“Buy less stuff. Do work you love. And make a positive difference.” —Joshua Becker
I never set out to become a blogger. In fact, it is with mixed emotions today, that I announce I have become a full-time writer.
And it all started on a typical Saturday morning with a decision that became a passion. A passion that became a career.
How a Regular Morning Led to a Life-Changing Decision.
I woke up Saturday, May 24, 2008 with a relatively simple goal: clean out the garage. It was a decision not unlike the decision made by countless people around the world every weekend. After all, houses need cleaning, cars need maintaining, and possessions need managing.
Little did I know my life was about to change forever.
After a few hours of cleaning, my neighbor was the first to notice my defeated posture and frustrated facial expression. Her smile and light conversation was meant to cheer me up. I appreciated it. But it wasn’t until I began pointing out my frustration over the time and energy spent cleaning that she responded with a sentence so profound, it turned my life upside-down immediately.
“That’s why my daughter is a minimalist.” She said, “She keeps telling me I don’t need to own all this stuff.” I remember her words like it was yesterday.
I turned around to see the pile of things in my driveway. As I did, I noticed my 5-year old son playing alone in the backyard. And suddenly, a life-giving truth became clear.
All the possessions I owned were not bringing joy into my life. But worse than that, they were distracting me from the very things that did. And a minimalist was born.
My wife and I would go on to remove many of the nonessential possessions from our lives. All told, 60-70% of our stuff would eventually be sold, donated, recycled, or thrown away.
How a Decision Became a Passion.
I remember sitting by my computer just hours after our decision to intentionally live with less. I registered a free WordPress domain name: Becoming Minimalist. I intended to use the website as a simple online journal to chronicle our journey and keep our extended family updated on our progress.
But the process of journaling held far more benefit than I ever imagined. It provided opportunity for me to write about our process. But more than that, it forced me to articulate the emotions I was feeling, the lessons I was learning, and the benefits I was experiencing.
As a result, I became highly attentive to the positive, practical benefits we began experiencing almost immediately after choosing to live with less. We noticed we had more time, more energy, and more money for the things that mattered most.
I remember one dinner party just months after our decision. I sat next to a wonderful friend and began explaining to her our decision and our progess living with less. Her face lit up immediately. She began listing all the things in her home she would like to remove and began dreaming of the possibility of living a freer life without them. It was almost as if she was just waiting for someone to give her permission to own less.
Suddenly, it occured to me that I had just played the role of my neighbor in my friend’s life. I had invited her to a new and better way to live. Around this same time, more and more readers began visiting the Becoming Minimalist website—just enough to remind me there was great value in this message of minimalism and people were drawn to it.
Living with less quickly became a passion for my own life. But additionally, a passion was growing in my heart to spread the message of minimalism in a world bound to consumerism—to become one voice calling people to buy less when every other advertisement was calling them to buy more. My passion for simplicity quickly grew beyond the walls of our own, uncluttered home.
How a Passion Became a Career.
With a renewed focus and desire, the goal of Becoming Minimalist began to evolve. What started as a personal online journal quickly morphed into a website dedicated to inspiring and equipping others to discover and embrace minimalism.
I watched other bloggers. And learned from their example.
We wrote two books. Simplify and Inside-Out Simplicity have sold in the tens of thousands on Amazon and as PDFs in bundle sales. Simplify has ranked as the #1 Self-Help book on Amazon on two separate occasions.
Readership at Becoming Minimalist began to grow and has exploded recently. Traffic has doubled over the past five months. During the month of September alone, over 300,000 visitors visited Becoming Minimalist and were exposed to the message of minimalism.
One year ago, we launched the Becoming Minimalist Newsletter after sensing a growing desire to unite simple living advocates. The newsletter serves as encouragement for those committed to promoting simplicity. It is unlike any other email newsletter I have ever received. It is designed to equip the reader to grow in influence and promotes simple-living posts from every corner of the web. It is read by over 6,000 subscribers.
And through it all, because I love my work and find rich meaning in it, I have continued to work 50+ hours/week at my full-time job. For the past 15 years, I have served as a pastor in a number of different Christian churches. When this blog first started, I served as the Youth Pastor at one of the largest churches in New England helping middle school and high school students find fuller-meaning in their hearts and souls. Most recently, for the last two years, I have served alongside a good friend of mine planting a church in one of the fastest-growing counties in the country.
But I have known all along pursuing both passions was unsustainable for the long-term. And at this point in my life, my greatest opportunity for impact is to promote living with less in a world that has bought into the lie that pursuing possessions is a worthy endeavor.
As a result, effective today, October 1st, I am committed to the full-time promotion of minimalism. With fear and excitement, today, everything changes for us.
What Does This Mean for Becoming Minimalist?
At this point, there will be little change on Becoming Minimalist. In fact, regular readers will probably notice very few changes on the website. I do not intend to increase the frequency of posts. I only hope to improve their quality. I also hope to spend more time writing guest posts on other websites looking for new opportunities to introduce others to the invitation of minimalism.
The Becoming Minimalist Newsletter will still be delivered on an every-other week basis. There is a chance this frequency will increase in the future. But for now, it will stay the same. By the way, thanks for all the kind words and feedback I receive from it. I appreciate every single one of them.
I do hope to become far more interactive and available to readers than ever before. I hope to become more responsive to blog comments, Facebook messages, tweets, and e-mails. Community is important to me. And I look forward to having more opportunity for it.
I have a desire to accept more speaking opportunities than before. I desire to continue promoting minimalism and its intersection with entrepreneurship, business, happiness, and spirituality. My commitment is to continue offering speaking engagements at an incredibly affordable price. You can find out more here.
I also have plans for some exciting new projects in the very near future. I will be releasing a new book later this month and have been collaborating with other simple living bloggers for an amazing opportunity we will unveil soon. I have also begun the process of creating a book proposal for 2014. These projects are ones I am passionate about creating and offering to you. I look forward to the opportunity of finally having the time to create them with full excellence.
Lastly, it is every bit my intention to keep Becoming Minimalist reader-supported (ad-free). Despite what some may think, my income from Becoming Minimalist is just barely equal to the income from a part-time job. While we don’t need much (minimalism has made this possible), I do have a responsibility to my wife and two young children to provide faithfully. And to that end, I will continue to pursue and create resources that benefit both the reader and the creator.
There are such wonderful days ahead. Our message is important. Our opportunity is great. And together, we can absolutely change this world for the better.