Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Lori Lippincott of Loving Simple Living.
“If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking.”
While I may still be relatively new to minimalism, I find great value sharing with others the process that has brought me here step-by-step.
Sometimes, it is hard to imagine the process that goes behind the scenes in the life of a minimalist. But from my conversations, I have found most seem to follow the same general path, thought-process, and even struggles throughout their journey. You may be further along than me, you may be struggling through the first steps, or you may have stumbled upon this site and are being introduced to minimalism for the first time. But no matter where you currently place yourself on the journey, considering the life cycle of a minimalist will surely bring encouragement to you.
The Life Cycle of a Minimalist:
- Stress, Overwhelmed, Searching – Everyone reaches the point where they are open to change differently. It might be a money crunch, or a time crunch. It might be a searching for purpose. It might be wanting more energy for a relationship that is valuable to you. Somewhere, something blows a little steam switch in your brain and you decide (intentionally or not) that maybe the way you are doing things isn’t working as well as you thought.
- Awareness – You see or hear of someone who is living a minimalist lifestyle. Sure you know you don’t need things to be happy, but the idea of intentionally living with much less never really entered your mind. It’s not rocket science, but for some reason, you never really considered it an option before. Initially it may seem crazy, but as the idea sits for a while it seems less and less crazy, just different.
- Curiosity – As the idea sits in your head you look for other information. You may look online for blogs, read books, or talk to friends. You start to play out the idea in your head when you look at your house imagining what it might look like if you made the change.
- Action – Your imagination sticks its toe in the water of reality. You tackle the first project. It may be as simple as cleaning out a closet, the family junk drawer, or a spare room. For me it was cleaning off a bookshelf. I was amazed to discover I could easily get rid of 80% of its contents.
- Excitement – After the first project, a new sense of excitement emerges. Closets start getting emptied, floors get covered in piles, the basement looks like a tornado hit, and the car won’t fit in the garage. You develop the distinct goal to live a more simple, minimalist lifestyle and it is exciting as you begin.
- Setback – You hit a setback. It might be work gets busy and you have less time in the evening to declutter, you might hit a family emergency, someone might question why you are doing what you are doing (because sadly, that is one of our biggest fears in life). Or maybe you get rid of something you end up needing and have to go buy again making you question your own sanity.
- Exhaustion – Stepping over piles and having the house torn apart gets old. Spending all the time sorting has tired you out. Finding people to buy or places to donate has become frustrating. The process seems never ending and it feels like the house is just as full as it was when you started. Your excitement is waning and your energy is on its last leg.
- Strength – Finally some big piles get moved out. Maybe a garage sale or your 10th trip to the Goodwill drop-off finally let you see the light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in years you realize that you actually know what is in your house (all the closets, garage, and more) and what is still there is what you have specifically chosen to keep. Finally it feels like you are over the hump and excited about the real progress you have made.
- Incorrect Finish line – You get to the end. You have gone through everything in your house and got rid of lots. Maybe 30%, 50%, 80% of your material belongings? The place looks different. It looks and feels so good. You pat yourself on the back for a job well done.
- More decluttering – Over the next few months, while walking around your house and cleaning, you find more and more items you are willing to remove. Maybe you were afraid to get rid of it during the first big sorting, but now you don’t know why you kept it. You end up with more and more sale and donation piles growing around your house again.
- Holidays or stuff purchasing slips – Your home begins to collect more material things through holidays, gifts, or your old purchasing habit that sometimes sneaks around the corner and catches you off-guard.
- More decluttering – Dealing with #11 and still living #10.
- More decluttering – Realizing #10 is still going on a year down the road… and #11 really never ends fully.
- Understanding that right sizing your life is not a destination but a journey. Whether you keep cutting back or life changes require you to gain more material possessions, you stick to intentionally owning only what you need and truly want. You have learned how to make possessions a servant instead of a master and have exercised your control over it. You have reached the other side, but the other side is much more personal mastery than you originally thought. It isn’t so much about a specific number of things you own, but a healthy understanding of the proper place of material things in your life. You are free to tackle growth in other areas of your life… always striving to grow and becoming a better version of yourself.
Lorilee Lippincott writes at Loving Simple Living where she encourages others to live a more simplified life. Her book, 3-2-1 Stop Running. Start Living is currently available for $9.97. Or you may enjoy following her at Twitter.