So you want to become a minimalist (or at least want to minimize & simplify your home), but have no idea where to start amidst your glorious collection of coffee mugs, and shoes…
I was there once, but I’m happy to tell you there IS hope for you! Take a breath, and check out some tips I have for you!
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is not just about owning very few items, Minimalism is a mindset.
It’s a lifestyle.
Minimalism is about not attaching our identity to material things. Minimalism frees up our time, and gives us more financial freedom because we aren’t spending hours upon hours lusting after things we want, and we aren’t spending our last dime to get it. Think of minimalism in terms of everything you will have, as opposed to what you’re giving up. You will have: freedom from the consumerism mindset, freedom from impulse purchases, freedom from financial stress (financial bondage, if you will), freedom from attaching your identity to your belongings, freedom to feel happy without the latest trends, freedom to be, freedom to live, and so on.
So with that in mind, I want to encourage you by saying that minimalism is a journey. That means you will have good days and you will have bad days, where you go shopping and buy more than you need with all the money you don’t have (I’m still guilty of that at times). But don’t be too hard on yourself. This journey is humbling and will take time, but every day you’ll find yourself living a little bit more free. You will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You will begin to learn more about yourself and experience growth like never before.
Personally speaking, minimalism has really been a journey of self discovery. I’ve had to ask myself why I hold onto certain things. Most recently, I had to get a rental car while my car was in the shop getting repaired. I hadn’t given much thought to what kind of rental car I would like, until they assigned me to a really ugly red mom-car. Obviously I gladly accepted it because SOME car is better than no car. But as I was getting in the car and driving off the lot, I did feel a little embarrassed to be seen in that car. That was when I realized that maybe I have attached my identity to my car in a slightly unhealthy way.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not bad to have nice things. I worked really hard for my car, and I absolutely love my car and take care of it like my baby – which is good, we should take care of our belongings. It becomes unhealthy when you find part of your identity by what you own, rather than by who you are. Anyway, that’s my little confession to y’all. Let’s get into steps towards minimalism now 🙂
6 Easy Steps Towards Minimalism
Start with gratitude.
Realize that you already have everything you need. I’m assuming this of course, but if you have access to an electronic device with wifi in order to read this very post, that tells me that you have a lot. Practicing gratitude DAILY will not only make you a happier person and help fight depression, you’ll begin to realize that when you’re grateful for what you have, you don’t desire as much.
Start minimizing in areas that don’t mean too much to you. Maybe start with your underwear drawer, or your excess of bath and body works products that you’ve been hoarding for 3 years under your bathroom sink.
Start by donating and re-gifting items that mean very little to you. Eventually, move onto things that mean more, like clothes, shoes, and maybe even your stuffed animals (believe it or not, this was extremely difficult for me because I -still to this day- feel like my stuffed animals have feelings and would be hurt if I got rid of them). The more you find yourself having difficulty getting rid of things, that’s a good opportunity to ask why getting rid of said item is so hard.. which leads to step 3.
Question your identity.
Don’t be afraid to dissect yourself.
It’s part of the self discovery journey, and it is humbling for sure, but vital to minimalism. When you find yourself NOT wanting to donate or re-gift something, ask yourself why does this mean so much to me? Everyone has sentimental things, so I’m not saying go burn all your pictures of granny, but truly ask yourself why this thing means so much to you.
If you have a hard time getting rid of all your name brand handbags, could it be that you feel more likable with name-brand bags? Could it be that you want people to perceive you as a fashionable person? These questions are important, and the more you “let go” of things, the more you’ll find that you don’t need those things to be YOU or to be happy.
Take inventory of what you own.
This helps especially with clothes for me, because sometimes I find myself looking at a really cute pair of jeans that I want, but don’t need. If I already know I have 2 other pairs of jeans that look the same, it’s easier to talk myself out of getting it, because I know I already have it. Whatever it is you usually find yourself buying, make sure to take mental (or physical!) note of how much of that thing you have at home. It will help you realize that it’s not a need, it’s a want!
Challenge yourself to only buy what is absolutely necessary for life.
Maybe this sounds extreme, but I am kind of an extreme person (Lol). This helps me find balance. When I really examine what is vital and necessary for life, it makes saying “no” to other things a lot easier. Will another pair of sneakers sustain me and give me life? Probably not.
This has helped me learn what is essential, versus what helps me be a useful member of society, versus what is a luxury.
For example, here’s a breakdown of how I label essentials / non-essentials
Helps me be a useful member of society:
Computer to work
Car to get to work (or access to public transit)
iPhone 6 (versus a basic phone)
Running sneakers, fashion sneakers, training shoes, and so on. Are all of these really necessary?
You get the point. Focusing on only buying what is necessary has given me a healthy perspective of what is necessary, versus what is a luxury… which has also made me more grateful, realizing that I even have the luxury of owning such things.
Talk to other minimalists.
It’s a lot more motivating and inspiring to pursue minimalism when someone else is excited about it too! If you don’t know anyone who is excited about it, start talking about it and get other people excited about it too!
As a last resort, turn to youtube. When I found people weren’t really on board with minimalism and weren’t ready to minimize like I was, I started watching other vloggers and bloggers who were into it. Watching a video every few days kept me inspired and wanting to journey further into minimalism.
Looking back at my journey in minimalism, it’s really encouraging to see how far I have come. When I started pursuing a minimal lifestyle, I had a maxed out credit card with things society told me I needed to be happy. I was financially tied down to my debt, and had a messy room filled with things that didn’t bring me joy.
Now days, I am a lot more financially free, and I don’t feel like I need to shop or own certain things. Even at Christmas, I can walk through a fully decorated department store, see advertisements for “nice” things, yet feel little to no desire to own them. I’m no longer held captive by consumerism.
You can do it too, you can start on the exciting journey to minimalism.
The most important part to me is pursuing freedom in the process. Use this time to discover yourself and learn yourself! Becoming a minimalist is one of the better choices I have made in life. I really enjoy living as a minimalist – I don’t ever pressure myself to “be a minimalist”, instead I just focus on living a lifestyle that brings happiness, and I’ve found happiness isn’t attained through material possessions, but rather, relationships and experiences.
Good luck on your journey to minimalism! I’m so excited for you that you’re taking a step towards a more fulfilling life.