Minimalism is gaining popularity for good reasons – from helping with anxiety to saving money, it can be appealing to many. But many people still wonder how to become a minimalist especially when they have a lifetime of stuff!
Many of us are downsizing due to divorce or maybe you’re moving to a new country! Whatever the case may be, it’s still going to be a little stressful because so many of us have so much stuff.
I want to share 6 easy ways to help you ease into minimalist living.
My minimalist life started about 8 years ago. The biggest thing I’ve learned about becoming a minimalist is that it truly is a journey. Minimalism is not something that you can accomplish all at once.
I discovered these 6 steps in my own journey. They will help you begin your journey to a minimalist life, help keep you focused, and maintain this lifestyle.
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What is Minimalism?
So let’s get the definition out of the way so we’re on the same page. I remember there was a time I had no idea what minimalism really was.
I thought a minimalist barely had any furniture, no clothes, lit candles for light and heat and well, you get the idea. I was clueless.
So what is minimalism?
Joshua Becker said it best:
It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, being a minimalist means intentionally promoting the things we most value and removing everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality upon us. As a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.Source: Becomingminimalist.com
Sounds simple enough, right? As a minimalist, we want less stuff. We want to be conscious of the things we own and figure out how to live with fewer things.
How My Minimalist Journey Began
Look I gotta be honest. Aside from not really knowing what minimalist living is, I also wasn’t sure I could adopt this lifestyle. I had stuff. Maybe too much stuff.
I’ll admit, I used to let material things validate me and my existence. I know, pathetic. Then I grew up.
Well actually what happened to me is a really long story but you can learn more about my story here on my YouTube channel.
So a little spoiler alert, after I hit rock bottom and climbed my way out I decided to leave Canada and head to Guatemala. I knew I couldn’t take my things with me so I had to go through my entire house and choose:
- what stayed with me
- what got donated
- what sentimental items to store away
- what got sold, and
- what got trashed
I had a lot to think about and I’m not gonna say it was easy. It wasn’t. But 8 years later, my life has never been better.
Some Benefits of Minimalism
I couldn’t write this whole blog up and not talk about some of the benefits of minimalism you will experience (or even I’ve experienced) when you become a minimalist.
Needless to say, saving money is going to be one of the top benefits. Yay!! Hello financial freedom!
But when you finally adopt a minimalist mindset, you stress a lot less about things that used to really annoy you and make you angry.
Things like –
- the price of things,
- when you realize you don’t have too much space for the things you just bought,
- ridiculous bank charges for all the fancy bank accounts you have (yes, they go too!)
- huge to-do lists
- clutter everywhere
- not having much money left after your paycheck because you bought useless sh*t
- and more!
You just have a lot less stress, a lot more free time to enjoy life (less time wasted on worry), way more money, more inner peace and you’ll truly be living a simple life.
But a minimalist life is a sweet one. Free, easy, simple, need I go on?
A Minimalist Life is a Happy Life
Do you have a family member or a friend who already has a minimalist home and has been living this lifestyle for awhile? Ask them how their life really is. The answer will surprise you.
They’ll surely tell you they are happy and don’t miss any of their stuff. Most of us don’t.
It’s a lifestyle choice that most have a hard time making but once you take the first step and decide this is the life you want, you will most likely dive right in and get started.
And you won’t be sorry!
Starting the Decluttering Process
Everyone will tell you, this is the hardest part. What to keep, what to toss, what to sell, donate, burn. It’s tough.
I stored some sentimental items at my sister’s house because I couldn’t take them to Guatemala with me but I wasn’t quite ready to part with them.
You really have to take a look at what you have and ask yourself if you can live without it. Chances are, you can. I moved without 95% of my things and I managed just fine.
So can you.
So when starting the decluttering process I give you these decluttering tips!
- Set a date/timer
- Do a little bit at a time (one hour sometimes is enough)
- Have boxes/storage bins for your stuff (storage units secured if you have lots of stuff)
- Call a friend or family member to come help you
- Tackle the most important things first (maybe photos/things from your kids/etc)
- Start with the easiest room of your home (trust me on that)
- Make sure you have the right mindset to start.
And then just start. The easiest way to actually getting started is remind yourself why you are doing this. Remind yourself of the benefits of minimalism.
Remind yourself that small changes lead to big beautiful things.
How to Become a Minimalist in 6 Easy Ways
Do you envision a clutter-free living space where you can do yoga or paint or read without the distraction of things that need to be done?
Are you tired of looking around at all the stuff you have that mean practically nothing to you anymore.
Do you want to experience the freedom that comes with not being attached or controlled by your possessions?
Are you ready for less clutter, fewer possessions and a new way of life that will make way for financial freedom, less stress, more free time and a ton more joy (and money)?
I think you said yes to all those questions.
When I talk to midlife women and coach them, one of the first things I recommend to them to do is take on a minimalist approach when reinventing their lives. We honestly don’t need most the stuff we have.
Remember, the goal of minimalism is freedom and happiness. Not to mention less stress and more money! Ha! Have I mentioned you’ll have more money?
Now time to get to the simple tips to help you on how to become a minimalist.
1 Try a minimalist weekend/week
Pack a few select items (I’m talking the bare essentials) and go away for a week or a weekend. Better if you can go camping where you don’t have all the luxuries of life at your fingertips.
I always tell people a great way to become a minimalist is to try living like one for a week. Then you’ll see how simple life can really be not to mention how much stress you won’t have in your life!
Embrace the simplicity of your life with fewer things, fewer clothes, and just a lot less ‘stuff’!
2 Start Small
Doing an overhaul on all of your material possessions is overwhelming.
Many people have bought Marie Kondo’s popular book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, because it’s easy to follow and packed with tons of valuable tips.
She says to start with your clothes because it is easy to determine whether or not they “spark joy.”
Her method is to pile every piece of clothing that you own on the floor, or on your bed, then hold each item in your hand and see if it makes you happy.
First, piling all your clothes in one spot will help you to see how much you own. Second, it will also help you see the items that you never wear and that you won’t miss.
I had a lot of clothes that I hadn’t worn in ages. I donated all my clothes to the homeless shelter.
FYI There are many women who use the shelter’s clothes closet to find something nice to wear for job interviews and important meetings.
Many women have gone to a capsule wardrobe after doing the closet check! You can absolutely have fewer clothes and still have lots to wear every day!
Despite what Marie Kondo says, I think it’s ok to take your time decluttering.
The more you clean things out, the more you’ll want to clean things out. With that being said, it can still be really overwhelming to think about every single item you own.
I think it’s smart to go in categories.
After my clothes, I did books, and then moved on to the kitchen. I think it’s important to take the microscope to every drawer, every closet, and every box hiding up in the attic.
If there is a part of your home that you feel you resist decluttering, ask yourself, “Why?” Is there an emotional attachment to it? Is it a healthy one? What is it about this piece of clothing or book or artwork that makes me want to keep it?
Do the hard work. Once you have a room that is clean, orderly, and filled only with things you love and use, you will be grateful for the process.
Do it in a way that feels life giving, not draining. If it ever gets overwhelming, it’s ok to take a break.
One for One
After you have gone through the hard work of decluttering, it’s important not to fill your home back up with things you don’t need. In our home, we have a rule that for every thing we buy, we need to donate at least one thing.
For example, if I buy a new shirt, I need to donate a shirt. This keeps clothes or household items from building up.
This will also help you evaluate if you truly need or want something new. If you are happy with all your belongings and don’t want to get rid of anything, then you won’t purchase anything new.
While the one for one approach may not work for everyone, another quick trick is before you buy something stop and ask yourself “Do I really need this”?
By not buying anything new, you save money!
The last step to sustainable minimalism is practicing gratitude. At first, this can feel uncomfortable or unnatural. After a few weeks of doing it, the benefits are not only real, but help re-frame your perspective.
There are several ways to practice gratitude. For some, a gratitude journal is helpful. At the end of each day, you jot down 3 or 4 things you are grateful for that day.
Giving thanks for the things you already have instead of yearning for things you don’t have changes your perspective. You will begin to see your clothes, furniture, books, and kitchen utensils as blessings instead of old and needing replacing.
Take a moment each day and be grateful for all you have right now.
What About the Sentimental Items?
Listen, I get it, you have a lot of really sentimental items from your late husband or your grandma or kids or whatever. Some women have so much stuff it takes up an entire room of the house.
So let’s think about this for one second.
What would you do if you had to move into a small apartment (for whatever reason) and you can’t bring all your stuff? What would you do then?
Yes it’s hard to have to go through all your sentimental items, all the things you hold near and dear to your heart but there will come a day when you have to. May as well do it and be done with it.
You can box them up and store them in a storage unit or at the very least, if you absolutely have to keep them, organize them neatly in storage bins on shelving units.
Look, the reality is, you can’t take everything with you when you go and you will make it so much easier on your family members to go through your things and dispose of them properly, in less time!
The journey to a life of minimalism
Minimalism is a journey. There is no perfect standard to attain. It is a series of individual decisions leading you to curate the perfect space for your unique personality and interests. Be true to yourself, dig deep when things get hard, and pursue simplicity.
You’ll be glad you started.
peace and love
ox iva xo