Starting your minimalist journey can seem overwhelming. If you have a house full of stuff, where do you even begin?
Perhaps you just want to declutter a bit because you need to move into a smaller flat. Or you want to be free from your shopping addiction so you can save some money. Or maybe you want to travel around living out of a backpack. Freedom!
Whatever the reason, the best way to start is to establish a goal. This goal will help you focus your energy so you can eventually get to where you want to be.
Just saying “I want to be a minimalist” or “I want to own less stuff” isn’t good enough. You have to be more specific. You also have to understand that accomplishing this goal requires hard work and it will most certainly make you uncomfortable at times. For example: if you, an avid reader and book lover, need to move into a smaller flat, you might need to get rid of most of the books in your precious book collection.
find your motivation
Identifying exactly why you’re interested in minimalism is the first step in sorting out your goal. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do I want to declutter?
- Why do I want to be a minimalist?
- What draws me to this lifestyle?
- Why is it important to me?
- What do I hope to accomplish?
The hardest part about starting your journey is having the motivation to get rid of stuff. This motivation has to come from within you; no one else can motivate you to completely change your life.
set a SMART goal
SMART means: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Your goal must be clear and well-defined. Here are some examples of specific goals:
- In six months, I need to move into an apartment that’s half the size of my current one, so I will declutter and downsize enough of my belongings to make this happen.
- I will minimise my wardrobe so it fits into one closet instead of two.
- I will cut my book collection in half, from 300 books down to 150.
- I will downsize my belongings so everything I own fits into my suitcase and my carry on bag.
Vague goals like “I want to declutter” or “I want to own less stuff” aren’t helpful. You want your goal to give you direction and show you the way.
Your goal should include precise amounts and dates so you can measure your degree of success. If your goal is simply “I want to reduce the number of clothes in my wardrobe,” how will you know when you’ve been successful? Have you accomplished this goal if you get rid of one pair of shoes in the next six months? Or when you’ve gotten rid of several pairs in a week? Without a way to measure your success, it won’t be clear when you actually achieve your goal.
Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goal you set, but don’t set goals that are too easy. Your end goal should be realistic but challenging. You want to push yourself to work hard because 1) it’s more rewarding and 2) that is how you make lasting change.
Your goal should be relevant to your life and the direction you hope to go in. Setting a goal to downsize your belongings to fit into one backpack doesn’t really make sense if you don’t plan on travelling.
Your goal must have a deadline. This motivates you to work at it and lets you know when you’ve achieved it. You also need that sense of urgency as motivation. Give yourself enough time to work toward your goal, but choose a shorter time frame rather than a longer one (like one year vs. ten years) because you need the pressure to be on!
write your goal down
Writing it down solidifies your intentions. Use the words “I will” instead of “I would like to” when phrasing your goal. “I will downsize my wardrobe so it’s only 30 items instead of 250” is better than “I would like to downsize my wardrobe.” You can do this and you will!
make a plan
Plan all of the steps that are needed along the way. If you want to declutter your house, make a list of each area/room/closet and set dates when you’ll tackle each one. Come up with a step-by-step plan on how you hope to get there. Maybe commit to getting rid of so many items every week and donating them or putting them on eBay.
stick with it
You have to work at your goal to become a minimalist every day. Review your progress often, as often as you can to help you stay on track.
Everyone’s journey into minimalism is different but they ALL start with getting rid of stuff. Start getting rid of the things you’re not attached to (maybe your wardrobe is easiest to start with) and move on to other things. But no matter how much you like your stuff, you will have to part with some (if not all) of it in order to achieve your goal. That’s the hard truth!
I feel like a lot of people like the idea of living as a minimalist but they don’t want to actually put in the work to get there. Putting in the work means actually getting rid of stuff, making difficult decisions when it comes to certain belongings, and being uncomfortable as you transition into a new life without all of the material possessions that you clung to previously.
Just remember that this is a process and a learning experience. No major change in life comes easy and this change is totally worth the hassle. Believe me! 🙂