With the start of 2020, and taking on the challenge of The 30-Day Minimalism Game, we have begun to realize that even though we feel we live life with a minimalistic approach, it is still a practice we have to continue. During this challenge, getting rid of items each day has given us both a cleansing feeling. We have a couple of areas that we have easily been able to purge items from. It is a hidden compartment that things get thrown into, out of sight, and all of a sudden, there is a shit-ton of crap that means nothing. Rather than be disappointed in ourselves, we just use it as a learning lesson to get back to basics so we can live a larger life.
What does that mean? Larger life?! Well, if you’re a longtime follower, you know that we went from having a house full of stuff a few years ago, to drastically minimalizing; taking a very close look at our items, and prioritizing what brought us joy, and what didn’t. This process made it so that we could do more of what we love- travel, be outdoors, and LIVE OUR LIVES- not being chained to our belongings.
Once the conversation comes up to people about our minimal lifestyle, the next question is about our items themselves. For example, we put time and effort into the purchase of items that are of quality. Just because you have a nice handbag, or nice sneakers, doesn’t mean you’re not a minimalist. It means you put more time and effort into the items you acquire. There are some items we need that we do not spend a lot of money on. For example, we like to grow some of our produce, herbs, and are super thrifty with other grocer items. There are some clothing items that we have that we did scoop a deal, but we are also mindful about having stapled items that we invest more money in, so that we do not have to continue to buy cheaper versions. Buying a ton of items over and over again isn’t not only a poor financial decision, but it is also bad for the environment- putting all of the discarded, unused items into the trash when they break, rip, or become too worn.
I (Gerry) recently told someone, when they made a comment about me having an Eagles Jersey as a minimalist, “We’re not martyrs. We just want to have items that are of use and that mean something and bring joy to our life.” We aren’t going to be living under a bridge to prove that we are minimal. It is all about living a meaningful life, one that is larger and more full.
The Minimalists, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus,explain it best:
Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less. We focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more creativity, more experiences, more contribution, more contentment, more freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps make that room. Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life’s important things—which aren’t things at all.
Consider some of these points- some reasons that you may be holding on to extra stuff:
- You are a collector of one type or many types of things.
- You believe that your items are or will become monetarily valuable,
- Claiming that your items have sentimental value.
- Claiming that the possessions have or will have a useful purpose in the future, for example, “I know I will need this one day.”
- Instead of finding an item that you know you have already purchased, you’d rather just buy a new one.
- You find that it takes too much time and effort to decide what to get rid of, and would just rather not deal with it.
None of these thoughts are wrong, if this way of life brings you joy and the clutter you have does not interfere with your routines, habits, and quality of life. You don’t have to live in a tiny house (though that is pretty cool if you do), nor believe that you cannot have comfy furniture. You just incorporate the practice to what fits for you.
Are you thinking that you want to take a second look at your items, and maybe life your life a little more fully? Here are some great ways to start:
- Take part in the 30-day minimalism challenge
- Create a rule for yourself: if you don’t use an item in a year, season, etc. then get rid of it.
- Use a system, for your wearables, like Project 333. It is a process in which you dress with 33 items or less for 3 months.
- Speaking of clothes, an app that Shannon uses to organize what she wears, and mix-up outfits is YourCloset.
- Take each week to go through a room, a closet, drawers, whatever, and get rid of unnecessary items that sneak into those areas.
- Make a rule to not buy anything new for a week. We know some people who do this for a year! Wowzers!
- Even if this all seems like a lot to do, just try to cut back on your technology and get outdoors. Live a life that isn’t about shopping, or retail, or in front of a TV.
- If you do buy something, take 24 hours to think about it. Do your research to determine if it is something that is functional, will bring you joy, and/or if it will last. i.e. a quality item that will hold up for you.
These are just some of the suggestions as to where you can start, but don’t just take our word for it. Give it a shot, then let us know what you think. Minimalist does not mean giving up quality- it is just the opposite.