How to Find Balance by Simplifying Your Life

Sometimes the subjects I choose for my blogs are things I need to work on and this is one of them. We’re all works of progress, right? 

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As a writer, I’m used to brutally editing my work. If it doesn’t work, out it goes. Because if you cut out what’s unnecessary, you have a better and more meaningful story. The same goes for our lives. After all, we’re not meant to live in a frantic world rushing from one commitment to the next without a moment to stop and catch our breath. Our health and our sanity will suffer sooner rather than later.

To simplify one’s life means different things to different people, but essentially it means eliminating unessential things to make room for what’s really important to us. In other words, less is more.

As a first step, why don’t we take a moment to inventory what’s important to us. List five essential things in your life that you value and love. Which is the most important? Which do you value the most?

My list is as follows:

  1. My spirituality. Anyone that knows me knows that I have dedicated myself to God and that comes first in my life. This one is simple for me.
  2. My family. I am a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter, and sister. This is a trickier one to balance.
  3. My work. Writing has been a lifelong addiction and I am fortunate enough to have made that my career. However, I’m trying to get better at selecting jobs that I enjoy and that bring me satisfaction. Simplifying my life for me also means being happier with less and not striving after money or success.
  4. My home. As I age, I’m beginning to let go of the perfection I used to demand from myself in this area.
  5. Myself. This includes exercising and hobbies such as sailing, traveling, and reading.

Yes, I just noticed that I’m last on my list. Is it the same for you?

Okay, now that you’ve made your list, examine it and make sure the items are in line with your values, priorities, and life goals.

Now look at your list again and ask yourself how you spend your time. List what you do from the time you get up to the time you go to bed. Are your activities in line with the five most important things in your life? Are you letting unnecessary things get in the way? Or are doing what everyone else wants and not doing what’s important to you?

Important questions, my friends.

Now it’s time to make a conscious decision to focus on what’s important and eliminate the things that give you the least return for your invested time and effort. Edit out the non-essentials. Be tough and merciless.

That means saying no to the unnecessary things you don’t enjoy. You don’t want to go to that baby shower? Decline and send a gift. You don’t want to head up the school’s charity function this year? Don’t do it. That doesn’t make you a terrible parent and believe it or not, the world will keep spinning.

Prioritize your activities and set personal boundaries. Like I said in my former blog, How Boomers Can Use Midlife Wisdom to Find Happiness, make healthy, life-affirming choices by saying no to meaningless requests and saying yes to what excites you.

Saying no to things that don’t have value to you or don’t bring joy to your life is the most liberating path to a simpler life. You’ll be happier, more content, and calmer.

So make that list of priorities and if you’re so inclined, share it with me. I’d love to hear what they are along with any tips you’ve discovered along the way for simplifying your life.


Julie A. Gorges is the author of two young adult novels, Just Call Me Goody Two Shoes and Time to Cast Away and co-author of Residential Steel Design and Construction published by McGraw Hill. In addition, hundreds of her articles and short stories have been published in national and regional magazines, and she received three journalism awards from the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association while working as a newspaper reporter. Julie currently lives in southern California with her husband, Scott, and has two grown children and three grandchildren.

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4 Responses

  1. Linda Biggs says:

    Great post Julie! Wise words and plenty to ponder.

    I must admit that after years of pleasing others while others pleased themselves, I am no longer at the bottom of my own list. I still do lots for other people but have been saying ‘no’ much more in the last few years. Everyone around me now understands that I need time for myself, such as swimming, taking a little walk or even napping! As I’ve got older I realise how necessary this is. I value the time I spend with myself, although sometimes I waste it by clearing cupboards instead of my head, but I think we all do that don’t we?

    • juliegorges says:

      I’m still trying to break the people pleasing habit, but hopefully will continue to get better at it. I should follow your example and sneak in a little nap for myself sometimes! Sounds oh, so lovely!

  2. Lynn says:

    My husband and I found it necessary to simplify for quite different reasons, but with the same result. As we started reinventing our lives on a greatly decreased income, we found ourselves teasing out what is really important to us…with very similar results. We have found a richness in our lives that comes from appreciating “less is more.” It’s amazing how full life becomes when you make decisions with intention! Great post!

    • juliegorges says:

      Thanks Lynn. I think the recession affected a lot of people that way. My husband is a land surveyor and of course, anyone in construction felt the crunch during those years. We were also forced to simplify our lives, but like you, with good results.

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