“The greatest step toward a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.” ~Steve Maraboli
So I took the plunge. I stated out loud that I wanted to simplify my life.
I wanted to have a life where what I did for a living and how I lived were more in balance with the person I am and aspired to be. The waterfall effect of that verbal declaration catapulted my life into a stratosphere of change that I am still learning to just “go with.”
Three weeks after that declaration, I got “downsized” at work. Okay, I thought, the universe is listening, so no turning back now.
I started with putting my house up for sale. Up went the “for sale” sign.
Next came the purge. Closets were emptied, for-sale ads were posted, and stuff began to clear out. I donated and sold what seemed to be the physical barrier to my new life of “less is more.”
Finally came the decision: What did I want to be when I grow up? Who we are and what we do always seemed to melt into one for me, so now I had a clean slate, and the “life worth creating” journey began.
I scoured the career guides, took all the personality tests, hired a life coach. All the while, my external search for career satisfaction was in misalignment with my new values and the journey I had begun.
So, I finally decided: No more suits, no more cubicle life, and no more aspiring to climb a ladder that I did not even care about.
I read a great quote: “Better to be at the bottom of the ladder you want than the top of the ladder you don’t.”
I decided that I was not searching for a new job; I was creating a life. I wanted to write and share my adventures and experiences along the way. I had a dream of inspiring people to dare to dream and achieve what they once thought was impossible. So the new life career began.
In all my newness and transformation the one thing I had not counted on was the resistance I would receive from those in my inner circle.
I guess I had assumed that people would be genuinely happy for me if I were happy.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. They questioned why I wanted to sell my house and belongings, and worse yet, even give my stuff away. People asked me daily where I was going to live.
A friend runs a charity that enables physically challenged people to experience outdoor adventure. Fantastic, I thought!
This was exactly in alignment with what I believed to be an essential part of my journey. A donation of gear to the charity enabled additional people to get out and adventure where they had never before.
This brought about a series of objections and questions from multiple parties about why I wasn’t selling my stuff rather than donating. I was really starting to think that people were missing the point.
The largest objection of all came in regards to my career, or lack of a career pursuit. A declaration of not wanting to go back to an office, sit all day under fluorescent lights, and climb the invisible ladder to misery seemed to stun family and friends alike.
I frequently heard, “But you went to university and have all this experience,” especially from family members who helped fund the academic letters behind my name. No amount of explaining seemed to dull the sound of objections.
So in all of this, I have managed to stay on course, even if it has been a bumpy road, by learning a few lessons and following a few guiding principles to keep the wolves at bay.
If you’re also making a life change and experiencing resistance from the people around you, these ideas may help:
1. Realize that other people’s objections often have more to do with the noise in their heads than the words you say.
Safety, security, and a certain amount of life predictability cloak the people in my life like Linus’ security blanket.
As they watched me doing the proverbial running naked down the street thing, throwing caution to the wind after acknowledging that there was no security net, no new career prospects, and that I wanted to create a life based upon writing and adventuring, there came about an incessant need to throw their blankets over my shoulders to keep me safe from my goal of living a life of simplicity.
Objections are often about other people, not us.
2. Those closest to you may believe they’re an expert on your life.
If I had received a dollar every time I heard, “If I were you, I would…” I would already have a steady stream of income coming in. Remembering that I am the expert of my own life and know why I am on the path I am has helped dull the volume of platitudes I heard on a regular basis.
Trust that you know what’s best for you.
3. Prove to yourself this you’re making the right choice.
Some days it felt like I was the weak animal waiting to get preyed on during my transformation into a new life, because as soon as I would show doubt, insecurity, or even waffle a tiny bit on whether I was doing the right thing for me, the people closest to me pounced.
The best defense to these challenges was proof. As time went by and I stayed on course, their challenges began to decrease in volume. Anyone with doubt became less resistant and some even became satisfied as I became happier and in balance with my new life choices.
When you stay the course, people start to accept it.
4. Have a plan.
I have learned in my new journey that without a plan, I am just a leaf blowing in the wind. It is not enough that I say that I want to make a change. That does not make a parent feel confident in their child’s quest for a new life or allow a partner to have faith that an income will be generated.
So I have made an actionable plan, with milestones and tangible goals that, when achieved, help reinforce my adventurous journey of a new life.
Making a plan helps you and reassures the people who are trying to look out for you.
5. Be patient.
I’ve learned to have patience with others and myself. Recognizing where people come from, the stories in their own heads, and the story in mine assists in keeping me on track.
Keeping perspective and learning to let go of other people’s fears and objections enables you to continue on, one step at a time.
I am by no means an expert on self-help, making life changes, or living a life of simplicity. What I have learned, though, is that other people’s objections can fuel the flame and reinforce our decision to create a new life.
Photo by Alcino