Have you ever been curious to lead a minimalist lifestyle? Minimalism and the simple living movement has had a major increase in popularity the last couple of years. The word ‘minimalism’ both intrigues and aggravates people, and are used both in relation to lifestyle, fashion, interior, art, architecture and music. People often associate minimalism and a minimalist lifestyle with a spartan approach to home interior, picturing all-white walls and furniture (it doesn’t have to be) that looks un-lived in, as it were. Minimalism doesn’t have to be about home decor at all, and actually comes with a good deal of benefits.
Either way, living in a consumerist, capitalist society that values materialistic goods, knowing where to begin a journey towards minimalism can seem quite daunting. I know this first hand; the amount of accumulated stuff can be kind of mind-blowing when you start minimizing.
To help you along, I have written down three useful steps to help you get started on your minimalist pursuit. And if you’ve been at it a while, these steps can be useful tools for keeping tabs on maintenance as well. Minimalism is a way of life, after all, and not a destination one arrives at. As such, maintenance and up-keeping are key.
1. Define your reason
There are many reasons people begin their journey towards minimalism. Just one person might have several. Starting any kind ofnew lifestyle after years of leading a different one can be tricky, and one helpful tool to keep you on track is to start by defining your reason. What is your reason for wanting to pursue a minimalist lifestyle?
For me, it just made sense. It came from a wish to get on top of things and not to drown in clutter. To focus on things that matter and to break ties with the stress of mindless consumerism. No matter what your reason for moving towards a minimalist lifestyle is, defining your reason from the start and coming back to it each time you find yourself struggling can help you stay on track. It becomes an anchor in your journey that you can grab a hold of and regain your focus.
2. Change your mindset
Ok. Now your reason for pursuing a minimalist lifestyle is set. You have a clear vision on where you want to go and why you want to get there. But chances are that ingrained within you are your old ways and habits and they make it difficult to take the next steps towards your goals. That’s why, after defining your reason, I find that the process of changing your mindset is key.
Take note of the habits you keep that fuels your consumerist lifestyle and take a conscious stance in order to shift them. If your old mindset was like mine; buying new stuff on a whim and thereby filling your storage to its limits, adopting such a mindset as the “one in, one out” strategy could be helpful. This way, you keep the accumulation in check, as you always throw away, sell or donate an existing item when bringing a new one into your home. Similarly, evaluating a purchase in terms of wants versus needs is beneficial. Do I buy this item out of necessity or merely of superficial desire?Most of the time it is the latter and identifying this goes a long way in keeping us on the straight and narrow.
3. Start small
It’s easy to get a head of yourself when wanting to minimize. As such, I don’t blame you one bit if you want to dive in head first and start decluttering and jettisoning in all your closets, rooms and drawers all at once. But – I can promise you that it’s probably not the best strategy. Not if you want to make sure that you can keep your momentum all the way through. It’s essential not to overwhelm yourself and taking it one drawer and one closet at the time might be more beneficial. Throwing a packing party, playing the minimalist game, or keeping a “toss or donate” bin for superfluous objects can be good places to start.
Together, these three steps can help you to both begin, and also continue, your journey towards simple living and a minimalist lifestyle. Even if I have been moving towards minimalism the last couple of years, revisiting my reason for leading a simple life is heaps useful. After all, our reasons for something we do in life might fluctuate. Thus, revisiting our purpose and thus make the necessary nudges and customizations for this point in our life is important.
If the last step “starting small” does not sound like something a more advanced minimalist could make due with, it is worth remembering, when struggling, that your clutter took years to accumulate. And your decluttering and minimizing will take time as well. Slack is something worthwhile giving yourself if you feel stuck. Revisiting these three steps should give you a little nudge to reclaim your focus, anyway.