June 2020 Drew
OK, this is a tough one. Probably the hardest one of these I have done so far. Because there as many flavors of minimalism as there are beer, so it’s hard to make an actual roadmap for this.
There are people who live with a tiny number of items, there are people who live in tiny homes and there are those who only wear white AND have tiny numbers of things. No idea why, but each to their own! There are extreme minimalist, through to those people doing it with 6 kids. And again, there is everything in between those extremes. Well, not exactly extremes, because it’s not like a hoarder can be a minimalist. That’s why I tend to call it flavors and not extremes. I did my “introduction” here to give you some background.
There isn’t a minimalist rule book (ok, there is, written by the minimalists here), but there isn’t really a rule book that says “you are a minimalist when you reach X number of possessions”. This is my approach, which helped me and without becoming extreme. You may go further, or not as far, but this should help you on the way.
Before we get started, there are two things I want you to know
1. Minimalism IS NOT about things.
2. Minimalism IS about value and purpose.
The way to get started in Minimalism, is pretty much ALWAYS with things. Because it’s a straightforward place to begin. And is surprisingly tough. After all, this is your shit you’ve spent a lifetime collecting, right?
Let’s do this in steps.
As always, I will fill out each of these steps with separate posts to give you more information and actions to take, so please sign up for updates so I can let you know when the details are released!
You will have a lot of things in your life. A LOT. Look around your home – see all that stuff? What about the stuff hidden away in garages? Cupboards? Drawers? Wardrobes? The things you no longer or never used, the absolute crap people gave you as gifts? How much of it really add value? So as a baby minimalist, you should understand that things need to serve a purpose for you to have them, or they need to bring you true happiness. That vase you like but never use? No purpose and no joy. It’s going.
Wants and Needs
Wanting something is not the same as needing something. At its extreme, needs are simply those basic things that you need to survive. But we aren’t trying to have shitty, basic lives. We are living ON PURPOSE. That means we are having a good life, striving for our best life. But just because you want something it doesn’t mean you should go and get it. You NEED a place to live, food, water, clothes, social interaction. The whole Hierarchy of Needs thing (check it out, but if I see this one more time on a company presentation I will fucking scream). Now, they are the basis, but we are having things that add value to our lives, so some WANTS will come in. We just need to recognize they are wants and ensure we are mindful that they add value before we introduce them.
Create a coalition
Married? Try being a minimalist when your partner isn’t. That sucks. You can do it, and you can live it. It’s just harder. My ex and I were in totally different places, I was taking my shit out, she just brought more in to fill the gap. Nothing gained, just more pain. If you are REALLY going to do this, you need to do it together.
A mini vision
I hated visions until I started writing these roadmaps – now I am a bit of a convert. I think it helps to know where you are going and why. So having a little vision of what you want to achieve is often useful. Not too mad, not too insane. We keep shit real until we are over the hump.
Stop buying shit
The first thing is first. You probably already have so much stuff you don’t need anymore. Probably for a long time. So make a commitment to not buy anything else. For a while. People do this for a month or a year. But you need to take a pause. There is a time and place, but we will work out when that is.
Take an easy win with #3thingsless
We are going to get things out of our life, starting with stuff. And then fill it full of wonder and amazement. But we need to start somewhere. And this is my favorite place to start. 3 things. Each day. Hence #3thingsless. Every day take 3 things out of your life. Recycle them, donate them, sell them. I don’t care. Just keep it going.
Play the game(s)
Once you have done #3thingsless for a month or so, its time to step up the efforts. The 30 Day Minimalist Game, a Packing Party, room by room, capsule wardrobe, digital declutter. There are loads of things you can do to pick up the pace and really clear the clutter – this stage all depends on you are how far and fast you want to go.
Timecheck – people and place
A little more existential than the stuff we have been removing – now we are looking at where we focus our time and effort. Are you living the life you want to? Focussing your time on the right people and activities? How many people spend 50 weeks a year working their assess off to spend 2 weeks on holiday with the family or friends? Any sanity there? Let’s see if we can build a life where you get more quality time with the right people.
Now, there is a mantra that experiences trump things in the minimalist world. But I think that is too simplistic and doesn’t take into account that people are different, and some people will be immense value from some things. Don’t judge them, or yourselves, for being that way. It’s about quality, not quantity.
Make it stick
This stuff slips. Seriously, everyone slips back and needs to check in on the process. There are ways to check in – repeating #3thingsless for a month, doing a room review, redo the minimalism game. Just check in from time to time.
Go beyond the things
The power of minimalism is what is beyond the things. Sure, we like to get things reduced, tidied up, cleaned away. Spend less, have more time. Focus on the relationships. But the REAL enlightenment comes when these things are second nature. When you don’t worry about the adverts or neighbours telling you that you need shit. When the social pressure to be something is just a side show you politely observe. When you are free. From. All. THAT. Shit.
There we go. 10 basic steps, and things to think about if you are going on a minimalist journey. It’s not the end – as The Minimalists say, “Minimalism is the thing that gets you to the thing after the things”. Or something like that. Anyway, there is always more to do and discover, and a whole world out that there doesn’t require the latest style of sneakers. You just haven’t quite got there…..yet.