“As to methods there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The man who grasps principles can successfully select his own methods. The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to the new Value of Simple community members!

It's been a humbling, eye-opening, and insanely exciting time since the launch of this website last week. We have over 180 people who joined our mission in the last few days alone. Thank you for making this your refuge of simplicity and for your importance in extending the reach of what we're creating here!

Note to everyone: Content here won't normally be this long. But just like you wouldn't build a house's foundation in two minutes and on poor material, Value of Simple can't be built upon an arbitrary word count that causes a loss of true meaning. Our founding principles and a personal renaissance deserve the respect that comes with quality words. Bookmark this and come back if you must. You'll probably want to tear into it right now though.


Let's not mess around.

Today, we're plunging deep into the heart of our version of simplifying and organizing…and what it will do for you.

Last time you read about 27 Simple Sages and their core principles for achieving amazing success.

Now you can read about our core principles to achieve some truly amazing goals. And you'll learn how harnessing these principles can improve your life in ways large and small.

This is more than an overview but has less meat than an article devoted to any one principle. You could say it's in the true spirit of keeping it simple…without being simplistic.

If you want me to feature any of these principles as a stand-alone resource, let me know in the comments.

Let's hit it!

The Definition of Personal Renaissance

I'm pumped up to explain more about the nine backbone principles of Value of Simple.

But first, a little bit about the events responsible for forming these principles.

I never get tired of telling people about the spark that lit my personal renaissance or what I've achieved because of it. But most people don't know what I'm talking about when I say “personal renaissance.”

Is it good? Is it bad? Do I want one?

Like most things in life, my definition is different from others.

Colin Wright's Definition

One of our Simple Sages, Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle, explains a personal renaissance is a time in your life when you feel motivated, ambitious, eager and anticipatory.

He goes on to say:

“During these time periods great strides are made in many different aspects of one's life as a mental renaissance takes place…the cold, hard, dark age of the mind is over and a new light — the light of innovation — shines down upon your mental landscape, warming your neurological serfs and deeply tilling the rippling soil of your brain's intellectual wheat fields. You become your own Michelangelo, your own inspiration, your own generous benefactor. When you are feeling up, you're really feeling UP, and as long as you can stay that way you will fly far beyond the rank-and-file.”

I dig his description and there's some overlap with mine.

My Definition

Personal Renaissance

To me, a personal renaissance is a period of great optimism, strength, and new ideas. You feel everything will work out well…but that's not all. During this period, you can more easily acquire the tools, skills, and resources to achieve whatever goals you need to accomplish.

And better yet, you can define with laser focus what your goals actually are…something that can normally be embarrassingly elusive.

But wait. There's more.

A personal renaissance is a time of transformative change. The form(s) of that change – in attitude, behavior, habits, health, spirit, and more – look radically different for each person.

For me, this means major changes in the way I eat, dress, analyze, prioritize, and engage the world around me.

Each person becomes like the caterpillar undergoing metamorphosis; enveloped in the transformation and determined to fly once they pierce the cocoon. I call it a rebirth. I say it's a revitalization.

It's a time for things like:

Perhaps most importantly, it's a time of determined and intentional action. And once it starts – regardless of how long it lasts – the changes are irreversible.

Do you want one yet?

These nine simple principles could ignite and fast track your own.

Consider this your quick start guide to a blueprint of a potentially indefinite personal renaissance…like mine.

1. One Small Change Can Lead to Big Changes over Time

Before my personal renaissance, I subscribed to the motto, “go big or go home.” I just wanted to charge into my big goals, quickly blow through them with brute force, and exit in a blaze of glory.

You know how that worked for me? Not so good.

Like a pitcher getting a strike out with a wicked off-speed pitch, change is more about finesse than it is about power.

I learned recently that the simple act of starting, no matter how small, gives you all the momentum you need. People in motion tend to stay in motion…and eventually break into a sprint.

So now change starts with baby steps. And if baby steps are too big, then we crawl.

The easiest way to start is with the smallest step possible. We want to accomplish huge goals but make your first steps on the path small ones.

2. Find Your Big Reason for Change before Attempting It (A.K.A. “the Why”)

What did thirteen American colonies want from the oppressive British Empire?


How did the colonies determine they could achieve freedom?

By going to war.

Why did the Americans risk life and limb by going to war for freedom?

Because acts of tyranny and disrespect for their rights could no longer be tolerated.

The questions of how and what would be irrelevant if there were no reasons why the American Revolution should take place.

This is the way we feel about all changes in life. Small. Big. Public. Private. Related to simplifying, organizing, becoming money wise…or anything else.

It all starts with why. Every person can decide what changes they want and how they achieve them. But the “why” doesn't change.

3. Life is Easier, Cheaper, and Happier When We Need Less and Minimize Our Desires

Life gets easier when you don't spend most of it chasing money.

By shrinking possessions and eliminating toxic relationships, you spend fewer resources maintaining the things holding you back and more on those moving you forward. And that ultimate feeling – happiness – is more reachable as life is simplified and organized into its essential parts.

It's a joyous feeling finding out what we thought we needed is just something we wanted. And it's even better when we no longer want the things that won't bring us true, long-term value.

4. Truly Important Things Shouldn't Wait Until Tomorrow

Shanna Mann, one of my favorite change catalysts, says one of the biggest lies you can tell yourself is “I can start at any time.” I completely agree.

Sometimes it's not as easy as just defining your “why” and picking your how and what. You have to define when and then actually stick to it. And the best answer to “when” – if you believe a change is truly important – is always “right now”.

Hey, I'm guilty too of knowing why, how, and what but not doing anything about when. But if I'm not living it, if I'm not embodying the change I think I want, then it isn't important. It's just self-deception. Period.

5. The Best Teachers Reduce Stress, Increase Confidence, and Don't Assume You Already Know Something

Ever had a teacher who was brilliant, an expert communicator, and just an overall wonderful person?

I have. I hope you have too. But many of them sucked at educating and making an impact.

Sometimes it was because you came for the intro course but they thought they should teach the master class. Sometimes they moved too fast through the topics that it became stressful trying to keep up. And sometimes they helped build your book smarts but didn't give you the confidence you needed to practically apply them.

Here, we believe the best teachers don't make bad assumptions about what skill or knowledge level you're at. And we certainly believe that negative stress and a lack of confidence present massive walls to becoming a more complete person. So when we see bad assumptions, a stressful learning environment, and an atmosphere lacking of confidence, we call it out and hammer away until they're gone.

6. Tapping the Right Emotions to Motivate and Persuade Aren't Always the “Good” Ones

If only sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows could lead us to a more simplified, organized life.

An unfortunate part of human evolution is that our brains are wired to respond with more force and urgency when we feel threatened. And it doesn't matter if it's a short term threat (I don't have food to eat today) or a long term threat (nobody will respect me if I don't change).

Value of Simple is a place of trust. This is a welcoming and supportive refuge from a world that can be cruel and unjust. But what often motivates us best, whether we admit it or not, is worry. Or fear. Or a sense of loss.

Why did I create this online sanctuary and resolve to give my best stuff away for free? Because I fear I won't have a worthy legacy unless I can genuinely improve the lives of as many people as possible.

There. I said it. And I'm empowered by it.

Acknowledging this fact is crucial to finding the tools, skills, and resources to help me realize my legacy…and help you realize your own.

7. Feeling Vulnerable and Uncomfortable Make Keeping New Habits and Learning New Skills Tough

Gail Sheehy, bestselling author of Passages, said it best when she wrote:

“The lobster…grows by developing a series of hard, protective shells. Each time it expands from within, it must shed a confining shell. We, too, in each passage from one stage of adult life to another, must shed some of our protective structure, which leaves us temporarily exposed and vulnerable Growth demands a temporary surrender of security. It may mean a giving up of familiar but limiting patterns, safe but unrewarding work, values no longer believed in, relationships that have lost their meaning.”

Learning new habits and skills is tough. It takes major effort just to start one, let alone get good enough where it makes a difference.

But we need to embrace that feeling vulnerable doesn't mean being weak and that being uncomfortable doesn't have to mean paralyzing uncertainty.

There is strength in vulnerability. There is relief in muddling our way through new experiences. Desiring vulnerability and thriving in awkwardness makes learning (and keeping) new habits and skills easier.

8. Important Information Should Be Digital. Reduce Physical Objects Whenever Possible.

We get tons of resistance on this one. For some reason, digitizing life and reducing physical objects scares the bejesus out of some folks. It could be a fear of a specific technology like computers or misunderstanding the benefits of not being able to touch an important object.

Our bottom line: the convenience, organizing power, and simplicity of digital can't be beat (most of the time).

Pop quiz time. Is it simpler to:

A) Organize and maintain a room full of filing cabinets, stacked with unsortable paper or;

B) Organize and maintain the digital equivalent on an electronic device, that automatically backs up your information and synchs it across devices you can access instantly…from anywhere.

If answer B makes you shudder, start with a small gesture of digitizing. You'll get many opportunities here and you'll also get the confidence and skills to benefit from a new era of organization and simplicity.

9. Positive Change Is Faster and More Rewarding When Connected To a Belief or Movement Larger Than Yourself

Why do most people fail to improve with sheer determination and a “I can do this myself” mentality? For the same reason people succeed when they join a belief or movement that is less erratic and more resilient than any one person.

It comes down to accountability. Support. Sharing resources. Pooling knowledge. Seeing the trends across a diverse range of tactics, strategies, cultures, and philosophies.

I'd still be addicted to video games, toiling away in a corporate cubicle, if it weren't for movements like location independence and the primal/paleo lifestyle. Or beliefs like Stoicism, minimalism, and the philosophy of simplicity.

You might lean on religion, free expression, or something else fundamental. If you don't already have a belief or movement to inspire and motivate a specific change, find one. I'll help you.

Change is vastly more rewarding and faster when it's a shared victory with a community of like-minded people.

Approaching the Crossroads

Foundation Growth

These principles were generated by my personal renaissance and now they can actually ignite one themselves.

Every day we start a new journey. We come upon crossroads that force a choice. Which path will I take? This one or that one?

If only it were that easy.

It's almost never either/or. There are many paths and only you get to pick. You get to determine the pace, the experience, and how far you'll go.

Are you asking yourself every morning, “how will I liberate myself and reach my full talent?”

Have I defined what I need and what I want – and is the difference between the two clear?

Answering these questions doesn't always take massive work. But when it does, start small. And remember that small changes lead to big ones over time.

Just imagine a world where feeling overwhelmed and ill equipped to manage your needs is history. If you can't imagine that yet then let the Value of Simple community help you.

Sometimes the strongest chains that immobilize us are the invisible ones. We're here to break them and set you on a path to a simplified, money wise, and organized existence.

How are you trying to start or extend your personal renaissance?

What principles could you tweak or add that leads to a more intentional, vibrant, and orderly existence? Share your wisdom in the comments, even if it's just a small blurb.

And if you want to go deeper into a world where accountability, support, and sharing resources is normal, embrace the community and get the free Personal User Guide. We are now hundreds strong and growing every day!

Photo credit: The Real Estreya, Martin Lopatka, and paul goyette