I’ve decided to try and adopt a more minimalist lifestyle but I think it’s making me obsessed! I’m trying to evaluate my progress as I’m wondering if I’m doing a good enough job so far or not. Since I’ve been experiencing some frustrations and feeling a bit obsessive about the whole thing, I’m taking a step back and want to share my progress with you.
What I love about minimalism is the push to simplify life. Most of us are way too busy for our own good these days. Too many commitments, too much clutter, too much to clean up, and too little relaxation can really bog us down. Stress kicks in, our health problems increase, and our happiness goes down.
I do not want to be weighed down. I’ve cut back on a lot of commitments and it’s definitely lightened my load. I gave up music lessons because I wasn’t enjoying myself, I stopped taking dance classes because they were too far away (and the teachers weren’t that great), and I stopped making plans with friends who never reciprocate back. No regrets there. I still feel busy all the time though so I definitely need to find more ways to be efficient and find more ways to simplify.
Over the weekend I filled four large paper bags with clothes, books, and some other random things that I took over to Goodwill. This is one of my obsessive rituals now. I always have an open bag in my closet where I can place things for donations any day, any time. Once I get 4-5 bags full, I make a trip to Goodwill. Sounds like minimalist progress right?
Even though I’ve made three trips this year alone, I don’t know why I’m obsessed with finding more things to get rid of. I already have empty shelves and extra space in the closets. My place is clean and doesn’t look cluttered, yet I feel addicted to keep minimalizing!
Change of Pace
Before I used to feel a great sense of accomplishment when I donated several bags. Lately, I’ve been feeling less satisfied though. Is it because I’ve finally started to run out of clutter?! Am I not feeling the same level of satisfaction because I’m at the point where if I continue to donate at the same pace I will start to lose conveniences and things I actually still enjoy? I think so!
I still think I can part ways with some more knick knacks, books, and maybe some more kitchen stuff but it’s definitely getting harder to find things to give away. I have no regrets over the things I’ve gotten rid of so far though, and I’m proud of that. I still want to continue to declutter, but it’s definitely going to be at a much slower pace now. The noticeable aftereffects are going to be much more subtle than before too so I can’t expect the same rush of satisfaction as when I first started.
I loved to collect things growing up. Most I’ve long since parted with like my Troll doll collection, but a few big ones remain. I have a huge collection of Barbie dolls, accessories, and dollhouse furniture at my mom’s house. And then I have two large collections of coins and stamps at my own. Even though none of it’s worth much money, I’ve hung on to mostly because of sentimental reasons.
Although I still enjoy sitting down and looking through everything, I probably only do that once a year. That’s way beyond my use it or lose it clutter rule of 3 months. Right now I have the space to store them, but I am starting to wonder if I should start parting ways with at least portions of the collections. I’ve decided that as long as I still keep them I’m going to take them out and enjoy them at least 3-4 times a year.
Getting Past What’s Not Mine
Another thing I’ve struggled with more lately as I’ve started to run out of my own things to give away, is looking past my husband’s things. It’s SO tempting to raid his side of the closet and bag up things I think he can part with! But I’m smart enough not to do that without asking first.
I do give my husband credit though as he’s given away CDs, books, and clothes of his own this year and last, and has been a great sport. I guess I’m tempted to raid his things to get the same rush I used to get early on when I was clearing out big spaces of my own, plus it’s SO much easier finding things to give away when they belong to someone else. 🙂
After putting my thoughts down, I think I’m still on the right track of moving towards a minimalist lifestyle. But I think I’m at a stage now where I need to focus less on decluttering objects, and more on decluttering my thoughts and habits.
I want to continue pouring my obsessive energy into becoming more minimalist so I can have more and more time to enjoy the things I love. Simplifying life is a very freeing feeling and I think I’m hooked!
Untemplaters, have you ever felt obsessed about decluttering and trying to achieve a minimalist lifestyle? What are your thoughts on simplifying life?
Craig Sparks says
I am now a minimalist and I love it. Over the years, my lifestyle and various environments conditioned me for minimalism. I moved around quite a bit in my early adult life which included 5 different states and a foreign country. I grew tired of moving around the same unopened boxes. In time, I continued to downsize naturally so to speak. Then I switched to a more extreme version this past year.
There were 2 main factors which accelerated the process. First, I started to watch TV shows and online videos which documented tiny houses and minimalist living. I became an instant fan and wanted to learn more. I also became an extreme gambler and began to sell and pawn many of my possessions so I could keep afloat financially and still visit casinos to get my gambling fix.
I’ve curbed my gambling habit now but I’m only getting started with minimalism. I am currently in the process of trying to sell my house. I’ve already downsized pretty much everything from furniture to wardrobe and my closets only have the essential items I want or need to maintain. So what’s next for me in my journey?
I am going to move to an apartment and I have never been so excited in my life. I’m going to adjust to apartment living again and my only concern is not having a garage and whether or not my little dog will be an issue. I work from home so he will be quiet during the day but I go out at night quite a bit and I don’t want him barking or disturbing neighbors when I am gone at night. As far as living in a smaller space though, I don’t feel that will be an issue at all. In fact, I will find it easier to clean and it will be a more cozy living space. I did not decorate my house much over the past 5 years of living here but I will set up my apartment with some minimalist decor and sprinkle it with some feng shui vibes.
I hope as I continue on my journey I learn even more about myself and what is important to me in life. As I continue to become more balanced, I feel I will be able to make new friends and get back into another long term relationship. If I could find a minimalist companion, it would be incredible. In the end, we all have our hopes and dreams and mine is trying to knock out some bucket list items before I grow too old to pursue them.
I wish everyone the very best whether you are an extreme minimalist or just getting started with minimalism. I don’t feel there is any right or wrong way to live as a minimalist. It’s like art or music. We all have varied tastes and preferences. Minimalism should be about freedom and being more open to the world around you. If you can experience a part of this, you will be so grateful.
What a fascinating story, thanks for sharing! It’s so freeing to have less stuff. I always want to get rid of stuff when I come back from a trip because backpacking reminds me how little we really need to be happy. So much of the stuff we accumulate is either sentimental or just wasted clutter. Clutter isn’t too hard to get rid of when you have the time to do it, but the sentimental stuff is much harder. I started taking pictures of things that I have some sentimental attachment to so that I can forever remember them but have an easier time giving them away.
Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin says
I try and apply minimalism to my life at every turn. It makes life so much easier and less stressful in my opinion.
It really does, doesn’t it?! 🙂 I’m trying to fine at least once item of clutter every other day this month to tackle. So far I’ve found about 8 CDs of photos that I’ve finally gotten rid of. A few I was able to burn a few of them onto my computer (because I actually lost them on an old laptop and never restored them) and chucked the rest because I already had backup copies of them.
Kimberly K. says
I always come back to this post when I need a kick start in staying on track with my budget, keeping clutter in check and simplifying my free time. I too keep a bag in my closet for Goodwill runs, but the thing I need to de-clutter most in my life are dinners out. I think that much of it falls into being social and realize there are many other activities I can do with my friends than run up the bar tab!
Nice post but somewhat amusing that a post about getting rid of stuff and buying less is then adorned by advertising from Jcrew and Amazon yelling at you to buy even more stuff….
They’re testing your will power. 🙂
TB at BlueCollarWorkman says
I think ti’s a great idea for you to move on to decluttering your head and habits. Of course that’s the more challenging one because it’s not as easy to see clutter there. As for decluttering your home, man, my wife and I could use that!
I am almost at the point where I could sit down and make a list of everything in my house. Feels great! How little we really need. I feel a little let down that there is almost nothing else to get rid of but I’ll put that concern in my “out you go” pile.
Wow congrats Michelle, that’s awesome! I totally know the feeling of being a bit bummed out at not having more stuff to give away. I’m helping a friend pack for a move this weekend and I’m really looking forward to helping her purge a bunch of stuff! 🙂
KL Capozzi says
release vs. ‘get-rid of’….hmmm When we release there is peace…
I can totally relate to the minimalist addiction. I actually did raid my husband’s side of the closet and got rid of a few things without telling him. Things like t-shirts that have giant holes in the armpits, sweaters that looks too big or too small and shirts that I’ve never seen him wear in 3 years. Let’s just say he was not happy about it and asked me why I did that. Ooops. Like you I’m totally satisfied with my wardrobe and I use everything piece that I own so it’s a bit of an eye sore to see how many clothes he has that he never wears. I guess I should pipe down my own minimalist journey and not force him to do the same.
I probably would have done the same thing, esp. if I found shirts with big holes in ’em! Good for you on using your entire wardrobe. I can understand your frustration that your husband doesn’t know how to let go of things and you’re right that forcing won’t help. You can try approaching him a little at a time so he won’t feel overwhelmed. Baby steps are still progress!
Hi Sydney, great post! I have been a working expat for years and really it is easy to accumulate things.. Unfortunately when you want to move, it takes a lot of time and effort to sort out and get rid of those things…
Also, I agree with you. Applying minimalism should also be applied in our day to day commitments and activities.. This is to ensure that our energy is diverted to a more productive activity in life.
Thanks xpat. Where are you living now? Moving really can take a LOT of time and energy and I want to be better prepared before the next time I relocate. I brought so much junk to my current place that I should have tossed ages ago, but at least I’m getting rid of it now! I took a few more bags to Goodwill last weekend and freed up more space in my closet. Yiha!
I realize the importance of not buying souvenirs when I travel now too! Unless they will “look good” in the bookcase. Some of the things I bought were so tacky looking and it’s sad to have to throw them away.
I agree and think minimalism can definitely be very addictive. Don’t refrain yourself 😉 Start up a chapter of MA (minimalists anonymous).
The one thing I like to collect on my travels is magnets. They’re cheap and they barely take up any space! Every time I get something from the fridge at home I’m reminded of all the cool places I’ve traveled. Other than that I don’t buy souvenirs unless I stumble upon a cheap and really unique piece of clothing. I’m a big photo nut, so pics are my favorite free souvenirs.
Kristoph Matthews says
Syd and fellow untemplaters,
I believe your inner world is a reflection of your outer world. If you want to feel less cluttered in life, you should indeed clear the clutter at home. I’m not an extreme zen-like minimalist by any means- I won’t give up my books or get put them all into digital format because I like the feel of paper and I like collecting things. That said, the way I remove clutter is just by getting rid of things I don’t need and re arranging things that I do need such that I have a lot of open space.
Furthermore, to me, experiences are more important than things, so when I travel, I rarely buy souveniers. Intead I take pictures and bring back exotic foods to be consumed instead of adding to “clutter.”
I wrote more about my personal experience with this topic a few months back: http://smashingentrepreneur.com/129/the-%E2%80%9Cclutter%E2%80%9D-that-kills-your-success-in-business-and-life/
Rearranging can make such a big difference. I had my printer on the floor after moving it in from another room and was able to make enough space on my bookshelf to move the printer up there last weekend. A very small change but boy does it make things looks so much better! I’m getting better at having fewer things on the floor because the less loose things strewn about, the neater rooms look, and the more at rest I feel.
Awesome post Sydney! Will want to start living that kind of lifestyle! When you are hooked up with many gadget, books and other things. It makes one feel like a nerd at times. Have you ever felt that way before? I guess I will have to reduce my things and look normal once again 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
I totally feel like a nerd! 🙂 But I have tried to cut back on gadgets. I used to keep all my old cellphones and accessories for example, but now I started donating them since I realized I never end up using them once I get a replacement. I’m also trying to use my gadgets for as long as possible to save money and reduce waste.
” It’s SO tempting to raid his side of the closet and bag up things I think he can part with! ”
You are not alone, my wife can attest to that!
Haha! I feel less guilty now knowing I’m not the only one. Hopefully she didn’t give away any of your good stuff!
Financial Samurai says
Sydney, you might have to go the Minimalism’s Anonymous! Raiding your husband’s side of the closet to get some thrill is indeed obsessive minimalism!!! Lol. As long as he’s supportive and can find 1 bag for your every 4, that sounds good to me!
Haha. Perhaps I should start a local chapter! I’d say he averages 1-2 bags for every 4-6 of mine so that’s pretty good. He always jokes it’s because I have way more stuff than him to give away, but while that definitely was the case before I think I have less now. 🙂
Financial Samurai says
Hmmmm, sounds like you guys live in a house bigger than you really need. We generally fill spaces up out of habit, and adjust downwards accordingly.
That’s probably the secret to minimalism, living in a small space!
PS Guys are usually right when it comes to stuff. Women have tons! Just look at a woman vs guy’s bathroom!
Yeah we probably could downsize and I totally agree how easy it is to fill up extra spaces! I won’t argue on the woman vs men’s stuff in the bathroom. Haha. That’s so true!
Financial Samurai says
Whoo hoo! The truth sets us all free!