The “Single for a Year” journey continues… And in the last eight weeks, it took a new turn.
In September 2020, I made the choice to completely uproot my life and move out of state—a move I’ve dreamed about for years, but always put it off for one reason or another (mostly due to being in relationships).
But this time? I went for it.
I put an offer on a house in New Hampshire, found tenants to rent out my house in Massachusetts, sold off 3/4 of my furniture, packed up the rest of my life, and headed North—cats and all.
Although the journey is far from over, and a number of circumstances have changed this plan, I have learned a few things:
Living a Minimalist Lifestyle
There are many blogs, podcasts, opinions, and so on that claim that living a simpler, minimalist lifestyle improves mental health. Like most Americans with a lot of “stuff”, I was hesitant to believe this.
Shortly after I bought my grandparents’ house in Massachusetts, I was fresh from a divorce and my grandmother had just passed away; therefore, I held onto everything.
Eight years later, when I decided to move, I knew I couldn’t take it all with me. Although there were certainly emotional moments as I sifted and sorted through boxes of memories, keepsakes, and items of sentimental value, there was also something very freeing about selling stuff, donating stuff, and throwing away stuff.
Less stuff is better. Life is more meaningful than the things you own. I’ve also learned that people, experiences, and memories mean way more than things.
Experiencing TRUE Freedom
Although there are still many unknowns and uncertainties in my life right now, one thing is certain: I am no longer tied down by anyone or anything. I am experiencing true freedom, which has been completely refreshing and liberating.
Furthermore, rather than rebuilding my life and “finding” myself, I am focused on “creating” myself, which is a different way I see myself and my world. This means deciding what I want and doing the work, while also leaving room for the universe to make magic and pave the way for me. I will admit, learning what I can control and letting go what I can’t was a difficult balance I had to find, but I have already become a better person because of it.
Resting and Refreshing
If you’ve been reading my blogs, then you know that I am a busy person by nature. I was involved in a lot of things, I had many commitments, and I never said “no” to anyone.
All that changed.
I gave up all but one other commitment. I walked away from negative and toxic relationships with significant others, friends, and family members. I set boundaries. And I started saying “no”.
Living in a completely distant lifestyle has allowed me to do one thing that has been missing in my life for the last decade: rest.
And now that Winter is around the corner—as well as another pandemic shutdown—I have no choice but to relax, refresh, and read.
Focusing on Deep Work
I recently started reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. So far, it’s an excellent read, discussing the importance and value of deep or meaningful work, and how it is difficult to do in today’s fast-paced world full of distractions.
Although I’ve already built “deep work” blocks of time in my calendar each day, I’ve learned some additional tactics to take this a step further:
- Shut off my phone
- Shut off email
- Shut off Slack
- Shut my door
- Shut out the world
Many of my job responsibilities prevent me from completely “shutting off”. However, the belief that I’ve adopted over the course of my career that “I always have to be ON” is incorrect, and only sets me up for stress, poor work performance, and failure.
Now I build in time blocks during the day when I “shut off” so I can focus on truly valuable and meaningful work. This has allowed me to come up reduce stress and therefore come up with new ideas, and hone in on my creativity. As a result, rather than rushing to get things done, I am able to enjoy my work more.
Focusing on Gratitude
Living a minimalist lifestyle of freedom and rest, I have also learned to approach each day with gratitude—even if it’s for the little things: my health, a warm bed, the clothes I wear, the food I eat, a sunny day, my clients.
Gratitude contributes to overall happiness. If you can’t learn to appreciate the little things, then you will find it difficult to experience happiness or peace.
The Journey Continues…
The “Single for a Year” journey continues… And although I often feel worried and stressed about where I will end up and where I will rebuild my life, I also feel excitement and gratitude.
All in all, we don’t have to have life all figured out, we just have to be at peace.