August 9, 2023

My intentional, simple life

Living intentionally.

Before I retired, I used to think that simple living meant that you had no plan and stopped having goals.  I thought it would be spontaneous, and I would just see where the day would take me.  Some days are like that, but over the first year I found that living a life where I just drifted, didn’t suit me.  I felt that I was wasting my life and would get nothing done, and found little joy in my life.  I started watching You Tubes and reading about the simple life I desired, and it dawned on me that living a simple life means living an intentional life.

How do I decide my intentions?

I realised that to live a simple life you have to discover what your values are, and then your intentions and actions need to meet those values.  I therefore did some work to discover my values.  There are resources on line to help.  I thought about what was important to me.  My main values were freedom, kindness, integrity, healthy living (especially around my wellbeing and mental health), family life, and reducing waste and my impact on the planet. My values had changed enormously since I had my breakdown, and then later gave up work.  Before I valued material things and money, and things like status, but now these are probably bottom of my list.  The only value I kept from pre 2010 was family life, as my own unhappy childhood had encouraged me to make that a priority in my life so that my children would have a happier time.

I now base all of my decisions around what is important to me, and those values act as a filter and a spotlight to guide me so that I can live a life I believe in, and can be proud of.  The more I have stuck to my values, the nearer my life has come to the one I aspired to have in 2009, when I hit rock bottom. Those values have been so ingrained over the years that I don’t need to think about them anymore, and I know when things do not feel right if I stray from them.  An example is that I had a good friend whom I discovered had no integrity.  She said one thing but then did another, and constantly criticised someone for her behaviour, but then went on holiday with her.  She also decided to leave her husband when he was ill, but when he became successful in his career, she decided to get back with him.  Although we had been friends for a long time, having someone like that in my life made me feel unbalanced and did not sit right with me, and so I stopped putting effort into the friendship and let it fizzle away.

What are intentional actions?

Every action that we take in our daily life can be intentional.  An example is that I shop intentionally and have a list or an idea of what I want in my head as I have already made a meal plan.  I don’t just buy what I see or what I fancy.  This means that I do not have to wander around the supermarket deciding what to buy and it helps me be frugal with my money, which in turn gives me freedom to not work.

To hit my value of being healthy I do lots of self-care, spend time in nature, eat healthy food, and try to achieve 10,000 steps a day.  As far as kindness is concerned, I try to treat people how I would like to be treated, I try to keep my FB group kind, and I run my website to help other people, even though sometimes it would feel far easier to give it up as it costs me money, and I find IT hard.

As family is high on my list of things that are important to me, I try to support my children in ways that I was never supported, even though they are grown up now and have lives and family of their own. I make my family a priority in my life over other things I may want to do, making an effort to see them, baby sit, and help with tasks on their home. To help me with my value of freedom I live in ways that mean I do not have to work eg. growing my own food, foraging and being frugal. I can choose what I want to do most days instead of someone telling me, or setting me goals and targets. I stay financially free by not applying for benefits or relying on anyone for help.  Accepting benefits would mean jumping through hoops and attending courses, applying for jobs I don’t want, or going for assessments.

Reducing waste and having less impact on the planet has been a gradual learning curve, but in turn it has helped me save money and has become a habit I do without thinking.  I recycle, upcycle, buy second hand, try to use less plastic, and use natural products that are good for the environment eg. making my own cleaning products and using conkers to make soap powder.  I also save on food miles by growing my own food, make meals from food scraps, and walk rather than using the car if I can.   My energy bill is far less than most people’s as we turn lights off and heat ourselves before using heating in the house.  As I have said before, integrity is really important to me and I try to do what I say I will do, and be transparent in my behaviour, and live by my values, even when no one is watching.  I am also honest about my mistakes and limitations.

Intentional impact over time

By living intentionally and taking intentional actions my life now feels aligned with my values.  Being intentional becomes a habit, a neural pathway, and becomes easier the more that you do it.  Most things I do not even have to think about as they are ingrained habits that I have positively repeated.  They are also achieving the results that I want.  I feel that I have a close family, I feel free to make my own decisions, I am healthier, my waste is reduced, I am surrounded by people with integrity, and I have a kind FB community that support me.  All these things make life feel simpler for me as they bring peace and an inner tranquillity into my life, which in turn makes me feel blessed.


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  1. Karan Fowler August 9, 2023 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    Toni, thank you so much for this, this has made me realise that although I recycle, make a meal plan and use charity shops, for the most time I am just winging my days, I feel unfulfilled and useless since retiring two years ago (retired early) and as if I have no purpose. Now time to get my head into gear and start living intentionally, need to have allok on Google as I’m going to need help. Thanks for helping me to understand xx

    • ToniG August 9, 2023 at 3:22 pm - Reply

      No worries. It is hard initially as we have all got so many bad habits, but I used to ask myself if my actions would lead me to the life I wanted or if they would work against them, and that helped me get into good habits x

  2. Julie Barton August 9, 2023 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Hi Toni, wow I knew we were alike but we definitely share the same family values due to us having uneasy childhoods, my family are my world and as you said if I can help them and ease their burden in life then I’m happy, hands up I don’t grow much to eat but do have herbs and will stock what are necessities when they are on special offers this all helps me budget also since redundant have learnt to value what I have, feel sick when I see prices of clothes on high street which when I worked near these shops would come home most days with something new!!!!!
    Big lesson learned there, I now look on EBay or charity shops if I really need something. Thank you for the helpful post xx

    • ToniG August 9, 2023 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Glad it helps, and yes I think there are quite a few people in the FB group that are alike for similar reasons. Everyone in there has made me feel quite normal now as I am not alone in the way I think and behave x

  3. Yvonne Oakes August 9, 2023 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the effort you continue to put in to your FB daily posts and blogs. I always enjoy reading your little gems each morning.

  4. Sue August 9, 2023 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    I only recently discovered your blog and feel that I agree with a good 99% of what you say! I work full time in a soul destroying job so that myself and my husband can pay off our debt. Hopefully all gone by this time next year yay! I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel! Our intention being for me to be able to eventually give up work. I have a fair few hobbies that I am looking forward to doing more of and I am a very family orientated person. Out of curiosity, what is your daily routine & hobbies and maybe you could do a post about it? I also wondered if you have to succumb to buying toilet roll as opposed to making it haha!

    • ToniG August 9, 2023 at 7:43 pm - Reply

      I do not have a daily routine. Every day is different and I live by the seasons and so that impacts on my routine. At this time of year it is a mixture of growing and harvesting food, foraging, walking, self care eg forest bathing, meeting friends or family, camping or exploring new places, and preserving. I don’t have any set hobbies. Sometimes I craft in winter or make jewellery, I often journal or write, I love baking and trying new recipes, and I love learning about survival or wilderness skills. Yes we do buy toilet roll but I have threatened Mr S with the fact that he might have to use leaves if they keep increasing in price and I can’t get them discounted somewhere. I do try to buy the eco friendly ones if I can. I hope that your plans come to fruition and you manage to give up work.

  5. CurlyTop August 9, 2023 at 7:32 pm - Reply

    Thanks kindly for this post Toni. Since being on long term sick from work, and now appealing the decision to refuse ill health retirement, I can identify with how you spent your first year. Some days feel so uneventful because I’ve spent time scrolling frugal websites or maybe just reading and then the guilt kicks in. My hubby says I’m hard on myself because the days I am doing those things are usually the days I’m feeling rough. I am still trying to be kind to myself and consider myself to be a work in progress…..even at the age of 59. Ya think I’d have worked it out by now. Having always put others before myself, I’ve been putting the oxygen mask on myself nowadays. I’ll get there. I know with the positivity from yourself and the fellow frugallers in your fb community, that I’ll be stronger for it.

    Thank you for the work and enjoyment that we receive from your postings x

    • ToniG August 9, 2023 at 8:01 pm - Reply

      That first year is such a transition, even if you are not recovering, as you are. You lose your routine, your purpose, your previous identity,
      and, often friends or work colleagues. I also wasted a lot of my first year. I am glad that you are putting your own oxygen mask on. We are all works in progress if we keep on growing, and you will find your niche and routine when you are ready. x

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