Between the success of Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tiding Up and the well-documented journey of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus AKA “The Minimalists,” de-cluttering and streamlining your life has recently caught on like wildfire. Many people come to us with ideas and images of minimally stocked closets, kitchens, pantries and more….but often times, when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of purging, they struggle to let go.
For the next 90 days, we are opening the doors to a journey towards an increasingly simplified life. A minimalism challenge in which we encourage you to let go of all that is weighing you down, one step at a time. Monthly blog posts and weekly Instagram tips will help to keep you motivated and guide you towards success. Ready to join the movement? Here we go! Step one: Before you can fully embrace this new lifestyle of LESS, it is important to understand the question “What is Minimalism? And how do I begin…”
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important – so you can find happiness, fulfillment and freedom.”
- Identifying Your Personal Needs
So what exactly is “life’s excess”? The answer to this question will look differently for each person, couple or family. The first step to figuring out what to clear from your space is to identify the things that you most value.
Do you have a collection of vintage T-shirts that spark feelings of joy? Afraid that a minimalist journey means you have to rid yourself of collections that are not “in use”? Not true! You are encouraged to honor the possessions that make you happy and rid your space of items that are weighing you down without benefit.
Create an ideal home environment and mental outlook list:
Here are a few questions to help get the juices flowing…
- How do you spend your free time? Do your possessions steal time from focus that could be spent fostering important relationships or working towards your goals?
- How do you feel when you walk into your home? Are you anxious? Calm? Stressed Out? Relaxed? How do you WANT to feel?
- Is there a pile of unopened junk mail stacking up on your countertop, that could have easily been opened and purged/filed upon receipt?
- Are there EXTRAS stashed away in the top of cabinets, under sinks and in drawers? Do you really need three sets of dishware for your 4-person family? Does one person really need multiple hair dryers? Can your household get by with just one cheese grader, instead of four?
Sit down to write your list with intention and honor that intention going forward.
“Minimalism isn’t emptiness for the sake of emptiness; but rather making room to move freely, think clearly, and open ourselves to the beauty and wonder of life.”
-Francine Jay AKA Miss Minimalist
- Developing a Healthy Relationship to Consumerism
In order to effectively develop and maintain a minimalist lifestyle, we must understand the aggressive advertising and consumerist mentality created by the Baby Boomer generation. In modern day capitalist society, many people use “retail therapy” as a coping mechanism amidst their most stressful and overwhelming life circumstances. According to a 2006 study from Stanford University in the American Journal of Psychiatry, about 6% of women and 5.5% of men suffer from a compulsive buying addiction. Developing new habits, creating healthy stress relief tactics, and dismantling the relationship between shopping and emotional escape, will set you up for success on your journey to less.
A Few Tips To Help You Get Started:
- Avoid impulse purchases at register checkout lines. Research suggests that how people feel while they are waiting in line is often more important than the length of the line. The retail industry capitalizes on this by using methods of distraction to lessen line-induced boredom. Gossip magazines, propped up at eye level, usually sucker you into the most recent celebrity break-up story. After which, you are very likely to toss that mag on the conveyer belt. Shopping with small children? Retailers purposely fill these waiting areas with candy and ice-cold sodas, with the intent that your kids with beg and plead for a last minute treat. Prices of these pick ups are kept low enough that you don’t feel so bad about adding them to your order, especially if it keeps your little one from screaming.
- Be cautious with online shopping. Just because your web browsing has landed on a page offering tons of discounts, doesn’t mean you NEED to buy something. Resist the manipulative temptations of “sales.”
- Stop junk mail and unsubscribe from those oh-so-tempting shopping sites.
- Make it a goal to take up an activity that can act as a replacement for unhealthy stress relief. Yoga, running, painting, reading, blogging….anything to help your mind focus on a more positive and immersive use of your time.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
- Living and Purchasing with INTENTION
So, obviously minimalism cannot mean that we NEVER consume or purchase new goods. The goal is to do so with clear and concise intention, as opposed to impulse. Have an intended purpose for new items that you bring into your life and home. If you buy a new black tank top because your favorite one has holes, let go of the worn out piece upon arrival of the new.
We like to challenge our clients with the “ONE IN, ONE OUT” rule. You bought a new pair of shoes that you love? GREAT! Now, make room for that new possession in your closet by letting go of an old pair of shoes that you know (deep down inside) you will never wear again.
Embrace the fact that less truly is more. When you own less stuff, you can focus on the pieces that you love. Your mental energy is not depleted as you rummage through a messy closet, hang bars so packed that you can’t even sift through your blouses to get dressed in the morning. Work on settling into the idea that not every item that enters your home is meant to stay forever. Trust that by letting go, you are sending your unused goods off to start a new life, where someone gets to repurpose them for in a new way!
Getting Started Right Now
This month, we challenge you to enjoy the following inspiration…
The Joy of Less: a Minimalist Living Guide by Francine Jay
Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things