Remember Tim? He’s the guy who snagged the April Giveaway Giveaway prize last week and consequently scored a free Mother’s Day gift. He is also the genius behind my move to Word Press and the man who introduced me to one of the coolest indie coffee shops in Chicago, Noble Tree. Oh, and did I mention he’s single?
Beyond all of those wonderful attributes he is also a fellow Chicago entrepreneur (edash marketing) and a makeunder black belt. In fact, I think his life is much more made under than mine is now, or will ever be. The best word I can use to describe his intentions is “pure” and I think there might be some buzz about his decision to live (mostly) paper free. The only down side to this man is that he will soon no longer be a Chicago resident, which means I will be spending some Friday afternoons at Noble Tree eating pie and discussing life philosophies with myself.
A friend once taught me the principle of a Value Circle he learned from Smart Couples Finish Rich. The idea behind a Value Circle is to decide the five values most important to you. Then, when making decisions large or small, you can use those values to clarify your options and feel more sure of your final choices.
My values are:
Clarifying these values has made it much easier for me to design my life with intention.
ASPIRE TO BE FREE
In December of 2007, I saw the movie Into the Wild and was inspired to quit my job as co-owner of a computer service company. I knew I wanted more freedom, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there. Eventually, I started an Internet marketing company, which allowed me to help small business owners while working from home (or anywhere else, really).
The journey wasn’t easy. I spent months working on my business during the day and working overnights at a Marriott to pay the bills. And I was all but bankrupt by March of 2008 (it took 3 months to get my first client). But I’m happy I made the decision I did. I now call my black Puma bag my office and can work from most anywhere. I moved to Chicago without needing to change jobs, and I’ll do the same to Des Moines and again to Austin over the next few months.
I’ve made several unconventional choices in my personal and business life to avoid the trivial. Not getting bogged down in the day to day details allows me to live a more exciting life, and also gives me more time to spend with my family and friends. And while not entirely avoidable, I now enjoy the few mundane tasks I do because they serve as a moment of Zen.
One way I’m avoiding the trivial is getting rid of paper! Two years ago, I read a book called Getting Things Done (or GTD). I learned a lot of great productivity concepts from that book, but I also gained a fetish for filing, labeling and storing every paper in sight. It’s two years later, and I can count on my hands the number of times I’ve needed something from the filing cabinet. It’s a poor use of time and energy.
Instead of having a standard postal address, I use a service called Earth Class Mail that receives my “snail mail” and emails it to me. When I move, I no longer need to worry about switching over my billing address, alerting family and friends or updating clients. My mom still demands my “real address”, however, so she can send holiday greetings and thank-you cards 🙂
I no longer accept checks from customers. They can pay all their invoices online using a service called Freshbooks. With online billing, I avoid the stress of checks getting lost in the mail, visits to the post office or reconciling checks to invoices.
And instead of GTD, I now try to practice Zen to Done.
GYM IS A REQUIRED CLASS
I wasn’t always a healthy person. I worked at a music venue during college and found myself eating General Tso’s chicken every day and partying in smoky bars every night. But after graduation, I realized I was happiest when I felt good. And I felt my best when I ate healthy and exercised. I now consider health as part of my personal growth…but it’s an ongoing process.
But there are things I still need to work on, too. I’d like to learn Yoga for a more balanced body. I eventually want to convert to an entirely whole foods, plant based diet. And I spend far too many nights in Chicago bars for my own good.
THE POWER OF LESS
I am happiest when I own only what’s essential to me, and nothing more. Things have a cost beyond the purchase price. Things take time to move, clean, maintain and store. And more things require more space. Making under my life is an ongoing process and I still have lapses of judgment. (I came home with a knife sharpener the other day…although spending under $10 at Ikea was a feat). Most importantly, fewer things allow me the freedom to travel or move without worrying about the stuff I’m leaving behind.
Right now, I don’t even have a place to live. Now that’s the power of less.