Moving + Minimalism

Part 1: Reassessing your goals in the face of a major change

This post is part of a series on 8 ways moving to a new place helps the pursuit of a simple life. Click here to learn more.

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Do you have a crossroads coming up in your life? Are you facing a choice like taking a new job, moving to a new place, having a baby, getting a divorce, or going back to school? If so, you’re at the perfect place to reevaluate your goals and figure out which ones to prioritize and which ones you can let go for now. Here’s the way my husband and I decided what was important to us and whether or not to take the leap.

  1. Brainstorm.

Take five minutes, and just start writing down your goals. Whether it’s a pipe dream, a hard-and-fast plan, a little scrap of an idea, or a whole-hearted life mission, put it into words. Be as specific as possible. If you have a partner, include the goals that the two of you share. Nothing is too big, too small, or too unrealistic for this step.

Some examples of my goals: Run a business. Find the perfect pair of tan jeans. Live in another country. Build a little house on a nice piece of land. Visit Antarctica. Sing the National Anthem at an event. Get a full-time job in my chosen field. Put Justin through a computer science program. Until recently, “move near one of our families” and “run a half-marathon” were on that list, but they have happily been crossed off.

  1. Separate your goals into short-term and long-term.

You probably have noticed that some of your goals overlap, coincide, or are at odds with one another. Sometimes that has to do with timing. For example, maybe two of your goals were “pass organic chemistry” and “become a doctor.” One is obviously more short-term than the other. So, separate all your goals out by the time you think it will take to achieve them. You can either organize it simple by “short-term” and “long-term,” or you can create a chart with columns for this year, five years out, ten years out, etc.

A couple of my family’s: Moving to a new place will obviously happen this year. Living in our own home with a yard for the dog? Hopefully in the next five. Owning my own business? Could be ten or twenty years off. Generating a timeline will help you decide what’s important to you and what general path you want your life to take.

  1. Prioritize the goals on each list.

Another reason that your goals don’t always go together is because some of them stand in the way of others. If you want to have $20,000 in savings, buy a house, and travel for three straight years…those probably aren’t going to happen all at once. You have to pick what’s most important to you. Looking at your list of short-term and long-term goals, what two or three are the absolute most valuable to you?

A lot of people (like, um, me) are imaginative and easily inspired, and go through life carrying a tangled web of different ideas and dreams spinning off in different directions. Trying out new things and searching for a passion is great, but trying to follow too many goals could very well leave you paralyzed, not achieving any of them at all. So be discerning. Visualize the outcomes of your goals, and choose to focus on the ones whose success will bring you the most joy.

  1. Make a decision.

Now it’s time to decide: What can you do to make your top two or three goals a reality? If your biggest goal is getting your children into a great college, maybe you’ll choose to keep the older, too-small house that’s in the great school district. If you want to pursue a passion for business, maybe it’s time to leave the stable corporation for the little startup that you think could make it big.

Joshua Becker wrote, “There are some endeavors worth sacrificing everything for. This principle lies at the very foundation of minimalism.” You need to decide: Are you prepared to make sacrifices in order to achieve your biggest goals? What kind of sacrifices are you willing to make?

I read an article once about the only questions you need to ask yourself when considering a risky move. They seem simple, but consider them seriously; I had a legitimate epiphany when I sat and thought about it for a while. The four questions are:

What’s the worst thing that could happen if I do it?
What’s the best thing that could happen if I do it?
What’s the best thing that could happen if I don’t do it?
What’s the worst thing that could happen if I don’t do it?

So as you stand at your next crossroads, do these four things. Reassess your goals, your timeline, and your priorities, and make a decision. Remember: If you’re taking any step toward following your dreams, no matter how small, you’re doing the right thing. Even if it seems scary or unstable or risky. I have faith that you will achieve your goals. You just need to find the right opportunity to take the leap.

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2: Taking stock of your stuff.

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