One unfortunate belief that keeps people from pursuing minimalism is the assumption that there are strict rules and guidelines to the lifestyle. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Let me try to break that myth for you:
Minimalism will always look different from person to person.
Find freedom to make it yours in a way that works for you and your family. Minimalism looks different in both practice and process.
Consider how these different factors might affect the possessions you need:
Geography. Somebody who lives in a city will likely own different things than someone who lives in the suburbs, or someone who lives in a rural setting.
If you live in the city, you may not need a specific mode of transportation because public transit is nearby. If you live in the suburbs, that might not be a possibility. Or if you live in a rural setting, even further away from a store, your needs will change and the possessions you keep on-hand will differ.
Your Household. Minimalism will also look different based on your family or household. A single person in their twenties is going to own something different than a young family with children. And a family with young children is going to need different possessions than a family with teenagers. Or even empty nesters.
Your specific stage of life will affect your practice of minimalism in significant ways.
Your Career. Minimalism also looks different based on our careers, our work, or our job.
A minimalist blogger is going to own something different than a minimalist dentist, or a minimalist architect, or a minimalist schoolteacher, or even a minimalist farmer.
There is little benefit to comparing our possessions in this way. We may find motivation or inspiration in the story of the young minimalist YouTuber, but trying to apply their strict rules to your unique situation is rarely helpful.
I believe that anyone, regardless of their occupation, can pursue minimalism. It’s just going to look very different from one person to another.
Your Passion or Purpose. The good that we feel called to accomplish in the world may also impact the possessions that we own.
In 2015, I founded The Hope Effect, a nonprofit organization changing how the world cares for orphans. Because of my desire to do this work well, there are some things I own that I might not if this wasn’t a passion of mine.
Likewise, your passion for serving a purpose may cause you to own different items than your minimalist neighbor down the street.
Your Hobbies. Hobbies can become a source of clutter in our homes and lives—especially if we try to do too many at one time.
But the fact remains that hobbies are beneficial to us. They bring us joy, or peace, or entertainment, or exercise, or simply serve as a distraction. In theory and in practice, they help us live bigger, more intentional lives.
As a result, our hobbies will impact the items we own—even as we seek to live intentional lives.
It is equally important to realize that minimalism looks different in process. How we get there changes from person-to-person and family-to-family.
There are some people who hear about minimalism, rent a dumpster, and throw out everything over the course of a weekend. But those people are few and far between.
And there are some people who just seem to be minimalist at birth.
But for most people who choose to live a minimalist life, it takes a little more time. It also takes a little more intentionality, a little more strategy, a little more effort to wrestle with emotions that emerge.
For us, it took about three months to go through the “lived-in areas” of our home (living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, etc.). But it took us nine months to minimize all our possessions if you count the basement and garage and storage shed in the backyard.
In fact, we moved into a smaller house three years later, and got rid of even more things! So the time frame may vary significantly from one person to another.
The process can also look different in more ways than just time.
Some people can read one book or one blog post and that’s all they need to get started. Others need a little more help or someone to come alongside them in the process. In fact, that’s one of the reasons I created the Clutterfree App—it’s just another tool that might be helpful to someone seeking to own less.
Additionally, different people struggle to minimize different items.
One person might struggle with books or sentimental items, while someone else might have a hard time deciding what to do with their yarn stash or excess hobby supplies.
I want to encourage you today. Minimalism is a lifestyle with countless benefits. Owning less means less cleaning, less burden, less anxiety, and less stress each and every day.
You can enjoy freedom.
Minimalism will look different for you than it does for me, both in practice and in process.
But always remember, as long as you’re moving in the right direction, you’re moving in the right direction.