In 2002, my husband asked me to meet him for lunch. It wasn’t our custom to meet for lunch and especially not at a nice restaurant. I should have known he was up to something!
“We need to focus and simplify,” he told me. Focus. Simplify.
We were living 35 miles from his work. He was pastoring a growing church 30 miles away. We maintained 40+ acres of woods and prairie where I ran a busy retreat and training center with ropes courses and paintball for team building.
We were driving, preparing, mowing, maintaining, training, marketing, inspiring, selling, planning. All the time. Together and apart.
We were both over 50, and Dave saw that we were at a crucial point of planning our future.
My husband realized we should simplify and focus our efforts as we entered our 50’s to ensure our ability to live fully in our ThirdThird (ages 60-90).
We did it.
And we continue to do it. Simplify. Focus.
Our focus is to live life as fit and healthy as possible, to contribute and not burden others and to enjoy one another as long as we are alive.
By focusing on what is most important to us in the long run, simplifying doesn’t feel like denying ourselves or like carrying a burden. It is freedom to head where we want to be with less to encumber.
Here are some practical ways we simplify:
We Eat to Live, Not Live to Eat
This simplifies our eating, cooking and dining. We have made a sort of hobby out of cooking at home.
When we dine out, we try to go to a restaurant that is within walking distance (1.5 miles is ideal).
When we shop, there are many items we simply don’t buy because they don’t fit our live-long-and-healthy plan.
We Buy What We Need and Get Rid of What We Don’t Need
If I haven’t worn it in a year, I probably won’t, so out it goes (unless it is that great red cocktail dress that I MAY have need for another time!).
If we need a new skillet, an old one has to go.
The old chain saw died? When it is replaced, find a home for the old one at the metal recycling place.
This is our version of “use it or lose it.”
We Look for Low Maintenance Options
We bought a car that should last a long time with little maintenance. It gets great gas mileage and is rated high in safety. We tried leasing, but I go way too many miles in my real estate job.
Our garden has a few tomato plants, plenty of basil and kale and radishes, and, this year, some cucumbers and winter squash. Morning watering and a bit of weeding is all that is required for a very adequate harvest.
Our fitness needs are basic. Good shoes for running and walking. A gym membership that includes classes, machines, pool and indoor track. And a commitment to do something daily to get our hearts pumping and our legs moving.
We Have Agreed to “Need Less” so We Can “Give More”
One reason that keeps us focused on simplifying is that we agree on our main purpose. We like to contribute to others’ efforts.
My husband is the consummate “servant.” He loves to show up and boost someone else along. He will build a website, chop down a tree, haul off yard waste or till up a garden.
I love donating to a youth softball team or to a music program for low income students. I really enjoy writing out a tithe check to our church. If we can be generous to allow all our family to get together for a week it is with a genuine smile.
When we focus on what is important to us, simplifying to make it happen becomes easy.
We Remind Each Other of Our Desire to Focus and Simplify
Just today, as we were planning a “cabin” on some of the property we kept, we agreed to stick with our approach of “focus and simplify.” What it means with this project is that we will approach it for efficiency (both in the process of building it and in the aspect of living in it) and that we want it uncluttered and comfortable.
Simple doesn’t have to mean rustic. Focused doesn’t have to mean sparse.
Agreeing to focus and simplify has become our approach and is making our ThirdThird our very BEST Third.
What is your focus? What are some ways that you have learned to simplify? Or, what splurges do you really look forward to? It isn’t about self-denial! Please join the conversation below!