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Everywhere you look there’s this movement towards minimalism. There are television shows about it, whole websites devoted to the concept, and everyone talks about it.
But, practically speaking, what does minimalism actually look like? How do you go about implementing it in your own life? There are seven questions I think we need to consider before we jump on the bandwagon of minimalism.
Is this really what YOU want?
It’s often easy to feel like you should do something just because everyone else is doing it. It’s the peer pressure mentality. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to live minimally. . . unless you’re only doing it because someone else told you that you should.
Any time you decide to make a life change, you need to be sure it’s truly what you want. Will it make you happy and content? Will it bring you joy? If not, then maybe now isn’t the right time to make this change in your life.
If you’re not really sure, try starting small. Clean out a closet or get rid of a few items you no longer need. You don’t have to do a whole house over-haul in one weekend. If you do something small and it makes you feel excited, do something else small. Just keep building in this way and before you know it, your life will look different and you’ll be happy with it.
What do you value?
The things that are most important to you in life will play a huge roll in what minimalism looks like for you and your family.
In my family, we value creativity and imagination – so we invest money in purchasing toys and supplies for our children that allow them to explore creatively and use their imagination. That means we try to avoid toys that do all the playing for them and stick to more basic play things.
We also value our faith in God so we minimize because it helps us remember where to put our focus. Not on the things we own, but on the One who provides them.
I personally value organization and pretty things. So I have spent a lot of time and a little money purchasing and displaying items in our home that look good and serve some sort of purpose.
What is it that you value more than anything else? Is it time? Your faith or religion? Certain experiences? Being sentimental?
How will these values influence what stays and what goes in your home?
Why do you want to minimize?
This is the big question. What or Who is your why? What are the motivators behind your choice to declutter and live with less stuff?
If your why isn’t big enough you won’t stick with it. In order to make lasting change in your life, you have to REALLY want it.
If you look around your home and you feel overwhelmed and disgusted with all the stuff, then you have a pretty big why.
If you need to make room for a growing family or you want to downsize or your finances are too tight for comfort, you might just have a big enough why.
Think about what exactly is motivating
What will minimizing bring about in your life?
Will it bring organization? Peace? Contentment? Less stress? More quality time?
Will you be able to enjoy having nicer items that have meaning and purpose? Maybe it will allow you the opportunity to give more or spend more on experiences instead of things.
Make a list of all the things that will improve in your life when you start living with less. This will also motivate you to keep going!
What do you want to accomplish?
Take a moment to picture what you want your home and your life to look like. Imagine the decor you would have, how you would design your living and sleeping spaces.
Daydream about experiences you might enjoy. Picture spending more time outdoors if that’s what you want. Maybe you’d love to have a beautiful garden or a nice guest bedroom.
Do you want to host regular dinner parties in your dining room? Perhaps a game night with your family is on your list of things you’d like to have.
Whatever it is, make note of it. What would need to change in your home in order to make that a reality?
If your dining table is currently covered in mail, books, toys, and other things, you can’t utilize that space for your desires.
When your yard is overgrown with weeds, you’ll need to do some work before you can plant a garden.
Is your kitchen over-filled and unorganized? Then it will be difficult to prepare a good dinner for your guests.
Pick your top three goals and decide what needs to change immediately in your home to make those goals a reality. Then set to accomplishing those tasks.
Are there things in your possession right now that you wouldn’t miss if they weren’t there?
Now that you’ve figured out exactly what it is you hope to accomplish and why, it’s time to take action.
Assess your possessions. Go room by room, maybe even inch by inch if you need to. But take your time, this doesn’t need to be completed in a day.
In each room, notice the things you have that are not currently enhancing your life. Think about these things:
- What have you not used in 6+ months?
- What doesn’t currently fit?
- What’s broken or missing pieces?
- What makes you cringe when you look at it?
- What doesn’t currently serve a purpose in your life?
Some of these items may need to be replaced with newer or better products. Some of them may still serve a purpose for you, but they need to be relocated to a new spot in your home.
Everything else needs to go. Anything that is still in good condition can be sold or donated. The rest should be thrown away.
Do not get hung up on the value of things. Yes, you may have spent a good chunk of money on that item. But is it currently, right now, serving a purpose in your home other than just taking up space? If the answer is no, then it needs to go. Think of all of the use you got out of it, or the use someone else could get out of it. And then let it go.
If you’re the sentimental type, it’s perfectly ok to keep a few items that have special meaning. I have a small plastic tub for each member of our family where we keep things that are special to us.
For my children, we have kept the outfits they wore home from the hospital, baby books, and other mementos from their childhood. Just don’t make everything a “sentimental” item. Pick and choose carefully what is most important to you.
What do you currently own that you love?
This is the best part! Decide what you absolutely love and choose to make those things a central part of your daily life.
In my home we’ve chosen to display pretty dishes and cups in our open kitchen cabinets.
We use decorative baskets to hide away unsightly necessities (like cords and things).
We keep our closets organized by installing closet systems and keeping only a small amount of clothing.
In our living room we have a ton of throw pillows to decorate our couches. And we keep extra throw blankets tucked away in our ottoman.
On display, we have very little, but the few items we do have hold special meaning for us. Every detail of our home has been carefully selected to reflect our style and our values. Everything serves a purpose and has a meaning.
That’s the core of a minimalist home. Find what brings you the most joy and only keep those things.
At the end of our lives, the things we owned will not be of value to us anymore. After all, we can’t take any of it with us. So in our lives, it is best to simply enjoy the blessings we’ve been given and not to constantly long for more. Work hard and your needs will be met. Choose contentment and you’ll be the richest you’ve ever been.
Everyone comes naked from their mother’s womb, and as everyone comes, so they depart. They take nothing from their toil that they can carry in their hands. . .
. . . it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot.Ecclesiastes 5: 15, 18
Now go enjoy your life of less! <3