Friday, November 30, 2012

Living the Edited Life

One of the guiding principles that my wife, Linda, and I have used on our journey of simplicity is an adapted version of the Pareto Principle, more widely known as the 80/20 Rule, which for our purposes simply states that 80% of stuff is used 20% of the time and 20% of stuff is used 80% of the time. The goal for us is to get our stuff down to the 20% that we use 80% of the time, and we are basically at that point in the process.

Our rule of thumb for the last several months has been that if we haven’t used an item lately and/or don’t plan to use it then we give it away, either to someone we know or to a charitable organization. We have sold very few items, other than our furniture once we sold our house, simply due to the logistics of selling such as packing and shipping, etc. Besides, we’ve realized the benefits of sowing and reaping in each of our lives.

As Graham Hill said, “Editing is the skill of this century: editing space, media consumption, [even] friends.” That last one may strike some as controversial but the older I get the more I realize that we do indeed outgrow some relationships and that is okay. It doesn’t mean that we no longer like certain people; it simply means that a person may be part of our lives for a season. To that end, Linda and I recently went through our collection of paper photographs [as opposed to digital ones] and culled them accordingly.

What I’ve found is that the same skill needed to be an effective editor of words, which is my livelihood, also plays a part in paring life down to its essentials. Whether it involves limiting space, media or relationships, living the edited life means being selective about the space one inhabits, what media one consumes and yes, even the people one spends time with. The Pareto Principle is applicable across the board so it helps to deal with whatever it is that hinders us from realizing our full potential.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Living Simply With Style

A good friend once observed that he thought the lifestyle my wife and I are living could perhaps best be summarized as “living simply with style” and besides feeling flattered I also couldn’t help thinking that it is a fitting summary. Ever since selling our house in Florida a year and a half ago to travel we have been blessed to live in some very nice locales, all of which have been quite affordable also, contrary to what one might think.

As regular readers may recall, upon the sale of our house we moved from Mount Dora, Florida to Celebration, Florida for five months. From there it was off to Nantucket, Massachusetts for seven months and then here to Franklin, Tennessee, where we have a one-year lease. We lease exclusively and each place has been nicely furnished and included utilities, all for only about a grand per month. Suffice it to say that our move to “minimize to mobilize” has rewarded us with the ability to live in desirable destinations without breaking the bank.

I am reminded of a couple of thought-provoking quotes that have helped my wife and I on our journey of “living simply with style.” One is attributed to Vicki Robin, co-author with Joe Dominguez of the bestseller Your Money or Your Life, who wrote, “I buy my freedom with my frugality.” In other words, each dollar not spent on superfluous stuff can be saved toward living a location-independent lifestyle. And similarly, Henry David Thoreau said, “I make myself rich by making my wants few.”

It is easier than people think to make relatively radical lifestyle changes, if one is prepared to make the necessary sacrifice. And I don’t mean sacrifice in the sense that it hurts to do so, but I do mean that in order to “live the dream” you can’t always have it all. For example, we moved from a 1,400 square-foot house in Celebration to a 400 square-foot studio in Nantucket, but my wife and I agree that it was totally worth it to be able to live in such an awesome place. Whether or not you aspire to live the mobile lifestyle, consider changes you can make in your life to experience your dreams.