Several years ago I began to explore minimalism as a lifestye choice.
If you visited my house you would never know it, but we have offloaded at least 50% of our ‘stuff’. And guess what, I miss precisely zero of what’s gone.
Let me share a few things I have found in the pursuit of a peaceful environment and a simpler lifestyle.
1. It begins with WHY…
Why simplify? There are numerous reasons a person may want to dump their baggage, inside and out, but for me my real driver was a realization that the clutter is exactly what kept me from fully embracing my call. As a creative I found that the temptation to spin a million plates (I exaggerate but you get the idea) was ever present. I was chasing every idea, buying up all the shiny objects, and always coming up feeling unfulfilled in some way. Yes, I learned to make money (sometimes lots of it), I built a resonable and responsive audience, but that inner itch was still bugging me.
I wanted to be a writer, and in all my wirting I still felt I was spinning wheels.
This blog, and the books that will result from it, is one of the results of throwing everything I had into the pan and boiling it down to the essentials.
I asked myself hard questions.
What am I doing?
What do I really want to do?
In what way can I make the most impact on people’s lives and the world?
With no other reasons or excuses what do I want to do above all else if no fears stood in my way?
Where do I want to be, and what do I want to be doing and known for, 5, 10, 20 years from now? And am I making decisions today that will lead me in that direction?
Once you have a why you will have a lens that gives focus to your decision making. Without it, everythng is much less likely to happen long term.
I am part of Joshua Becker’s Becoming MInimlaist Uncluttered course, and asking the why is one of the first things that he suggests to do.
Here’s what I posted in the Facebook group there severla months ago…
My why for minimalsim?
- I want to make room for more of what’s important to me: Jesus, my children, my wife – writing and creating valuable content for others to learn and grow from.
- I want to have a clear and uncluttered view of my priorities in life, business, and my role as a husband, dad, author, friend and Jesus follower.
- I don’t want distractions to pull me every which way any longer.
- I want to be more mobile, less tied to things.
- I want to travel with my kids and explore strange and wonderful places.
- I want to buy into experience, not excess.
- I want to get my satisfaction from relationships rather than purchasing and accusmulating things.
- I want to centre my life on my values, not valuables.
- I want to live, give and glorify God without hindrance.
- I want to prise myself away from deriving my sense of worth from what I own or society’s measure of a successful person.
- Because I have too few years left on this planet to worry about stuff.
- I want to rest my heart in the presence and purpose of God and cut the fat from my thinking so I am uncluttered inwardly and outwardly – ready to savor every moment and know each day what my One Thing is, and do it with all my heart.
2. Uncluttering is a process not an event…
LIke peeling the layers of an onion, letting go of stuff is a process. Layer by layer.
I did not dump the baby and the bathwater in one grand gesture.
Each week, month, year, I have discovered a love of less, and have gradually removed my reliance on things bit by bit, piece by piece. With each clearing I find myself freer to see the wood for the trees, and with experience under my belt each time I am challenged to declutter further, the process is much less painful and spiked with doubts and questions.
Do I need this?
At one time the answer would be a novella length of what ifs, maybes, fears of lack, and unknown contingenicies.
Now it is most often simply, “probably not”.
Take your time, evaluate your needs and wants based on where you are now, not necessarly where you would like to be ten years from now. You will get there, but take the necessary steps with realistic expectations of yourself and your family, rather than jumping off a cliff.
3. Uncluttering is not about what you get rid of, its about what you keep
For me, a minimalist lifestyle is not about having no stuff. It’s about having only stuff that you love and that brings value to your life. Value is not rooted in dollar terms either, but in joy. A $2 T-shirt may bring you more joy than a $2000 suit. The T-shirt is the keeper. Conversely, if suits are your thing, my style of minimal would rather invest in the suit that you really want, rather than skimp and save and make do with one that doesn’t speak worth to my soul. Love is the driver.
I want to surround myself with only things that I love. Period.
If we are honest, only a handful of things really minister worth to our soul. Whether they are cheap or expensive is beside the point.
4. Don’t neglect to sweep inside
I believe the reason many people embark on a journey of simplification is that they are discontent inwardly. The promises the world has stuffed them with have come up empty. So many people have all the world can offer, and their grey faces and dead eyes say it all. Accumulation cannot satisfy the deep ache on the inside.
That hole in the inner man was designed for God, for Love, for relationships – not the latest Xbox or sports car.
In all your decluttering and dumping of trash bags – remember that the real accumulation that negatively affects all that we think and do is the acculmualtion of hurts, disappointments and expectations that we have stored up over time, usually several decades.
Do yourself a favor, and give yourself a clean slate to work from.
It usually begins with honesty, forgiveness and fresh resolve to live true to your own unique personality and values.
The way that inner clutter pours out is generally salty tears flowing down your rosy cheeks. Don’t be scared to let it all go.