What comes to mind when you think of minimalism? Stark white interiors, a tiny number of possessions and maybe no TV? That was what I thought minimalism was before I watched The Minimalists documentary on Netflix a few weeks ago and started to learn how minimalism can lead to greater wellbeing.
The film resonated with me a lot and helped me see that you didn’t have to live in an empty white box to be a minimalist and benefit from having fewer possessions. Around the same time I was learning about Lagom and starting to see how living more intentionally could have a massive positive impact in my life. That’s actually how I prefer to see minimalism, as living intentionally and simply.
Now none of these concepts come naturally to me, I like my stuff! I’ve always been a ‘more is more’ kind of a girl, but all of these things has made me re-evaluate where that was getting me. January and February this year have had their tough moments and as a business owner it can be very easy to get caught up in a monetary view of success, and I wasn’t finding that pressure on myself very helpful or soul inspiring. The stories of Ryan and Joshua (The Minimalists) who found themselves working hard for more money to buy more pointless ‘stuff’ resonated and made me realise that I didn’t want to fall into that kind of cycle.
When I reconsidered what was really important in my life and what true success would look like for me, I realised it was a much simpler thing than I had built it up to being in my mind. I realised that being more intentional about many different life areas could bring me closer to where I wanted to be and in turn improve my health, wellbeing and happiness.
To put minimalism really simply and in a way that works for me, I see it as being more intentional and deliberate about everything. If it’s not adding some kind of value (be that a function or because they are beautiful) to my life then it’s probably taking something away from it. You can use this idea with physical objects as well as relationships, work tasks and more. For me it’s about stopping mindless consumption, be that of material things or even mindless consumption of social media!
Minimalism for me is never going to be the goal of having less and less ‘stuff’ rather, it’s the goal of having more meaningful ‘stuff’. There are certain possessions I love such as my books, crystals, journals and stationary etc but these things bring a clear value to my life. James has over 1000 CDs which he loves as much as me! Make minimalism work for you.
Here are several simple ways you could start introducing minimalism into your life to reap the benefits of being more intentional…
Get clear on what you’d like your life to look like
Being the self development nerd that I am, I’ve often done ideal day exercises and the like. What I did this time was really think about what I wanted my life to look and feel like. Thankfully my life right now isn’t that far off, my vision includes feelings of simplicity and ease, family first, being financially free and therefore debt free other than our mortgage, creating a beautiful garden, converting our garage into a separate room and making our kitchen open plan, my business continuing to be successful and growing in a way that feels good to me, more travel and adventure as Finley gets older etc. It’s totally natural that this vision might change, but it motivates me to be more intentional in order to create these things and feelings. From that place I’ve found it easier to be more intentional, certainly with my money but also with a multitude of other things.
Create a capsule wardrobe
I’ve actually been a fan of the capsule wardrobe for a while, I love being able to get dressed quicker and more easily, and the reduction in clothing that doesn’t fit and makes me feel rubbish about myself! One of the big things that’s changed for me this time though is following a more structured approach like Project 333, which is only using 33 items for 3 months. With this approach I know that shopping for clothes is off the table for 3 months so I don’t even think about shopping and I can happily delete all those promo sales emails without feeling like I’m missing anything. Alongside that, this time round I’ve been able to really nail my own style so the things in my wardrobe actually work for me and my life. I’ve also made an effort to choose better quality clothing and, where possible, ethically made and sustainable clothing to reduce that throw away factor.
All of this adds up to feeling more confident in my clothing, more secure in my style and a lot less overwhelmed!
I’ll be posting a separate post just on my Project 333 soon so keep a look out for that.
Declutter the rest of your possessions too
This can feel scary, but every time I do it I feel like I get more hardcore about what I get rid of! I’d often hold on to things that I paid a lot for or that are worth a lot of money but which I don’t use and that don’t add value, but this time round I was able to let them go. I think you can do it all in one go or do a room at a time. I did a mix of both, decluttering some cupboards when I had the chance and then taking a full day to blitz everywhere. We stored things in our garage and then contacted the British Heart Foundation to come and collect them. I felt so happy that our stuff could be sold and used to raise funds for a cause very close to our hearts.
Something that helped was having a box for those things I wasn’t sure about letting go. I know if I don’t use them in a few months I really don’t need them. I’ve also got a small box to use just for keepsakes. My idea was to fill the box during the year with things like Finley’s pictures and James’ running medals and then box it all up with the year written on top.
If you visited our home you’d still see that we have a fair amount of stuff but most things now have a very specific value. The benefit of this is I feel less overwhelmed, less stressed (because cluttered surfaces that don’t look visually beautiful to you create stress), and I have more headspace and energy to focus on the things I do want.
Be intentional about what you allow back into your home
This is the super important bit – once you’ve decluttered a lot of your stuff the trick is being intentional about what you allow back in. We now have a ‘one in one out’ policy on Fin’s toys and I’ve embraced the wish list as a way of curating new things I’d like to get so I can be more intentional rather than just being out and about and then finding I’ve magically bought that random cushion from Tesco. I’m also going to respectfully offer the wish list idea to family and friends when it comes to gifting. I know I would rather buy people gifts I know they are lusting after instead of things that will sit unused.
The biggest revelation for me in this area was how much advertising can win me over. My core mindset issue is not feeling good enough and not fitting in, as I’m guessing it is for many of you reading this too! I realised it made me even more of a sucker to marketing that tries to make me feel that by buying this thing I therefore position myself socially and demonstrate my worth to other people – social media makes this so much worse for me too! Unpicking this, and really examining why I want to buy something has been nothing short of life changing for me. I’m slowly detaching my sense of worth from my possessions and realising I don’t need things to make me a worthy person.
Try asking yourself why you want to buy certain items, it can be very interesting!
Do a life edit
That might sound overwhelming but it’s just about taking a look at how you live your life and making adjustments based on what gives you value. You can declutter the apps on your phone, stop participating in relationships that drain you, clean up your social media feeds by having an unfollow party and generally saying no to things that don’t bring value. Just don’t try and do everything at once or else you will feel overwhelmed! I like to think of being intentional as just being more aware of what’s going on in my life each day. Taking a pause every few hours or at least when you wake up and before you go to bed to check in with yourself can be really helpful.
What are your thoughts on minimalism and being more intentional? Have you tried to create a capsule wardrobe?
Love this – I have just moved abroad and I am making a conscious effort to not hoard or accumulate possessions that aren’t essential. When I packed up my London flat it was shameful how much meaningless clutter I’d acquired only to throw away – now I keep a notebook of purchases where I have to “confess” anything unessential or not bought in replacement and already I feel so much better (and have more money to spend on experiences rather than another dress which I definitely do not need!) x
We had a big clear out when we moved but we kept some things just in case- they are in a box and have not been touched for 10 months or however long it’s been, so we need to take it to a charity shop now. I do like the one in one out idea, but I tend to clear out clothes every now and then and have a big sort out.
I always found having a bit of a mantra while I was decluttering a couple of years ago kept me on the right path, something simple like ‘if it doesn’t matter, get rid of it. If you can’t get rid of it, it matters’. That reminded me of what I was trying to achieve.
Love that, especially the last part of that mantra I think it would really make me think about keeping something and if it really did matter
I loved the documentary as well – hearing more about their personal lives was very interesting. I often feel like die hard minimalists are too strident with their beliefs, but I call myself an “aspiring minimalist” because like you – I’m looking to live my life with intention and simplicity. I’m still decluttering our household of 5, but while I’m doing it the open spaces are providing clarity I never expected. I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff!
Thanks for checking out my post! I absolutely agree, I love the idea of an aspiring minimalist, it’s certainly more about intention for me :-)