Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Simple Life

I have yet to meet anyone who wants to make their life more complicated.

Between work, family, friends, household tasks, personal goals, commitments, hobbies and everything else in life, we just don't want more to have to think about. However, when making a conscious decision to simplify or completely eliminate something from your life that others view as necessary or important, other people tend to experience some confusion.

Take, for example, the fact that I did not own a television for about a year and a half. When visitors came to my apartment, the first statement was usually, "There's so much room!" followed quickly by "Where's your TV?" TV's are such a trademark of American culture, it's WEIRD not to have one. You might as well not have running water or a refrigerator. I chose to simplify, but it confused people when I didn't meet expectations for what a "normal" person should own. I do own a TV now, but do not have cable.

It's difficult to simplify when you can't imagine living life without an object or without a certain time commitment. But do we really want living our lives to be contingent on owning objects or fulfilling schedule commitments? I'm not saying owning stuff or doing things is bad, but are these things enhancing our lives?

To really start down the path of simplicity, a person must stop merely paying lip service to the simple life. Often, people experience thoughts like "Ugh, all this stuff is stressing me out," "I wish I didn't have to go to _____ tonight. I never enjoy it. But I'd feel guilty if I didn't go," "Why do I never have time?" or "I'm so busy and overwhelmed! Will it ever stop?" but they just shove those thoughts aside so life can continue as it is expected to. Sometimes, we either don't want to change anything in our lives or don't see how we can change anything.

So what's wrong with just trying something different, even if it confuses those around you? Nothing has to be permanent, but starting to simplify life starts in very small trial periods. Would you benefit from an extra $100 or so a month by cancelling cable for six months? Would you have more time for reading, working out or your hobbies if you deactivated your Facebook account for two weeks? Would you get less late fees if you opened and dealt with your mail immediately? And would you have more family time if a child's after school commitments were limited to two? These are just examples; simplification requires personal creativity!

Yeah, you'll get weird comments, but that's perfectly ok. It's a great conversation starter!

As for me, I do strange things to pursue simplicity like not have cable and limit my time commitments so I have time & money to go hiking in Colorado and look at scenery like this (on the way up to the Hagerman Tunnel near Buena Vista, CO).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Resume Tips

Unemployment is a major buzzword right now. However, as one who has been on both sides of the hiring process during the last year, I've had my share of experiences both reading and writing resumes. From the hiring point of view, I'll be honest, only about 10% of the resumes I've read would make me want to call the candidate in for an interview. The majority of resumes are poorly crafted and don't present any sort of viable skillsets.

I think more and more employers are beginning to share my frustrations. Just today, I ran across several good articles about resumes.

Four Things That Can Send Your Resume in the Trash

Why I Won't Hire You

I would also add:
  1. Don't put your picture on your resume
  2. Proofread everything
  3. Have your most judgemental friend or family member proofread as well
  4. Don't lie
Nobody will know how amazing you are until you present yourself correctly!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why You Don't Have Any Time

Why You Don't Have Any Time. Great article. I could identify with pretty much all of these...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Catch-all Catch-up & a Few New Shopping Rules

So it's been a while! I don't normally do personal life updates on here, but it might help explain my 2 month blogging hiatus. I don't normally HAVE to do personal life updates, since my life tends to be rather similar on a day-to-day basis- work, exercise, eat, live.

But one week after my last entry in November, I got an interview for a new job (which I will be starting in a week!), got accepted into grad school at Penn State and started "officially" dating a pretty cool guy. That was a lot for one week, then mix in the holidays, a pending job transition, and everything else in life, and well, something's gotta give :)

I'll confess, I also joined Pinterest during that timeframe. That didn't help any free time I thought I had. But Pinterest is no more for me. It made me feel overstimulated & uncreative, plus for me, it was a time suck. I think it's a great tool for some people out there, but it's not for me. (nevermind the MAJOR beef I have with their so-called "fitness" category. How is staring at photo-shopped abs of 20 year olds going to actually motivate anyone to adopt a healthier lifestyle? It's setting up fitness as an unachievable goal which is totally not right.)

I also found out that blogging = accountability. When I know I am accountable to the cyber-world for things like minimalism and frugality, I'm a lot less likely to buy stupid stuff I don't need. In the two months off blogging, I slipped! So I have a few new shopping rules to live by-
  • Only buy clearance items if they were already on your list
  • "Cheap" does not mean "you need this"
  • Don't shop close to closing time: you're more likely to buy something in a rush instead of carefully considering the purchase
I suppose we all must screw up from time to time in these areas to remind ourselves why we picked frugality and simplicity in the first place. Attempting to resell mistake purchases is an excellent way to give yourself a reality-check for the "value" of your items. (side note: minimalist preachers frequently tout the benefit of "you can make money by selling your surplus items!" as a reason to be a minimalist. I don't know who they are selling their old crap to and making money, because around here, you don't get a lot of $ for old crap. This is because it's old crap.) I sold several things to a second-hand store & got a whopping $9.10. This doesn't quite cover the cost of my mistake items, but it lessens the blow.

So as 2012 gets rolling, I'm getting back in the groove. I started the 2012 Declutter Calendar. It's pretty good! It gives you one fairly simple task to do each day for decluttering. I have it on my fridge & mark each day as to whether or not I had to do the activity (like if the activity was "clean out one garage shelf" and I don't have a garage).

I'll also be co-hosting a clothing & accessories exchange in the next few months. We're combining it with a bra donation for a women's shelter & an instruction session on "How Your Bra Should Actually Fit" taught by one of my friends.

I hope your 2012 is starting well!