Personal Finance

Less Is More: The Complete Guide to Minimalism

Less is More Minimal Simplicity Efficient Complexity ConceptMinimalism is starting to catch on in a society that is all too driven by consumerism and a materialist culture. More people are starting to realize that they don’t need more to enjoy their lives and instead are relying on less to make themselves happier.

The very definition of minimalism itself dictates simplicity and a willingness to cut away from the trappings that we think are there to serve us.  In truth, all they are doing is just that – trapping us in an existence that they dictate instead of allowing each of us to make our own decisions.

It’s not about abandoning all concept of material possessions, you can certainly live a minimalist lifestyle and own a house, a car, etc.  Rather, it’s about adopting a belief system that prevents us from assigning too much importance to that ownership. So much that it gets in the way of our enjoyment of life. It enables us to focus on our intentions in life and not what and how much we can merely accumulate.

Why Minimalism?

Those who practice this lifestyle want more out of life and they don’t want to feel bogged down by having to make every decision around owning things (will my couch fit in this new apartment, how can I display my collectables, do I have ample storage available, etc.). We devote too much time to what would happen if we didn’t have material possessions and those who embrace the minimalist lifestyle have stopped asking these questions and started to live with more simplicity.

This change has given them the ability to think with more clarity and place more emphasis on experiences, the relationships with those around us, and a strong focus on the spirit and overall wellness of being.

The minimalist lifestyle may not be for everyone. We often define ourselves by the things we own: the house we live in, the material objects we gather, the clothes we wear, and a myriad of electronic devices all populate our lives beyond comprehension. When you’ve lived your entire life this way it can be incredibly difficult to give it all up, particularly when the world around us dictates that it’s all necessary to our daily survival.

The reality, however, is just the opposite. Sometimes the more you let go, the easier it can be to live the life you really want.

You may be one of the growing number of people who are beginning to feel bogged down by all your stuff but you’re not sure how to cut it all away to the bare minimum. There’s no denying this is a big decision, one that isn’t taken lightly.  The transition from your current lifestyle to one that is much simpler might be a bit of a culture shock. Some people have made the decision overnight and never looked back, others do it a bit more gradually.

The best way to start is by taking a look around you. What do you see? How much of it is really important to you and why is it so important? Do you get a feeling of accomplishment from these things or are they for another reason?

Perhaps some of these belongings hold fond memories for you. Maybe you’ve been holding tight to these items in anticipation of relying on their use at some later date in the future. However, that day hasn’t arrived yet and, if you sit and think about it for a second, you may realize that it will probably never come.

If these items haven’t proven useful by now, what are the chances you really need them around? As for those belongings that hold sentimental value, you need to decide if it’s the item itself or if the memory is strong and enduring enough to continue on without having something of material value for remembrance. We like to assign emotions to our inanimate objects and that can lead to a life of rummage.

Minimalism is a choice that takes serious commitment. We’ve been conditioned to acquire and keep stuff and bucking these routines that have been ingrained into us for so long are tough to shed.

Luckily, we’re here to help.  This guide will give you all of the valuable advice and helpful hints for making that shift from a life of dishevelment to one that is uncomplicated and ultimately more fulfilling.

Establish Objectives

Your changes may be unique from those of others who have come to the same conclusion about their lives. You may want to perform a clean sweep of your entire life or you may just want reduce the excess in one or two areas. It’s all dependent on what matters most to you and that comes with deciding what a minimalist lifestyle means in your view.

The very definition of a minimalist life for most people is the clearing away of anything and everything that interferes with what makes you truly happy. For some of us, we aren’t sure what makes us happy because of all of the responsibilities and commitments in our lives, many of which stem from the possessions we own or hope to have.

Minimalism is about prioritizing what’s really important to you. Only once you’re able to identify what brings you true bliss can you start to pare away the unnecessary elements. Every life has value and meaning, you need to know where those can be found in your everyday routine and put a greater emphasis on them.

This is the first step to prioritizing what matters and what does not. From there, you can begin to explore the roadblocks that currently exist between you and happiness. Once you know where they are, then you can work on eliminating them. These are your objectives.

Even more important is imposing a timetable on yourself. It’s another way to keep fully focused on achieving your goals. Formulating a plan makes reaching your goal easier as it provides a detailed time-line of individual tasks. Each one building on top of another in order to accomplish your ultimate goal of minimizing your life, whether it’s doing something as basic as cleaning out your closet or a potentially more challenging effort of severing ties with someone in your life who is holding you back.

We’ve already mentioned that minimalism comes in many forms and it can encompass every facet of who you are, where you live, and how you conduct yourself. Exploring these and other areas of your life will play into the game plan you create for simplicity. Always remember that minimalism isn’t about coming to an end, it’s a journey that is always evolving and you are meant to grow with it.

This is why it’s called a minimalist life. It’s an ongoing quest and, like any life, it comes with ups and downs that will be there to challenge you and your commitment to living such an existence.

Although minimalism will have different meanings to different people, there are some constants that every minimalist life encompasses. You’re going to want to turn your attention to these foundations of your own life to help identify where you can start the process of establishing your objectives and formulating that all-important game plan for success.

Inspirational motivational quote. Wecome Homeposters in modern interior. House, Home, Love, Family and happiness concept. Scandinavian style.Minimalism Starts at Home

There is no greater sanctuary than the home. The place we leave in the morning and return home to at night. The place that holds all of our possessions and memories. A safe haven where we eat and sleep and there is perhaps no greater definition of who we are and what we value than the home.

Therefore, it stands to reason that transitioning to minimalism starts in the home. Do you feel as if you are living on top of your belongings or that the walls are closing in from all of the clutter surrounding you? Many people who decide to minimize their lives come to the realization that they are drowning in a sea of detritus and chaos brought on by all of their possessions. The material objects that they have been clutching to for so long without ever asking why or understanding the kind of impact so much useless excess is having on their happiness.

It’s not just your belongings inside of the home either, it can often be the home itself. Those who decide to minimize their lives sometimes begin with the realization that they are living in a home that is no longer suitable for their needs. It’s too big, there is too much space, too many rooms that are filled with paraphernalia that is no longer necessary to happiness. Living in a home that is too large can be a drain on your emotional and psychological well-being, not to mention the pounding your wallet might be taking from all of the utility bills that come with running a home that has outlived its usefulness.

Look around you and really analyze which rooms you actually use and which ones have just become storage facilities for junk and debris. How much space do you really need to live a comfortable life? For those who wish to embrace minimalism the answer is often a stark contrast to the dwelling in which they currently reside. Once you declare what it is that you want and need out of life, then you will know what type of home will serve those purposes.

It’s very possible as well that you live in the right home for your needs.  The problem isn’t where you live but rather what is living inside there with you.

Eliminate the Detritus

We’ve all been trained to gather. Filling our homes with two types of items, things we need and things we want. Every home has both, often in staggeringly disparate relation to one another. Take a look around in your home, what falls into which category? Be honest about your assessment.

Chances are you’re going to find a whole lot more of the things you want than things you need. Some of us might get confused as to the true nature of certain items.  At one point or another we’ve all declared we “needed” something we only truly wanted and went on to purchase that particular item. There’s a good chance your home is full of possessions you “needed” to own, more so than the things you actually need.

When you think about it you should have no problem identifying the essentials over the superfluous.  The quicker you start down this road the faster you’ll get to a life of true minimalism. Most of you who are embarking on this journey are going to want to start the process slowly and, again like with any good plan, do this in steps.

The first phase is the easiest. Throw out the junk and other items that you know for sure you no longer need. Clean out old, broken, and obsolete products. Your garage is probably full of them, your closets as well. If you have a basement, you’ve likely stored a bunch down there, too. Gather it up and toss it out. That’s the easy part and you’ll be amazed at how much of a difference it will make and how much better you will feel once you’ve purged all of these unnecessary items.

Next you’ll need to get more focused on phase two. What do you have in your home that still serves a purpose but you no longer need? This can be anything from clothes you no longer wear to movies on DVD that you’ve already watched.

Think of it this way, if you’re not going to use it again why are you holding on to it? There are so many people out there who could probably use your old clothing. Donate that stuff to a Goodwill or the Salvation Army. As for those stacks of DVDs, if you have a subscription to Netflix or any one of the multiple streaming services that are available these days, you probably don’t need those DVDs anymore as you can watch those titles digitally. So get them out. Sell them on eBay, give them away, throw them out if you wish, just get them out of your home.

The goal here is very simple: You want to make room for your new life. Clearing away the clutter helps open you up to accepting what’s really important. When you’re not being suffocated by your belongings you can breathe freer, enjoy new experiences, and make more of your life.

Staying focused on that goal will help make the next phase easier to accomplish, which incorporates auditing every single item that still remains. Does that item fit within the parameters of your new life, does it serve a purpose in your re-imagined existence or is it a remnant of the old? This is all about embracing new ideas and new attitudes.  When you’re holding on to souvenirs of the past you’ll never be able to fully commit to the decisions you’ve made.

fomo fear of missing outFear of Missing Out

Better known as “FOMO”, as the kids like to say these days. There is a natural feeling of anxiety over letting go of the possessions that you’ve been making such a large component of your life for so long. It can be a very real obstacle to getting to the life you want, because you’re still conditioned to thinking you need these things around you.

There’s an easy way to reduce that conditioned effect you have for your belongings and it can help you manage the task of deciding whether or not something is integral to your life or if it’s merely a comforting gesture to keep it hanging around.

The trick is to remove yourself from that item for a period of time. Just put it away somewhere, some people prefer to keep it out of sight and carry on with your day. The idea here is to simulate what life would be like if you removed that object from your life.

Give it a duration of time, say two or three months.  If during that time you find yourself missing or relying on that item for whatever reason, then it fits some purpose in your life. Feel free to keep it. However, if you basically forget about that item after the two to three month period then it no longer has a place in your home.

This is a great way to ween yourself off of the objects you thought were so crucial in your life by showing you that you don’t really need them after all. At the end you’ll only be left with those items that still play an important role.

Training for a Minimal Lifestyle

The trick of “removing” items from your home is but one facet of training yourself for a life of minimalism. It’s a good start to get you to disconnect emotionally from extra clutter and plays a role in the bigger picture of preparing yourself to conduct your life in a drastically different manner than you have been accustomed up until now.

Since we provide ourselves with so many common luxuries and indulgences it can prove a challenge to simply forfeit all of them in one fell swoop. So in much the same way you reconditioned yourself to concentrate on the items that really matter with the removal exercise, you can start introducing that same approach to other areas of your routine.

Take some time to reconsider everything. Your habits, your comforts, the luxuries you typically rely on any given day. See which ones you can live without by doing just that for a trial period. Depending upon what it is you could forgo it for a weekend, maybe a week. At the end of that period, see how it felt not to have that element in your life.

If you didn’t miss it then you didn’t need it. Consider it more clutter to be discarded. If it’s something you can’t live without, then don’t. Keep in mind, this is about customizing your life to fit your needs, not someone else’s nor a common or accepted belief as to what a minimal life is supposed to be. It’s only supposed to be what you want to get out of it.

This training technique also means finding ways to make the most use out of what you choose to keep around. This can be anything of course, and it’s meant for you to focus on ways not to waste anything you deem necessary.

Instead of replacing something, repair it. Find secondary and tertiary uses for items around your home so they are always serving a purpose and you’re not holding on to it for no good reason.

Keep those two words at the forefront of everything you do: Reason and Purpose. If an item is in your personal space, it’s part of your life and that requires it to have a reason and/or a purpose for being there. Otherwise you are repeating your old habits again by acquiring and keeping material items that don’t need to be there. You don’t want to fall into your past routines again.

Our Final Thoughts

This is a lot to consider and it’s going to take some determination to carry out successfully. There’s a reason why they say that old habits die hard and it’s very possible (if not darn near likely) that you may slip up every so often. It’s okay, you’re only human.

We all falter on occasion, lose sight of the goals, and return to old practices. That’s why it’s imperative that you continue to remind yourself of the simplicity you seek and, more important, stay cognizant of your actions. Before you make any purchase, just ask yourself if that item you’re about to buy is going to serve your current lifestyle or is it just clutter that’s going to take up valuable space in your home. If you can answer that question honestly, you should have no problem maintaining a proper minimal lifestyle.

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