other accessories.

Moving homes had been the best incentive to trim down things, and with every move, I found I had fewer boxes that needed unpacking. When my husband and I finally bought a smaller townhouse in the second half of 2020, I was ecstatic by the prospect of renovating it to reflect our new life with less.

I’ve decided to embrace the minimalism principles in our new home. I took de-cluttering more seriously, moving on to paper documents, kitchen items, furniture, decor, and, with some difficulty, old piles of magazines. It felt liberating only to be surrounded by the things I needed in this new stage of my life.

As a side note, I did not limit the items I wanted to keep or set extreme guidelines for the purge, so I still kept most of my books, magazines, and things that I enjoy. There is no need to feel deprived or coerced in the de-cluttering process. It should feel good and allow you to follow your instincts.

To this day, de-cluttering is a work in progress, as I go through different categories of items and rethink my likes and needs accordingly.

De-stress

Removing mental clutter is just as crucial to our state of mind and wellbeing as getting rid of physical clutter.

De-stressing has been an essential part of my life post-2020. Learning how to de-stress and let go of worries and busy-ness (the need to do something all the time) does not come easily in my case.

More than once, I had to take a giant leap to take care of myself. Being busy to make a living abroad has robbed me of many things throughout the years. I certainly felt that I needed a break to restore my body and mind, which meant freeing time to focus on health, relationships and family matters.

Towards the end of 2019, I chose to take a step back from a full-time agency job and pursue freelance writing gigs for a while, throughout 2020. It has not been an easy decision to make. Still, it allowed me to be more flexible with work schedules and leisure times and get satisfaction from more than just hard work.

I now accommodate enough time for de-stress rituals, relaxation, exercise, meditation, healthy nutrition, and sleep. For example, I manage my lower back pain with dedicated chiropractor sessions and at least twice-weekly yoga classes at convenient times. Yoga also calms my usually busy mind. I’ve also switched to preparing healthier foods and eating a consistent lunch more regularly.

Most importantly, I can organise each day according to a few priorities and chosen commitments for that day. I routinely dedicate large blocks of time to educational activities, reading and writing pursuits without feeling in a hurry to achieve. As a freelancer, I have specific deadlines to uphold, but I am free to choose the projects I want to focus on and decide whether a task is worth my time and energy.

So here is my Vision 2021: Simplify, de-clutter, de-stress. Because life is too short and worth living to the fullest.

Photo credit: Emma Matthews, unsplash.com

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