Becoming Minimalist: Where Do I Start

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Maybe you’re looking for a lifestyle change. Maybe you’re drowning in your “stuff”. Or, perhaps you’ve watched a nifty documentary that makes the idea of minimalism much more approachable than a black and white concept of the lifestyle. Either way, you might be in search of some guidance. You might be thinking, “This type of freedom sounds fantastic, but where do I start?” My goal in this and subsequent posts is not to give you a step-by-step guide but to prepare you with the tools you’ll need to take those first steps.

So, you want to adopt minimalism into your life. That means all you need to do is throw away all of your belongings, armor yourself with a uniform of black tees, and paint all of the walls in your home stark white. Right? Perhaps. If that’s what you decide makes you happy. When talking to a minimalist, you’ll hear this over and over again. Don’t focus on the how. Focus on the why.

The reason this keeps popping up is due to the fact that minimalism is a very intentional way of living. As many of us have been programmed by mass marketing to become society’s super consumers. Now more than ever, we need to take a step back and turn habit into decision. When a shopping trip becomes reflexive behavior after a bad day, that’s a good indication we need some intention in our lives.

So, sit down with your favorite list making tools. (Yes, I love lists. They keep me creative and on task.) Now, write down two columns. “Why” and “Why Not”. Essentially, I’d like you to write down a standard Pros and Cons list. Basic, but effective. Make sure you’re thorough with your points. Your Why side might have big ticket reasons such as having shopping problems or that debt is crushing you. On the other side, you might have items such as “I like my clothing” or “I’m afraid I’ll miss sentimental items if I get rid of them”.

When you’re done, set that list aside. Put it somewhere you can’t see it. You’re going to start another list, and it is only going to have one heading: “Goals”. Really take your time on this one, but write down your goals as they come to you. Don’t think about the order or their feasibility right now. This list will likely have items like “Eliminate debt” and “Get the house in order”. Maybe you’ll even surprise yourself with things like “Start a business” or “Retire early”. These are all positive things that you’ll use as motivators.

When you’re done with your list of goals, take out your first list again. This time, take a look at your “Why” column from the first sheet and compare it to your “Goals” sheet. You might be surprised to find that many of your items intersect. If debt is a large stress trigger for you, you’ll likely find that some of your goals are also on your “Why” list.

Now, examine your “Why” list and look for any bridges. Bridges are problems on one list for which minimalism can be a solution that will eventually result in bridging over into making your goals achievable. You might surprise yourself with how many bridges you find.

Let’s move onto that “Why Not” list. You are also going to compare it with your goal list. How many “Why Nots” are bridges to achieving your goals? I would be surprised if you had more than a few (if any at all). Let’s spin this a different way. How many of your “Why Nots” are hindering you from reaching those goals?

I’m a firm believer that our lives should be centered around our goals and that we should alway have a bountiful list. A life without goals is like a flat tire. It’s in its place, but it won’t get you anywhere you need to go.

The last step is to take your lists and recycle them. You should have a good grasp on whether or not maybe minimalism is right for you. If so, commit your list of goals to memory. They are achievable if approached correctly, and they will act as a motivator when making your transition into minimalism.

If you’d like to continue your journey with a little guidance and support, feel free to subscribe to my blog. That way, you won’t miss anything along the way in my Becoming Minimalist series over the next several weeks. If you have any questions or requests, don’t hesitate to pop them in the comments or contact me directly.

Before you go, remember that minimalism is your own personal journey. There are no rules other than that you must do what is right for you.
Don’t try to fit into anyone else’s box. Make your own damn box and fill it only with that which is important to you.

With Love//Sara

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