Hi everyone! I’ve decided to embark on a journey of minimalism life (bulb-light moment here). Today, I wanted to update you all on my milestones achieved so far! I won’t hide away that things weren’t as easy as it first sounded. I am emotionally charged but in a rather good way let me assure you. Minimalism can be perceived as a countercurrent flow of the modern consumerist lifestyle. There are positive properties derived from living on bare essentials, which will be described in this post.
During the move into my new tiny apartment, I began de-cluttering my life. I ensured to only take what I needed. Evidently, the motivations for starting to live this simple minimalist lifestyle is to lessened stress that the reduced clutter gives and far more benefits (read more here).
Minimalism is to me a tool to achieve a happier lifestyle. So to begin the process of living on bare essentials, the first thing to do is undeniably to set goals. Curious to find out what my goals were to choose minimalism as my new way of life, keep reading…
Minimalism begins with goals setting:
- Better understand the root cause of my vast clutter buildup over a decade living in the U.S. Shed a light on the relationship between me and my possessions.
- Identify distinct solutions to resolve with letting go and begin to live more purposefully instead. Have less stuff to maintain and clean.
- Decrease excessive spending to better my career, take on more risks, and meet my personal goals. Capture more money for savings to gain more freedom and redirect for greater experiences.
Be mindful about the things we own, the things we buy, and how we spend our time. It is a lifestyle that values experiences more than possessions. –Francine Jay, The Joy of Less
After a few deep breaths while exercising mindfulness (I am using the Simple Habit App to practice mindfulness daily. What do you use?), I am sharing with you my own personalized basic steps to start living on bare essentials (inspired from here):
STEP 0: Stop making excuses
This step stroke a chord with me! (Inspired from the energy conservationist post, Rinkesh here). Minimalism isn’t simply the act of ridding of unnecessary things. It isn’t only to move to a micro living space and paint all my walls white. Non! It’s a mindset that is slowly and gently shifting that requires self-discipline. I honestly evaluated items that add no value in my life apart from a purely aesthetic one; if the things I was considering hoarding did not serve a purpose, out they went!
No more excuses and no more non sense luxuries that have marketing deceiving me repeatedly; owning one of their non-justifiable pricey items would give me a sense of belonging and contentment. In actuality after a few weeks, I am filled with guilt, and become purposeless. Sounds familiar to anyone here? This step was tough for me because I alibied all my expensive purchase for quality investment. So, this idea goes on to my next point about learning to dissociate value from material things (including luxury labels); I need to stop feeling alienated by material possessions. Instead, I am beginning to place more importance on essential materials that carry intent.
STEP 1: Honestly assess your belongings
I reviewed all the things I own and exercised awareness and wealth of my whole being (definition of wealth here). I considered my relationships with each object whether I appreciate its value or lack thereof. I then separated what is with honesty important and what to let go off. With the benefits of the newly open space, I found lucidity. I no longer need to put aside things for a rainy day that may not come nor continue supporting materialism.
To decide what is important is to identify only items with actual value to you. Do you too keep things for ‘just in case I need this.’ This explains why I ended up having a multitude of things: a steam iron I never used and fancy clothes I never wear. You know the clothes we saved for that special occasion that never saw the day. The items that we don’t part with eat into the space reserved for items that could better serve us. To fight this, it is important to avoid the collection of unnecessary items. So, if you can’t find an honest use for an item at the present moment, say goodbye to it.
STEP 2: Declutter
Remove the unnecessary things
Divesting detritus! Removing unnecessary items from my home and life reduces both the waste and mental effort. I am referring to the effort that organizing those items took on me. And by the way, this mindset extended to people in my life who only took my time and energy. You would recognize these persons who do not reciprocate this investment or bringing any value in your life. It may sound ruthless, but it is a better way of shaving off that stressful weight. This will result in you beginning to fill in the happiness jar.
Remove the excess
Other than getting rid of the unnecessary, next get rid of the excess. For instance, I don’t really need five cutting boards or duplicates of coffee containers. Excess just uses up space that you could dedicate to something more important or leave empty for clarity. There shouldn’t be any more needs for me to fill in every corners of my apartment. Do you like me hang on all the walls items from travels? The goal should be to have all the possessions serve a purpose and be functional.
Next, digitize everything! Books, papers, notes can be cumbersome and space consuming. I know this so well because I once had two dozen of boxes filled with them. Digital formats, such as e-books, online newspapers, music downloads, ensure that your personal space isn’t filled with unnecessary clutter. I have been depending on cloud storage like Amazon Prime. I also have a small size external hard drive that goes a long way in terms of memory space.
Remove emotional clutter
Now, this is probably one of the toughest to go through but get rid of emotional clutter. Just as the physical clutter can eat into physical space, emotional clutter can eat up mental space. Emotional clutter leave you feeling empty and exhausted. Avoid carrying emotional baggage!! Instead find healthy ways to ensure your sane mental state reflects your new physical space. This is why I am slowly divesting myself from certain individuals in my life. They no longer fulfill my needs and do not support my endeavors.
This is a vulnerable moment in my life by going through these essentials steps to begin a healthier minimalist life. In a meaningful way, I am more present for my friends and family whom I value. I no longer see any reasons for investing any more emotions or continued support for the unworthy individuals. It simply does not bring any joy in my life while leaving me feeling more stressed. So, make sure to evaluate excess both in material things but also in each of your relationships. Stop pouring water and giving it a sunshine over someone who will not flourish your treasured garden of happiness.
STEP 3: Budget your time
Just as you budget your resources, budget your time. (Read more about the importance of the value of time here). Ensure that all the things you pursue to do are geared towards growing you as an individual. Avoid doing things for the sake of it. Make sure you enjoy whatever time you spend doing something.
Devote more time for activities that edify you
I prioritize how my time is spent on activities I enjoy more. For in
stance, writing a blog post and even a book (YES! I cannot wait to tell you more about it) and connecting/meeting with people like you guys. Time spent alone is as important to be able to think, read, and learn. I am researching about minimalism and its misconceptions as well. With a greater understanding of minimalist lifestyle, I was able to personalize living with bare essentials to fit my new life. I am also starting to prioritize more time for nerding alone. I started designing and creating/finishing mechatronics projects I have put up for a year sadly.
Devote less time for social media
On the other hand, I am removing time away from social media. (It’s so hard isn’t it?!) Reducing clutter in a minimalist’s life to me also means reducing the amount of time drained in consuming non-helpful information. This activity causes brain fatigue due to over-excitation from tremendous amount of image feed. (Yeah Instagram is a love/hate relationship in itself). Don’t you get me wrong! Social media can be a powerful tool for communication and marketing a brand. But it also serves as a platform for people to share vain about their lives. (I am guilty of it too!!).
Furthermore, social media entices the desire of more things to buy and excessive spending due to countless consumer targeted Ads. All in all, social media to me causes more harm than providing benefits. It is thus best to limit its usage. This will keep you from desiring more and spending more which results in accumulations of things. And guess what, you would have to go back to STEP 0 right?! So this outcome is definitely undesirable and for the benefit of your sanity, stay cleared from social media 🙂 I already unsubscribed to sites and unfollowed accounts that incite me to desire more and purchase more unnecessary things.
Dress better with less
Lastly, I am now more than ever dressing with less. Although I have been building a capsule French wardrobe for the past 7 years, there has been a fair amount of failures. Thus, to keep things more consistent and stress/fuss free, I have converted myself to solely wear 33 items (clothing, accessories, and shoes included) for 3 months with no additional buys. Sounds crazy right?! Then follow #Project333 🙂 I’ll keep you posted more about this soon!
STEP 4: Shop only for essentials
Minimalism doesn’t mean you suddenly say NO to shopping for goods and services. It’s more about only shopping for essentials. This is in order to ensure that you do not waste resources on the unnecessary. Should you buy anything, always choose quality over quantity; this is for the simple fact that quality items last longer than cheap alternatives.
Choose quality over quantity
Whenever you decide to buy an item, buy one with the highest quality available. It will last you longer and ensure that you do have to keep replacing it and adding more waste. I chose to invest in a good quality suits ensemble because it will carry me further in my career. I’d rather walk in a well made shoes because we are in them throughout the day (read more on this here). Also a very sharp knife for I love to cook. What are the essentials you decide to buy in the highest quality? Learn more about mindful shopping in my post here.
Borrow whenever possible
Alternatively, borrow whatever you don’t need to buy. I agree that it may be nice to own your own items. This practice reduces the number of possessions you have. As long as you keep the borrowed items safe and the lender doesn’t mind sharing, choose to borrow items instead of buying them. For instance, I borrow my friend’s vacuum cleaner as I don’t see the need to keep one around all the time. So, with this in mind, I recommend to shop only for what you need as essentials and favor quality over quantity if you choose to begin a life of minimalism.
STEP 5: Travel lightly
Every time you take a journey, make sure to pack and carry a few essential items to minimize baggage. Traveling lightly saved me from a lot of troubles! I’ve had a less than chic moment with overstuffed bags that broke my back. I learned to become time efficient by packing only half the clothes I need so I wouldn’t have to painfully dig through my bag to get myself dressed quickly.
The same approach can be applied to the toiletry bag. My personal tip is to get samples from the French pharmacists. Alternatively, I repackage over 100 mL products into even compact bottles and tubes. Worst comes to worst, if you happen to travel first class with Air France, you’ll be provided with all the essentials for beauty products and personal hygiene in a chic cotton bag. You see, traveling light can be advantageous when getting dressed and being on the move in a freer way. This allows you to focus on being in the moment when in a new place or visiting friends.
Last Note on Minimalism:
The result of all these steps is that as a newbie lifestyle minimalist, I will end up concentrating my efforts only on important endeavors geared towards achieving my personal goals. After going through a first two weeks of living through minimalism and documenting my progress, downsizing seems less daunting and more realistic.
After more research, I misconstrued minimalism for self-restriction. In actuality, I found that it is more about liberation. It’s not about getting rid of the clutter in your life because owing material things is “bad” or make you necessarily a “consumerist evil.” Quite the contrary, minimalism is all about learning to be happier with less. If you’re more comfortable with having less, you’re less likely to desire more. In this sense, a simple life with the bare essentials can help us to free ourselves from the force that material possessions exert on our lives.
We are only just beginning to realize the dangers of excess and opulence. More and more people are seeking the joys and benefits of a simpler, more natural existence, looking beyond the endless temptations of consumerism to devise new, meaningful, contemporary lifestyles.– Dominique Loreau, L’art de la simplicité.
I can’t wait to keep you more updated with my new way of life 🙂