Posts Tagged Life Style

Jump Start Your Journal With A 21 Day Journaling Challenge – 50+ Thought Provoking Journal Prompts

Jump Start Your Journal With A 21 Day Journaling Challenge – 50+ Thought Provoking Journal Prompts

jump start your bullet journalIf you’re anything like me and have a million thoughts swirling around in your head, you probably want to get some of them down on paper, too! For me, journaling is a way to process and make sense of things. It allows me to articulate my thoughts and feelings on any number of things in my life.

You might want to keep track of a busy schedule, find time to work in some daily creativity to your life, be better organized or work towards a goal. Many people want to keep track of things like gratitude or meditation. Maybe you’re trying to build a new habit, like exercising. You could keep a yoga journal or track your progress as you get in shape. Whatever your purpose is, you can tailor your journaling challenge to meet your needs.

What Are The Benefits Of Journaling

what are the benefits of journaling

For me, writing is a way to work through my thoughts and articulate my feelings around something that’s been on my mind. The process of writing helps me define, distill and put words to things I may be feeling, but not able to readily identify.

Journaling has been shown to improve mental health by bringing intention into our lives. A practice of journaling – like a 21-day journaling challenge – brings clarity, improves emotional intelligence, builds mindfulness, increases gratitude and strengthens self-discipline. Simply put, by committing to taking time for yourself through journaling, you’re investing in yourself.

How Do I Start Journaling

how do i start journaling

It’s important to first get a clear idea on what you hope to achieve from starting a daily journal habit. It could be a goal you are wanting to achieve, it could be solving some pain point in your life, or it could be to reconnect with yourself. Whatever it is, take a few minutes to think about it and define what success is going to look like for you.

bullet journal printable designsOnce you know your direction, you can determine the smaller, daily steps you need to accomplish that will lead to your larger successes. You’ll want to take that bigger goal and break it down into simple little actions that you can do each day. No matter how big your aim is, find the simplest thing that you think you can realistically do.

The key here is to orient yourself in a general direction and figure out the first step. It’s important to realize that even if you have missteps in this process, you’re at least making forward progress. If you fail over and over, you’ve discovered multiple ways of knowing what not to do. The benefit of making mistakes is having more data to show what doesn’t work and pointing you in the direction of what does.

People will sometimes get in their own heads about figuring it all out or having all the answers, only to give up. Just start, even if you do it badly, you’ll still be ahead of doing nothing.

From there, use some of the prompts I have provided here for you as a starting point. Tweak them for your purposes if you need to, but the main goal is to just put your pen to paper and write. Even if you decide to write about not knowing what to write about, it’s a start!

How To Do A 21 Day Journaling Challenge

how to do a 21 day journaling challenge

Once you’ve laid out your goals, get a journal and a good pen to write with, I’d suggest coming up with a few go-to questions and writing prompts you can always fall back on. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes, set aside all other distractions and begin to write.

Leuchtturm 1917 notebook
bullet journal pens

A Few Basic Journal Prompts To Get Started:

Use these basic journal prompts to get started journaling if you don’t know where to begin.

Basic Journal Prompts

  • What’s the big thing you need to get done today?
  • What is one thing that you can’t stop thinking about?
  • What do you want more of in life/career/love and what do you want less of?
  • What would make this day or week a great day/week?
  • What guilt am I carrying around with me, how do I address it?
  • Create a list: What are 50 things I love?
  • What’s something that bothers you and what are different ways you could fix it?
  • What are 5 things you need to let go to move forward?

Different Types of Journal Challenges You Can Try

different types of journaling challenges

The nice thing about journals is they are super flexible. You can treat it like a diary, set it up like a bullet journal, or have it be purpose driven. Here are a few different types of journal challenges you can try out, feel free to try a few!

Daily Journaling Challenge

daily journaling challenge

This is a great place to start if you’re just getting into journaling. You can morph into whatever you want and can try some of the specific journaling exercises below to see what works for you! All you have to do is grab your journal and pen and then start writing a few pages at a time. Start with 5-10 minutes each day, but if you’re on a roll, go with the flow.

It can be a good idea to block out time on your calendar each day. Many people like to journal in the morning to set intentions, clarity and focus for their day. If you’re like me, I like journaling right before bed to take all the ideas swirling around my brain and get them on paper. This lets me address them head on and allows me to fall asleep more easily with a calm mind.

Daily Journaling Prompts

  • I couldn’t imagine living without these things…
  • If a younger version of myself were to see me, they’d call me out on ___.
  • I feel most energized when I am doing ___
  • Create a word cloud of what your ideal self would be, summarize it into three rules to live by.
  • What is getting in the way of being happy or reaching your goals, what part do you play in that?
  • What are the ways you could build more meaningful connections with friends, family and love interests?
  • What things do you say you’re going to do, but ended up not? How can you improve your say-do ratio?
  • What are things you like to do that others are willing to pay for; how could you leverage that?
  • What’s one project you’d like to spend more time on, why is it important? Bullet out 5 steps to make it happen.
  • What’s something that you’re not doing out of fear? How would you deal with the worst-case scenario?
  • If your house were to catch on fire, what 10 things would you save from the fire?

Yoga Journal Challenge

yoga journal challenge

While you’re journaling, you might also want to give yoga a try too. Many people who want to add more intention into their lives like to journal and do yoga at the same time; it’s a nice balance of mind and body. I know many yoga instructor certification courses suggest adding daily intention into the mix to help reflect on the process.

Take 15 minutes each day for three weeks to journal about your thoughts and feelings that come up during your 21-day yoga challenge. Journaling can be directly about your process of getting into yoga or it could be wide open as a way to process things to have a more wholistic approach.

21-Day Yoga Journaling Prompts

  • What does balance feel like in your life?
  • How do you recognize when you’re in “the flow”?
  • Where is your focus: on the journey or the destination?
  • How can you best serve your future self?
  • How do you express your creativity? How can you foster that?
  • What things bring energy to your life? What things take energy away?
  • What do you need to be more present in your life?
  • What is your ideal life? What things bring you closer or further from that ideal?
  • What are three words you want to characterize your life? Write about each.
  • Who are the people in your life that you’re grateful for and why? Be specific!

Bullet Journal Challenge

bullet journal challenge

A bullet journal is a great system to organize your thoughts, goals and habits. What I like about the system is that it’s both flexible for many needs and structured in a way to keep the chaos manageable. Start the process by setting up your bullet journal index, key and number your pages: I show you the basics of bullet journaling here.

Each day you will create a daily to-do collection page, then spend some time building out the rest of your bullet journal with purpose built spreads that support your goals. If you’re not sure what to put in your bullet journal, check out my post about how to choose what pages to include in your bullet journal.

Once you’ve got your layouts finished, start with some daily reflections and journal on some of these questions. Then, add it to your index. If you’re feeling really motivated, create a habit tracking page to mark each day you journal!

21-Day Bullet Journal Setup


21-Day Bullet Journaling Prompts

  • What are your top priorities this year? Bullet out 5 steps each to make them happen.
  • What things get in the way of achieving your goals? Brainstorm ways to address them before they happen.
  • What are the biggest nuisances in your daily life and what could you do to fix them?
  • What’s the difference between your actions and your intentions? How could you close that gap?
  • What is a favorite memory of yours, what lessons can you pull to apply moving forward?
  • What’s the best job you’ve had and what’s the worst one? Write about the differences and how to spot them.
  • What types of experiences do you want to have in your life, what about them makes them meaningful?
  • What’s an idea that’s consuming you right now? Journal about that idea.
  • What’s an area of your life that could be improved? Brainstorm about how you could make progress there.

how to start a bullet journal

Daily Gratitude Journal Challenge

daily grattude journal challenge

If you’re like me, it’s helpful to focus on what is good in your life as a way to stay positive. I once heard a saying “Was it a bad day or was it a bad five minutes that you milked all day”. That really stuck with me because I think my life has a lot going for it, but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the one little thing that didn’t go my way. Having a focus on gratitude can help fix that.

Take 5 minutes each day to just reflect on all the good things that happened. You can journal about what the good things were, how they made you feel and why you are grateful for them. You can also try out some of the prompts below. Consider adding in a mood tracker, which can be helpful to give you an objective view on how things are going.

21-Day Gratitude Journaling Prompts

  • Make a list of all the things you are grateful for in your life.
  • Write a gratitude letter to someone important, even if you don’t send it.
  • Take time to reflect on things you take for granted, what are they and how can you recognize them more?
  • Why is a habit of gratitude so difficult? What could we do to change that?
  • When everything goes wrong, what do you fall back on? Write about that.
  • What kindnesses have others shown you and what did they teach you?
  • What failures are you grateful for? What lesson was learned from them?
  • What went right when you really needed it to? Write about the experience and how that felt.

21 Day Meditation Journal Challenge

21 day meditation journal chalenge

Many of you know introspection has been a big part of my journey through life and that takes a willingness to be alone with my thoughts. Meditation is a great way to settle my mind when I need to be in the right head space for important work in my own life or in business.

There are many great resources on how to meditate, but realize that journaling in and of itself is a form of meditation. You can reflect on your meditation went the thoughts that tried to push their way into your mind while doing it. You can also meditate for 10 minutes and then start to journal with a clearer mind.

21-Day Meditation Journaling Prompts

  • My favorite way to spend my day is ___. What lessons can I take and apply from that?
  • Make a word cloud of words that you want your life to embody. Summarize them into a single sentence.
  • What are the things that bring me back to center when things are stressful or not going my way?
    Make a list of what is enough for you.
  • What was one of your life’s biggest mistakes, what lessons can you take away from that?
  • What are three things you could do to live a more fulfilling life?
  • What rules should you set to determine when to say yes or no to something?
  • What words do you need to hear from important people in your life?

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Journaling Challenge

how to get the most out of journaling challenge

Taking just a few minutes to journal each day will bring a lot of intention and clarity to your life. Putting down the phone, switching off the TV or breaking from your busy day to spend a moment on self-development and discovery each day can have a huge impact for little investment.

Here are some tips to make the most out of your time journaling:

  • Try to take a step back and challenge your assumptions and self-limiting thoughts
  • Defend your time for reflection, make it a priority and guard it well during the challenge
  • If you don’t know where to start, start badly to build momentum
  • Remove barriers and excuses to building a journaling habit before they come up
  • Calendar time each day to make it a priority

I hope that was helpful to kick starting your journaling habit. Doing a daily challenge can be a great way to build meaningful habits into your daily routine. So, grab your journal and get writing!

Your Turn!

  • What tips do you have for people just starting out?
  • What prompts do you like to write about?

5 Easiest Vegetables To Grow For Beginner Gardeners

5 Easiest Vegetables To Grow For Beginner Gardeners

5 Vegetables To Grow For First Time Gardeners

I’ve been there, the seed catalogues come in January and you get all excited about what to grow this year in your garden.  It can be hard to figure out where to start, so I thought I’d share my recommendations on five easy vegetables to grow in your garden in your first year.  The biggest mistake new gardeners make is not starting small:  They have too big of a garden, they try to grow too many things, and in the end they get burnt out.

My advice after teaching people how to start gardening for years is to only start with a few things.  Three to five types of vegetables in a single variety of each.  This will give you a really good foundation to start your gardening journey.

Grow What You Eat

grow the vegies that you like to eat basketA very common thing that I see newbie gardeners do is get excited by what they could grow, but they may not really like things or they try new stuff before they find out if they really like them.  If you were to look in your kitchen right now, what vegetables are you purchasing from the store?  Many of those could be good contenders for your first year’s short list.

There will be some things that you buy that aren’t in season or are more complicated to grow, but many of what most people like will be on our list below.  So consider what you eat, choose the easier ones to grow and let’s stack the deck in our favor!

Get Your Garden Prepared

It’s important to not just think about the vegetables that you’re going to grow, but to also think about growing good soil.  Have good soil is really what makes a garden go from okay to amazing, so don’t skimp on this step.  If you have never gardened before, check out our post on how to prepare your soil for a vegetable garden.

From Seeds Or From Seedlings

There are some things that do really well from seeds and some things that starting with a seedling is the way to go for first time gardeners.  Seedlings are simply very young plants that have been started ahead of time indoors, that you later transfer outdoors into your garden.

seedlingsIt can be tempting in your first year or two to in addition of starting a garden to also raising seedlings indoors, but my advice is to avoid this.  Your first few years to learn gardening is a lot, to add learning to start seeds into seedlings is too much and you’ll just burn out.

Below I’ll mention which ones I’d start from seed and which ones I’d start from seedlings.

gardening 101

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What Plants To Start With?

Here are a few of my favorite plants to start with.  These are pretty easy, widely available and you can find lots of knowledge from local people and online. Start with three to five of these in a single variety.  It will be tempting to choose a bunch of types of vegitables and a few varieties of each, but doing so will bring complexity, stress and a greater chance of failure.  We don’t want that!

Zucchini

zuchinni

zucchnis from gardenThere is an old joke that I like to tell.  In the city people lock their doors so people don’t steal their stuff, in the country they lock their cars so someone doesn’t leave them a bag of zucchini and squash in their front seat.  What is really great about this plant is that it grows really fast, its very simple and it produces a ton of vegetables.

I’d suggest starting out with three plants of zucchini if you have a family.  There will come a point where you can’t eat anymore (trust me), at that point I usually just pull the plants out of my garden and compost them. For your first year I’d start these from seedlings, they’re easy to find, cheap and makes it easy to start.

One piece of advice that I give is I’ve found that there comes a point when I start to see squash bugs on my plants.  When I see more than 2 or 3 of them on a plant, I pull that plant right then and there.  New gardeners will often be hesitant to prune or pull out plants, you can’t be afraid to.  Squash bugs are very difficult to combat, every trick I’ve read online doesn’t do anything for my garden.  So I plant a few extra than I need and then just pull the plants as soon as I see the bugs and am content with whatever squash I got to that point, usually I’m sick of it by then anyways!

Tomatoes

tomatoes

These are a favorite for most people and a garden tomato can’t be beat.  I would absolutely use seedlings for tomatoes.  The two varieties I suggest are “Early Girls” or “Roma”.  If you have short growing season I’d suggest Early Girls because they produce pretty quickly and earlier than most tomatoes.

tomatoes just picked

A few notes about tomatoes:  If you find that you are getting a lot of flowers, but they’re not really translating into tomatoes it’s often because they aren’t pollinating well enough.  This could be because they’re aren’t enough natural pollinators like bees or Humidity is binding up the pollen.  Tomatoes will often stop fruiting when it gets really hot, then start back up when summer temperatures start to wind down.

If you live in a very hot and humid area and Early Girls aren’t working for you, consider the variety “Pink Brandywine”.  They produce great tomatoes that are huge and tend to fair a bit better in higher heat.

Finally know that you will need to support the tomatoes in some manner.  This could be a cage, it could be a be a steak or string.  My favorite way to stake these is get a 6 foot pole that is durable metal coated in plastic and then use the rolls of twist ties you can buy at the store.  I find other options just don’t hold up over the years or are too cumbersome.

Radishes

radishes

I’ll be the first to say these aren’t my personal favorite, but they are super easy to grow and they open up the soil some as they grow.  I’ll plant these for the chickens to peck out of the dirt and for friends who like them.  Radishes take between 14 and 21 days to grow full which is very fast and they are a cooler weather crop so early spring or fall is a great time for these.

radishes from garden

These are very easy to grow from seeds and they’re very cheap to buy a lot of seeds.  The seeds are very small, so what I will do is prep my bed nice and even, then just scratch the surface a little bit with the back of a garden rake.  The rule of thumb for seed depth is 3 times the length of the longest dimension of the seed.

In the case of radishes this means you barley cover them if at all, just make sure you keep them nice and moist with a fine mist (not a spray).  It can be easy for these to dry out, but since we plant in the cooler parts of the year it’s a little easier.  For spacing I follow the same approach I use with lettuce, so read below to find out how I do it.

Lettuce

lettuce

There are a million varieties of lettuce so it can get overwhelming.  Ask around locally to see if people have favorites that do well in your area.  I often just get a lettuce seed mix which is several kinds all mixed together.   You loosely broadcast the seeds over a smoothed and prepared bed and lightly water.

leafy greens

Since we are starting from seeds, we need to know how to space them so they’re not so close that they crowd the others, but not too far that we allow for weeds or wasted space.  For lettuce I typically just shake the seeds out over the entire bed as evenly as I can, then when they start to grow up to about 2 inches, I go in and pluck out some of them to make enough space.  I typically go for about four inches apart from other plants, but I also try to choose the strongest ones.  It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Lettuce is grown in cooler weather, so spring or fall, the heat of the summer is often too much for most varieties, but there are some options for those who live in hot climates.  From seeding to harvest is about 3 weeks and you often can cut the leaves right above the soil about an inch and the lettuce will grow back another two times or so.

Beans

beans

green beansThe two main types are “bush” or “pole” beans, the only difference really is that the pole beans need something to climb.  I often just stick with bush beans because it’s less poles and structures I have to deal with. These are a great plant to start out with in your first garden.

Beans are easily started from seed and are a larger seed.  Because we know the rule of thumb: plant three times the longest part of the seed, they typically get buried about an inch or so below the soil.  I usually take my rake and with the handle side make a little divot, drop the seeds about 6 inches apart and then lightly brush the soil of the trough back over the seeds.  Again, we don’t need to get out our ruler here!

 

what to grow for begginers gardening

So those are my recommendations on how to start a garden the easy way, to stack the deck in your favor and keep it all fun.  In the comments let me know what you’re going to try.

Your Turn!

  • What’s on your list to plant this year?
  • What tips do you have for first time gardeners?

 

How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

live a minimalist life

If you’re wondering how to live a minimalist lifestyle, you’re probably a lot like me when I first started. I had an “okay” life, but one fateful Friday afternoon the economy tanked, my career disappeared and I started asking some big questions. Questions that lead me to a simple life and started me on my journey to figure out how to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Let’s start with the basics…

What Is The Definition Of A Minimalist?

Minimalism is the practice of intentionality as it relates to your relationship with possessions and how you live your life.

While many people focus on the decluttering and downsizing, for me, minimalism is all about intention. It is not that having stuff is bad, it’s when the thing you own, end up owning you that’s the problem. We want to have exactly what we need and nothing more because it affords us a life that is perfectly aligned with our vision of an ideal life.

What Does Minimalist Life Look Like Practically?

what does a minimalist life look like

For me, it was all about building a life where the things I wanted more of in my life became my focus and those things that I wanted less of were either eliminated or minimized. It was there that I laid out some parameters of my version of a minimalist lifestyle:

 

  1. Focus on what matters: quality time with loved ones
  2. Earn a living while being location independent
  3. Be debt free
  4. Have a flexible schedule with minimal commitments
  5. Pursue what’s interesting and, where possible, profitable
  6. Minimize distractions and unpleasant elements in life

minimalist interior

What you’ll notice here is nothing about that says “own less stuff” or “declutter my possessions”. But things like being debt free means I don’t buy a lot to begin with and minimizing distractions means not having a bunch of stuff standing between me and my goals.

How To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle

how to life a minimalist lifestyle

Minimalism can take many forms; the important part is to figure out your flavor of minimalism and optimize your life towards your ideal life. You could try to live with very few possessions, you could put together a capsule wardrobe, or you could adopt a frugal lifestyle to only work a few days a week.

To get started with a more minimalist lifestyle, you might want to consider a few different approaches

Try Decluttering Your Possessions For A Simpler Lifestyle

declutter your lifestyle

To live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. Take some time to declutter your living area. Focus on keeping things that you value deeply, and toss things that you don’t need any longer. I took about six months to fully declutter my space. Giving yourself time will ensure that you are intentional about what you keep and what you discard.

I recommend you kick start your decluttering by doing a 30 day Decluttering Challenge, which gives you simple 15 minute things to declutter your way to a decluttered home.

I like to complete the decluttering process in sweeps; the first sweep, get rid of anything that you know you no longer use. Take a few weeks to live without those things, and notice if the things you’ve kept are serving you. I did three sweeps in total, after noticing that I had held on to things following the first two sweeps that I still didn’t need. After the third and final sweep, I was shocked to see how few possessions I actually used in my daily life.

Question Everything About Your Lifestyle

Question everything about your lifestyle

The best skill you can hone in your life is the ability to take a step back and look at things objectively. As humans, we have blind spots into things in our lives that hold us back. It could be a toxic relationship, it could be not holding ourselves accountable when we should have stepped up, it’s the million little things that bother us as we go about our day. Any time I realize I just got used to something or hear “that’s just how we’ve always done it” I start to ask questions.

While getting square with things in our career, our relationships and our money is critical, those are things that take a lot of time because you need to navigate changes carefully. I found that me fixing small little things in my life that bothered me was a game changer for me.

I had a whisk that I’d make eggs with every morning, but I hated it because the handle was so uncomfortable. Its such a little thing to be bothered by, so I just put up with it. Then one day I realized every day I’d pick up that whisk and it bothered me and said aloud “whisk are like $5 why am I putting up with this!”.

question everything about your lifestyle

So, I threw it in the trash and went shopping for my “perfect” whisk. And now, I enjoy making eggs each day.

Stay Mindful And Live With Intention

a lifestyle filled with intention

Minimalists live intentionally. If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it! When I started my minimalist journey, I was in a job and on a path didn’t serve me. Within six months, I had made a plan to change it and took made the leap.

I like to think about what my ideal life looks like, and then work toward that. Cutting out the things that aren’t serving you is the first step to creating the life that you want. An exercise that helps me is to write down what an ideal day would look like for you in five years’ time. Then outline what things you want more of in your life and what things you want less of in your life. With that in hand, you have a goal post to work towards as a goal.

Consider Your Lifestyle Around Relationships

a lifestyle that focuses on quality relationships

Going minimalist to me meant that I was spending time with only the people I wanted to spend time with. Though I have many friends, only a few of them are people who motivate and inspire me to grow and learn. I evaluate my relationships on how well they fit into my future ideal life and focus there.

To me, becoming minimalist meant focusing my social time on people who lifted me up. This way, I was maximizing my social time on people that mattered and freeing up time to spend on other priorities in my life.

Many people use this time to evaluate relationships in their lives, then let others fade away. While many people view this as cutting people out, I prefer to look at it as a relationship that has run its course, it’s natural arc. You don’t have to be rude or dramatic about it, in many cases I’d just stop accepting invitations and over time they stopped coming.

Be Intentional With Your Time

being intentional in our lives about our time

Reclaim your time. Instead of RSVP’ing “yes” to everything you’re invited to, take some time to think about whether it’s something that you are excited about attending. Be intentional with how you spendminimalist journal goals time management your time. I realized the biggest challenge that I had to overcome was getting over any uncomfortableness with saying “no”.

When I started my minimalist journey, I decided to cut out a lot of stuff in my work, my social calendar and more. I knew having a flexible schedule hinged on me taking control of things.

While saying no to things at work can be tricky, I developed some tricks to get out of meetings, cut out unnecessary tasks and free up a lot of time. In my social life, I stopped spending time with friends that didn’t meet the criteria of “is this relationship growing?” or “is this person matching the effort I’m bringing to the relationship?”

Simplify Your Wardrobe

simpler lifestyle with a simplier wardrobe

One of the biggest changes I made was adopting a daily “uniform”. I don’t need professional dress clothes because I work for myself and rarely go into an office. My uniform consists of a simple grey T-shirt, a white undershirt, one type of jeans and one type of shorts. I also have identical work out clothes, 2 pairs of shoes and a bathing suit. All my shirts are identical in cut and color, they work with everything I have.

how to have a really simple closet of clothes

This is obviously an extreme approach, but it suits me because I never have to think about it. I grab one shirt; one bottom and I don’t have to spend time making sure it matches etc. I just grab and go, it’s so easy!

If that’s too much for you, consider a capsule wardrobe which lets you have some variety, but still keeps it simple.

Doubling Down On Debt Free Living

live a debt free lifestyle

A huge part of minimalism is creating financial freedom and the number one enemy of freedom is having debt. Throughout my journey working hard to get debt free has made almost everything else in my life better. If I didn’t like a job, I had the money to find a new one. If the economy tanked, living below my means made it easier. If I had a big bill come up unexpectedly, I had the cash in the bank.

Minimalism has affected my life in ways that I never thought possible. When I started my rent was $1500 a month, after I built my tiny house, it only cost me $15 a month (not a typo). It’s hard to describe how life feels when you literally can earn an entire year’s worth of living expenses in under a months’ worth of work.

The security it brings, the peace of mind you have and the ability to weather the worst life can throw at you is a blessing of the highest level. It also allowed me to be very picky about what jobs I took, how I spent my time, where I lived and the life I live.

Maximizing Your Earning Potential

maximize income

One area I don’t see a lot of talk about is not only getting out of debt through frugal living, but maximizing your income. In a time that I was cutting my cost of living dramatically by living as a minimalist in a tiny house, I was also working to increase my income potential.

Why? Because part of being an adult is paying your bills, paying taxes and saving for retirement, but I didn’t want to spend all day doing that. The ideal situation was to do work that absolutely loved, but at an hourly that meant I didn’t have to work a ton if I didn’t want to.

To do that, I choose skills I enjoyed, but also were incredibly valuable to others. Meaning, I had skills that could earn other people a lot of money. For me, that meant I consult on marketing, where I could charge sometimes up to $1000 an hour. This allowed me to do focused work to earn my income fast and move on with my day. It also meant when I needed funds for a trip, a big purchase, etc. I could pick up additional work to pay cash.

Adopt A healthy Lifestyle With Simple Meals

healthy lifestyle

I love to cook and since I have more time in my life now, I pretty much cook all my meals from scratch every day. With the added bonus of being healthier and cheaper, I eat really well and, for me, cooking is a way I relax. You can adopt a weekly meal schedule, plan your meals ahead or do meal prepping. Whatever works for you, just think about how a simplified diet can make daily life easier and healthier.

a simple diet with simple foods

Take Time For Introspection

be introspective about your lifestyle choices

One of the best “investments” I’ve made in my life is to take time alone for introspection, which is just you sitting with your own thoughts to analyze your thoughts and emotions. In a world where we are so “busy” I think people are terrified to spend time with our own thoughts because they’d come face to face some uncomfortable truths.

The biggest thing is to just make space to think. So put your phone on silent in the other room, turn off the TV and block out distractions and just sit with your thoughts. You’re going to feel a lot of internal resistance to this, but pushing through to the other side is where the magic happens. Ask big open ended questions and don’t judge the answers that come.

 

Learn To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle:

I’ve written a lot about living a more simple lifestyle, so check out other was you can do the same in other areas of your life!

 

Your Turn!

  • How would simple living affect your daily life?
  • Would you be willing to give minimalism a try?

Great Gifts for Minimalists: Meaningful Ideas They’ll Appreciate

Great Gifts for Minimalists: Meaningful Ideas They’ll Appreciate

Great Gifts for MinimalistsNavigating gift-giving around the holidays is often tricky for those with minimalists on their list. After all, how do you find gifts for minimalists when they don’t buy, need, or even want much?

After years of being a minimalist living in a 150 square foot tiny house living, I get asked this question every year. People often tell me they have no idea what to give me (the truth is they don’t need to give gifts at all, but I definitely appreciate the thoughtfulness).

So, I decided to compile a list of the top gifts for minimalists. Hopefully, you’ll find something for every minimalist on your list. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. No matter what you give, chances are they’ll appreciate the sentiment.

And if YOU are the minimalist and don’t know how to help confused family and friends figure out gift-giving this season, send them this post to give them a few great ideas!

Self-Improvement Gifts for Minimalists

Self-Improvement Gifts for Minimalists

Minimalists are often goal-getters. They’re all about self-improvement, and if you love and care about a minimalist, you want to see them succeed. You may need to do a little homework—find out goals the person is working towards. Learning about what is on a person’s bucket list is a great way to get ideas to help them achieve.

Reading and learning materials are always an excellent gift on the path to self-improvement—and it doesn’t need to be limited to ONLY tutorials and self-improvement books, either. After all, what’s a better mental health break than reading or listening to a great book?

If people ask you what you want, you can think of gifts to help achieve your own goals. Here are a few ideas for great self-improvement gifts.

Kindle Paperwhite

kindle as a gift for a minimalistThin, lightweight, and now waterproof, a Kindle is an excellent gift for someone who’s cutting back on clutter. Books on a Kindle are a great way to give someone a great read without taking up more space on the bookshelf. Yes, an electronic reader is often a divisive topic for bibliophiles, so feel out their preference first. If they already own an e-reader, then a book recommendation is a terrific gift.


Audible Subscription

audbile as a giftRight now, an Audible subscription comes with 30 days free, then $14.95/month. I love Audible because it lets me get more “reading” in when I’m driving, commuting, or on a road trip. Making the most of my travel time allows me to work on my goals with a business or self-improvement book, get in fun reading with a fiction book, or learn all about something new.

ryans picks for audible and kindle ebooks

Tiny Houses

tiny house living book

Tiny House Living

by Ryan Mitchell (I might be biased)

a pattern language

A Pattern Language

by Chris Alexander

the minimalist mindset

The Minimalist Mindset

by Danny Dover

Sci-Fi

children of time

Children of Time

by Adrian Tchaikovsky

infinite

Infinite

by Jeremey Robinson

the passage

The Passage

by Justin Cronin

Business Books

the coaching habit

The Coaching Habit

by Michael Stanier

strengths finder

Strengths Finder 2.0

from Gallup

the 100 dollar startup

The $100 Startup

by Chris Guillebeau

Young Adult

the maze runner

The Maze Runner

by James Dashner

city of ember

City of Ember

by Jeanne DuPrau

matched

Matched

by Ally Condie

Adventure

ringworld

Ringworld

by Larry Niven

hell divers

Hell Divers

by Nicholas Smith

the martian

The Martian

Andy Weir

Thriller

pines

Pine

by Blake Crouch

orphan x

Orphan X

by Greg Hurwitz

bird box

Bird Box

Josh Malerman

lessons as gifts
Lessons
If you know your gift recipient is interested in taking lessons, they are a terrific gift. There are many options available through local community organizations and businesses. A few ideas to explore:

  • Dance
  • Musical Instrument
  • Art Classes
  • Cooking
membership gifts
Fitness Classes and Memberships
Fitness classes and memberships are also excellent gifts for minimalists (assuming the person on your list is interested in the fitness area). It always helps to ask or offer up a few ideas they may enjoy and allow them to choose the class or plan that fits their preferences and lifestyle. Fitness ideas include:

  • Finding a unique fitness experience local to their town—yoga, hiking, kayaking, etc.
  • Membership to a local gym
  • Yoga classes
  • Sessions with a personal trainer
  • Standup paddle board
  • Register for a marathon (if they’re into it)

Entertainment Gifts for Minimalists

Entertainment Gifts for Minimalists

With so many subscription services available these days, there are tons of ideas for entertaining gifts for minimalists that are inexpensive and enjoyable. There’s also the option to give the gift of an experience. Tickets or another event experience is my absolute favorite gift to give and receive because it means I get to do something fun with the person I care about. The gift of entertainment could mean dinner out, tickets to an event, or another adventure. I think of what the person likes and often get two tickets. Not only is it an excellent experience, but we experience it together.

subscription gifts for minimalists
Movie, Music & TV Subscription Services

  • Hulu: The first 30 days are free then plans start at $5.99/month
  • Spotify Premium: First three months are free, and then plans start at $9.99/month
  • Disney+: Launching December 2019, plans start at $7/month or $70/year
magazine subscriptions for minimalists
Magazine Subscriptions

Check out digital subscriptions, which are an excellent option for most magazines. Look for a publication fitting their area of interest.

  • For the coffee lover: Drift magazine $52/year – published 2x/year
  • For the avid reader: Ruminate magazine $50/year (subscription directly supports literary writers and visual artists)
  • For women with a minimalist mindset: Real Simple magazine $10/year
tickets to events as gifts
Tickets to Events

  • Local sports events
  • Theater
  • Concert
  • Brewery tours or vineyard tours/wine tastings

hobbies for small spaces

Gifts of Time Ideas

Gifts of Time Ideas

Giving and receiving the gift of someone’s time is so meaningful. What could you do to help someone around the house or do something for them they would appreciate? The bonus of giving the gift of time is you often get to spend more time with your friend or loved one.

babysitting as a gift
Gifts of Time

  • Babysitting
  • Pet sitting
  • Dinner & a movie
  • Game night: bring over a meal and games
  • Helping hands: use your special skill or talent to help weed flower beds, plant vegetables, reupholster chairs, or paint a living room.

Consumables

consumables as gifts

Next up are items people eat or use up. A perfect example of this is food items. We are all busy, and most of us like food, so making a treat or buying a favorite food is a great gift. Think of difficult-to-make items or gifts that are an indulgence. Here are a few exceptional items I’ve found.

candles as gifts
Health & Beauty Products

foods as gifts
Food Products

  • Wine/beer
  • Baked goods: cakes, cookies, quick breads, candy
  • Jellies, jams, and pickles
  • Homemade Jerky
  • A care package of favorite treats
  • SnackNation Box: $24 for the first box, then $40 month
  • Candy Club Subscription: $30/month (first box is 50% off)
  • Gift cards to local retailers, restaurants, and food trucks
  • Coffee and tea gift cards
  • Membership to the local co-op
  • CSA subscription (community supported agriculture/farm share box with fresh produce each week)
pet products as gifts
Pet Products

  • Rescue Box: $23/month (think Bark Box, but proceeds go to supply food and vaccines to shelter animals)

Practical, Buy Once-in-a-Lifetime Gift Items

Buy Once-in-a-Lifetime Gift Items

I do this a lot, since I don’t need much and I don’t buy much either. So, when there’s something I need to replace or buy new, I hold off and suggest it as a gift when others ask. For example, I’ve needed new shoes for a month or so, but I’m holding off. This way, those who want to give me a gift can do so, and it’s something that I really need to replace a worn-out item.

buy once in a lifetime products

When I do need to purchase something, I get the highest-quality, longest-lasting product possible. For more ideas, check out my post on how to find items you only need to buy once in a lifetime.

rugged mountains bullet journal printables
pendleton blankets

Charity Gifts for Minimalists

Charity Gifts for Minimalists

If you absolutely can’t think of anything to give (or anything you want to receive), consider a charitable donation. Asking friends or family to donate to a cause you’re passionate about is a meaningful option, especially around the holidays. Giving back is something everyone (minimalists and non-minimalists alike) can appreciate!

charitable giving ideas
Charitable Giving Ideas

  • Donation to a favorite charity
  • Sponsor their team for a charity walk
  • Volunteer time with them at a local non-profit (walk dogs, serve meals, sort food at a pantry, etc.)
  • Museum memberships (Check out the North American Reciprocal Museum Association for a membership that allows privileges at a favorite vacation spot, too.)
  • Botanical garden memberships
  • Ecology center memberships (They often offer tours, birdwatching, even canoe rentals.)

As you see, gift-giving doesn’t have to mean giving someone more “stuff” to clutter up their homes and lives. There are plenty of gifts for minimalists that are useful, meaningful, and even give to the greater good.

Your Turn!

  • What’s your favorite gift to give to others?
  • What’s the most practical gift you’ve ever received?

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

Why Is Simple Living So Hard? 5 Tips for Simplifying Your Life (From Someone Who’s Done It)

why is simple living so hardLast year, I did a no-spend challenge. For an entire year, I didn’t buy anything except food.

It doesn’t get much more “simple living” than living in a tiny house and spending nothing for a whole year, but even after I got into the groove of buying nothing, I still felt the pull of the busy world around me. So, throughout my no-buy year, I kept a list of all the items I wanted to buy when the year was over.

Ryan living simply in a tiny houseI live in a 150 square foot tiny house. I follow a minimalist lifestyle and own less than 1000 items to my name, but at the end of my no-spend year, there were 30 items on my wish list! However, as I went through my list and prioritized, I realized there was only ONE item I truly wanted. Despite my commitment to simple living, even I get tripped up by advertising traps and marketing. We live in a world where we’re constantly told that we need more things to feel happy.

It’s no wonder the simple life has so much appeal. Most people are stressed out, overloaded, and working themselves to the bone. If you look at the way American society has changed in the last 50 years or so, it becomes obvious. When I was growing up, I was told you go to school and get a degree. From there, you get a good job, do a good job, and build job security. You add money to your 401(k), buy a lovely little house with a picket fence. You’ll meet your future wife and create a family, living out the American dream lifestyle. Eventually, you retire fat and happy at age 65.

But in 2009, I graduated with my masters. I got a job and the company I was working for folded six months in. The rug was completely pulled out from under me. I realized the narrative I had been living wasn’t realistic, something had to change.

what's right for you, question to ask when you want to live a simple lifeNow, society is really good at pulling you back on the conventional path. For example, when I was looking for flexible employment I could do anywhere, I saw hundreds of options for jobs that would have tied me to a 9-5 corporate ball and chain. It was daunting to realize I had to create my dream job for myself. It would have been easier to follow society’s path.

What you should ask is what’s right for you…and also, what’s wrong for you? Simple living means different things to different people. Those definitions don’t work for everyone. Often, it’s easier to define what you don’t want. Most people hesitate to say exactly what they want, but they can quickly pinpoint EXACTLY what they don’t. “I don’t want to work for this jerk anymore,” or, “I don’t want to trip over clutter around my house,” or, “I don’t ever want to hear from a debt collector again.” Then, what you want is the opposite.

What You Need To Know BEFORE You Try Simple Living

what you need to know before you try simple living

Do you think you’re ready to rise to the challenge of simple living?

Before you try simple living, you must explore your reasons. People are often hoping to leave their old life behind but embracing a simpler life won’t magically erase your past. Simple living isn’t the ultimate solution to every problem in your life.

It’s important to unpack your baggage and deal with it. When people see others in tiny houses, they often say, “Look at that person, they look so happy! Tiny houses are the secret to happiness.”

Honestly, happiness doesn’t have anything to do with a smaller home. It’s because the person in the tiny house has decided, “these things are important to me” and “these other things aren’t.” When you see people living a simple life happily, it’s because they’ve gone through the pain of unpacking their emotional baggage.

simple living requires introspection

Simple living requires introspection. One affliction in America is the busyness culture. We are so afraid to slow down because we would be left alone with our thoughts and for most people, that is terrifying. So we put a screen in front of our face. We jam-pack our schedules. We keep our homes filled to the brim. We don’t allow ourselves to slow down and think. We can’t enjoy the experience because we’re too busy taking a selfie to show others how much “fun” we are having, so much so, we haven’t had a substantive conversation with the people we are with that would make a memory, but later that week we’d tell our therapist we don’t feel connected.

In my experience, the best investment I’ve made is time alone with myself. It was the most productive time I’ve spent, and it pays dividends every day.

One saying I follow is: people are happy because they’re happy people. It’s not because of the stuff we own, the house we live in, the place we travel to, or the job we do. We’re happy because we choose to be that way despite the bad things in life that inventibly come up.

The Pros and Cons of Simple Living Like A Pro

pros and cons of simple living

After my company folded, I did a lot of soul-searching. I realized I wanted a different, less-traditional job—basically, a job that I had to create for myself. Could I have taken the cube farm route? Sure! But I know I wouldn’t have been as happy or satisfied.

But building my simpler life didn’t happen overnight. It was a slow and steady process. If I had to take away one lesson from the experience, it would be:

it takes time to start to live simply

Simple living requires time to transition, but it’s so worth it!

There were plenty of bumps along the way too. Like, when I told my parents that I was going to take a simpler job, scale back, and blog full-time. I remember my mom was seriously worried (even though she’s incredibly supportive).

Then when I started to build my tiny house, I found that many people were curious and some of them critical. One day as I was working on my place a lady stopped at watched for a while. She started asking me all kinds of questions about my home. I’ll never forget her parting words, “Good luck finding a wife who will want to live in your tiny house.” I remember thinking maybe she was right. Perhaps I was making a mistake. Which brings me to the second point:

You need to question everything when you want to live a simple life

Simple living means people will question and critique your life.

But the truth is, those people are questioning you, because there are aspects of their own life they’re struggling with. That’s when I learned how self-centered people truly are. They may look at how you don’t need as much “stuff” or how you’ve chosen a less-traditional job, or a smaller home. You may hear, “I could never do that!” And the truth is, they probably couldn’t.

simple living isn't for everyone

Simple living isn’t for everyone.

I also discovered this as I started dating. I found out that there are pros and cons of living a simple life. Yes, people question your choices (and maybe even your sanity), but those who stay in your life are really worth keeping. I’ve found the women attracted to the simple life are really grounded. They aren’t hung up on superficial stuff, and they’re aligned with my worldview. Being open and honest about wanting to live simply, attracted women I wanted to date, and dissuaded those who wouldn’t have been a match anyway.

The same is true with friends. I’ve found that as my life has become simpler, I’ve found more time to spend with the people who really matter to me. It helps you narrow your focus and figure out who is truly supportive and needed in your life.

relationships are important when you focus on what's important

Simple living helps you form closer relationships.

Today, my friends sometimes joke I don’t work at a real job. I just “run a blog.” But then they see me headed off to other countries. They look on when I get to spend a few weeks (or months) in Croatia, Australia, Stockholm, or the UK. They ask me how I take morning hikes on a Wednesday when they’re working their 9-5.

The truth is, because I’ve chosen a simple, less traditional path, I’ve been able to accomplish many big goals. I blog for a living. I write books. I spend time with those who mean a lot to me. My time is more valued, and my life feels more meaningful. Although I’m not a trust-fund kid, by any means, I don’t have debt, and I travel often.

to live simply you need to know what your goals are

Simple living helps you achieve a life you design and remove obstacles.

When it comes to simple living, if you want it, it’s achievable. There’s no secret sauce or trick to simple living. It’s about deciding on the goal that’s right for you, figuring out how to align it with your lifestyle, and then pursuing the goal single-mindedly.

You might think, “Being my own boss, living debt-free, eliminating clutter, cutting back stress—those all sound awesome! I want that!”

And indeed, simple living is possible in some form for everyone. But there are a lot of misconceptions about simple living out there. A lot of people get an idyllic notion stuck in their head that isn’t accurate or aligned to their needs.

farm cabin tiny house

I’ve met a lot of people who jump into living in a cabin in the woods, or they go out and buy a full-fledged hobby farm in the country. They haven’t found out what’s right for them. They’re subscribing to someone else’s definition of simple living, which is a dangerous mistake that will only leave you searching for answers.

When you jump into a new lifestyle out of nowhere, you’re basically saying, “I don’t like my life now. I’m going to live a new life.” But what happens is you end up importing all the problems your former life had: all its definitions, labels, and problems.

understand who you are at your core

Simple living doesn’t change who you are at your core.

So, you want to become a homesteader. You go out and buy land and a barn in a spot you’ve never been to. You fill the barn with animals you’ve never raised before. Then you wake up one morning, and your life is not simple at all. In fact, you’re stuck with a pretty big problem. You never leave the farm because you need to milk the goats, tend chickens, and put the cows out to pasture.

It’s all about finding the simple lifestyle that’s livable for you. For example, I would love to own a few cows and goats, but I also love to travel. I can’t commit to animals that need milking twice a day, every day, or they go off milk. I couldn’t even leave for a weekend trip, and it wouldn’t work with my life.

its not a magic bullet

Simple living doesn’t make your life perfect, but it helps you find more meaning.

In fact, sometimes simple living is really challenging—even difficult. But, it’s in that struggle we find the beauty and satisfaction of a simple life. Research has found that when things come easy for us, we don’t derive as much value out of it. Although a life free of stress sounds terrific at first, it’s struggle and adversity that bring us meaning. I’ve found this very accurate for myself. The things I’m most thankful for were the most difficult. Striving and strife make us value it more. Simple living isn’t easy, but it also brings us a great deal of meaning.

The Logistical Challenges of Simple Living

challenges of simple living

Aside from the philosophical pros and cons of simple living, there are a few logistical challenges as well. It’s important to understand these barriers and consider all aspects BEFORE you move toward a simple life.

the space that you live in might not be largeSpace: When people consider moving into tiny homes, they think they have to live in a tiny house of 200-300 square feet when it might not be right for them. The truth is, 200 feet isn’t going to work for some people, particularly if you have a family. You won’t feel happy with five people in a super tiny home. So, maybe instead, you sell your 4,000 square foot house and buy a 1,000 square foot house. Find something for half the mortgage and use the money to travel as a family.

living simply might actaully cost more moneyMoney: It sounds counter intuitive, but even a simple life costs money, there are times where simple living may even cost more than your old life depending on certain factors. If you want to live simply in a city, you still need to earn an income. You still need to understand your budget. On the surface a simpler life may seem cheaper, but you still need to look at your relationship with money. Why do you spend? How can you simplify your finances and still feel satisfied? Is spending X dollars a month in rent or on your mortgage getting you closer or moving you further away? What steps can you take to get your money under control?

understanding why you buy thingsWants: You need to get down to the underlying reason you want an item. After all, no one buys a $100 designer t-shirt because they NEED it. They buy it because they want to show they can afford it. Why? Because they want a girl to like them? Why? Because they really want love and companionship. Many people are addicted to (fleeting) happiness they think they can buy, which doesn’t actually satisfy their needs. We’ve all heard of retail therapy. It’s a hard habit to break.

cutting out toxic relationshipsRelationships: People run into the obstacle of relationships because they don’t know how to prioritize and say no. Simplifying your life doesn’t only mean tossing out belongings you don’t need and downsizing. It means finding ways to get more control over your schedule. You want to spend time with the people who mean the most to you, doing things your love, in a way that is on your own terms. When I simplified, I cut back to only the people who were important to me and who I wanted to invest time in. The others, I cut out.

figure out what you do and don't want to spend your time onTime: Simple living takes time. One of the biggest obstacles I faced when simplifying was realizing I had to go through the process of figuring out what I wanted. I had to get out of debt. I had to figure out how to become location-independent, own my own business, and deal with my own baggage. It took me years from the time I started my blog to quit my job. During that time, I was downsizing possessions, building my tiny house, and navigating my path. What seemed so simple ended up taking me 6 or 7 years to achieve. And guess what, I’m still working at it even today.

simple living means making choices that are hardSacrifice: When I started to simplify, my family announced they were going on a trip to Italy. Now, family time is extremely important to me. But I had set really aggressive financial goals to pay off my student loans. I decided between the goal of paying off my loans or going to Italy with my family. In the end, I didn’t go on the trip. I’ve faced many of these hard choices over the last 6 or 7 years. I had to recommit every single day.

you'll need to redefine who you are in some waysIdentity: Many of us define ourselves by our career. It’s how we earn money. It’s what people pay you to do. When you introduce yourself, you say something like, “I’m a banker.” Well, you might be a banker now, but it doesn’t mean you need to be a banker tomorrow. If living a simple life means finding a fulfilling career path, you may wrestle with your identity. What are other ways to earn money, and what’s holding you back?

When I started living in a tiny house, my rent went from $1,500 to zero. That allowed me to take risks and follow new pursuits. I could start a company. Most of my pals were like, “I can’t do that because I have a mortgage and bills. I must stay in this cubicle.”

5 Tips To Simplify Your Life (from Someone Who’s Done It)

tips for simple living

No matter where you are with simplifying your life, there are 5 practical tips I recommend that you can apply today. These tips really apply to any new situation or significant lifestyle change you’re considering. If you’re wondering how to destress your life and build a life you love, it starts here.

1
Ask What You Want More Of – Look at your current lifestyle and write a list of all the positive aspects that bring you joy. What do you want more of in your life? Maybe it’s time, family, travel, health, or something else. What makes you the happy and what would you like to expand on?
2
Ask What You Want Less Of – Now it’s time for the flip side. Sometimes it’s hard to nail down what we do want, but people are pretty clear what they don’t want. What are all the aspects you’d like to eliminate from your life? Write down anything that drags you down, makes you unhappy, drains your energy, or causes you stress. It may include debt, your dead-end job, too much clutter, toxic relationships, or something else entirely. What do you want less of in your life?
3
Define Your Ideal Day – This journaling exercise really helps you pinpoint how your perfect life looks. Imagine your ideal day (or even your ideal week); walk through each moment from the time you get up to the time you drift off to sleep. What is your morning like? What’s your routine? Do you work? What type of work? How would it look? Get as specific as possible—what clothes would you wear, what would you eat, what people would you spend time with?
4
Define Your Goals – Behind every single success is a goal. Goals give us a marker to move toward. When you pinpoint your targets, write them as clearly as possible. Set SMART goals and define the parameters. Any time you want to achieve something big (or small), a goal will guide your way.
5

Write Out the Steps – This will look a little different for everyone. There isn’t a clear point A to point B roadmap and sometimes it seems like such an overwhelming task that you don’t even know where to start. The question is, what do you need to do next? Do you need to break down your goals into smaller steps? Do you need to set a budget?

If you ask yourself these questions about your ideal life, your vision will start to come together. You’ll match up your idea of a simple life with the reality of what works for you. Life doesn’t need to be complicated. Many people find the simpler their life gets, the more satisfying it becomes. Make time for the lifestyle that really matters to you.

Your Turn!

  • What does simple living mean to you?
  • What’s your biggest challenge when simplifying?