It’s been almost 3 years since we made a real commitment to minimalist living and in that time we’ve definitely had our ups and downs. We’ve given boxes and bags of stuff to Goodwill only to see new stuff come in to replace it. We’ve sworn never to waste time only to get to the end of a day, a week, or a month and realize that we’ve given our most valuable asset to things we care nothing about. We’ve promised not to accumulate debt (and thankfully we haven’t) but boy have there been temptations along the way! In short, the journey toward a minimalist lifestyle is a very human one.
Through these trials (and errors) I’ve found a good many things that really work in simplifying and bettering life.
1) Define minimalism for yourself.
I recently read a blog about the definition of minimalism. The author was angry. He felt that minimalism was about living in a small space with very few possessions and decried anyone who wasn’t taking this approach. I’ve said many times, minimalism is not just about your possessions (or lack thereof). It’s bigger than that. To be a true minimalist you must embrace a definition that works within your own life plan.
2) Decluttering is VIP.
You can’t have true freedom if you’re constantly encumbered by useless things – whether those things are possessions, people, or responsibilities. Getting rid of unworn clothing, unread books, unused exercise equipment, and excess furniture will make your home easier to manage and it really is cathartic to purge your closets. Getting rid of relationships that cause you unwanted stress and responsibilities that bring you no benefit is even more cathartic.
3) Buy less. Waste less.
I was raised in a Southern family where big meals were and still are the norm. So for me, learning to plan meals was hard. Learning to buy only what we would actually eat was even harder – especially when the grocery store is full of new and tempting goodies. Keeping a stock list of our most frequently used grocery items and shopping only from that list really helps. From a few basic ingredients we are able to make all of our favorite meals and have zero food waste. In fact, we haven’t thrown out a leftover in more than a year!
4) Cut costs by prioritizing your wants and needs.
For a long time we had cable because everyone had cable. It was how you watched TV. I had a car because everyone had a car. It’s how you got around. We had a cell phone plan because that’s how you got the newest gadgets for free. When I discovered minimalism, I began to reassess my priorities. I sold my car, cut the cable cord, and switched to Ting for our cell service. I did these things not just to save money but to reallocate that money (and the time spent pursuing it) to things that actually bring me happiness – like travel and family time.
5) Keep it simple every day and in every way.
As human beings it is in our very nature to over-think and over-complicate our lives. We worry. We obsess. We plan. We do so much on a daily basis to ensure that our future is bright that we forget about our present. I’m just as guilty as the next person of doing this. In fact, I spent much of my precious weekend thinking about the week ahead. If I were to pick one thing to work more diligently on in 2015, this is probably it. Cherish every moment by making it the only moment that matters.