By the time you get to the end of this post, you will have learned about the most key steps to minimalism and the simple lifestyle. But first, we have to discuss the change in your thinking that has to happen for this to be a reality.
Minimalism requires a willingness to eliminate the unnecessary. It means ruthlessly pruning out everything that you don’t need to make room for the things that matter. It is as much a material change of lifestyle as a mental one.
While the path will not be easy, the benefits of living with less things are plentiful:
- At the most basic level, there will be less stuff to take care of. Less cleaning, less maintenance, less repair.
- The more you eliminate, the more you will treasure and use what’s left over.
- You will start becoming satisfied with having enough. You will crave what you already have, instead of always looking for new things to add.
- You will become much more mobile. If you eliminate enough, you can get to a point where you are free to just pack up and go anywhere.
- More mobility means multiplying your opportunities, be they chances to travel more or even to seize a great job offer somewhere else.
The list goes on.
Once you start to see the benefits for yourself, the only question remains:
“How is it possible to eliminate everything I have been accumulating for years? Where do I even begin?”
The trick is to set aside a day and just do it. Visualize the benefits and begin:
1.) Be quick and ruthless as you eliminate the unnecessary
Minimalism does not mean living with nothing.
If it has particular sentimental value (e.g. a ring or a photo book), keep it.
If it something that may have legal value (e.g. original financial statement), keep it.
If it is an essential item that you use almost every day (e.g. a guitar), keep it.
Anything else can go.
Be decisive and ruthless as you throw away what’s unnecessary. Do it with a garbage bag in hand, and move room to room. Leave no closet unopened. Don’t save the decision “for later.” Either it goes, or it stays.
If it’s broken, recycle it or throw it away. If it’s a big ticket item (e.g. armchair), consider selling it on a site like Craigslist. If you know you won’t use it ever again (e.g. a book or an old toy), just give it away. There are plenty of people less fortunate than you, and this is a perfect time to practice generosity.
2.) Make sure everything that remains has a place
After you have pared down your possessions to a bare minimum, make sure you organize whatever is left over.
Assign a place for everything you own, and make sure it’s easily accessible. Now that you only have the things you need (and use on a regular basis), it makes sense to invest in proper storage solutions.
This way, you will know exactly where everything is. And you will be able to keep track of just how much of everything you have. You won’t need to spend hours looking for anything again.
And the benefits don’t end there.
3.) Take advantage of the benefits
Don’t forget to reap the rewards! With a minimalist lifestyle, you have the chance to save a lot of money by downsizing your living spaces. You can rent out your basement, or start using it to have friends over for socializing and parties. If you find you don’t need an entire bedroom, make it a guest bedroom or move to a smaller apartment in a better location.
The greatest benefits will come from downsizing your living and transportation. Save hours of time commuting by moving closer to work. Save on gas and insurance by switching to a smaller car, or eliminate those costs altogether by riding a bike.
Take this chance to travel and explore the world! With less belongings, you are more free to move around. Experience living somewhere else, even if it’s just for a few months. Treasure this freedom.
Most importantly, enjoy your new way of thinking. You are now in the minority.
4.) Ensure that clutter does not return
The minimalist way of life is addictive, but you will still be tempted.
There are countless ways to revert back to your old lifestyle. A hobby may require you to purchase a ton of equipment, a girlfriend may move in and fill up the place will all sorts of trinkets, or you may find yourself pressured by society to “keep up” by buying more status symbols.
Whatever it may be, you must work hard to preserve the lifestyle you have created. You have already paid the price for the freedom from belongings. Resist the herd mentality.
One way is to put a hard limit on the number of things you own. 200 items is a good starting point, and even 100 is an entirely reasonable goal. Buy quality over quantity, and think long and hard before making any purchase at all.
Tell everyone your choice of lifestyle without fear. Most will not understand, but some might. Of all the steps to minimalism, these are undoubtedly the toughest for most.
And if you ever need inspiration, check out the new articles on LessGuide. Or watch Fight Club.
Less belongings, more freedom