Softening the Schedule │ Letting Go of the Have-To to get to the Want-To

A calendar and pair of glasses
Living a minimalistic lifestyle isn't a difficult thing for most people, particularly for those who want a desperate change in their chaotic lives.

Once we look at our stuff (that we're not using) as an element holding us back from our highest potential, it's a revelatory process to begin to lessen, purge, minimize, and simplify our things. We see and feel the weight of "stuff" lifted off our shoulders.

We can live with less and live happier with less.

But, once I learned how to let go of the things I owned weighing me down, I began to see other areas where minimizing would do me some serious good. And it all had to do with my schedule. When I settled an area of my life that had been a mess (like my closet, or house full of stuff) it became easier to spot the unnecessary excess in other parts of my life.

My phone was one such area. I got rid of apps, and social media, unsubscribed from all the emails I didn't want anymore. It was freeing and I'm sure there's a blog post coming about that. But there was another glaring aspect to my life that had yet to be touched by the tenets of minimalism and one that was frustrating me. 

And that was my schedule. I hated having to do and go to places that I didn't want to go, I even dreaded some of them. 

So... big question. Did I really have to go to all these places or was this me putting requirements into my life because I was supposed to? Was I living my life the way I wanted or because the media told me to live this way? 

Here's what I did to lessen my schedule to one that worked for me and took out all the unnecessary trips. 

Less Gym, More Home: I realize the gym is a big one for a lot of people. They want to go, need to go, and they should! But, going every day is unnecessary. Instead of going to the gym three times a week like I used to, I've minimized it to once a week. I go to a yoga class (but that's something I want to do and love) but as for weights, machines, and cardio, I've changed my routine to once a week and have relegated my workouts to my second gym at home.

While I don't have machines at home, I instead do resistance training and running from the comfort of my house. It's much easier for me to get a workout in when all I have to do is roll out of bed and get going. I have one fewer place to drive to and it lightens the psychological factor of "having" to drive to the gym as "one more thing to do." For you, it may mean twice a week instead of five, but whatever it is, taking out a day or two to work out at home can do wonders for your schedule.

Fewer Trips to the Grocery: Okay, I have two grown boys. Food is a life force in our home, and I'm not kidding. I found myself going to the grocery store every day for years, but at the same time, forgetting about the second freezer in the garage -- and the whole reason behind it. We got that second freezer because we need food. When deals crop up and to save money, we buy in bulk, and that freezer is there to help us with that process. So, why was I going to the store every day? 

Now, I keep an inventory of what's in that freezer and change my trips to no more than three days a week. I feel like a ball and chain has been unwrapped off my ankle. Sure, I may feel like I need to go to the grocery store for that loaf of bread or milk, but if it can wait another day, and I can find alternate food items - ones just sitting in the freezer waiting to be eaten - that's one less trip I "have" to take. I use what I have, save money, and use the freezer to free up my time to do more of what I want instead of what I have to do. (And my boys know where the grocery store is. If they need something, they can go get it!)

Eliminate the Extras: I'll be extra honest with you, with true vulnerability at its pinnacle. Okay. Here we go: For over 25 years, I would go to a tanning salon - just for the summer - to get that base tan. When you live in California, it's expected to have glowing skin (which is absurd), and when it goes from 65 degrees to 105 degrees within a few days, having pasty legs in the bright sun isn't a big joy for me. We all have a particular vanity we deal with. For some, it's getting their hair or nails done religiously, maybe it's Botox or facials. And there is nothing wrong with any of these things. For me, I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Literally. So a little extra melanin made me feel better.

But after so many years of this, and getting to the point of going and not wanting to go, dreading the visit, and having to do "one more thing" I stopped myself earlier this year and asked an important question: "Why am I still going?" 

I was going for myself, sure. But, I'm at the point in my life where I don't care anymore. I don't care if I have pasty legs; I don't care if I'm not the California girl everyone thinks I should be. I'm done trying to live up to a presupposed image and instead, doing what I want. I'm done with tanning. My white legs will just have to blind folks from now on and I'm okay with that. Tanning became an extra thing I "had" to do and I said goodbye to that! Eliminate the extras and free your life.

These are just a few areas in which I've simplified my life. I've replaced those hours of "have-tos" with hours of "want-tos." I'm with people I want to be with, going where I want to go, and ultimately, enjoying my days with fewer interruptions. 

My kids are older, so I'm at a point in my life where this is feasible. Maybe you can't do that right now; maybe you have kids or parents to take care of. Maybe for you, it's simply saying "no" to extra things, which frees up a little time for yourself to read, or take a walk; something that brings you back to the real you. Just take it slowly, little by little, and eliminate the unnecessary until your calendar looks attractive.

While there will always be mandatory grocery visits, our health to maintain, and events we need to go to, there is a way to weasel out the extraneous activities; activities we once thought were so important.

Now that I've softened my schedule, every day is focused on doing what I need to feel fulfilled... and that doesn't include a tan bod.

What are you doing to soften your schedule? 

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