I was about to graduate from college, and I felt lost, unmoored, without direction or clarity.

I didn’t have a job lined up. I was leaving a community that felt like home. I was moving home with my parents. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life.

I was completely overwhelmed.

The stress I felt before graduation didn’t abate at all when I graduated and moved home. I still had no job. I still had no community. And I had no real purpose.

But I had my best friend.

She and I started talking about this idea of purpose. We read some books about simplicity and focus and living with purpose in everyday life, and we slowly started to adopt these words into our daily vocabulary, mulling them over, learning more about them and what they might mean for our lives.

We wrote manifestos for ourselves, focusing on how we wanted to live our lives rather than just making bucket lists full of things we wanted to do or dreaming about all the things we wanted to accomplish in our lives.

Things like grace, compassion, sustainability, authenticity, generosity, and slowing down topped our lists.

I started understanding purpose as a big-picture concept, not just something “real grown-ups” have when they have an important job.

I began to see that purpose was something that could be woven into my daily life, starting right then.

Living with this kind of simplicity wasn’t something I had to wait to start until I had accomplished something specific or reached a certain age to do.

It was accessible to me right then and there, as a new perspective through which to view my life, not a box to check off or a destination to arrive at, but a lens through which to examine the way I was living and the way I wanted to be living my life.

My sense of purpose and my manifesto outlining how I wanted that purpose infused into the various areas of my life gave me greater clarity and direction.

It wasn’t a magic wand that fixed all my problems, but it gave me a clearer vision for my life, and it helped me make decisions that better aligned with my values.

This simplified view and declared purpose helped me sort through the various decisions I had to make about how I was going to live life in the real world post-college, and I credit this simplicity of focus for saving my sanity in those tumultuous and unpredictable years.

It helped me make choices about my work, my church involvement, my friendships, my finances, my housing situations, my health, and my family.

It gave me a focal point; it helped me identify my center, to articulate what mattered (and therefore identify what didn’t), and it gave me the permission to do less, but better.

Simply put, simplicity saved my sanity.