When you intentionally live with less, you can experience life with more attention and purpose.
Minimalism starts with a desire to live with less. It is typically triggered by being sick and tired of being sick and tired, or experiencing the “enough is enough” moment. Before you identify yourself as a minimalist, you may notice a nearly obsessive need to unclutter and simplify. Before you know it, uncluttering starts to apply to more than just a kitchen drawer. For me, the process went like this: Health, stuff, debt, obligation, love, religion. None of it happened overnight, and most of it is still work in progress.
Some minimalists have successfully turned their lives around, and decided to live out of a backpack in the blink of an eye, but most of us need a more gentle transition. We’ve become aware that working too much, to spend too much, to have too much, only to find out that we need to work even harder to support our bad habits isn’t working. Change is inevitable, but introducing big change to an established life takes time.
If you have a spouse, children, pets, or all 3 (like me), be patient. Respect the fact that it took you many years to get where you are today, and it may take time to get somewhere new. Why jump? Unlike falling, jumping is intentional. It is a little more deliberate than dipping your toe in, and not quite as drastic as diving in. Come on in, the water’s fine.
Advice on Jumping Gently Into Minimalism
- It starts with you – Make your health top priority. Eat simply and move every day. Try yoga.
- Research – spend some time reading about minimalism and talk about what you are learning with your family. Authors like Meg Wolfe, Tammy Strobel, Joshua Becker and Leo Babauta have inspired me to live with less. Reading about how real life people, with very different lifestyles, live with less, shows that minimalism can be for anyone and everyone.
- Start slowly with your stuff – You may want to attempt to empty one drawer each weekend or one room depending on your time. Respect the “family stuff” and don’t toss or donate things you share without a consensus.
- Dump your debt – This could be the most important step in moving towards minimalism. Having no monthly payments will free you up to do things that matter. I follow the Dave Ramsey plan and highly recommend it.
- Don’t compete – Having less than another does not make you a better minimalist and living with less is not a competition. The purpose of simplifying is to have more time and space for what matters most to you. That being said, you may challenge yourself with fun ideas like the 100 Things Challenge, or minimalist fashion Project 333, but attempt them with a light heart.
- Focus on small – Sometimes the littlest change makes the biggest difference. Don’t overlook small progress.
- Dream – Minimalism is not all about getting rid of stuff. It is also about living your life without distraction so you can spend time living life your way. Don’t wait for the perfect time to go after your dream. The Right Time is Right Now.
- Reach out – Feel free to email me and others writing about minimalism with questions and comments. Connecting with like-minded people makes the journey that much better.
What starts out as an external journey (giving things away, cutting the cable), becomes very personal, intentional and more meaningful. You start to think of “stuff” as not just things but obligation, debt and stress. Then you see how this “stuff” is getting in the way of your LIFE and decide to make a bigger change. It’s at this point that minimalism becomes more about who you are, instead of what you have.