Have you ever felt like your life was already planned out for you before you were born? Like you are just doing what others expect you to.
Go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids, retire, and die.
That seems like the common trajectory, right?
And I’m not saying it’s bad but tends to make us forget that we have a choice. But we do have our own life choices and that’s why opting out will help you live your life.
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What is Opting Out?
I had honestly never heard of the phrase opting out before I read Cait Flanders’s book Adventures in Opting Out. It’s a great book and you should grab it and read it right away!
But what does opting out mean? It means that you are choosing to use your option to get out of doing something you don’t actually want to do. It means that you have the option of whether or not you are going to do something and that means you don’t have to do all the things that are expected of you.
And we aren’t just talking about what others expect of you either. Sometimes you have to opt-out of your own expectations for yourself. Knowing that you can opt out can dramatically improve your life choices.
My Life Choices & When I’ve Opted Out
As I read Cait’s book about how she opted out of drinking and shopping and then opted into semi-full time travel I was inspired. She had done some really hard opt-outs and it had brought her some really really great benefits!
But then I thought of myself. I have actually opted out a lot in my life. I have opted out of celebrating the holidays, owning a home, having children, and having a traditional job.
All of my life choices have been made for very good reasons and I am happy that I had the courage to stay true to myself with each and every opt-out.
In a way, minimalism and simple living are one big opt-out too. I have chosen not to acquire tons of stuff because I value flexibility and freedom more than anything else. Luckily my husband has opted out of materialism and the conventional life too.
So how can opting out help you have a happy simple life of your own making? What might you opt out of and why? Let’s explore a few areas where you might consider opting out.
Life Choices About Accumulation and Ownership
We live in a consumer culture that is always telling us to buy more and more stuff. We even mark success with what we own. Owning a home and a nice car is like a trophy saying we have finally arrived! And then if we are playing the game right we will fill that house to the brim.
But is it really necessary for you to own a home, a brand new car, or a bunch of stuff? Or could you try opting out of this cycle? What if you stopped keeping up with the Joneses? Maybe you decided that you are more of a renter. Perhaps you could declutter your home and become a more intentional shopper.
What would happen if you decided to start opting out of the normal consumer cycle of ownership and accumulation and instead worked towards simplicity?
You might find that when you start opting out of shopping and buying and owning all the time you actually don’t miss it.
Maybe you will fill your newfound time with meaningful experiences or you will learn a new skill! Perhaps you will finally start moving in the direction of those dreams you gave up on so long ago. Or you will just have some time for self care and much needed rest.
At the very least you will have less stress as you live your life! I think that’s worth opting out of consumerism.
Life Choices & Expectations
We all live with expectations. Our parents, our teachers, and even we ourselves have expectations for what we want our life to become.
A lot of people talk about ignoring other people’s expectations and sometimes we have to do that to live the life we want. But not many people talk about ignoring our own expectations.
Where did you expect you were going to be by now? Are you there? Probably not. Why? Because life changes and we have to change and grow with it.
Sometimes we get stuck in situations much longer than we intended to be. At times, new opportunities come along that we never expected. Either way, our life isn’t exactly what we expected.
That’s why it’s time to start opting out of expectations. Unfulfilled dreams can make our hearts sick and they can also blind us to the good that is all around us. We need to opt out of worrying about what might have been if we want to take advantage of what can be!
Opt-Out of Tradition
What about traditions? Are there things that your family always does or that people in general always do that feel like a burden to you? Could you opt-out of these traditions? As I mentioned before I have been opting out of the holidays my entire life and I have had a lot of people ask me if I feel like I am missing out. I absolutely do feel like I’m missing out. Missing out on a lot of stress and debt.
If there is a tradition that feels burdensome to you remember you have an option. This is actually one of the life choices you can make. No one is twisting your arm. You can opt-out of the tradition altogether or you can change it so that it feels less burdensome to you!
In a sense, when you become a minimalist you are opting out of the tradition of accumulation and that will probably affect some of your other traditions too.
The only warning I have to give you about opting out of tradition is that you will have to have the guts to follow through and the tact to explain yourself kindly.
Opt-Out of Perfection
Have I mentioned I have an A-Type personality? I like to get things done and I like to get them done right. Often times my expectations for myself and others are unrealistic and that can be destructive. I have had to opt out of perfection.
For example, I like my closet organized but I don’t have my undies in those cute little cubbies. I just throw them in the box they go in (UNFOLDED)! I want to work out every day but I consider 10 minutes a win in a crunch!
When you start opting out of the idea of perfection you can actually achieve a lot more of what really matters to you. Perfection can be paralyzing. If I was worrying about perfection this blog would never have happened. Instead, I just went for it and I’m learning as I go! Thanks for being patient with me by the way.
How could you start opting out of perfection in your own life? Could you cut down the time you spend on some things by doing them a little less perfectly? Could you start something you have been afraid of doing because you wanted it to be perfect?
Or could you view yourself with more gracious eyes and start realizing your worth is more than how you look?
Opting out of perfection can be extremely freeing so give it a try!
Make Your Own Life Choices & Opt-Out Of Anything That Holds You Back
As you can see there are lots of things you can opt out of. And when you start opting out your life choices blow wide open!
You can opt out of limiting beliefs and burdensome duties or traditions. When you start opting out you will see the truth. It was always an option. You can always opt out if you feel that something is weighing you down or holding you back.
Like Cait Flanders, you can opt out of drinking if you feel that you should. You can opt out of shopping like she did too. You can opt out of a traditional career, owning a home, and having children like I have.
The point is you can opt-out of anything you feel you need to opt out of.
You can even experiment with opting out. Try taking a month off drinking or do a no-spend challenge.
You can experiment with a capsule wardrobe when you try Project 333 or you can experimentally declutter by putting things away for a set period of time before you let do of them.
And those are just a few ideas.
Start Opting Out & Making Your Own Life Choices!
Opting out is amazing because it will help you live your best life. It will help you opt-in on the things that matter most to you. It might even help you reach for some goals or dreams that you felt were out of your reach.
When Cait Flanders opted out of drinking and shopping she lost weight, gained health, saved money, quit her job, and started her own business! For me opting out has meant flexibility with my life and schedule while I build a business that will allow me to travel and volunteer.
If you start opting out of the stuff that’s weighing you down and start to focus on the essentials of what you want in your life what will it look like? Maybe just a little less stress. That’s a win! Or maybe it will mean big changes you have been trying to make for a long time! That’s a huge win!
So why not give it a try and start opting out of something today? What will you opt out of? Please share in the comments below!
Do You Want to Opt-In To Minimalism?
There is really no reason not to start enjoying simple living! Now is the time to try the minimalist lifestyle! Learn why minimalism is good for your mental health and relationships, how it can transform your finances, so you can start having more energy and time for the things that matter!
But what if simplifying your life sounds like an overwhelming task?
If you want to simplify your life but the big bad word MINIMALISM scares you let me help! I wrote Doable Simplicity (Minimalism For Normal People) to help you get the inspiration you need to simplify your life and then take solid steps that make simple living doable for you!