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Friday, May 18, 2012

Determining Your Motivations to Live the Minimalist, Simplified, Organized Lifestyle, and Obtaining the Knowledge to Do Just That


Just like sticking with a new workout program or a healthier nutritional plan, we have to have clear reasons as to why we want to make a change in our lifestyle. Getting, and especially staying, organized is sometimes brand-new territory entirely from all that you‘ve ever known before. You may feel as if you’re in way over your head with clutter, disorganization and an impossibly long to-do list. Or you may be pretty knowledgeable about the subject, and feel fairly in control of things, but know that you could be living an even better life. Regardless of where you’re at now, it still requires a fresh daily commitment whenever you make even the smallest of changes for good. A continued discipline is needed to pick up after ourselves, clean as we go along, purchasing the tools that will help us clean as quickly & easily as possible, and tending to the weeds that inevitably pop up in our simplicity garden- no matter how tired, stressed-out or rebellious you feel in the moment. The concept of getting organized can seem great in theory, but when it actually comes to performing what’s needed to live the life, that’s when it can sometimes just fall apart. Sometimes we’re great planners, but terrible implementers. I’ve failed often enough on this journey to be intimately acquainted with what causes us to have a misstep. Simplicity is, paradoxically, very complex to our brains when we first start out. Say that you have a goal to save money, and cut out debt, because the lack of doing so has made your life complicated & stressful. So the desire is certainly there, at least initially, to quit shopping for non-essentials, open a savings account, set up automatic fund transfer to that savings account each month, calling your creditor to try & get our credit card interest rates lowered, etc. But when we go to follow up on our desires with actions, we may hit big mental roadblocks. After all, even if we really want to be financially secure, it often means saying no to new purchases when our ego really wants them. We may have to give up looking like we just stepped out of Bloomingdales & start dressing in a more cost-effective manner. Sometimes it means cutting out habits that aren’t healthy, but that we use as a crutch to deal with stress, like drinking a few vodka gimlets every night or smoking on every break at work. You may have to tell your kids that the summer vacation will only last five days this year, not seven, because you want to put the extra few hundred dollars you would have spent on a hotel room into an emergency savings account. There may be resentment & resistance from others just as much as from ourselves- sometimes more. We have to know what will get in our way, those impediments that step in & ruin even the best of intentions repeatedly, and be able to overcome them.

Using the goal of sticking with a regular exercise routine as an example, it’s clear that being too tired, not having time, possessing the need to sleep in longer instead of exercise & not having the proper tools on hand to work out are all potential reasons for not enduring that process. A lot of times, people make resolutions without even having the slightest bit of knowledge or any tools in hand to keep the new routine going, or even start them on the right foot. I’ve heard a lot of people say they’re going to start exercising five days a week immediately, for instance, but they have no idea what exercise they want to try. They don’t possess a gym membership, haven’t spoken to a personal trainer, have bought no home exercise equipment, and don’t own any workout clothes or shoes. They’ve done no research to see what workout will produce maximum results in minimum time. They haven’t set clear goals for themselves, and if they have a deadline in mind (like a wedding), they haven’t said what it’ll take to meet that deadline in a successful manner. They haven’t read articles to see what injuries to watch out for, haven’t talked to their family doctor about their plans, still have other habits in place that could undo their results, and don’t know what to do to alter their schedule to make room for this new endeavor. The potential exerciser may know nothing about what exercises work what body parts, have no education in anatomy or human musculature, and don’t know what proper form looks like. They haven’t measured or weighed themselves, they don’t know what their fat-to-lean ratio is to start with, or realize what brand of exercise shoe is best for them based on their gait, foot arch, body weight & the type of workout they’ll be engaging in. Vagueness in one’s real goals, a lack of preparation & thorough ignorance on doing exercise correctly are big no-no’s when one wants to start a workout routine (or any type of physical activity), and stick with a program safely on a long-term basis.

An example of doing as much research as possible to get clear-cut knowledge, thus greatly increasing your chances of success: You’ve taken your measurements around the bust, waist, hips, you right upper arm, right thigh & right calf. You’ve had your body fat percentage calculated, and know what your current weight is. You own a dress that you look fabulous in, but you have to lose approximately twenty-five pounds from your current weight to fit into it. You know this because you wore the dress at that ideal weight, and it looked good on you. So you’re going into this knowing that you have to lose at least one pound a week for six months straight to reach the goal of fitting into a certain dress for a high school reunion coming up at that time. You have the six months available to reach this goal. You’ve been keeping a food journal for a week- not out of daily judgment, but to tally up where you could save calories, what triggers you to perhaps eat when you’re really not hungry, or see that you’re drinking fluids which have lots of sugar but no nutrient value. You’ve gone out & researched that a combination of aerobics, weight-training & athletic stretches are the safest & most efficient method for losing weight quickly. You know that you haven’t worked out in five years, so to get into the habit of exercise again, you’ve been walking twenty to thirty minutes a day, five days a week for a month now, while you’ve been looking into the best exercise methods to try. You know what your problem areas are specifically on your body, and make sure you’re going to put extra emphasis on those parts, letting the body parts which are okay take a bit of a backseat for now. Taking into account your schedule, your metabolism, the speed at which you want to lose weight, your age & the dietary changes that you’re willing to make, you know that you’ll have to work out five to six days a week, taking one or two rest days a week to make sure your muscles don’t get too burned out, and neither does your brain. You’ve surrounded yourself with good books about the subjects of eating healthfully, exercising, building good habits, supplementing your diet with certain vitamins, minerals & athletic aids. You’ve subscribed to a magazine or two that you checked out at the grocery store, and find very motivating to read. You’ve seen pictures of the type of body you want to have, and have posted a couple of those on your closet door, to get a daily dose of inspiration that way, too. You’ve talked with your family doctor, have had routine bloodwork done, and know that it’s now okay to begin an exercise program like you have in mind. You’ve bought a few new, well-fitted sports bras, comfortable workout pants, athletic socks & a pair of shoes that were just right for your arch shape, foot size & your overall joint condition. You’ve tossed or eaten up the junk food in your house, have made up a new healthy, perpetual grocery list to shop from and are committed to finding healthy substitutes for things that you crave, too. You’re realistic about how often you’re going to cook, whether or not you’re going to bring lunch to work, and got a water bottle to keep with you everywhere. You bought a water filtration system for your kitchen sink, to make tap water taste good, thus easing the new goal you have of drinking 64 oz. a day. You’ve written out what your general daily diet should consist of, how often you need to eat, what time you’re going to exercise each day, what has to be diminished or eliminated from your schedule to squeeze exercise in this often, what your short- and long-term goals are & why you have the goals that you do. You’ve read reviews, and accordingly bought two new highly-rated, beginner-friendly workout DVD’s- one for weight-training, and one for cardio, both of which contain athletic stretches at the end of the programs. You’ve made a pact that when you get bored, you’ll buy new workouts that are equally as good. You know that you’ll probably need additional workout clothing at some point, occasionally will need new exercise equipment as you get stronger and/or try something different, and will need to budget for a new pair of workout sneakers after using your old ones consistently for three to six months (every person is different, in this way). You then watched the DVD’s a couple of times each, to make sure you had a basic idea of what moves the workouts consist of. You went out & purchased a comfy exercise mat for floor exercises & stretches, a step for doing aerobics & pairs of 3-, 5- & 8 lbs. dumbbells to get started. You set aside a space in one room of your home that will allow you to do your aerobic work, strength-training exercises & stretches without accidentally tripping, hitting something or knocking something over.

Now you see clearly what I’m driving at. Preparation is the difference between at least experiencing partial success, and experiencing a death to your plans before they’ve gotten off the ground. When we lack knowledge, planning & the proper tools to make our lifestyle change stick, it’s extremely easy to get distracted. It’s also far too easy to lose motivation, burn out quickly because you overdo the activity & think that you have more strength or endurance than you actually possess currently. I’m not trying to discourage you from taking on the journey. Just the opposite. I simply want you to take things one step at a time, and realize that at least in the beginning, you’ll probably be spending as much time, maybe more, on reading, prepping & researching as you will on the work itself. If you want to making a lasting commitment, something that will stick, going into it with a precision is imperative.

After all, you wouldn’t start a job without education & training to help prepare you for the work beforehand (I hope!) I’ve worked in many call centers in my life. While all have variances in their training techniques, inevitably the same themes emerge. They apply to real life, as well, which is why I bring it up. Before you are allowed to take even one phone call, you must learn about the company you’re working for. You need to meet important people within your department, and understand the hierarchy. There are laws, policies & procedures to become familiar with, and to make sure that you abide by- or else you could get fired (or sued). You must learn techniques for handling your own nerves, calming down irate callers & answering questions in a smooth but thorough manner. It takes skill to listen well to the caller, interpret just what it is that they need, and apply your knowledge to resolving their particular inquiry. Whether it’s simple or complex, you must know how to word your responses- both to the caller, and in your own notes documenting what was said during the call. Occasionally, you must turn the caller and/or issue over to a higher authority, and you have to know how to write up a clear explanation of what the circumstance is, what likely will need to be done to clear up the problem, and you have to do this in a timely manner. It’s a good year, typically, in doing this type of work before you’re entirely comfortable in handling just about every case that comes your way. It still takes effort every day to keep up with changes in company policy. New laws can be passed that you must be aware of. Old laws can be altered or completely taken off of the books. Industry standards can do the exact same thing. Keeping abreast of these alterations is imperative to giving out correct, up-to-date information, and the lack of taking this learning time is the chief reason I‘ve encountered for failure on a representative‘s part, whenever I‘ve gotten a repeat call about an issue.

I’ve been organizing, simplifying & seeking a minimalist lifestyle for six years. I’ve been keeping house & cooking for two decades. While I may be a writer on the subject, not by a long shot do I get to rest on my laurels. I still have reading & research to do all the time on these subjects- I learn something new every single day, without fail. I still have to spend time in quiet meditation, prayer & deep concentration to try & pass on to you a new slant on a series of topics that’s been written about frequently. Since I love doing this so much, I feel compelled to pass everything I learn on to you, in the hopes that someone, somewhere will live a little bit better a life by me writing this blog. Writing & communication come very easy to me, for which I’m very blessed, but that alone doesn’t provide me motivation to write this blog. When I see that people are reading it, and when they tell me I helped them get something done which helped out their lives, that’s where I get my motivation from. My inspiration comes from a combination of life experience, a deep well of knowledge that I love to share, and a passion to see people get out from under unnecessary burdens. Yes, it takes time out my day to write & edit my blogs each evening when I work on them, and I don’t make money for doing it. But putting what I know down on paper reinforces my own dedication to the lifestyle I talk about with you, and the possibility that I could reach out & give at least one person some hope that they can make their lives exactly what they want them to be. This ended up being a long post, but I want to encourage you in every way that I can, and hope that you’ll take what I’ve written to heart. Thanks for reading this!

-Liz

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