May 13, 2016 · 5 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

I want to simplify my life so I can get rid of the extraneous stuff and focus on what matters: doing the things I love to do, exercising my creativity and spending more time with those I love.

One path I have chosen as part of this plan is to downsize to a tiny house, either one on wheels or a secondary unit on my parents’ property that will let us be close to them and help them take care of their house while they help me care for my daughter. It would also cut expenses, lowering the amount of time I have to devote to working a job and increasing the amount of time I can devote to important things.

Seems like a good plan, no?

No, says City Hall, which has roundly denied each suggestion I’ve made about adjusting, converting or building on the property. The only thing I have proposed that is not allowed in other jurisdictions is a tiny house on wheels. Everything else I could do if I lived in a different city, any different city, so I’m confident my suggestions are not too far off base.

So now I have some big hurdles to overcome. That leads us to the question: What do you do when you encounter roadblocks on the path to simplicity? These can be bureaucratic, as mine are. They can be temporal, such as scheduling conflicts.

Most often, the roadblocks on the path to simplicity will be other people. This includes people you love and perhaps live with who don’t support your lifestyle, or fight your journey every step of the way.

So what’s a simplifier to do?

Get creative, of course. Depending on the nature of your roadblock, you can finesse the situation or fight back. I’m opting for the latter, because my nature is more bull in a china shop than butterfly on a delicate flower but here are some suggestions that can help you, whichever tactic you choose to take.

Write a letter

I’m a writer, so I wrote a letter to my city councilman, the mayor and the rest of the council with the problem, potential solutions and the benefits those solutions would give not just me, but others in my predicament. You don’t have to write your city councilperson every time someone tells you “no” (in fact, that’s a really bad idea), but you can write a letter to the person who is giving you a hard time.

It’s up to you whether to deliver it. For many of us, it’s easier to organize our thoughts and make a coherent argument when writing than it is trying to do it verbally. Just be sure to outline the positives that you are reaping from the changes you’re making. Positivity sells better than negativity.

Do it anyway

There’s a saying: It’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. If you wait for other people to give you permission, you’ll be waiting forever. Just move ahead with the steps you need to take and try not to step on anyone in the process, so you won’t have to beg forgiveness.

If permission is what you’re waiting for, here: I hereby give you permission to live your fullest life, do what you love and make the necessary changes to get there. There you go. Go forth and live the life that you were meant to live. If anyone gives you any guff, just tell them “Colleen told me I could.” Works like a charm.

Speaking of charm…

Disarm with charm

This is the most difficult for me, but I know people who are good at it, including my boyfriend. He can ignore snide comments, keep his cool and respond sweetly to mean-spirited criticism. That’s the key — anyone can readily have a discussion with someone giving constructive criticism if you take it for what it is: unsolicited advice. Perhaps the person giving that advice really does have a good idea about the way to handle something, and you can have an adult discussion about it.

The mean-spirited criticism and nasty remarks can be harder to handle. Try taking a deep breath and smiling. It might help to remember that the critical person is probably just jealous. They see you making changes to your life to make your life better, and who wouldn’t want that? If it helps, think of a few sweet responses to have handy ahead of time, then after delivering the charming blow, just move on with whatever you were doing. It shows them they can’t get to you, and after a while, needling you will stop being fun for them.

Focus on you

You can’t change other people, and often you can’t convince them with your words. Let your actions do the talking, by making the changes that will benefit your life. They’ll see how much more content you are with less stuff and more time to do the important things, and they’ll get it, eventually.

Be gracious and answer their questions in a straightforward manner without trying to convince them. Tell them “this is what works for me,” and they won’t feel like you’re judging their lifestyle or telling them how to live. (You probably never did that, but people can be sensitive and feel attacked even when they’re not.) Who knows? They may eventually want to join you.

You just keep being you. Everything else will fall into place.

How do you deal with roadblocks on the path to your goals?


Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.