25: Becoming Minimalist


Have you ever thought that you had too much stuff? That you want to be more organized? That you want to simplify your life somehow? Enter minimalism. Today we’ll discuss why minimalism is becoming more appealing in this age of modern technology and how you can apply it to your own life.

I’ve always been inspired by the idea of internal success and wealth. Of creating a world that is simple and yet beautiful from the inside out. At the same time, I’ve always been interested in the pursuit of excellence. I always wanted to see the “best of” lists – whether it was restaurants, place to live, investment pieces – how do we have a life full of amazing things that last? Enter minimalism. A pursuit of less, but more.

While I was interested in the idea of less, I didn’t really know how to start the process of getting rid of the things in my life that were hanging around unappreciated. When Marie Kondo came into the picture, I went full-in. Here was a methodology I could follow. I’d ask myself, “does this spark joy?” and with that ended up removing bags and bags of clothes, electronics, and books out of our apartment.

What then, do we do, about all the things that enter our homes? I saw that I had a way of getting it out, but at the same time thought how terrible it was that we just bring things into our lives to get rid of them. The same thing that we lusted after was no longer so appealing anymore. Technology has made it so easy to see, to want, to buy. You could get things the next day delivered to your home if you wanted to. It was all so easy.

I remember I had it one day when we went to the container store to buy containers for all the things we had in our life. It suddenly clicked in my head that I was going to spend hundreds of dollars on things to hold things. What if I didn’t have those things in the first place? I wouldn’t be trying to figure out how to hold all of them? That, to me, was just so appealing. I walked out of the store that day, not buying a thing. I slowly started thinking more and more about slowing down the buying process so that I could enjoy the space that I had created.

When we decided to buy a house and move, minimalism became a bigger part of my life. If there is anytime that you start to think about what and how much stuff you have, it’s when you move. You see the “stuff” in all its glory, piled up in boxes, being packed away, being unearthed from years of neglect – and it’s enough to make you want to throw it all away. Why then, again, did we acquire it all in the first place? It all started making sense now. It was only when I started understanding the mindset behind our patterns of accumulation could I begin to unpack how I could truly start to live with less.

I’m sharing with you the first 6 steps of how I started to become minimalist.

  1. Think about what is truly important in your life. List these things out and see what of these are material goods and what of these are not tangible. Once you do that you start to see that the material things you desire are much less than what you actually have in your life. It doesn’t matter to you that much to have those martini glasses in your life, or the 6th pair of flip flops in your closet. Once you make this list, you can move to step 2.
  2. This second step is to now ask yourself why do you buy things? What feeling are you satisfying when you purchase something? We often purchase things to buy security, worthiness, status, or to feel entertained. When you start to see that buying objects are really about buying feelings, you can start to unravel the ways in which we feel we’re lacking in this area. Instead of buying to fulfill these needs, can you create the feeling of security, worthiness, status or diversion/fun within yourself?
  3. Ask yourself why do you want to have less? What do you want to see in your life? Do you want to have less so that it’s easier for you to clean, maintain, or keep track of things? Do you want to affect the environment positively and keep things out of landfills? Do you want to spend less money? Do you want to have more money to spend on the things that are more important to you? Do you want to create a life filled with more beauty? Do you want to have more time because decision-making is quicker when you have less?
  4. Decide on a goal. Do you want to have one clear shelf? Do you want to be able to see all the things you own? Do you want to have a clear desk or tables? Do you want to have 50% fewer clothes? Do you want to be able to own things that you’re proud of wearing and using? Do you want to be able to pack in for a week-long trip in 15 minutes? What is your goal?
  5. Pretend that you’re moving and put things away. Clear that entire shelf. Clear the room. Clear the desk. Now take out only what you need to use and want to have. Take it all away first and then put things back one by one. See what you actually use. What do you actually need. What do you actually look for when it’s not there? Many times we see something and think, “I need that!” when in reality, would you have looked for it if you didn’t see it in the first place?
  6. Buy things you truly think will stand the test of time. Notice when you’re impulse shopping and when there’s an actual need. Delay gratification and see if you keep noticing the need to purchase or if it was a passing desire. Be in tune with what you’re buying because it truly is special or needed, or if you’re fulfilling a feeling of lack in your life.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a hard-core minimalist, but I would say that I’m becoming minimalist. We are keeping shelves empty on purpose, all my clothes fit into a dresser and a hanging closet, and we’re more discerning of what items come into our home. 10 years ago we went on a 7 week trip to Europe and we each brought one carry-on bag, and brought back 11 bottles of wine between the two of us. More thought had to go into what I was packing. I had to have items that were versatile and could serve multiple purposes. I try to remember that experience any time I’m packing and thinking, I just need to pack one more thing. I take a deep breath in and a deep breath out. I remember that I’m more than my things. I remember that I’m choosing to not have the things in my life define me. Instead, I want to be defined by how I think about things, how thoughtful and intentional I am about what’s in my life, and that it’s fun to have fewer, more beautiful things around me.

Now it’s your turn. If you want to take on the challenge of becoming minimalist, you can start with these 6 steps:
1. List out what is truly important in your life.
2. Ask yourself why do you buy things?
3. Define why do you want to have less?
4. Decide on a goal
5. Put everything away and then only add back what you truly need or desire.
6. Buy things that will last.

If you want help designing your day and learn how I design mine to include a minimalist mindset, I’m hosting a Free Design Your Day workshop. RSVP now to get a spot and I’ll share with you the strategies and tools I use daily to shift my mindset, change careers and improve my health. Together, we’ll start the process of designing a magical life. Go to https://mayempson.com/designyourday to sign up.

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