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What exactly is minimalism and how the heck do you become a minimalist?
We have all heard the term minimalism.
For some, it strikes fear because the understanding is that it requires throwing out all our worldly possessions that took a lot of work to accumulate…
To others, it simply means less stress and less “stuff”.
In reality, there is no one-size-fits-all explanation of minimalism.
But generally, it’s accepted that minimalism is simply living life with more intention.
And that often translates into living life with less.
Less stuff, less stress, less chaos, less noise, less space. Just less to allow more space for the things that truly matter.
You can see why it has become popular recently.
It promises a life filled with only things that really matter to you, all the other noise and obligations thrown out the window.
And who doesn’t want that?
While this seems like a fairy tale, as a minimalist myself I can promise you that’s exactly what a minimalist lifestyle is. A life filled with things that bring you happiness and joy. Only.
Of course, now I know what you’re thinking.
This sounds amazing! Where do I sign up?
Which is exactly why I wrote this post, the beginner’s guide to minimalism. The practical guide to how you can start on the road to a more minimalist life.
Decluttering is often the first step people take in their decluttering journey, so if you are wanting to create a calm home that can be your sanctuary once more then download the FREE decluttering guide today! Just click the button below!
Your first step is figuring out what minimalism means to you. Write down what thoughts come to mind and what images it stirs up.
Is it living a simpler life? Do you want to change your job? Do you feel the need to move? Can you start with where you are?
For me, minimalism is about having more space in my life for the things that bring me happiness and to make a difference. This meant I needed to declutter my physical possessions, but also my head and my time. For me, it was all about removing things that didn’t make sense for me to include in my life, but for you, it might be very different!
Why Become a Minimalist?
I mean we kind of went over this already, but let’s dive down into a bit more detail.
Why do it?
Why change anything at all?
What’s “in it” for you?
When we make changes in our lives, the obvious happens, life changes. I know what your thinking, duh, right?
Nothing changes if you keep doing the same thing every day, day in and day out. You actually have to take action to see changes in your life. Sitting back and waiting for a change to come, waiting for the negativity in your life to disappear on its own, will not provide the difference you want and need in your life. (And let’s be honest, if you’re reading this post then you’re looking for something to change in your life, you’re not completely content.)
Think about what “less” would mean for you.
If it means purging yourself of items that cover your apartment because you simply cannot stand seeing the chaos, you could rid yourself of the “stuff” and create a space for what is really important. This would help you see the value in what you keep as well as help you see the benefits of what you bring into your home in the future. “Things”, material possessions, would have meaning again and not just “take up space”.
The term “less” could mean more time. I know that may seem like a contradiction, so bear with me. Deleting tasks or parts of your life that are sucking up time creates free time that could be spent on tasks you love. This could be done by changing your job because you are tired of working 16-hour days and not having a life or even choosing to work somewhere that does not require an hour drive to get there. You would be gaining the freedom to choose what to do with your time.
For this second step in your minimalist journey, you have to define your “why”. What will be your benefits of minimalism?
Take the time to write down what change you are hoping to gain through minimalistic changes.
Are you overstressed and looking for your days to be calmer?
Do you need more time in the day because right now it feels like you can never get everything done?
Has your “stuff” overtaken your home and you just want your space to feel like a safe sanctuary again?
Figure out your why.
Do I have to get rid of all my stuff and possessions to be a minimalist?
Let’s talk about this before we go any further because I think it’s probably the most common objection to minimalism.
You don’t have to get rid of everything, or anything for that matter.
But living with less could mean that you end up WANTING to get rid of stuff (yeah I thought that was crazy too when I started).
By the end of this article, you could walk away and not change a thing. After all, no one is going to come to your home and force you to change your life.
This is your life and you have every right to live it your way.
But saying that, getting rid of “stuff” can be incredibly freeing so to answer the question, no you don’t have to get rid of anything, but I think you might end up wanting to…
How to begin living a minimalist lifestyle
After you have decided the “what” and the “why” – what minimalism means to you and why you feel you want to start this journey – the next step is to make a plan.
A plan to help you start living a more intentional life.
Of course, figuring out the “what” and the “why” were really like step one and two of the plan so let’s move onto step three – creating that plan.
We only have one life (at least as far as we know) and in this life we should get to call the shots. Living a more intentional life, to me, means just that. That I will choose what is best for my life and how and when I can help others. I will choose what takes up my time and my space.
I know I have asked you to do a lot of writing throughout this post and honestly, I’m not one who loves writing, so remember you have options. Again, this is your life to live your way. You could record an audio of your plan, make a video, the point is to create this plan so it’s actionable. Having it down so you can refer back to it, preferably in a step by step format will help you to hold yourself accountable and remember the purpose when the change seems hard.
We are not meant for change. Our brains are hardwired to resist it. This is even more proof that you really have to take action in your own life to gain a new outcome and the life you really want.
In your plan, explain real steps that you will take to live in a more minimalistic way.
Maybe that’s decluttering your home and giving away that “stuff”? Maybe plan a yard sale, look up local thrift shops, donate? There are a lot of options, figure out what steps you need to take to free yourself of physical items.
Is your change more focused on time? Write, or record, all that you do in a day, in a week, in a month, and see what time-sucking tasks can be reduced or deleted to gain back some of your freedom.
If you’re super duper stuck on this step this is how I did, you can follow my roadmap if you like and if it fits in with your goals:
- Declutter your wardrobe
- Do your first full home declutter
- Become more intentional about what you buy
- Reduce digital noise – less TV more books, less emails more conversations
- Say no to more things so you have space in your life
- Create a list of things you actually enjoy doing – and do them
- Make more time for the important people in your life
Okay, so you’ve got a plan now you just need to start tackling the plan in small steps.
Make checkpoints throughout the plan that you can check off as you complete them. This will help you stick to it and see what you have accomplished already.
When times get rough throughout your process, remember IT IS YOUR LIFE!
You’re doing this to change your life for the better.
Want to learn more?
There are some amazing books available on minimalism that can really help, here are a few of my favorites:
- Minimalism, live a meaningful life
- The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything Your Own
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever
- Goodbye, Things: The New Japanese Minimalism
You can also learn so much from the minimalist guide on Reddit, it’s well worth checking out.
Plus I have a few great posts on minimalism and related subjects that might be exactly what you’re looking for:
- An introduction to minimalism: Save money and be happier
- How To Declutter Your Home (And Transform Your Life)
- 10 Simple Ways Minimalism Can Stop Depression And Anxiety
- Why Your Wardrobe Is Wearing You Down (Is it time to declutter your clothes?)
- An Honest Look At The Minimalist Lifestyle – Can it really work?
- How To Organize Your Kitchen (life transforming and overwhelm free)
- What Is Clutter and Why It’s Ruining Your Life!
- 11 Easy Things To Get Rid Of That Will Transform Your House and Mood!
Finally, here is a list of some of my favorite minimalist living blogs you can check out too:
Keys to Minimalism
Short and sweet minimalism lifestyle tips:
- There is no right or wrong way to be a minimalist. Do not compare yourself to others, your journey is your own.
- Do not judge others. When you choose to make changes in your life and others don’t share in your enthusiasm, it is ok. They are not wrong for not wanting to do the same, and you are not wrong for moving forward.
- Always be intentional with your time. Do what YOU want with the time you have so you can truly find peace and fulfillment.
- Things are just things. You can take pictures of items that are harder to give up and make a memory book.
- Always be asking yourself “could this be done simpler?”
- Never stop decluttering
Your journey to becoming a minimalist starts here. If you want it to.
Define what minimalism means to you. Become clear on why you need this change. Decide where you want to be, choose the goal. Make a plan.
Take one step at a time and enjoy the journey.