One thing I’ve learned from blogging is that I am never alone with any struggle, or what I perceive to be a unique situation. I receive the most thoughtful emails with feedback and often with personal questions. While the people with questions are unique and beautiful, the questions and problems are similar.
Many people never ask their questions and silently struggle or suffer instead, so I thought sharing answers to a few of the questions I receive on a regular basis might be helpful.
Our views and windows may be different, but we are more alike than we think.
Frequently asked questions about simplicity and minimalism (and other stuff)
Q. I am really worried about my parents. They are getting older and refuse to let go of their clutter. It’s too much for them to manage and it’s becoming very stressful for everyone in the family. How can I help them declutter?
A. It can be hard to try to help family members, especially aging parents, because they don’t want to feel like they aren’t in control of their lives. It can be frustrating for you too, because you know it may eventually be your responsibility to clean things up. The important thing now is to assess whether or not they really need your help. If you want them to get rid of their clutter only because it bothers you, step back and focus on your own stuff. Only step in if the clutter is negatively affecting their safety or physical/mental health.
Start with a gentle conversation and include other members of the family if you think that will help. Instead of focusing on the clutter, focus on the benefits of releasing it, for them and the rest of the family. If their clutter habits border on hoarding or if you observe other unhealthy behaviors that could be symptoms of a bigger issue like depression or something else, consider counseling or a professional opinion.
Gentle honesty and respecting boundaries when possible is so important. When you think about your parent’s clutter issue, identify the difference between annoying and harmful before stepping in. If you aren’t sure, ask for help.
Q. How do I deal with my friends who are only interested in shopping and drinking and continue to question my choice to live more simply?
A. Stick to what makes you happy and be kind when you decline to spend time doing things you don’t want to do. Try organizing an outing that better reflects what you like. In terms of what people think or say about your home, clothes or other lifestyle changes, don’t give it another minute of worry or thought. What they say or think, says more about them than it does about you.
You don’t have to explain yourself, just be happy and enjoy your life. If these are good friends that you’ve had for a long time, be honest about how their behavior is affecting you and make recommendations to move forward lifting each other up regardless of differences in lifestyle. Friendships do grow apart, but the best ones can sustain big change.
Q. How can I start a successful blog?
A. While starting a blog is easy, sustaining a blog and growing a business takes time and dedication. If you aren’t expecting overnight success and are willing to do the work, there are a few simple steps that will help. Visit this post for what I think are the three most important things you need to do to grow a blog you love. Here is a review of the course I wrote for beginning bloggers that may be helpful too.
Q. For minimalist fashion challenge Project 333, are 33 items really enough for 3 months if you live in an area with climate changes?
A. Yes. If you have a season with extreme weather changes, build in what you need to accommodate that. From October to December, Salt Lake City has temps that range from 0-90 degrees. I include 5% of clothing for the very beginning of the season for the warmer weeks and another 5% for the later in December when it’s really cold. The other clothing works for the rest of the time. For instance, I may include a hat, gloves and scarf that I won’t wear until the last month of the 3 month period.
Read more at Project 333.
Q. How can I simplify my life and do work I love when I don’t feel well?
A. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t feel well, but simplifying things can reduce stress and give you more time to focus on your health. While you probably put everyone else and their needs in front of your own, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you can never give your best to anyone else. We all deserve the very best version of you. Call a time out. Ask for help and do what ever it takes to feel better and be healthy.
Q. How can I stop feeling guilty for all the money I spent accumulating stuff and finally let things go?
A. I believe that you’ve already paid enough. You paid with money, time, space and now you are paying with energy that could be spent in better ways. I read a great quote on Pinterest that said, “Worry is a misuse of imagination.” I’d add that worry is also a misuse of time, energy and health. Ever hear the expression, “worry yourself sick”? Yep, that’s what you are doing.
Let it go.
Q. Where do I start if I want to become a minimalist?
A. Where you start isn’t as important as when you start. Now would be a great time. Try a simplicity challenge, read a book about living with less, or grab a box and fill it up with everything you don’t need or use and donate it. Stay inspired on your journey by reading blogs about simplicity and minimalism.
These 7 tiny steps will help too.
Q. How can I convince my spouse or partner that we can be happier with less?
A. If you didn’t get the memo, here is a quick refresher: You can’t change people. And, when you try, they resent you and begin to think that you love them a little less. Instead of converting and convincing, focus on your own stuff and be an example of the benefits of simplicity. If you want people in your life to know that it’s possible to be happier with less, be happy with less. Demonstrate the benefits and then give it time.
Being sweet and patient while you wait will help.
Q. How can I get out of debt when I can barely make ends meet?
A. Answers like, spend less than you make pissed me off when I was in debt. I wanted a plan and found it with Dave Ramsey’s baby steps and by adding a few of my own. It didn’t happen overnight, but after a few years, I became 100% debt free. It changes everything. The baby steps helped tremendously, but simplifying my life prevented me from going back into debt.
Instead of figuring out how to make ends meet, work on having a fewer ends.
Other less personal questions that I answer frequently:
- Can I advertise my brand on your site? No
- Can I advertise my client’s brand on your site? Sorry, still no.
- Why not? Because it’s my policy not to include things on the site that don’t help the people who read it. I love them.
- Can I interview you? Sure
- Will you review and promote my book/course/product? Probably not, but if it is something that I love and think people who read this blog will love, then I’ll consider it.
- What is the difference between simplicity and minimalism: very little
Thank you for trusting me with your struggles and for letting me celebrate your success stories. Asking great questions helps everyone. If you have questions that I didn’t cover here, feel free to ask in the comment section and I will be happy to answer.