Friday, March 28, 2014

A Simple Life In Canada - How To Guide Part 1

This is Part One of a Multi-part Guide.
Please check back tomorrow for the next installment. And thanks Dad for giving me a great reminder to write about things that might be useful to people. Here's photo of my dad taken on a nice hazy summers day last year. He's the best!

What does that mean to you, living the simple life? Does it evoke memories from your childhood of picking peas in your grandparents garden and chasing fireflies or frogs on warm summer evenings? Do you think of the Amish people with their wonderful farming and craft filled communities devoid of cars? Or is it something much closer to home for you, as close as growing herbs and lettuce in your garden? Because we're all individuals and at different points on the path of life we all see and experience things in ways totally unique to us. And that doesn't change if you decide to abandon the modern day rat-race and head for the country. Even out here in Nova Scotia you won't find 2 farmers who do things exactly alike. Some like chickens, some like vegetables, and some just farm trees.

My point is this; before you can even begin to make plans to move towards a simple life you need to assess what that means to you. You need to have at least a goal to work towards and then you'll be able to put the other necessary steps in order. What exactly do you want out of life? I find that the simple steps for this are as follows:

Have a Goal. It's okay if this evolves and changes over time.
     *Why do you want this?
     *How will it benefit you?
     *What steps do you need to take?
     *Can you afford it?

Decide how long you'll take to achieve your goal.
     Sometimes our dreams are tempered by the fact that we need to put a roof over our heads and food in our bellies while we're working towards something better. And that generally means for Canadians that we have to work at a paid job and work on our own projects in our personal hours. It's the trade off of hours available for work vs. a need to get paid. Sure, we'd all like endless time for our own projects but the reality is that most of us can't do that. We need at least a small income.

Make a Plan.
     Having something written down that shows the logical steps will help you to organize the work that's necessary. Just as a builder needs a set of blueprints and an understanding of the progression of a build (permits before walls,walls before plumbing etc.) so we need a plan that allows us to make the most efficient use of our resources. It helps you avoid some of the pitfalls by considering what could go wrong and making plans accordingly. Plans shouldn't be written in stone but they should provide a framework for you to build upon.

Do a realistic Budget.
     Sure we can all make our budget look good on paper, but saying you'll only spend $200 on groceries and eat lots of pasta and then actually doing it are 2 very different things. Maybe you hate pasta but didn't think it would be so bad. Who knows. I'm simply suggesting that you take into account that things may change in price, medical bills might happen, the car may break down. Be realistic and plan for some emergency funds to be set aside if you at all can.

And Last But Not Least ...

Get To Work!
     Nobody is going to feel as passionately about your goal as you do. It's your baby. You're the one with all the hopes and dreams so it's up to you to take the leap into the unknown and be adventurous! Learn new skills, try things you've never done before, make new friends and invest yourself in your project. When you can commit yourself to something it's more likely to be finished and finished well. It's not going to be easy for the most part but it will definitely be worth it.

Periodically, whether it's once a week or once a year, you need to sit down and go over the written plans and goals you have. See how you're doing and if there's anything you want to change or add. Take a look at how much you've accomplished and be honest with yourself about how you're doing. This is a good time to modify your goals and then start off re-energized and re-focused. If things haven't gone as planned figure out why and take steps to get back on track. Maybe you need to go in a different direction or get some help from a professional. Maybe you simply need more time. As the saying goes 'Rome wasn't built in a day'. The point of having goals and projects is to improve your life in some way. Otherwise why would we do them? And anything that's worth having is worth the effort to get it, even if it takes longer than you planned on. If you're getting discouraged then break down your goal into smaller goals and keep track as you accomplish things so that you can see yourself making progress.

Just remember this... every pyramid was built one block at a time.

Good luck with your goals for 2014 and beyond. Check back tomorrow for more information about starting a simple life in Canada.

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