Minimalism: An Independent Journey
We discussed how to plan and prepare for pursuing minimalism – a life of focused intent and meaning. We talked about basic questions that need to be asked and answered in order to make the move as simple and seamless as possible. In this post, we are focusing on practical steps that can help make minimalism a unique, individual journey for each person who begins to walk that path.
There are many things you will need to do as you continue your journey to minimalism, but any of the following can help you start your journey, and you can pick and choose the areas that resonate with you most.
Make a list of your top priorities – the things that are most important to you.
- As part of this list, put in writing your biggest frustrations. Circle all of the ones that might be solved by living a simpler, more focused life. Do you want to get out of debt? Put it on your list. Do you need more sleep? Do you want to spend more time with your specific people? Are you unhappy at work? Do you feel like you are living beyond your means? Put those things on your list. Write as many things as come to mind – and don’t stop writing until you are done. Don’t let yourself become overwhelmed or discouraged by the length of the list. Use it as motivation whenever your faith or confidence wavers. Let it remind you why you are doing this.
- Get rid of stuff. Take a trash bag or a box on a journey through your house – and garage – and storage shed – and even your office. If you have two of something, throw one away. If you have three of something, throw two away. Do you have older videos and newer DVDs of the same movies? Donate the older items to a local school or library. If there are things you are unsure about (or unwilling to admit you no longer need) put them in a box for a month. After a month, if you haven’t needed something in the box (or can’t remember exactly what is in it), throw away or donate everything in it.
Have one area (or more) where you refuse to allow clutter.
- Do you want your living room to be able to accommodate visitors without frantic cleaning and organizing? Declare it a clutter-free zone. Do you want to be able to eat peacefully without having to re-arrange things on the table? Do you want a clear counter top? Start with your most passionate space, then expand these areas one-by-one until your entire house is as clutter-free as possible.
Drastically reduce your wardrobe.
- Not everyone wants a minimalist wardrobe, but if you do, set aside 30-40 items of clothing (pants, shirts, dresses, shoes, jewelry, accessories, etc.). Dress only with those items for two months. Choose the items you wear often, love the most, and pack up the rest. If you don’t need the items you’ve packed away (or if you’re still insisting on saving things for “what if“) then donate them now.
Plan and prepare weekly meals.
- Eat the same meals each specific weekday. (One meal for Mondays, another meal for Tuesdays, etc.) This will eliminate time choosing what to eat, but it also will streamline your shopping and allow you to buy more things in bulk – which will save you money over time. Another option is to prepare a large amount of a meal, then split it into two or three meals and freeze some.
Save for emergencies, with a specific amount as your target.
- Unexpected, large costs can be devastating in many ways. Having an emergency fund gives you peace of mind. If you have debts you want to eliminate, create a plan that works for you to pay them off (pay off the highest balance card first, or the one with the highest interest rate). Even setting aside $45 each week will give you almost exactly $1,000 in a year. Not only will this give you peace of mind, by knowing you are prepared for emergencies, but it will help you stop buying some things that are not necessities – which will help you not have to worry about getting rid of them later.
Sometimes, these steps are not easy. Sometimes, they can be downright difficult. You might need professional help and encouragement to accomplish this goal. You might need to start saying no. Regardless of the difficulty, it is worth it if you are seeking ways to slow down, de-stress, organize your life, or seek happiness. Taking control of your own life and living the kind of life you truly want is one of the best gifts you can give yourself – and it is a great blessing to others, as well.