Note: This is a guest post from Robin Shliakhau of Simplify and Pursue.
“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” —Helen Keller
Many people discover minimalism at a breaking point in life. The house is too cluttered, the schedule is too chaotic, their health is failing, their weight hit a number they didn’t think it would ever reach, or their finances are in shambles.
These breaking points are often the result of a life lived in excess. Too much spending, too much eating, too sedentary lifestyle, too many commitments, too much stuff. The breaking point also seems to come from an aimless drifting through life—waking up one day with things we don’t want, deep in debt, or spending time on activities that do not bring us joy.
Minimalism is about “less” and “more.” But it is more than that. A life with less clutter, less distraction, and less aimlessness brings about more clarity, focus, and time to enjoy more adventure.
Once the clutter is cleared, debt is paid off, health is put back in priority, and greater intentionality has been chosen, lives open up for new pursuits. And what we find on the other side of this reorienting and minimizing is opportunity to choose the things that truly matter to us.
“Adventure” can be any number of pursuits that will inevitably vary from person to person. But it is almost always birthed when our natural talents and passions have room to flourish.
This is why minimalism means adventure. By simplifying our lives and reducing excess, minimalism provides room for our natural talents and passions to thrive.
Consider some of these common “adventures” that minimalism opens the door to:
I love listening to how entrepreneurs began their businesses. Sometimes they’re tired of giving 40 hours a week to someone else’s dream. For some, it’s a side hustle that truly brings them joy or they want to make something with their hands and bring beauty and quality goods for consumers. For others, it’s offering a service. Regardless of their motivation, minimalism makes way for small businesses to thrive.
Rarely do you meet someone who doesn’t have some travel aspirations. Minimalism often frees up resources and time to make those cultural dreams comes true. Single or married, kids or no kids, travel becomes more possible being a minimalist. Some even combine the desire to travel and the new lifestyle of living with less to travel more full time.
Maybe you didn’t graduate or you did, but always wanted to apply for that PhD program. Or maybe there are skills for your job that you’d love to develop further. Learning is a lifelong endeavor, minimalism may just allow you to take that leap and enhance the knowledge you already have.
Learning New Skills
Whether it’s learning a language or graphic design or taking a photography class, there are countless new things for us to learn. When we’ve narrowed down what truly matters, our attention and time can be directed at furthering our knowledge and understanding of the world.
Say goodbye to countless hours spent in front of the TV. Minimalism can open up the time and freedom to pursue more enjoyable and fulfilling ways of relaxing. Sometimes it takes getting rid of 99% of our hobby stuff to unearth what it is we love to do.
As mentioned, sometimes when we purge our hobby materials we discover what we did and didn’t enjoy. There could be an old hobby—in my case hiking—that may be returned to a place of importance. This time around you’ll go in knowing you only need what is essential and not amass all the things associated with it. Your new or renewed interests could be anything from running, playing an instrument, knitting, painting, hiking, writing, etc.
Once we take the time to purge our home, we become more careful about what we bring in. Accumulating stuff is no longer the subconscious goal in life, but something we guard against. Seek new experiences like attending concerts or plays, visiting historical or natural locations. Experiences are memories that last a lifetime without cluttering up our home.
Minimalism has a way of putting areas of life back in priority. Health can be one of those. Pursuing better health can be a very enjoyable adventure. Recently, I combined my need to workout regularly with my love of nature and have been trail running. Finding something you love to do will benefit you not only physically, but mentally as well. Activities like running, yoga, or swimming can also open up new relationships and community.
Healthier eating and cooking are important for health as well. Tastes change with age and with the globalization of markets, we can find incredibly healthy foods and ways of preparing them in enjoyable and satisfying ways that was not possible years ago.
When we greatly minimize our stuff, more time opens up. Putting that time into deeper relationships with our spouse, children, or friends is not something we ever regret. Spending time with those we cherish leads to deeper, more intimate and fulfilling connections and some of the most rewarding moments of our lives.
While minimalism often starts from a need to purge the excess, this leads to a deeper and broader look at not only our lives, but the world. Richard Foster says, “By culturing lives of simplicity, we multiply our opportunities to make an impact for good on the world around us.” Some minimalists choose to give back both financially and through service by volunteering and even starting or working for non-profit organizations.
Several years ago, I hit the breaking point I mentioned earlier. For us, our home and schedule was overwhelming. After an initial purge of possessions and taking a deeper look at our schedules, mindset, and beliefs, we continued to simplify our lives in a variety of ways.
Since then, our journey has included many adventures including some of the aspects mentioned above that I believe would not have taken place had we not had the significant change of lifestyle that was brought on by minimalism. We’ve traveled to other countries as a family, started side businesses, gone on volunteer trips, and have the time for interests that bring joy and relaxation to our lives.
Sometimes we need to shift our focus from what we’re cutting out of our lives or what we’re saying no to and look to what we’re making space for. Oprah Winfrey once said, “The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.”
Make space today to live the life of your dreams.