Minimalism is getting really popular because people are now realising the impact and benefits it can bring in today’s busy world. But the more people hear about it, the more questions it raises! I thought it might be helpful to do a round-up of questions I’ve been asked recently in case you’re looking for some answers to these questions too! This is Minimalism 101 and 3 questions I’ve been asked this month.
QUESTION 1: Do I know anyone who became a Minimalist and then converted back to a standard lifestyle?
I’m afraid I don’t personally know of anyone but I do know of people who have really struggled on their way to becoming Minimalist and have been ready to throw in the towel and give it all up! But they didn’t because often it’s just about finding the right form of minimalism, understanding it correctly, or going about it in the right way, instead of getting caught up in what one ‘thinks’ it should be about.
In my experience there are 3 main reasons why people would change their minds about living as a Minimalist:
a) They haven’t fully appreciated (or been shown) that there’s different forms of minimalism.
What might suit a single man in his 40s probably wouldn’t suit (let’s use me as an example) my situation where I juggle work and family, loads of kids and a house full of noise, movement and a constant battle to keep the clutter at bay because of it.
How one interprets and adopts Minimalism MUST suit one’s own personal situation otherwise it won’t work, you’ll regret giving it a go and resort to your old lifestyle!
b) Misunderstanding the whole concept of Minimalism.
Despite its name, Minimalism isn’t about throwing everything away and forcing yourself to live a life of scarcity. If you do this, you’re missing the whole point and another reason why you’ll fail and be tempted back to your old life.
Minimalism is, instead, about getting rid of anything that’s not important to YOU, so that you can focus on what IS important to YOU.
To use an example of books. If you think about Minimalism in the wrong way, then you would think that you can’t keep all your books because that wouldn’t be very Minimalist. They might take up a lot of space, look a bit messy on the bookshelf and be a glaring reminder that you’ve failed at living your minimalist life.
Definitely NOT! If you love books, read them, are a book worm, they are important to you, so you wouldn’t automatically throw them out even if you are Minimalist. Minimalism means keeping the things that are important and add value, so if books are important to you, then keep them!
Many people don’t understand that you don’t have to throw everything out in the name of Minimalism and force yourself to give up on things that you love and enjoy. I’ve written a blog post about this here on Minimalism and why you should break the rule sometimes. if you want to check it out.
c) The other reason I know that people do find becoming a Minimalist difficult is that their family, friends etc just don’t ‘get’ what they’re trying to do.
It feels like an uphill battle trying to be a Minimalist when they’ve got other people in the home digging in their heels or questioning everything that you’re trying to do. It gets demoralising and deflating and may make you want to revert to the ‘easier’ option of how things were before.
Usually people are negative because they don’t understand what you’re trying to do and why. Take it slow with them, persevere, show them what a difference Minimalism has made to you in your actions and life and they might slowly, but surely, come around to your way of thinking which will make it much easier for you to keep it up.
If you’d like more information on this very topic, you could check out my blog post here on what to do if you’re the only Minimalist in the house
QUESTION 2: How has Minimalism affected your finances?
Minimalism encourages us to be happier and more content with less stuff and more of the things that money just can’t buy.
We no longer feel the need to go shopping, buy things just for the sake of it, or spend money without making an intentional decision first on whether we really need that item.
So, Minimalism can affect your finances by encouraging you to spend less and save more.
Minimalism also encourages you to become much more adept at managing your finances, streamlining where you save money, how you pay your bills, budget your daily and monthly spending, managing any debt.
We can all achieve this with minimal paperwork, time and effort, by setting up systems to look at monthly income and outgoings, switching to online banking and automatic direct debits, minimum payments on credit cards etc, whenever possible, dealing with paperwork as it comes in, reducing and hopefully eliminating any debt we might have.
Just generally streamlining our finances and making it simpler and easier to know how much and what we’re spending our money on each month and how to be wise and intentional when we do spend it.
I’m by no means a financial expert but I hope this very basic answer helps in some way.
QUESTION 3: What are the basics of Minimalism?
Minimalism can mean many things to many people and there’s no single description that fits all. For me, Minimalism means getting rid of anything in my life that doesn’t add value or I don’t absolutely love, or has a purpose so that I can make way for the things that are most important to me.
In the oft-quoted words from Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist,
‘Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it.’
I am a busy Mum juggling work and family life, but I am also a minimalist because of the benefits it brings to my family and I.
I appreciate that my situation may be different to yours and your definition and interpretation of Minimalism might be different, but the basic principles apply.
The basic principles
A) Identify your priorities in life – work out what you value, give most importance to, couldn’t live without, love, admire, respect and enhance your life.
B) Identify the things that aren’t important or cause you stress or upset- decide what you no longer need, what no longer serves you, no longer fits a purpose or doesn’t add value to your life.
C) Remove what you no longer need, want or love (the list from point 2) and use this space, time and freedom to fill it intentionally with more of the things that you’d like to prioritise in life (the list from point 1).
Examples of how these basic principles of Minimalism can apply to life
- Look through your calendar and say no to any commitments or appointments that don’t feel right, you don’t want to do, or aren’t adding value to your life. Simplify your calendar and be intentional with your time so you spend your time wisely doing things that help you work towards your priorities. Remember that every time you say yes to one commitment, you are saying no to something else.
- Go through your home or your office and get rid of the excess clutter, possessions and general stuff that you no longer need, want or that you don’t love. Streamlining your possessions will make it easier and quicker to look after what you’ve got, and you can create more time doing things you want to do rather than what you have to do. Remember that what takes up your space, takes up your time.
- Minimalism forces us to be more intentional about our days, our priorities, our goals, and our areas of focus, as we are forced to work out what’s important and what’s not. Instead of sailing through life buffeted by external forces, minimalism and living more intentionally encourages us to be more disciplined and live with direction.
- Lastly, Minimalism teaches us to be more grateful and appreciative of everything in life and we become more able to find happiness and reward from within, rather than seeking it externally.
You can read more about Minimalism in this post – What is Minimalism and 4 things it’s not.
These are just 3 out of many questions I’ve been asked recently. Did you learn anything, or did it reinforce any thoughts you might have had already? Let me know as I’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org.