starting easy

this past weekend, burlington, vermont (where i live) held its 20th annual marathon.  i think it is timely that the marathon was beginning just as we were beginning our marathon of becoming minimalist.  living as a minimalist is a lifestyle (i don’t argue with that), but the process of decluttering our home and reprogramming our minds is definitely a marathon.  i can picture regret at the end if the journey is a sprint – just going room by room and throwing everything away – that would be foolishness.

i have a good friend who is trying to get out of debt.  he was given some interesting advice by his counselor.  his counselor didn’t tell him to “pay off the highest percentage loans right away,” instead he told him “to pay off the smallest debts first.”  i thought that was a bit odd until my friend told me the rationale.  paying off the smallest debts first results in victory – one less monthly payment.  even though it wasn’t the biggest burden, it is still one less burden – one victory.  and victory breeds more victory.

with that in mind, my wife have begun our marathon.  we specifically chose not to start with the biggest burdens (basement, kitchen, toy room, we decided to start simple and gain some quick victories.  after one weekend, here is what we have done so far: removed the clutter from our cars, minimalized a bathroom cabinet, minimalized a desk, starting selling items on ebay, began organizing for a garage sale, removed a few hangings on my son’s room that needed to go anyway, cleaned out the refrigerator magnets, and minimalized one-half of the living room (yeah, one-half).  even though the victories are small, every time i open the bathroom cabinet or look at the fridge, i am reminded that this is something that we really want to do.

victory breeds victory.  but right now, i’m going to watch the laker’s game.

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    This is all very inspiring…I found your site through Organizing Your Way. I’ve been on a “kick” to declutter, simplify, etc. and I’m finding new inspiration in your ideas. It’s even better that you live in Essex, VT….we lived in VT (Williston and Richmond) for 5 years and miss it terribly!

    Since leaving Vermont a little over 2 years ago, we have moved twice and are now preparing to move a third time. With every move I purge more and more stuff, but I still feel overwhelmed.

    I will start small, as this post suggests, and I’ll keep at it!


    • di says

      My daughter moves often, because she’s a non-tenured college professor. She’s able to move all of her belongings by herself within a couple of hours.

      She has simple couch and chair frames with removable cushions. She uses wicker baskets for a bureau. She either tucks them under her bed or puts them on a shelf in a bedroom closet. She has a Queen-size futon bed as well as a collapsible desk and bookshelf.

      She usually rents a small U-Haul truck and pulls her car behind the truck. She moves almost every year towards a better job.

      She recently moved closer to home, which makes me happy!

  2. says

    I really want to become a minimalist! I have done a little in the past, but I never have called myself a minimalist. It was so much easier when we lived in a 700 square foot house! We now live in a 2000 square foot house. We are about to split it into a duplex and I am strangely (in this day and age) relieved to have less room! I just started reading your blog and am reading from oldest to newest posts. Wish me luck, I just started on the kitchen drawers!

    • di says

      As we age, it becomes more difficult to care for a lot of things, including a larger home – both physically and financially.

  3. Just says

    Six years ago I moved from Montana to Georgia for a new job. My company put me up in a hotel for the first three months of living here. All I had was a large duffel bag of clothes and a rental car. At first I was bored out of my mind until I got familiar with the area. As I setteled in I realized I had a lot less to worry about even though I was now living in a big city, I was far away from my family and I didnt know a single person here.

    I couldn’t put my finger on it until I got a phone call from the moving company saying that my stuff was arriving the next day. From this point on I felt a heavy load weighing on me. At first I thought it was because of the task of moving it all in that created this feeling but it wasn’t.

    I realized that with all of that stuff…each item had a responsibility to some degree. This responsibility is the very thing that makes it so hard to let go of that item and the thing that holds you back.

    I want to get back to that care free feeling. HELP!!!

  4. Shirley says

    My life has been pretty upside down the last few years on many levels. In absolute discouragement and sadness on New Year’s Day this year I made a video of my home and in a quick moment of inspiration I began “project 365″. Each day I have done something to improve my home. Some days have been insane with entire rooms being fixed, other days I have just carried out a bag of accumulated garbage or cleaned a drawer but I have made some step forward each day. I have taken before and after photos each day and kept a daily journal. This has brought me incredible hope.

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