My New Site

Hello readers. I wanted to let you know that I have created a new site for my writings. This site will be more user friendly, have a cleaner look and allow me to grow and offer more content to you. The web site is ExploringSimple.com. My goal is to explore simple habits and projects to live a more simple life. Posts will range from Ironing Clothes to What I learned by owning a $50,000 truck. The following “about” page will better explain my goal moving forward.

Thanks for being a part of this.

http://www.exploringsimple.com/about-me/

3 Simple Things I’ve Learned Since Finding Minimalism

When people think of minimalism many different emotions can come about. It ranges from “I couldn’t live life that way” to “I do wish I had less stuff”. Minimalism can simply be defined as owning less to live more.

Owning less to live more

When I first stumbled across minimalism I was instantly intrigued. I’m a researcher by nature so I immediately began reading articles, watching video’s and ordering books on the subject in order to learn as much as I could. Over the past year our family has drastically reduced the amount of items we own. From clothing to kitchen utensils, our family has removed the excess from our lives and in the process learned a lot about who we are as a family and who we want to be. Our eyes have also been opened to what culture says we should be.

Our journey to minimalism has not been long and will continue to be a learning process. Here are three simple things I have learned since becoming a minimalist.

I don’t need many of the things our culture says I need. Needs and wants can be debated, but in order to define a need you have to be truly honest with yourself. Outside of shelter, clothing, and food everything else is a want deep down. Since becoming a minimalist I’ve learned that I don’t need a pair of jeans for every day of the week. I don’t need decor on every wall of the house.  I don’t even need a bed frame for our mattress. Minimalism doesn’t mean you get rid of everything you own. It means you, as an individual, pare down to the things you love. You remove the things that don’t bring you joy so you can focus more on the things you love. Culture says you need what everyone else has, that’s a lie.

I didn’t know what I loved. Owning so much stuff can make it difficult to know what you truly love. Whether it’s hobbies or the type of shirts you love. Minimalism has helped me find what I love an many areas. I love golf polos. I don’t love suit jackets. In removing the excess from your life it allows you to own quality items. Your energy can then be placed on those items left that bring you joy. Many of us can find items in our life that require our time and energy that we don’t truly love. Minimalism and decluttering will help you remove those things that don’t bring us joy so we can value the things we love.

Those close to you may not understand. Family, friends, and coworkers. Anytime you do something against the grain there will be others who do not understand and may actually be against what you’re doing. The thing to know is that you aren’t doing this to impress are gain their approval. You’re doing it to better yourself and or your family. Owning lots of stuff that you don’t need happened because you were most likely trying to impress those people that now don’t understand. Many in our culture today attempt to gain happiness from things, but happiness can’t be gained by owning stuff. There is a ton of items in our world that are cool to own, and I hope you get to own the things you believe are really awesome, but we must understand that one day those items will be in a landfill. There will be some things that get past to other people, but the majority of items we currently own will one day fill a spot in our local landfills. Look for support from those that truly care about your well-being. Leave the others, they need as much time as possible to focus on maintaining all the stuff they own.

Conclusion

Finding what I love through removing what I don’t has been freeing. Focusing only on the things that truly bring me joy is a breath of fresh air. Take a look around. Take inventory of the things in your life. Do you love them? Do they bring you joy? Are they required? Can you live without them? As I continue in this journey I hope I continue to remove the excess and gain freedom from what our culture says I must own.

The 4 Step Strategy I Use To Help Manage My Time

Perfect time management feels like a dream. There won’t be many days if any in our lives where the day goes exactly as planned. Whether it’s unexpected traffic or canceled meetings, each is day is a challenge when it comes to getting everything done we set out to do.

That doesn’t mean we don’t give it our best shot. Time management requires that you be intentional. Without a plan and action you’ll end up wondering where the day went and feeling like you achieve nothing. I’ve been there many times.

Time management can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are four simple steps to take to plan your day out and knock your to-do list out of the park.

List Everything. The first step is to write down everything you want to get done. This is not a list of tasks you want to do today. It’s a list of everything you know you want to get done period. If you know you will need to buy groceries by the end of the week and it’s Monday, write it down. Have a vacation planned for next week and need to pick up travel size shampoos prior to? Write it down. Do people still buy travel size shampoos? Writing everything down allows you to clear your head of all that you need to do. This will allow you to think more clearly. It may also surprise you if your list requires a full notebook. You will most likely want to break the list down in to a few days and no more than a week. However, if your list is short enough you may stretch it out up to a month. You can adjust this as you learn what best fits your life.

Prioritize. The second step is to prioritize your list. The first few times you do this may require a bit of critical thinking but once you get use to the system it will be a quicker process. There are a couple different ways to prioritize. One way is a simple numbering system. This would work best on shorter lists. Tasks on the list that need immediate attention would get number “1” and tasks advance from there. Simple enough. The other way would to be use words such as “Now, Later, Tomorrow, This Week”. Any task that can be done before the weekend get’s the “This Week” rating. There really is no exact way to do this. You can use any method that works best for you as long as you are prioritizing so you know what to attack first. Be aware that prioritization’s may change throughout your day or week. You may have “Meet Lacy for lunch” on your list for today but Lacy needs to move it to a later date. You can then strike that off the list and place “Follow up with Lacy about lunch” and prioritize it under “This Week”.

Focus. The third step is to focus on your list. It’s recommended that you keep your list close by throughout your day so you can reference it and make adjustments as needed. This includes striking tasks off and changing the list as your day changes. It’s also recommended that you focus on one task at a time.

Limit or remove multi-tasking from your strategy.

This doesn’t mean you can’t complete a task that is less of a priority while doing a “Now” task. If you need to buy your spouse a birthday gift before the end of the week and run across a sale on their favorite hobby while shopping go ahead and get the gift. This showcases the importance of actually making a list. Only storing the need to buy a gift in your head increases the odds of you waking up the day of your spouse’s birthday and you are without gift. Don’t be that spouse. For some of us the day after our spouses birthday or our anniversary we are putting “Buy gift” on our list and giving it a priority “1”.

Execute. The fourth step is to execute. To take action on your list. Making a list of everything is important. You then need to prioritize and focus on your list. However, without execution or action the first three steps are useless. The goal of the first three steps is to hopefully energize you to attack your list. As you begin to make lists and execute you may begin to become overwhelmed with all you have to do. This is where you have to take a deep breathe and trust that you have prioritized your list correctly. It also may mean you have more list than time. But that’s for another day. Execution is the most important step of the process.

Without action there will be no results.

This is a simple strategy but it can become complicated if you over think it. The goal is to simplify your time management approach and get things done. Run a trial of this strategy and determine if it fits your life and style. If it doesn’t find something that does. Just don’t finish the day and look back and wonder “What did I do with my day?”.

What’s in my GO bag

A few years ago me and my wife had a discussion about starting spontaneous adventures. Each of us would get one spontaneous adventure that we could use any time. So that means if I come home on Friday evening and call “Spontaneous Adventure! she has to go. Whether it’s to the camping site down the street or a football game in another state. It was a great idea and we were excited. We never lived it out.

In line with my last post I don’t want to continue to have great ideas without action. Though we now have two young children that isn’t an excuse to not bring the spontaneous adventure dream back to life. If anything it’s all the more important as it will build a sense of adventure in our boys. With that, I recently started putting my “GO Bag” together.

This is just the beginning on my bag and I have a lot of work to do on it. There are a few more items I need to purchase and upgrades I want to make.

My GO Bag
My GO Bag


My current bag is a simple Under Armour Storm bag I purchased at Academy Sports. This is one thing that I will upgrade. This bag is a good bag and I like that it repels water and doesn’t attract dirt. I’ve wore it on a few disc golf rounds and after laying it down in grass and dirt it never looks dirty afterwards. It’s a good size but I’m currently doing some research and determining what bag will best fit me. For now I will continue to use this.

Of course I carry my iPhone charger. For some reason our household eats charging cords. The blue one is an off-brand as we’ve bought too many to count. We go with the cheap ones now. Some times they just quit working which is a fail.

I’m currently carrying two journals. The pocket size I like as I can keep it in my back pocket for quick access. The larger journal is for more deep thought. I haven’t found a journal I love yet. I want to try Moleskin but just haven’t jumped in yet. After I get a few of the other items I want first I’ll go in search of a journal I love.

My current writing utensils are a EnerGel black ink pen, fine point Sharpie, and a orange highlighter. When I read a book that is worth referencing I highlight those sections. As of now there is nothing special about my pen. Books I’m currently reading are in and out of my bag.

The flashlight is a Streamlight 66118 Stylus Pro. I’ve only used it a few times but it came in handy on my last disc golf round as we found ourselves searching for a disc in the middle of the swamp in the dark. Talk about exploring.

The multi-tool in my bag is Husky and in the short time I’ve had my bag I haven’t used it yet. However, I do know that multi-tools come in handy. It’s one of those items you don’t need until you need it. Upgrading to a Leatherman Wave 17 point multi-tool may happen in the future.

My knife may be the most prized item in my bag. I received it as a gift for being a part of a very good friends wedding. I’ll keep it. It’s useful when peeling or cutting fruit.

My fork/spoon combo is my newest item. I picked it up this weekend from Bass Pro Shop. How many times have you been in the middle of the jungle and needed a fork or spoon? Exactly.

Lastly I have shorts and a shirt. This is mainly for when I want to go biking. I keep my shoes and socks in my truck. Just last week I had a spare hour after work so I stopped by a new trail for an 8 mile ride. Adventures don’t have to be planned or be fancy, they can be spontaneous.

This is my GO bag for now. I still have a lot of changes to make. As I make updates I’ll give specific reviews on items. If you don’t have a GO bag and are interested do some research or comment in the section below with a question.

Four Ways To Prevent Becoming A Hypocrite

Growing up in a religious environment I learned early on in life the meaning of hypocrite. It’s a word used by the religious and non-religious. In general most people associate the word with religion. When someone’s behavior doesn’t line up with their religious beliefs they will often be referred to as a hypocrite.

It’s easy to label someone else withe title of hypocrite and much more difficult to acknowledge that you yourself are one. Honestly, until recently I’ve never even considered the possibility of being a hypocrite. Then I began to analyzed my life more. Upon this my eyes were opened to the fact that hypocrisy isn’t just for religion, it’s not confined to that arena.

My first blog post was somewhere around 5 years ago. Writing had never been much of a passion for me and at that time I seen it just as another avenue of growing and developing myself. Looking back the majority of my posts were written with the mindset of what does the reader want to read and what will make me look smart and successful. It was mostly how could I display my life in a manner that would inspire people to change. I was writing compelling posts, things I was learning in my life, yet I wasn’t making these newly learned lessons my core beliefs.

Dave Ramsey fanatic. That has been me for the past 8-10 years. Every book has been read. Conferences have been attended. Hours of The Dave Ramsey Show podcast have been consumed. I’ve memorized the Total Money Makeover Baby-Steps forwards and backwards. Being debt free has always been a goal of mine. However, my actions haven’t been funneled through that goal to keep me on the path. I recently wrote a post on Three Things You Need To Reach Your Goals. They’re Passion, Persistence, and a Plan. I had the passion as there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t dream of being debt free. I had the plan, The Total Money Makeover. But I never had persistence. Without persistence you can make short term gains but you will not reach your long term goal. You will lose focus and direction.

After all that learning, reading and talking to people about being debt free I’m not.

When I first realized that for the past ten years of my life I have been a financial hypocrite it stung. To look back and think about all the conversations, blog and social media posts that I have had on the thought of being debt free it made me sick. To set here today and not be debt free after years of writing and talking about it makes me angry. I can’t change my past actions though.

Social media makes it easy to be a hypocrite. Many of us post pictures, articles and quotes of beliefs or ideas that make it seem that our lives are a certain way. Here are a few lessons I have learned in the process of confirming myself a hypocrite.  Hopefully these will help prevent you from being a hypocrite.

Be Honest. Don’t only be honest with others but be honest with yourself. If you are walking away from conversations knowing you have been untruthful you need to look deep inside yourself and determine why you felt the need to not be honest. We often have difficult being honest if the truth will cause others to see us with less respect or admiration. If were honest with ourselves and others it will begin to free us of the stress and anxiety of trying to live the life we think others expect us to live.

Believe What You Say. This can be difficult if you are someone who doesn’t like confrontation. This is often seen when discussing politics, religion, and parenting. We all have that person in our life that is very strong minded. They don’t discuss, they tell. If you are someone who doesn’t like confrontation it can be easy to simply agree with the strong minded person in an effort to prevent escalation. When you agree, even with just a head nod or simple “right”, you are saying you have the same belief. If you’re going to say it, believe it.

Compare Your Actions To Your Beliefs. This is the common sense principle in preventing hypocrisy but is often missed. If your belief is that debt is bad but you just bought a new bedroom suit on credit then your actions do not align with your beliefs. You have just became a hypocrite. Write down what you believe and then examine the last year of your life. Do your actions align with your beliefs?

Compare Your Actions To Your Goals. Goal setting is great. I personally set goals at the beginning of the year and throughout. Goal setting is having a desire and potentially writing it down or telling an accountability partner. Without action goals are useless. Posting all your goals on Facebook tells others that you are someone who has goals. Really that’s it. They look and see you have the goal of losing 10 pounds and think you are this dedicated goal oriented person. Without the action behind it your only a goal setting oriented person. Don’t throw an image of yourself out for the world to see if you are not going to back it up with action.

It’s easy to label others with the title of hypocrite. It’s going to sting but analyze and make sure you’re not pointing three fingers back at yourself.

What Can Happen When You Go Searching

Recently I discovered that I enjoy cycling and mountain biking much more than running. For years I have started and stopped a regimen of running in an effort to better my health. It would never stick as I was never passionate about it.

Last year my wife Erin and I bought two used mountain bikes to begin riding. For the first year the bikes didn’t get much use but recently I’ve made it goal to ride 50 miles by the end of the year. From August 1st on. Today I had about an hour after work to ride and I had seen a sign for the Silver Comet Trailhead on one of the roads I take home from work. I could see the trail pass under the road but wasn’t sure where the trail started. So leaving work I decided to search for it.

I pushed through any reserve of not going.

After turning down the road that lead to the trail I discovered that the trailhead parking was less than 500 yards off my routine path. For two years I had traveled this route and had no idea this was located so close.

The ride was great and I was glad that I had decided to search for a new spot to ride. The trail was fairly flat. Tall trees full of bright green leaves lined both sides of the trail. The dark colored rain clouds that overcast the sky kept it cooler than the average Georgia August day. The recent rain filled the small creeks that ran nearby and could be heard through the quiet woods.

We often miss opportunities because we don’t want to go searching. We’re afraid we may not find what were looking for and it be a waste of time. But this mindset will always prevent us from finding.

Without exploration there can be no discovery.

Don’t let the potential of not finding stop you from searching. You may just find more than what you’re looking for.

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Hard hat bird houses
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One of the longest tunnels I’ve seen
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The lake greets you as you park

Life Is About The Value Of Others

Can you imagine a world where you could have anything and everything you wanted. Electronics. Cars. Clothes. Movies. Furniture. Mansions. Pools. Hot tubs. Imagine a world where you could do whatever you wanted. Such as go to your favorite sports team’s stadium and run around on it. Or, go to your favorite clothing store and take whatever you want, for free. Now imagine all this in a world that was owned by you, and only you. A world where you were the only one that existed.

Imagine what you could do on earth if it was all yours. You could drive any new car off the lot and stop and fill up at any gas station, no matter the price, for free. You could go to the mall and pick out the most expensive clothes or the cheapest clothes and not pay for them. You’re the only person on earth so it’s all yours. And the great thing is nothing ever runs out. New cars are always available, gas is always there and free, and the newest style of clothes are always on the rack.

One week you could live in a beach house. The next week in the mountains. You could spend the summers up north and winter in the south. It would be a dream come true. Anything and everything you’ve ever wanted is yours.

The newest Nikes? Yours! Ipad2? Yours! Ten bedroom house on 1000 acres? Yours! The grass is always cut. The rooms are always cleaned. And you have an endless supply of Abercrombie and Fitch.

We spend our whole life frantically trying to gain possessions. We work, work, and work to gain possessions that make us feel important. That make us look good. That impress others.

Yet when we remove people from our lives and replace them with all the possessions of the world life doesn’t seem all that grand. It seems lifeless. If you were someone who couldn’t imagine being in a world like this then why do we place ourselves in a similar world?

We have replaced the value of people for the value of possessions and money.

Money and possession are not evil. I have money and I have possessions. However, I never want to get to a place where money and possessions become such a priority that I forget that life is about the value of others.

Life is not about if I can give expensive toys and clothes to my son. It’s about giving him love and support.