As a somewhat anxious person, I tend to focus a lot on the road lying ahead and aaaaaall the tasks and change that still need to happen, in my life and in the world in general. However, I am trying to get better at appreciating progress, and celebrating success. Plus, looking back can be very useful for perspective and motivation, and don’t we all need some of that.
In the past six months, I have changed some aspects of how I live. Here are 5 examples.
30/60 day Challenges
J and I came up with the idea of a series of focused 30-60 day “challenges” aimed at stuff we would like to get better at, change in our lives, or which we thought would just be fun. The reasoning behind is that it is much easier to do something for a limited amount of time, rather than trying to change “forever”. Forever is a long time and it can get overwhelming to think, “Oh f*ck, I have to get up at 6 am and exercise for the next 60 years”. 30 days of getting up is far more manageable, while being suffi to see some results. 60 days of daily yoga was definitely enough to level up my practice and forced me to go to a few classes that I would have never tried before (hello, hot vinyasa! *faints*) The full list is here.
2. Monthly donations to charity and volunteering
We have decided to take a more systematic approach to giving to charity. We donate 150 euros per month to a charity (changing by month). It is not as much money as we could potentially donate, and nothing compared to the amazing people at Giving what we can, but we plan on increasing the amount as we go. 150€ is already big enough to make a difference in some of the campaigns that we support, such as building a home for a person with Habitat for Humanity, or support fundraising by friends.
I also started volunteering with Minor-Ndako, a wonderful organisation working with non-accompanied minors who arrive to Belgium as refugees.
In January, I took up the Minimalism Game. This is a challenge where you discard/donate 1 item on Day 1, 2 items on Day 2….for 30 days. I used this together with the KonMari method (see here for a great behavioural economics take on it) to make it easier to let go of stuff that I don’t really like. It was actually not as hard as I imagined, which is a possible indicator of having way too much shiz in our HQ!
Anyway, what I like about this challenge was that we keep going on decluttering even after day 31- we have a huge IKEA container in the bedroom, and keep putting stuff in there. We keep asking the question “do I really use/need/like this?” and are getting quite good at separating from objects. Items go either to the nearby charity donation box or the self-service donation shelves at our local municipality. I have made repeat trips to the shelf, and it is great to see that all our declutter items have found a new home quickly!
4. Shopping less
This is my nemesis. I am a HUGE fan of thrift shopping and a sucker for sales. However, the humiliating moment of dragging EIGHT trash bags full of one-time thrift-store “finds” to the donation box made me realise the waste of time and money the habit had become. I have made baby steps though! With my new, de-cluttered closet I also aim to:
- buy less clothing overall (I objectively have plenty and can cover all occasions from marathon training to a Great Gatsby theme party and everything in between). This has been a moderate success so far. I have passed on buying many items I would have wanted, but am too embarrassed to share how many hours I spent looking at ankle boots on Amazon.
- when I buy things that I really need, go for 1-in- 2 out.
- buy preferably secondhand, and if not possible, then as ethically produced as possible.
5. Taking lunch to work
I am aiming to take at least 10 lunches from home per month. This is a not a very painful change as my usual workday sandwich doesn’t make me particularly happy or add a special break to my day, but one that can definitely help me save some money and eat healthier. If there is a way that makes eating rice and vegs from a box feel like an accomplishment, sign me up!
Have you been working on bettering your everyday life? What are some of the changes you have made?