One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself as you approach retirement is simplifying your life. If you have lived in your home for more than five years, you know you have accumulated too much stuff. You have closets, garage or attic space crammed with things you rarely if ever use. It is time to say adios and free yourself from the burden of your collected prison. Reducing the quantity of your stuff is just the beginning, but what a productive and revitalizing start it can be! It will lessen your stress, increase your clarity, and open you to the simple blessings that fill your life. Here are my suggestions for honing your life to a sleeker, more efficient model.
- Room by room clean out, throw away, pass on or donate items you have not used in six months. It’s freeing, trust me! It may help to have a neatnik friend support you through this. Do not try to do your whole house in one weekend, just start and stay committed.
- Learn to say “no” to additional obligations (unless you have a passion for them) and “yes” to time for you. Practice this mantra: “I’m sorry, that won’t work for me.” That’s all. Repeat to yourself so it falls off your tongue the next time you are asked to volunteer. Say nothing more.
- Reduce your media involvement. In particular, news. News in paper form, radio and television is inherently BAD news. It fills your home and your mind with negative thoughts. If you are a news junkie, cut back to one day each week. If you think you are missing vital info, ask a friend to report any important items. You will be surprised how little news matters.
- Start a gratitude journal and write in it every day. Take 5 minutes to find the good that fills your day. It may be hard to come up with something at first, but once you have moved your focus in this direction you’ll soon find plenty to celebrate. The exercise will lead you back to your values and your core identity.
- Breathe. Deeply. It’s like water: a vital element of life we often take for granted. When focused on, it stimulates your physical body and your mind. You will be more alert and at the same time more relaxed. Try this: Sit comfortably with no distractions. Breathe in slowly to the count of four, pause; breathe out to the count of four, pause. Repeat for 3 – 5 minutes. Gradually, over days or weeks, lengthen the time it takes for each breath. Not to the point of gasping for air; just enough so you are purposefully slowing down.
Taking these steps will clear out your external and internal space, and remind you of all the good in your life. It will shower you with blessings.