2018 is upon us. Another year, another clean slate with which to align our actions with our values. When we say the world is not all it could be, we say that man is not what he could be. It is easy to focus on the macro level of politics and global issues, instead of our own homes and our own souls.
I don’t know where you are at, but you do. Perhaps you have always lived in the moment and flitted from activity or thought to thought, this is your year to balance out the virtue of being, with the virtue of planning ahead and savoring the moment. Maybe you are like me, and your head is often in possibilities and planning, and it is your time to balance that with being present, clarifying.
All that I know is that complication is an easy thing. It takes strategy; it takes effort and attention to design systems that pay off dividends over decades. These are simple systems to implement and to afford. It is worth the time and thought to plan well and reap the benefits over a lifetime, to make life more efficient and to make values more of a priority.
I know that skills are transferrable. The things a woodworker can teach you, there are principles underneath that can be applied throughout life: “There are many ways to put two boards together, but all of the different ways hold well enough.” So don’t stress on methodology, as much as have a direction, a vision. Pencil out a rough draft of what you’re building. Have an idea of what your values are. Your values are your blueprint.
For minimalism this year, I have done some things I do at the end of every year. I wanted to share them with you.
1. Start a new notebook. This is a good time to start over. There’s so something so exciting about fresh new pages. Scan your remaining papers.
2. Start a new email if yours is inundated with spam. Be more particular with whom you give your email to so that it is manageable. It is a good time to cancel cards you are not using either, if you have any.
3. Curate social media. Social media does not resemble real life. It is a compendium of what stands out to us in real life. It is what inspires us. So then be sure that the spirit of the people closest to you and the things that you consume are things that are aligned with what is pure: beauty, reason, sincerity. Throughout all causes, there are many negative and positive voices, and we are drawn to the voices within them that resemble us. The causes do not tell you who you are, but the voices within those that you are drawn to. So if you want to take stock of your life, examine your friends, the people you look up to, and the people you follow. They will tell you about yourself. People are drawn to the familiar.
4. Donate one bag to Goodwill. If there are any gifts you can’t use or clothes you’ve grown out of, it’s a good time to pass it along. The end of the year is always the right time.
5. Boil water. Drop essential oils in, an orange peel. Opening the windows, dusting the windows, clears the air. You can use a humidifier as well. Indoor plants keep air smelling fresh. Attending to plants, watering and pruning is very therapeutic. Thriving plants always give me joy.
6. Light unscented candles. A fire and a warm blanket is always worth it. Everything about a home fire is satisfying: looking at it, feeling it. Warming water to infuse and to drink. Warmth is in mood as well, the joy that we exude and how we feel.
7. Examine systems in your house, the flow of your house. See if it has worked well this past year. For me, less mirrors and prickly items brings satisfaction. The softer, warmer, and more efficient my home, the more soothing. Feng shui advocates decluttering, avoiding mirrors, and even though I do not practice feng shui, I do think many design suggestions within are wise.
8. Buy a new book. Every month, I buy a few more books in a subject that I’m interested. Currently, it is simplicity in business, and physics. Physics was one of my favorite subjects as a teen, to find the conclusions you could figure with very few data points. Physics is a very fascinating subject, and the principles are true to life: Very few data points are needed to get an accurate answer, but the right data points are needed. Figuring out the relevant data points in life is worth your time.
In the end, to get back to simplicity is to get back to creativity. In your childhood, your day was to play and to learn. Adults took care of the mundane – the 10% of our life that we spend on cooking and cleaning. We had many hours to breathe and to think. To get back to that state through intentional simplicity, is to bring us back to a clear mind full of possibility and joy. We have knowledge and structure that age brings, so we can combine creativity with reason for purpose.
Happy New Year. Take the time to celebrate it on your own time, not just with others. Light candles. Start a new notebook. Rise to what is for the day without hesitation. Enjoy your life now. Be here now.