10 Myths to Ignore on Your Minimalist Journey

In our consumerist society, the pressure to accumulate more and more can be intense.  With styles and fads and TikTok memes constantly changing, you might fear that if you don't keep up you'll be irrelevant.

Minimalism offers sanity and serenity amidst the chaos.

As you continue to explore this lifestyle, don't be misled by these common myths about minimalism.

autumn home

So not true

1.  Minimalism equals deprivation.

Minimalism isn't about losing the things you need or love.  It's about prioritizing.  It's about discovering which belongings and activities bring value to your life, and which keep you too busy, too burdened, or too in debt for what you care about.  Minimalism isn't austerity – it's attention and choice.

2.  Minimalism is a number.

Counting items might help you get started, but it's not a goal.  A 30-piece wardrobe isn't about the number.  It's about ease, versatility, and self-confidence.  Limiting hobbies to two or three is about time focus, and quality.  You can still be a minimalist even if you own a souvenir spoon for every state you've visited.  The number isn't as important as the benefits you gain.

3.  Minimalism is yet another competition.

Scrolling through the lovely homes on Instagram might give you inspiration, but it might also set unrealistic expectations (or even push you to buy all the pretty organizing systems).  But your minimalism is unique.  It fits your family, your lifestyle, and your current life stage.  And your progress in getting there is also unique.  Whether it's a decluttered drawer, a reclaimed closet, or your entire house, it's progress.

4.  Minimalism is only about physical clutter.

This is a big one.  Physical decluttering is the entry point into minimalism for many of us, but it's not the only area of life that we need to deal with.  Busyness, shopping, debt, and screen time are other areas where we may need to prioritize and reduce.

5.  It's not clutter if it's digital.

Digital clutter is still clutter.  Unread emails and e-books, unused apps, and thousands of photos can be sources of stress too.  Pay attention to digital decluttering.

  • Allocate specific times for email.
  • Unsubscribe from marketing.
  • Unfollow influencers that make you dissatisfied with what you have.
  • Delete apps that don't serve a purpose.
  • Keep only receipts and business papers you need, arrange them for easy access, and purge regularly.
  • Each month (or each quarter), go through photos and choose the best of the best.  Add a note about who, what, where, when.

6.  Minimalism means you give up your dreams.

On the contrary, minimalism helps you remove obstacles that might keep you from realizing your dreams.  Instead of wasting your time and money pursuing what advertisers and influencers are selling you, you come to understand what is truly valuable for you and how you want to use your life resources.  Instead of trying to "have it all" (and then maintain it all), you can focus on achieving what will bring you most joy.

7.  Minimalism is about dumping it all.

We might use terms like "removing" or "purging," but that doesn't mean all of our excess should go to the landfill.  We can donate, freecycle (try listing items for free on Facebook Marketplace, for example), or sell.  

As we remove unwanted items, it's important to reflect on why they made it into our homes in the first place.  This helps prevent recurring clutter as we become mindful about what we acquire in the future.

8.  Minimalism is limiting.

If you don't have all the stuff, you can't do all the things, right?  Sure, it's true that if you want to ski, you need skis, or if you want to play the piano, you need a keyboard.  That doesn't mean you need to own these things, or that they need to be brand new and cutting-edge.  It depends on your goals.

Meanwhile, owning fewer single-use items lets you learn flexibility.  Maybe canning jars are used as drinking glasses, food storage containers, and office supply or sewing kit organizers.  Maybe one table becomes a desk, dining area, and craft space.  

When buying something stops being your default behavior to every need, you get much more creative with what's on hand.  You get better at borrowing and sharing.  Instead of being a self-contained loner, you open up to greater possibilities.

9.  Minimalism is anal.

Its true that minimalists keep up with chores because we can't afford not to.  If we don't do laundry for two weeks, we'll run out of clean clothes.  If we don't wash the dishes every evening, we won't have anything to eat from the next morning.  Minimalists never have to dig out of a big mess because we don't own enough stuff to create one.

But trying to keep life Instagram-perfect might be almost as much of a problem as hoarding.  Minimalism is about adding order and focus in your life, but it still accepts that life is change.  We're alive, so we consume, and things enter and leave our homes all the time.

A common question is "What can I do about my partner's clutter?"  The answer is that just as you wish for understanding and respect in your life choices, you must offer the same to others.  Every relationship involves give and take.  See if you can reach agreement about removing clutter from certain areas (such as entries, hallways, or the bedroom).  Perhaps you can agree that kitchen and bathroom counters need to be clean and tidy (for hygiene's sake).  Then back off.  If you're unhappy and constantly critical, you're no advertisement for minimalism.

Make sure that your minimalism is about controlling your own spaces, not about controlling other people.

10.  Minimalism is a one-time event.

Life is change, so minimalism must be adaptable.  A location-independent entrepreneur has different needs than a 30-something with a house and two kids, or a 60-something nearing retirement.  As new items and commitments enter your life, you'll need to reassess and realign.

Minimalism is a tool, a journey.  It's a way of understanding yourself better, of distinguishing between wants and needs, and of choosing quality over quantity.  Minimalism helps you find your best life... with less to distract you from it.

Keep exploring minimalism, because along the path you'll find contentment, purpose, and joy.

Did you like this post?  You'll love my book, Exploring Minimalism: Begin the Journey to a Life You'll Love,* Book 4 of my new Minimalist Basics series.

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.


  1. Thought of you when this came across my feed in an article from N.S. Lyons on Substack:

    The following is extracted from “The Greatness of Simplicity,” as included in Self Control, Its Kingship and Majesty (1905) by the Victorian-era American essayist and rhetorician, William George Jordan.

    “Let us seek to cultivate this simplicity in all things in our life. The first step toward simplicity is “simplifying.” The beginning of mental or moral progress or reform is always renunciation or sacrifice. It is rejection, surrender or destruction of separate phases of habit or life that have kept us from higher things. Reform your diet and you simplify it; make your speech truer and higher and you simplify it; reform your morals and you begin to cut off your immorals. The secret of all true greatness is simplicity. Make simplicity the keynote of your life and you will be great, no matter though your life be humble and your influence seem but little. Simple habits, simple manners, simple needs, simple words, simple faiths—all are the pure manifestations of a mind and heart of simplicity.”


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