I've shared so much information on the minimalist lifestyle with you that I felt it time to share more about my path and transition. Partially to show you a real life transition and also to share that I'm just an ordinary person like each one of you.
It's my opinion that everyone can benefit from some, if not all, of the aspects in a minimalist lifestyle.
A Tale of Too Much Stuff
I grew up in a (mostly) single parent household, where my father worked long hours to provide for us. I remember him going to work before I left for school and coming home just in time for a late dinner. I grew up with the work hard to succeed mindset. Part of that was you work hard to own the nice things.
Don't get me wrong, I still like nice things. I'm just pickier about what things are important to me now. They have to add value to the life I want to create, not just add to my possession count.
I started working at 14 and by 16 I worked nearly 40 hours a week while attending high school full-time.
The constant exhaustion caused me to develop the dangerous mindset that I deserved things as a reward for all my hard work. I spent the money I was earning as fast as it came in, just to have the things I thought would make me happy.
Throughout most of my life after high school, I worked one or two jobs at a time, often working 40 hours a week at both. All of this to provide for my growing family and support my need for stuff.
I maxed out my credit cards and overdrew my bank account many times over the years just for stuff.
Old Habits Die Hard
There were many times I tried to cut back, but the newest gadget or kitchen appliance caught my eye and I was right back to the same routine.
You know the old saying ‘rob Peter to pay Paul'. Yeah, that was me.
Something had to change.
And it finally did, with a little help from a new relationship.
Two years ago, at the age of 45, I began a relationship with a high school classmate and friend. One of his principles in life is ‘less stuff'. He spent almost 2 months camping on a mountain with just what was in his car.
His minimalist take on life resonated with me and I started with getting rid of all the gadgets and knick knacks shoved away in boxes. This was a huge task because I had years of ‘stuff' in those boxes.
Then, I continued to declutter by clearing out my closet and donating a bunch of clothes that I didn’t wear. This was really hard for me at first, but it felt so good to get rid of things that were just taking up space in my closet.
It was a great feeling and that feeling has continued to grow. I can look around my house and not feel overwhelmed with the amount of belongings.
The best part is some aspects of the minimalist lifestyle can be applied to every part of your life – from relationships to your career.
Learning How to Be A Minimalist
A minimalist's goal is to have less stuff in their lives. Minimalists believe that you should own less stuff and use it less. Minimalists want to be able to leave their house with everything they need. Minimalists want to be able to be more in the moment.
After reflection and exploration, I realised that minimalism was a tool to help me achieve my dreams and goals. This realization led to changes in how I viewed minimalism and my relationship with it.
My Minimalist Lifestyle
I started my minimalist journey to simplify my life, and I was surprised at how much of an impact it had on me. I started to feel more peaceful and relaxed. I was able to focus on what really mattered in life, instead of worrying about all the other stuff.
I’m not saying that you don’t need things to survive. You do! But, you don’t need all of the stuff that most people have.
Minimalism doesn’t mean living in a sterile, cold environment with no color or personality. Minimalism is about living with only the things that bring you joy. It’s about having an environment where you can focus on what brings you happiness, and not worrying about all of the other stuff.
I also started to question everything I had in my house and ask myself if I really needed it. If the answer was no, then it went into a pile for donation or trash.
I started to ask myself the same question about my time. If I wasn’t doing something that made me feel good, then why was I wasting my time with it?
It can be hard to let go of things that have been a part of your life for a long time, but when you do it can be really liberating.
I’ve started to feel like I have more time to do the things I really care about and that makes me feel good.
Minimalist habits that changed my life
Minimalism is more than decluttering and simplifying alone.
Shifting the way you think about many different aspects of your life as part of embracing minimalism involves adopting and shifting to a minimalist mindset.
Minimalism is about committing to owning less, rather than decluttering more often. It’s about changing your view of what you own and why you own it.
One in, one out – this is definitely the #1 habit to embrace when living the minimalist lifestyle. When you bring a new item into your home, you remove one. Not only does it keep you from cluttering your space, but it makes you really think about how important that item is to you.
Defining core values – When you define your core values, you can determine what is important to you and what isn’t. Then, you build your ideal life around these.
NOT Keeping up with the Joneses – Minimalism is not a competition. It’s not about having less things than your neighbor, or being more minimalist than your friend. Minimalism is about living with only the things that bring you joy.
Adopting intentional consumption as a new mantra
Minimalism can be adopted as a new mantra if you have clear priorities for consumption. This was a big change in transitioning to my minimalist lifestyle. I spent a lot of years without clear priorities about anything, let alone consumption.
There are three steps to adopting minimalism: defining your priorities, developing buying habits that adhere to those priorities, and making conscious decisions about what to buy.
The benefits of adopting minimalism include time and money savings, bolstering mindfulness, and creating lasting change in your life.
Digital minimalism is a complement to mindfulness in everyday life.
On one side, regulating your social media usage will enable you to utilize the perks of social media. It will, however, also help you avoid its side effects.
As such, digital minimalism isn't about forgoing the use of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It's about identifying the right reasons and moments to use the most suitable platforms. Much like intentional buying habits, digital minimalism requires prioritization .
As an example , you might use Instagram to build a photography portfolio with Twitter as a nuisance-free publishing platform. The same can be said about Facebook and Twitter.
Instead of letting the platforms dictate your life, you should be in control of how they affect your day-to-day activities. This way, you can enjoy their benefits without sacrificing your time and energy.
And that's the whole point of digital minimalism: to live a more satisfying life while minimizing distractions.
Acting according to values and principles, not cues
Minimalism is the philosophy of living a life that adheres to principles, not external cues. Acting according to values and principles, not external cues leads to mental freedom, satisfaction, and long-term success.
Values are determined by thoughtful consideration and trial-and-error journeys. Once you know how to implement them, you're more satisfied with your life.
It's much like a job. A job that follows cues instead of values and principles will not be satisfying in the long run. However, a job that aligns with your principles and values will be rewarding.
Learning to recognize my values and principles was a huge step in my minimalist lifestyle transition. If you don't know your core values, you will struggle with any lifestyle.
Asking the right questions
Questions are powerful personal growth tools. I asked myself a lot of questions as I was starting on this journey. I still ask the most important questions as I continue on my path. I'm not done transitioning to the minimalist lifestyle and my version of minimalism is going to be everchanging. Life changes, values change, dreams change – so your lifestyle will change.
When it comes to consumption, ask yourself: does this item add value to my life?
For social media, ask yourself ‘does this group benefit me? Am I a right fit for this page?'
In your professional life, question the road you're on. Is this the right professional track? Am I entering a one-way street? Are there enough refueling stops along the way?
As Tony Robbins once said, ” successful people ask better questions to get better answers.”
Don't miss a beat!
Becoming a minimalist can help you decrease stress and worry, develop better relationships and be more efficient.
Minimalism is only successful with intentionality, which requires clarity of priorities and developing buying habits that adhere to those priorities.
To become a minimalist successfully, make a list of all the products you buy regularly and ask yourself what your priorities are for each item.
Prioritize your time and money in order to live a life that is fulfilling.
Shift your consumer behavior from buying unnecessary things spontaneously to investing in useful items intentionally.
Eight misconceptions of a minimalist lifestyle
There are so many misconceptions about the minimalist lifestyle. The most common ones I've heard are listed here along with the actual aspect that is being misunderstood. If you are living your life in a way that is fulfilling to you, then it doesn't matter what other people think.
1. Minimalism means throwing everything out
Minimalism is more about learning what matters to you than just chucking your life into the trash.
Minimalists don't throw everything out. That would be impractical. It’s also not environmentally friendly to generate so much waste.
There's no official board of minimalism to determine whether or not you're doing minimalism right.
Minimalism truly looks different for everyone and there's no “right” way to do it, as long as it works for you .
Everyone can benefit from applying the principles of minimalism to their lives – it's a process of removing distractions and things that no longer add value to our lives
Minimalism means throwing everything out.
Minimalism is a tool used to increase focus and achieve goals.
There are no credentials needed to call yourself a minimalist, but it's not necessary to identify as such.
2. Minimalists don't buy new things
Minimalists generally don't buy new things, instead replacing what they already own.
There are some instances where minimalists do buy new things that make them happy.
Minimalists often focus on timeless pieces and don't follow fashion or home decor trends.
3. Minimalism happens overnight…
It will take time to adjust to a new way of life.
The gradual transformation from scattered, overwhelmed and chaotic to clear, purposeful living is the most exciting part of the minimalist experience.
Making space for yourself and thinking thoughts without distractions is one way to overcome resistance and reach a more minimalistic lifestyle
4. Minimalism is a number
Minimalism is a trend that has contributed to the idea that owning less is better. This needs to stop because minimalism isn't about numbers, it's about what makes you happy.
Some are motivated by numbers, while others feel inspired by aesthetics or a feeling. As long as you're confident that what you own is essential and brings you fulfilment, your perspective of minimalist lifestyle is working well for you.
The goal of minimalism is to simplify one's life and reduce stress levels.
Minimalists often live in smaller apartments or homes, and they may have less furniture than people who are not minimalist.
Minimalism is not about being Spartan or cheap; it's about having more control over one's environment and being able to enjoy life more fully.
Some people who are interested in minimalism find that it helps them to declutter their lives, manage their money better, and stay organized.
5. Minimalists are emotionless robots
Most minimalists are sentimental.
Minimalists value simplicity and focus on timeless pieces.
When someone says minimalists have no style, what they're really saying is that they do not see a style they recognise and can immediately relate to.
6. A minimalist lifestyle is unsustainable
Minimalism is a mindset, not a hack.
Minimalism has become trendy, even though it's a concept that has been around for centuries. A minimalist lifestyle is the process of identifying what is essential in your life and having the courage to eliminate the rest.
Minimalism is an antidote to overwhelming state. Minimalism can help reduce the amount of stress in one's life.
7. Minimalists have no style
Minimalists have no style according to mainstream recommendations.
They are not unattached or unemotional, and keep memories alive through photos and journal entries instead of physical souvenirs.
8. Minimalism is about deprivation
Minimalism is about freeing up our capacity to dream, play, and be of service. Minimalism is a style of living that focuses on reducing or eliminating unnecessary items in order to focus on the essential.
Minimalism can be applied to any area of life, including decorating, eating, and working.
There are many different minimalist styles, and no one definition of minimalism exists.
Minimalism emphasizes the removal of excess material from one's life in order to improve focus and clarity. Minimalists believe that emphasizing simplicity over complexity leads to a more fulfilling life.
People who are fans of minimalism often live in less cluttered environments, leading to improved mental and physical health.
There is no one right way to be minimalist, as each person values different aspects of their lifestyle differently. As you start to transition to the minimalist lifestyle, you'll find what values and priorities matter most to you. These will be different than my values or the next person's values.
The best part about minimalism is you learn to not compete with or compare yourself to others. Each person is different, why should we be comparing to each other anyway?
My lifestyle has changed over the last couple years. At first, I was a minimalist in name only, but as time went on and my knowledge of minimalism grew, I began to value simplicity more and more.
I am now a minimalist in all areas of my life, including my career, relationships, and living space. I hope sharing my minimalist lifestyle and some of the things I've learned along the way will inspire you to live a more fulfilling life.
Feel free to reach out if you have questions or are searching for more specific information on any part of minimalism. I will be more than happy to help you find it.
Ready to start your own minimalist lifestyle journey? Let me help!