Looking into beginning a minimalist lifestyle? Feeling overwhelmed by a house full of stuff? Is your time taken up with trying to keep things in order? Feeling empty after shopping and controlled by your possessions?
There are lots of reasons people look into a minimalist lifestyle. Yours might be one of the above, or something different. The journey into minimalism is a personal one and driven by reasons unique to you.
Society is very materialistic. Our wants and needs are often ‘taught’ to use through clever marketing techniques by big corporations. If you’re looking into minimalism, though, you’ve probably realised that stuff doesn’t necessarily make you happy.
Owning lots of things that you don’t really use (or realistically, don’t even want), can actually increase your stress, sense of overwhelm, and impact your enjoyment of life in general.
The effects of clutter on our brains and bodies have been researched. Clutter is visually distracting, impacts memory, mood, and mental health. It impacts our sleep, our health, even our relationships.
A minimalist lifestyle has so many advantages, many of which I’ve written about here. If you’re interested in the concept and wondering how to get starting with a minimalist lifestyle, here are some practical tips to help you along your way.
While minimalism has some core principles (like decluttering or purchasing with intentionality), it ultimately remains a personal journey.
The best way to get started is by delving into what minimalism is all about. Try reading some books like Goodbye, Things : The New Japanese Minimalism by Fumio Sasaki or The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees.
There are plenty of great YouTube channels and blogs about minimalism too.
Don’t be intimidated by rules or decluttering challenges. Being a minimalist doesn’t have to mean paring down your things until you only own 20 items. It doesn’t mean letting everything you hold dear go.
Simply discover what resonates with you and deepen your understanding on the topic.
Find Your Why
It’s important to have a good understanding of why you want to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Your ‘why’ will keep you motivated and focused on the goals that mean the most in your life.
Are you tired of clutter and want to get rid of stuff?
Do you want to save money and develop mindful shopping habits?
Wanting to save money through a minimalist lifestyle could focus your efforts on not buying things, saving money and appreciating what you already have.
If you’re tired of clutter, you may want to focus on how to declutter and develop more mindful shopping habits.
Be Ready For It To Feel Uncomfortable
Big life changes (even ones we initiate ourselves) can cause a lot of discomfort.
Letting go of things, paring down, changing habits can be painful at times. It can be difficult to give things away you’ve spent a lot of money on. It can be hard to face the fact you may have been wasteful in purchasing things you’ve ended up not using.
This is totally normal. Don’t let it deter you from your ‘why’.
Remember to ask yourself questions. Why do you have that collection of books, those art supplies, those pots. Why do you want to keep them? Is it because you spent money on it? Is it because it holds a memory? Maybe you’ve simply become used to it being there and you don’t want to let it go.
Accepting that we’ve made mistakes, or simply realising you’ve moved on from the person you were is valuable personal growth.
It’s okay to let go. It’s okay to move on. Remember your goals.
Declutter Before You Organize
This is an important step in minimizing your things. Don’t start out by organizing things you don’t even (realise you don’t) want! Start off by decluttering and then, if you want, you can organize what you have.
I’ve written some helpful guides to get you started with decluttering. Find them here.
Don’t Do It All At Once
Decluttering and reorienting your life to minimalism should take time. There’s no reason to rush!
It can be helpful to identify your major problem areas and focus there first.
Remember that minimalism is a lifestyle and not a quick fix. Give yourself months to tackle the different pain points with intentionality. In this way, you’ll create an authentic lifestyle that truly reflects you in the healthiest of ways.
Understand Your Triggers
As you explore and develop minimalist habits, identify where your areas of growth lie. Find things that tempt you to shop more or accumulate things. Do you spend your spare time window shopping (that ends up in impulse purchasing)?
Create new habits, new hobbies, find activities that don’t require ‘things’. It can be helpful to spend time with people who have similar goals as you do. They’ll inspire and encourage you on your journey.
Buy With Intention
Minimalism is not about lack. Minimalism is about being free of the need to buy for no reason, or accumulate stuff as a way to feel good.
As a minimalist, when you buy, you do so with a purpose in mind. You may decide to only buy something when you know why you want it, why you need it, and where it will go. You may settle on a ‘1 in – 1 out’ rule.
There are plenty of minimalists who own a lot of things, but each item will have a use and reason for being there (even if it’s only to spark joy!)
When you shop, know why you’re going, buy quality, buy what you need and what will add value to your life.
Whatever your reason is for choosing to follow a minimalist lifestyle, know that it’ll change your life for the better! You’ll finally have time and the physical and mental space to pursue things that truly matter.