One of the most important steps in simplifying your life is deciding the direction you should take it. Where do you see yourself at the end of this journey, what will it take to get you there? This allows a degree of focus which is otherwise lacking. For myself, this direction is to provide financial stability and freedom for myself and my partner. Though this goal is what I base the majority of my life decisions on, I have a stipulation: I will not degrade my quality of life to reach my goal. There was a time I had an office job which paid significantly more than my current employer, but because of the misery and disruption it brought into our life, I could not continue with it, no matter how much it would have helped our future. Almost everything I do in some way connects to this goal or has it considered. I have let go of material possessions (sold a spare couch to put more in to investments), activities (reigning in spending on hobbies), and social connections which I decided weren’t helpful or were even degrading my ability to reach for my goal.
To get to where I am today, I have dedicated a lot of my time (though not all of it) deciding what is truly important to me in life. This hasn’t been a single step or “ah-ha” moment, but more a process of whittling down the list entry by entry, and it is fine and perfectly normal to continue the process. Your goal shouldn’t be a carved-in-stone, ever-set fact; it should be a living part of your lifestyle, able to change as you need it to, as your life’s realities change and evolve. For instance, I have a card game I play as a hobby with friends occasionally. At one point, I prided myself on the extent of my collection and the amount of money I had put into it. However, when I asked myself if this hobby would benefit my future, I realized the answer was no, it would not. I have since reigned in the hobby to keep it from hindering my goals, but it in no way has a positive affect on them. What my hobby does is provide me with a way to disconnect from my efforts every once in a while. I enjoy setting my goals aside sometimes and partaking in a hobby which is nothing but fun for me. Others can find all the happiness they desire in their goals and the work towards them. Perhaps I will too at some point. Right now, however, this isn’t always the case. Therefore, I have an unrelated hobby to indulge in when I desire it.
The idea of having a very significant amount of your life revolve around a primary goal has very clear benefits; the more support we give to the skills involved with our primary goal, the better we are at them. The more development we put into these skills, the more productive we can become when we are focused on the chosen primary goal. For me, this currently involves striving to excel in my job to garner the trust of my employers, earn raises/promotions to better reach for the level of stability I want for us. I also spend a good amount of my personal time working on writing because it is a skill I both find happiness in and would be thrilled to turn in to a side income for us some day.
If we spend our time in productive ways, we will see the progress on our goals come all the more smoothly and quickly than otherwise. For me, there is not much more satisfying than being able to feel I am making real headway on where I’m reaching for in life. This being said, we also shouldn’t loose track of what it takes to enjoy our lives along the path to those goals. The office job I used to hold would certainly have provided the means to attain the financial stability I aim for much faster than my current position, however, I am happier now than I was there even considering the slower progress towards my goals. Though it is important to know where your life is going, you owe it to yourself to enjoy where you live at every moment you are given.