Once upon a time, I was pregnant and very stressed out. I found minimalism during a period in my life when everything seemed to be falling to pieces. At the same time, I was trying to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually prepared to become a mother. My anxiety was at an all time high, I was puking my guts out (I had HG… yay, the one thing I have in common with Princess Kate!) and my work life had just blown up in my face. I needed to control something in my life, and minimalism handed me the keys.
It started with Project 333, but now I was ready to tackle everything. And I mean everything. I went through our cute little house room by room.
Drawer by drawer.
All the closets.
Every. Single. Thing.
It took me several months. But by the time I was 8 months pregnant, I vividly remember walking through my house on a sunny morning, cup of coffee in hand, and looking for something else to gut, sort, and organize. I couldn’t find anything. I felt utterly content. My house was clean, perfectly organized, and I had nothing to do but sit and drink my coffee. It felt amazing. I was completely hooked.
A way of being
I remember reading about how minimalism isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. And I thought, “well sure, clutter creep and all, maybe a lifestyle change, I might need to do it again, but look at me! I’ve arrived!“. Control is a funny thing. As soon as you’re confident that you have it… buh bye!!! And I really should have seen this coming. 1 month after my daughter was born we sold our house, moved to a new town and I started a new job. Don’t get me wrong, all good things here. But I have been half-assing this minimalism thing ever since (we’ve moved two more times since then!) and having a kid changes everything. Life happens.
I’m learning that minimalism is not about control. Yes, having my environment and my possessions minimized and organized helps reduce my anxiety and makes me happier and more content, but it is not a static place of being. It is a way of being. It’s really about mindfulness. Having self-awareness about what items I choose to purchase and bring into my home and into my life. It is a constant introspection and looking at my deepest values. What is really important to me? Control? No. It’s peace. And sometimes peace looks like a 3 year old covered in finger paint and squealing with joy because she loves getting messy.
When You’ve Lost Focus
So what do you do when you lose focus and fall off the minimalist path? Here’s what I’ve been doing:
- Don’t judge. Yourself, others, anyone. But especially not yourself.
- Remember why you want to do this in the first place. For me, I use this mantra: Fewer things, more peace, more adventure.
- Start Over. Make a list of rooms in your house. Then divide the rooms into 15 minute areas of focus. Decide how much time you want to spend minimizing per week and make a goal. (Mine is 15 min 3x per week) Look at your list and pick one easy 15 minute area of focus. Do that for today. Start with the easier areas to strengthen your minimizing muscles.
- Document your progress! Take pictures. Share on social media! It’s exciting to see before and after pictures of your own space!
- Practice Mindfulness. Follow minimalist bloggers and influencers on social media. Get a book about minimalism. Listen to podcasts. Fill your heard with minimalism and you will be more inspired to take action! It will also be in your head when you decide to wander through Target for no particular reason. 😉
- Find a community. Get your friends hooked on minimalism. Share your excitement and how good it feels to declutter and let stuff go! When your most important people in your life are minimizing too, you will be far more likely to continue on the path yourself.
- Do it “mildly”. This is my personal advice, because I believe we should do everything in moderation. Some areas of my life are not strictly minimalistic. And they probably never will be. But because I am mildly minimalistic in many other areas of my life I am able to truly cultivate the kind of lifestyle I want to live; unencumbered by lots of extra “stuff” I don’t really want or need.
New to Minimalism?
If you’re new to minimalism here are some excellent books and resources to get you started!