How to Become a Minimalist Without Decluttering ... Yet
One of the biggest obstacles to becoming a minimalist is summoning the energy and making the time to undo what we've done for so many years.
Now, I loved the process of decluttering once I did it, the lightness I gained as I finally let things go, and the feeling that the items I was keeping were only my most useful and favorite belongings. The whole process was illuminating, and made me appreciate what I kept even more.
But it did take time and effort, evenings and weekends, deciding what to keep and how to responsibly donate or discard the rest. And the longer you've been accumulating, the more there is to remove. Sifting through all of that clutter is a big job.
But just imagine if we could snap our fingers, make the mess go away, and start over today!
Unfortunately, that's not how it works. If we want to live with less, eventually we have to do the hard work of letting go. There's no other way.
But if you are someone who is struggling to let go, we can try a different approach. Just for today, pretend you've already done all of that work.
Imagine that your closet is purged, your garage is no longer a storage unit, and your counters are clear. You can easily find a stamp in your desk, the tweezers in the bathroom cabinet, and your favorite jeans aren't crammed into the closet with a dozen pairs you don't like. In fact, everything you own is easy to retrieve and put away again.
Can you picture it? Your home looks great, and daily life is easier, calmer, and leaves you with more time and energy to spend on activities that bring you fulfillment.
You will get to your stuff. But first, start with your brain.
Choose to change your mind now, and you can change your future. Create new habits and new ways of thinking so you can cultivate a life you love.
5 Steps to a Minimalist Mindset
1. Become more thoughtful about shopping.
I used to purge things from my home on a regular basis simply because I wanted new stuff. I'd donate some, have a yard sale, make a little money, and go shopping. I was caught in a consume/donate cycle.
Many of us shop because we're bored, sad, or stressed, and it leads to clutter and debt. We're exposed to constant advertising, all of it designed to make us discontented. Marketers try to convince us that we'll be more interesting, sexy, and happy if we just buy what they're selling.
I was never satisfied with what I bought for very long, but I never thought about why that was.
So before you declutter, think about what really matters to you. What makes you happy? Is it a bunch of new stuff, or is it your family, friends, talents, skills, and memorable experiences? What do you truly want that all of your shopping doesn't fulfill?
2. Stop comparing.
Most of us have a habit of comparing ourselves to others. We've been doing it since grade school, either finding ways to feel superior, or (more likely) being self-critical and worrying about the ways we don't measure up. Whether it's fashion trends, home decorating trends, the car we drive, the vacations we take, or something else, we can convince ourselves that what we have and who we are just isn't good enough.
This is a recipe for misery! But our culture tells us we can buy our way out of the pit. Don't believe it. There will always be someone who has more than you, and striving to compete will suck the joy right out of you. Comparison keeps you from finding the beauty in your life.
3. Practice gratitude.
A mindset of gratitude does take practice, especially when we have a habit of comparing. But focusing on what we have, rather than what we don't, will give us more happiness and satisfaction than any shopping spree.
So instead of letting your mind dwell on your problems and what you lack, make a conscious effort to develop appreciation for the good stuff in your life. A journal can really help you pay attention to everything you have to be thankful for.
4. Lighten your schedule.
I used to think that if I was constantly rushing around, I was being productive. It took me a while to realize that all of those appointments, errands, and other tasks just kept me stressed and distracted. It was only when I started making some white space on my calendar – when I had to intentionally choose how I would spend my time – that I became clear about what I really cared about and what I really wanted to accomplish with my one life.
You think you want to declutter your home? Rachelle Crawford at Abundant Life With Less reminds us:
if you don't have the time to enjoy the things that matter.
Unclutter your calendar, and you'll be better prepared to unclutter the rest of your life.
5. Give generously.
Whether it's with your money, possessions, talents, or all three, giving to others will bless them and make you feel fantastic.
Research shows that when we are generous and helpful to others, we have a greater sense of purpose and belonging. Doing good makes us feel good.
It's easier to declutter possessions when you have a generous mindset. Not only do you become excited about donating your excess, but you also start to understand how wealthy you are. If your home is stuffed with things you don't use, you obviously have great abundance! You can give away plenty and still have enough.
So give because it helps others. Give because it adds meaning to your life. And give because all of your needs are met.
Purging your excess belongings might not be a task you can begin today or even next week.
But minimalism isn't just about your possessions.
It's about recognizing what adds value to your life.
Fill your life with those key elements, and you'll gradually prune away the things that crowd and distract from them.
Photo by Minh Pham on Unsplash