Since my last blog when I discussed my introduction to, and commencement of, my new minimalist lifestyle, I've had a really incredible reaction from friends and family who have approached me and asked me how it's going and said that they'd like to try it out for themselves.
Normally most of my friends don't really get that involved by what I blog about haha. However, it seems more people feel like they need to de-clutter their lives both physically and mentally than you'd think. It's not always straight forward though, in a society where we put so much value in stuff, where they act as a measure of success and comfort, we find it hard to acknowledge this deep-seated longing to cast-off the shackles of clutter and get back to basics. Returning to living a more meaningful life isn't hard, but it's also not always easy to know where to start...can I just say that starting it is super fun, also it's easier than you think, so here are some tips.
Whether you've read my previous blog or not, and even if you have zero idea about what minimalism involves, I thought it'd be fun to ask you via this blog to humour me in an experiment, see image below for your mission, should you choose to accept it.
You can do this from wherever you are right now, whether it's sat at your desk at work, in your car or even in the bath :-) Just scan around and ask yourself if the item in question is vitally necessary to your day-to-day existence, whether it's just something you want because it makes things easier (but isn't essential), or if, quite honestly, it's just completely useless.
I find that our possessions can all be categorised into the following 4 groups: Need, Want, Occasional or Useless.
You need it to survive, live your life, look after your family and friends, do your job properly. We have to be realistic here, we're not trying to become monks.
Items that aren't strictly necessary, you could easily get by without them, they're normally luxury items, that we associate with success and comfort. But they may bring us joy and therefore be valuable.
Items that you know you'll need at some point, but maybe only once or twice a year. You don't want to waste money by getting rid of them, but you probably don't want them in your life all year round.
You can't remember the last time you used them, they're dead space, you just no longer get enjoyment or value from them.
I'm not going to tell you to get rid of these items, you shouldn't have to live without anything that truly makes your life better. But for now just be aware of the real value of the things around you.
If you're the type of person who finds it hard to detach yourself from either sentimental or status symbol type possessions, then just start by removing 1 thing that falls into the 'WANT' category from your immediate environment, maybe ask your mate to look after it for a week as an experiment, or lock it in your loft where you can't access it without major effort. Set a reminder on your phone to ask yourself after a week if you miss it. If you really do then add it back to your rotation of things, if not then try it with another 2 items. You'll quickly start to realise that you can live without quite a number of things in your life. Not only that, but you'll start to question your purchases more stringently. Then you know that you're ready to purge way more stuff, and this time you can donate or sell it rather than just locking it away in the loft.
Clearing out the things in the 'Useless' category is easy, and for me (at least), very therapeutic; I really enjoy giving things to charity, and thinking that someone else will now be able to get joy from it, rather than it just collecting dust in my loft. The difficult thing is removing the items that fall into the 'Want' category. You know you don't need that CD in your car, or the cable that allows you to play your favourite music, the world wouldn't end if you removed it from the car. But, you want it. Why do you want it? Do you use it every time you're in the car? Does it make you feel happier, more relaxed? If so, then it sounds like this is something that really means something to you and adds value in your life, so hold onto it. However, that sat nav over there in the glove box... could you do with having less rubbish in your glove compartment? I'm sure any of us could manage just following road signs right?
I could go on forever talking about this, but it's not my place to preach to anyone how to manage their lives, this isn't my intention at all. But this is something that for me seems to work really well, and seeing as many of my friends and colleagues have given me so much feedback on it, I thought I'd share some more insights on how to go about starting with this. On that note, it's important to notice that, even if I do sound like a bit of a hippie at times, it's not at all about that. It's in no way spiritual or religious, it's about living a more meaningful life with fewer of the things we don't need - you can take it or leave it.
If you start doing this and you enjoy it then go full on and enjoy clearing your life of all the unnecessary excess. The best way to start is to take all the things that fall into the 'Useless' category, and get rid of those first - easy decision! Then ask yourself honestly which of the 'Occasional' items you will actually use again, and just whack them in your loft or in a trunk. For me those items are snowboarding gear, golf clubs, a tuxedo and a suit. I'd start by just keeping all the items you need, but be honest with yourself, are these items definitely in the 'Need' category, or are they 'Want' items.
The toughest decisions by far are the 'Want' possessions. I would recommend starting by just allowing yourself to keep 10 of them. And limit your clothes to say 50 pieces in total (where socks, belts and jewellery all count). This will be a solid start, and is pretty similar to what I did. So far I haven't missed a single thing. Have been less concerned about shopping both online and in town, and therefore have saved money in just a couple of weeks. I feel like soon I'll probably cut back even more because even with reduced possessions there are clearly some things that get used far less frequently.
I wish you luck and enjoyment with it, please do let me know how you get on whether you liked it or not. Whatever happens, the important thing is to just do what makes you happiest. If you can't live without stuff then so be it, if you can then nothing is stopping you.
I look forward to hearing how you get on.