If you’re into organising or downsizing you’ve no doubt come across the term ‘minimalism’ at one stage or another.
It is a term that has become relatively popular in the last 10 years or so and is centered around the idea that we should refocus our lives from prioritising financial and material gain to prioritising what we truly value in this life including but not limited to health, relationships and experiences.
Today I wanted to share a bit about my own experiences with minimalism and some things to keep in mind if you are new to the concept and wish to apply it to your own life. I hope you get some value out of this article, minimalism for beginners!
‘Minimalism’ is different for everyone
When I first started getting into minimalism I did it like I do almost everything in my life. I dove right in and became fully immersed in the concept.
It wasn’t long before standard minimalism wasn’t enough and I started learning about ‘extreme’ minimalism. I was fascinated by these people who were living out of a backpack and traveling around the world. It appealed to me on so many levels, but most importantly it was aesthetically and romantically pleasing.
I started applying many of the tips that these bloggers were suggesting, but in a more normal lifestyle as I wasn’t a full time traveler. I quickly realised that while it made sense for a traveler to wear one set of merino wool clothes, it was just as much work (if not more) for me to do the minimalist thing at home as it was to just have a few more clothes.
The point I’d like to get across is minimalism is not just for these self-confessed ‘digital nomad’, permanent traveler, 20 something types. It is something that can be employed by anyone and everyone to get rid of the clutter in their lives and realise what is truly important to them.
It is not any one particular type of lifestyle, unless of course that’s the kind of life that you wish to lead!
Take the focus off the ‘things’
There are so many articles about minimalism that go on about getting your possessions under a certain number, as if the act of simply taking away is meant to improve your life.
It’s everywhere you look.
Get your possessions under X amount and you’ll be happy.
I initially fell into this trap. It seemed like no matter how much I got rid of, I was still unsatisfied. I seemed to be spending a lot of my time and energy thinking of ways I could keep reducing my possessions.
Pretty ironic, huh?
I’d already read so much about how the act of buying stuff was just chasing that temporary dopamine hit and ultimately it leaves us empty and wanting. I didn’t realise that it could happen the same way, but in reverse. I was feeling good temporarily about downsizing and decluttering, but was still unhappy when that buzz wore off.
I think this is one of the biggest downfalls of the majority of content written on the subject. It’s still making the possessions the focus, when the whole point is to reject the typical consumer mindset and instead pour your money, time and energy into the things that truly matter: health, relationships and experiences.
Minimalism is just the tool
The ‘minimalist lifestyle’ is a bit of an oxymoron. It’s just a way to refocus your life. It shouldn’t be a lifestyle in and of itself.
It’s whatever you want and need it to be.
It certainly doesn’t need to only relate to material possessions either. Do you surround yourself with toxic people who drain you of your valuable energy? Do you waste time on things you don’t even enjoy, or that aren’t adding value?
These are the sorts of questions you should be asking yourself. Not counting your possessions. It’s about ‘minimising’ the waste in your life. Put the focus back on the things that matter to you personally.
Minimalism should be the tool that makes you have a revelation.
It helped me to realise that I wasted a lot of time on things that left me drained, like watching TV or playing video games when I could be practicing guitar (I’ve always wanted to be a musician) or working out or literally anything that is actually going to improve my life and bring me closer to achieving my dreams.
If you’re only just beginning to get into the minimalism concept, or you’ve been into it for years I hope you got something valuable out of this. I didn’t really have too much of a focus for this one, it’s just something that I’ve wanted to talk about for quite a while.
The most important idea that I think you should take away from this is to keep the goal in mind. If you were drawn to minimalism, it’s for a reason. You may have realised that you’re working far too much trying to fit a mold that society has made for you, or that you need to spend more time with your family, or that you waste all your time on pointless activities at the expense of your dreams. Whatever it is, don’t lose sight of your ‘why’.
Feel free to comment with your thoughts on this article, I’d love to hear what you have to say.
All the best,