Life Simplification

A good friend of mine recently resurfaced after being out of touch for about 18 months. The last time I had lunch with him, he was having some marital issues and had just joined the ranks of the unemployed (he's a tech guy as well).

In the 18 months, he got divorced, took some Spanish classes, and then went on a home-study trip to Costa Rica. When he got back, he decided he needed a different kind of job, so he's now working as a ramp service agent for Alaska Airlines at SeaTac airport, and looking to get back into writing.

I envy his ability to push the reset button on his life, and then figure out what he really wants to do when he grows up.

I've been trying to simplify my life as well recently, though I doubt that any changes I make will be as drastic as his were.

The tradeoff between money and free time is a hard one. Ideally, I'd like to have both, and while that could happen if my stock market investments go well, it's not something that's going to happen overnight - or even in the next few years.

I may write about one specific “life simplification” decision in a separate blog, if I decide to go that way...

Comments (19)

  1. Eric,

    The question I have to ask myself is "am I doing what I love?" The answer is always a resounding "yes". Granted, there are other things that I love, but I find that most people who reset their lives do it because they find that they are in a position they do not want to be in.

    This isn’t to say that there aren’t those exceptional people who do it because they just want to explore something new. It’s possible, but rare.

    If you are doing what you truly love to do, your time would always be free. Why? Because there is no cost associated with it.

    I guess that’s how I simplify my life.

  2. Especially with all the technology and tendencies towards complexity in our field, I find myself craving simplicity as well. The way I pursue it, and thoroughly enjoy the process, is through organization and efficiency. It is such a puzzle and joy to take the intensities of our modern life and find a balance. I’ve been to both sides of the equation (extreme simplicity and complexity) and try to find the balance in the middle.

    Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction. – Albert Einstein

  3. I agree. Some people talk about maintaining thousands of digital pictures and gigs of digital video, and I react by saying "don’t be such a pack rat". I’d rather print out the good pictures, make a photo album and let that be it. Simple. I have found a job that I love: Web Development. And Business development in general. My long term goal to balance time and money is to get my MCT and be a half-time trainer and half-time consultant. Obviously, I have to become an expert to accomplish this, but that’s the 3-year goal. I also think living below my means keeps things simple. It can be hard at times, but if I keep to that, I don’t have to stress so much, and life is much better. Also, prayer and reading the Bible daily simplifies life in a way that is hard to explain.

  4. Jubal says:

    This is a big issue for me so I am very interested in the decision you mention at the end of your entry as well as the comments of others.

    I have a full-time job, am married, own a house and have a child. All of these things create demands on my time some of which I love (wife, child) and some of which I do not (yard work, house maintenance). I wish I could follow Nicholas’s advice but there are too many things I want to do. Spend time with my wife, play with my son, work, exercise, read (books, magazines, blogs, etc.), play around with software (I’m a manager now), manage my investments, ride my mountain bike, and the list goes on.

    The tradeoff between time and money is indeed a very difficult one. Perhaps what I should take from Nicholas is the notion that I simply have to pick the things I love the most and drop the rest.

    Anyone interesting in paying me well to spend time with my family 😉

  5. Kim (Abba Gabba) says:

    Simplification sounds good to me. I am very fortunate because I have a husband who can support me while I pursue graduate work in my field and so I get to do what I love. Now I just want to step back a little and find time to just enjoy time with my husband and my daughter. Fortunately, summer is often a time to rejuvenate and reconnect.

  6. Sean Chase says:

    Always a great topic. Keep em’ coming.

  7. It’s really sad that whenever people become discontented, nowadays one of the first things they want to do is abandon their marriage commitment. Getting divorced seems to be a popular way of going from one kind of unhappiness to another.

  8. Vic Berggren says:

    What a great topic and obviously many of us in this field feel the same way. I wish I had the magic formula for life simplification…

  9. Leonie Wise says:

    Fantastic topic and something I am currently pursuing. My husband sent me this along with the comment "Looks like it might be common" and I’m glad I’m not alone on thinking this way.

    I have for the last 12 months been on a sabbatical I guess, trying to find out what my life’s purpose is and discover who I really am underneath all the mind chatter and the western world’s idea of always wanting bigger, better, faster, more (which I don’t believe will bring anyone true peace and happiness).

    I guess underneath it all everyone just wants to be happy don’t they? I know I do.

  10. Paul McKay says:

    I think Life Simplification is the new holy grail for a lot of people, especially those who have amassed lots of material things thinking, they will make them happy. To paraphrase Brad Pitt in ‘Fight Club’…"The things you own end up owning you"

  11. A good friend of mine recently resurfaced after being out of touch for about 18 months. The last time I had lunch with him, he was having some marital issues and had just joined the ranks of the unemployed (he’s a tech guy as well). In the 18 months,

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