Note: This is a guest post by Emma Scheib of Simple Slow & Lovely.
When I first starting reading about minimalism I’ll admit to being overwhelmed. Photos of people living this minimalist lifestyle were trendy. White walls, scandi furniture and not a scatter cushion in sight.
As someone who has preferred to buck trends and fads and do my own thing, I struggled to figure out how this lifestyle would benefit me and what I really needed to do in order to become a minimalist.
I couldn’t understand people who lived in tiny homes. I like big open spaces. And white everywhere? I prefer moody autumn colors in my spaces, they make me feel warm and safe.
Thankfully, I discovered that minimalism is about more than just picture perfect homes with white walls. It was far more than just a type of architecture, décor, or fashion choice. It is a worldview, and despite its recent growth in popularity, it wasn’t a fad.
Minimalism is about clearing the clutter in our homes, calendars, and heads so that we can do the things that light us up and give us purpose.
And no, we don’t have to keep up with the minimalist Jones’s to participate in this way of living.
There are however, a few things I found essential to my minimalist journey:
A Willingness To Do Some Self-Exploration
Like it or not, becoming a minimalist will probably mean working through some emotional baggage. Clearing physical clutter may uncover some feelings that need addressing before you can gain any real traction.
The most common excuse I would give myself for not getting rid of something was because I was afraid I’d need it again in the future. In practical terms this scarcity mindset meant that we held onto silly things like old phone chargers, a really large stock pot that I’d used twice in a decade, my skinny jeans from my 20’s (I can happily admit to giving up that dream!), and many other items ‘just in case.’
The moment I realized that fear was the roadblock to me clearing the clutter it became easier to let go. I didn’t want fear controlling me and holding me back from living the way I wanted. Once I did some self-exploration to shift the fear, I was able to shift the clutter.
An Ability to Fiercely Guard Time
As I decluttered I discovered that the process wouldn’t be as long as I thought, or others said it might be. I have always been naturally drawn to simple spaces and having less always made sense for me. I remember feeling rather boastful of my clutter-free spaces and the relatively quick time my initial decluttering efforts took.
This was NOT the case with my schedule. I was quick to answer ‘yes’ to any new request for my time, resulting in an overflowing calendar. These ‘yes commitments’ meant I was living under constant duress. I began to feel fearful of the life I was creating for myself. I couldn’t articulate it at the time, but looking back it felt like I was a character in a scary children’s book, on the run from a monster. My own personal ‘busy’ monster.
It didn’t take long before I realized that although that monster was imaginary, the consequences of continuing being so over-scheduled were very real. Something had to give, or break. Thankfully, the concepts of minimalism taught me the importance of saying no and the courage to enforce personal boundaries that I’d never had before.
Now I regularly flex my ‘no muscle’ and don’t feel like I’m running away from a busy life anymore. I make time to do the things that fulfill me, even if that’s simply reading a book on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Minimalism, while being a current ‘on-trend’ lifestyle choice, is not an easy path. It’s countercultural and there will be obstacles along the way. Someone asked me recently how I’d managed to maintain the decluttering after so many years.
My answer? Grit. And dogged determination. I’m basically like my dog when she gets a chew toy. I’m not letting go for anything. I preserve and I commit to the long haul.
Why? Because minimalism isn’t the choice you make once. It’s a choice you make everyday. Every time my kids bring something home, we have to make a choice. Every time I purchase another item of clothing, I choose which one goes in the bag for charity. I’m determined not to let our home get re-cluttered. Determination helps me sustain a minimalist lifestyle.
And this determination helps when I get questioned about the simpler life I choose to live. Friends and family might not get it. They might question your choice to have only one car or only 4 pairs of shoes. And they might continue to expect more of you. They’ll keep asking you to commit and expect things that you can’t realistically deliver.
You have to be confident in your choice to slow down and simplify so that when you get questions and push-back (it will come, believe me!) you can sit tight, determined to weather the storm.
The truth is, there isn’t much you need to give minimalism a try. You don’t need to paint your walls white and you don’t need to count the number of items in your closet.
With a little determination, self-exploration, and the willingness to say no, you can begin to craft the life you really want.