Note: This is a guest post from Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch.
“One quick question: why are we all working so hard for stuff we don’t need, just so you can ‘tidy up’ and give it all way…?” —Carl Richards
It’s no secret that removing excess can create an incredible amount of freedom. With fewer things to organize, less financial stress, and more time to pursue things that matter, minimalism creates the opportunity to design a life aligned with your values.
Once you’re in the swing of things, it feels great to donate and declutter items from your home. At a certain point, you’ll reach a place of equilibrium where you’ll simply have to maintain the work you’ve done. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to continue building upon the progress you’ve made.
Here are seven ways to create new opportunities and take additional steps in your intentional living journey.
1. Start a blog. Starting a blog is one of the most important things I’ve done for my intentional living journey. A blog provides personal accountability, a record of learnings over the years, and a place online where people can connect with you. I’ve found it incredibly rewarding to connect with other bloggers and creators who are making things they’re passionate about. Many of these connections would have never happened had I not started putting my ideas out into the world online.
2. Take better care of your things. If you’ve pared down your belongings in a significant way, you should be left with the things that you love most. A little bit of extra care can preserve them for much longer than typical lifecycles. For example, using a dryer is one of the most damaging things you can do to your clothes. With fewer clothing items, hang-drying is quick, easy, and preserves the quality of the clothing. I’ve learned to enjoy doing laundry, and thanks to this method, I have many shirts that still look brand new despite being worn every week for the last two years. I use a folding rack that can be easily stored when not in use.
3. Travel somewhere new. Going to a new, unfamiliar place can be perspective-changing, and incredibly powerful. Try visiting a place that is outside of your comfort zone, perhaps somewhere less economically fortunate than where you live. There are very happy people all over the world living on a fraction of the income that an average first world resident earns. Traveling to such places will change the way you think about money, and the power of what it can accomplish when used effectively.
4. Donate money. When we commit to live with less, the money we require each month decreases. As debt gets paid off and spending lessens, you can choose to leverage your resources to change the world for the better. There are organizations doing amazing work, putting 100% of donated funds towards projects that make a direct and immediate difference in people’s lives. Not only do you get the freedom that comes with choosing to live with less, but it’s incredibly rewarding to know that you’re making a difference in people’s lives.
5. Volunteer time. It feels great to serve others, but connecting with other volunteers can be just as rewarding. It’s empowering and uplifting to be around people who help others actively take steps to do so. Spend some time connecting with people in the spirit of giving and you will find your own life filled with joy and gratitude. Find an organization with a mission that aligns with your values, then register to volunteer with them.
6. Do nothing. Just because you have more time and energy to do something, doesn’t always mean you should. It’s easy to fall back into the “busy” trap and let unproductive things fill the space created by decluttering. One of the best things you can do for yourself is leave some room to breathe, relax, or simply catch up. Put the smartphone away, sit, and gaze out the window for a while. It may feel unproductive, but rest assured: you’re sharpening the axe instead of chopping with a dull blade.
7. Establish a new daily habit. In order to enhance the positive changes you’ve created through decluttering, implement a few daily habits into your life. Start with just one thing and do it every day for a week; then add on another thing each week. These habits can be anything from a 10 minute walk to spending a few minutes learning new Spanish vocabulary words. Start small, build up as you go, and commit to at least 60 consecutive days.
Intentional living is a lifelong pursuit, and doesn’t stop once the decluttering is done. There are many ways to spend your time and energy that add substantial value, opportunity and joy for yourself and the people you love.