If you are a beginner minimalist or curious about simplifying your life, this is a good place to start. I’m not a beginner minimalist but I used to be.
Over the last few years, I made some big changes with my family. We sold and donated close to 90% of our stuff, paid off all of our debt and downsized from a big house to an apartment less than half the size. I made some changes personally too. I changed my diet and began to prioritize my health and my heart. That included creating a morning routine, moving more throughout the day, working less and sleeping more. I also left a long career in sales and marketing and created my own business. I’m still learning, changing, and growing but a few of the lessons I picked up as a beginner minimalist may help if you are just getting started.
My goal wasn’t to become a minimalist, but instead to eliminate as much stress as possible from my life after a scary diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. I didn’t even know I was simplifying my life at first but I began to notice that simplicity was at the heart of every change I made. Even though I didn’t have a clear plan, many of the things I did are the first steps I now recommend to beginner minimalists or to anyone who wants to reduce stress and enjoy a happier, healthier life.
Beginner minimalist roadmap (it’s not the only way, but it’s a good way)
1. Identify Your Why. Figure out why you want to simplify. My why was health. Your’s may be different. Maybe you want to pursue your dream job, travel the world, or have a few minutes to yourself every day. Jot down a few of the things you want out of life and why you think minimalism will help you get there. Once you understand and connect with the whys, the hows, whats and wheres will come much more easily.
2. Surround yourself with like-minded people. Not everyone in your family or social circles will support the changes you want to make. Create an environment that will by reading books and blogs and enjoying other resources that encourage minimalism. Here are 10 that can help:
3. Encourage others. You can’t expect or force others to become minimalist with you, but you can encourage them. Start by focusing on your own stuff and demonstrating the benefits of living with less. If you want people to see the joy in less, live joyfully with less. If your friends or family are curious, invite them to participate in a minimalist scavenger hunt.
4. Start small. I mean really small, tiny even. If you want this to be a lifestyle change and not just another attempt at getting organized, consider a slow and steady approach. After all, if organizing worked, you’d be organized by now.
- Protect 10 tiny minutes every morning.
- Keep the TV out of your bedroom.
- Donate clothes that don’t fit your body or your lifestyle.
- Keep a journal to document your progress.
- Give a handful of books to your local library.
- Keep a box by the door for odds and ends that don’t matter to you.
- Give up one thing you think you can’t live without for 30 days.
5. Plan to be uncomfortable.
There may come a time when empty shelves and sparse calendars make you uncomfortable. To ease the pain, you might want to buy more, and schedule more. Instead, think about how you really want to spend your time. Know what matters to you. Trade shopping for self-care, and remind yourself that the discomfort will pass.
6. Experiment. Be curious and have fun challenging yourself to live with less.
- Minimalist fashion challenge Project 333: dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.
- The Mins Game: Give away 1 thing on day 1, 2 on day 2, 3 on day 3 and so on.
7. Give it a rest.
Before simplifying further, think about what you really want out of this life of yours. Is this the time to declutter more or is this the time to deepen a connection with someone you love? Is this the time to move on to your bookshelves, or is this the time to create something new, or serve in your community? If you aren’t sure, check out these 5 signs. Perhaps it is simply time to rest.
8. Watch the sun come up.
That’s what my mornings often look like. I don’t remember what they used to look like before I simplified my life because they were a blur. One of the best things minimalism gave me is 15 minutes mid-week to watch the sun rise over the mountains. If sunrises aren’t your awe-inspiring thing, figure out what is and take the time to marvel at something.
9. Have a life.
We don’t remove clutter, reduce stress, and reject busyness to have a simple life. We do it to have a life. Don’t wait until your debt is paid off, or every room in your home is decluttered to start living. Minimalism invites you to be intentional about how you invest your time and energy, and how you want to fill your heart. Start now.
10. Do what’s best for you.
Don’t worry about following the advice of every popular minimalist or decluttering expert. You don’t have to wear the same shirts Mark Zuckerburg wears, or create the perfect capsule wardrobe collection. You don’t have to live in a tiny house or carry all your belongings in a backpack. Don’t worry about how many items you own or don’t own. Don’t compare your journey to another. You can watch your favorite movies and buy what you need and love. You can call yourself a minimalist or not. This is your journey, your minimalism, your life.
These steps worked for me, but I don’t know what’s best for you. Only you know that.