When it comes to making long-term plans for our lives, we all go through a “dream stage”…where we just kind of day dream about what our life might be like. Seriously, we’ve all, at some point in our life, thought about what it would be like to win the lottery or be super rich…and you kind of lose yourself in the dream. While I’m sure there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, it’s really more productive to do some systematic ideation. By dreaming systematically, you’ll likely improve your chances for success. For us, this is strategic simplicity.
By going through a process of systematic ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action. Yes, truly strategic simple living! Read more…
Note: Our new book Supermom vs Super Mom is digital and will help you eliminate clutter in your life, too!
Topic: Strategic Simple Living
Ok, so what is “systematic ideation” and how can you use it? Well, I’m sure there’s lots of different ways to systematically come up with ideas. I’m a bit of a tinkerer…kind of a MacGyver type and enjoy product design. I even recently had a company put one of my ideas into production and they’re getting ready to release it. But years ago, I read a book (I can’t for the life of me remember or find the title) that sparked my interest in systematic ideation.
But today we’re going to share one ideation tool with you that you might be able to use on your simplicity journey. We adapted this from a post we saw on Governing.com that had absolutely nothing to do with strategic simple living. Still, the tool was intriguing, so we adapted it for our use.
The 4 Direction Ideation Tool
So here you go: A good way to be more systematic about your ideation is by looking in all four “directions”. By that we mean, Outward, Inward, Backward and Forward. It’ll help if we give an example, so we’ll show you how we used this tool in our search for the “perfect” town or place for us to live. Of course, you can use it for any ideation exercise you wish!
- So first we have Look Outward: We’re going to look at the local, regional, and national possibilities. We could even look internationally if we wanted.
- Next we have Look Inward: What do we really want? What are our “must haves”, and what are the “deal breakers?” Vanessa will break this down a bit in a minute and share some things we consider.
- Look Backward: Doing a candid review of what has and hasn’t worked in the past. What did we like about it, what did we dislike.
- Finally, we have Look Forward: What do we want it to look like, feel like, be like?
Our Search for the Perfect Place to Live
Back in Episode 49, Live the Life of Your Dreams, we talked about our “Freedoms From” and our “Freedoms To.” One of those freedoms to was “Freedom To Choose Where & How We Live.” So, again, just to give you an example of using the tool on our quest for strategic simple living, let’s look at our search for the “ideal” place for us to live.
So, before we start the 4 directions, here are some qualities we know our dream location will have:
- A quality grocery store within walking distance
- Close to downtown shops; coffee shops, bookstores, diners, local shops, etc…oh and free wi-fi is always nice…
- We’d like to live near water. Not ocean…preferably a creek or river…or even a lake
- Small acreage to maintain; ¼ – 1 acre max!
- Good schools…or good home-school co-ops if needed
- We’d prefer an empty lot to build to our exact liking
- No size restrictions on home…for us that means small, not big
- No Home Owner’s Association (HOA) would be ideal
- If HOA…hopefully open to green/sustainable building techniques or upgrades
- Reasonable tax rates…Military retirement not taxed…state taxes
- Local farmers markets
- Outdoor activities easily accessible…fishing, camping, hiking, biking, etc.
- Local attitudes and atmosphere…not too stuffy…easy going where the community cares about taking care of and maintaining a safe and healthy place to live.
So Looking Outward:
- We’re not tied to a specific geographic location like where our families live.
- Visiting family and friends is already a part of our plan, and one of the main reasons we want to live small is so we can travel large!
- Although we could live internationally if we desired, at this point we are more grounded here in the US. Again, we’ll scratch our international itch through travels abroad.
- We want 4 seasons…with relatively mild winters ;o)
- Keeping our 5 pillars in mind (Faith, Family, Fitness, Finances, and Freedom), we want a place and lifestyle that can support all of them in fair balance. For example, we don’t want to live in a place with a high cost of living that would restrict our freedom to travel and visit/spend time with family.
- Additional must haves…safe environment, access to the recreational activities we love, the outdoors, ability to live small, high walkability rating (walkscore.com) and 4 mild seasons. The reason these things are so important to us is because these things fulfill us.
- Deal breakers…restricting our freedom to live in a small, environmentally conscious home….too much traffic…high taxes, intolerance, etc!
- Bottom line, we want a place with personality!
- We actually miss apartment-style living! No yard maintenance, small space with a home for everything, little home maintenance and access to fitness and pool facilities.
- Yet we like having our own home and a yard to chill and play…BBQs, darts, playing catch, gardening, fires, bird-watching ;o)
- We also like designing and creating our own unique home.
- Don’t like cookie-cutter “suburbia” homes. Although many are incredibly beautiful and offer tons of amenities, in our experience and the suburban homes we lived in, they lacked a sense of community.
- What will it look, feel, be like?
- For our example of our ideal location, what does a day there look like?
- What does a week there look like (routines, shopping, weekend, etc).
- What do the seasons look like?
- While these are cyclical, what does it look like in a linear sense, from now to a point in the future?
So the major takeaway here is this: By all means, DREAM. Dream Big! But when it comes to getting serious about strategic simple living, be systematic about your ideation. Look Outward, Look Inward, Look Backward, and then look Forward.
By going through this process of ideation, you may come up with more questions than answers initially. But in the end, you’ll probably be a lot closer to what you want and be able to formulate a real plan of action.
So, what is one of your long-term simplicity or other life goals where you could use this ideation process? Is it your home, your career, a business opportunity, a passion, or even a relationship? We’d love to know.
Be sure to leave a comment below.
Vanessa: I just turned 40 years old and feel great!
Dan: Recently we had to do some document faxing. We usually bug Dan’s ex and send faxes from her office, but this time I just used the HelloFax extension for the Chrome browser. HelloFax makes it easy to sign documents and send faxes online. You’ll never need to print, sign and scan documents again! You can get 50 free fax pages each month, for 6 months! If you want to check out Hello Fax just go to SimpleLifeTogether.com/hellofax.
Qs and Comments, iTunes Reviews
We just wanted to say thanks to Genevieve Parker Hill for including us in her post, 9 Websites To Help You Live Simply. She lists some fantastic simplicity blogs and we’re honored to make the cut!
And also to Sheryl and Dave Balthrop for mentioning us in their post The 7 Phases of Your Heroic Journey to Margin and Simplicity.
- Early Bird tickets are now available for SimpleRev! Only 50 tickets will be offered at the Early Bird pricing so make sure you lock yours in today.
- SimpleRev is being held on Oct 3-4, 2014, in beautiful downtown Minneapolis on the University of St Thomas campus. To get your tickets at the lowest price that will ever be offered, just go to SimpleRev.com/tickets. I’ll also put a link in the shownote to the SimpleRev podcast in iTunes, as well. Or just search iTunes for SimpleRev, all one word.
Edit & Forget It Challenge
You can download a PDF of our show prep, too.
Resources and Links:
- You can help support SimpleLifeTogether.com by using our Amazon Affiliate Link for any purchases you must make. Thanks!
- Dress With Less
- Evernote Essentials
- Automate Evernote
- SimpleRev Tickets
- Supermom vs Super Mom
Photo Credit: Marina del Castell