Rather than feeling like you have to subscribe to a movement of minimalism. What about trying it on for size by conducting an experiment for yourself?
When people imagine minimalism, they often think of bare walls and lots of counter space, which isn’t necessarily true. Being a minimalist doesn’t mean your house looks like you live in a model home or you only own one cup, one plate, and one set of utensils. I look at those examples as the extremes, and yes, there are people that go to that extreme in how they live their lives, but let’s be honest, that’s not the reality that most of us live in! Those extremes are primarily for attention, to grab the spotlight, and profess how amazingly minimalist they are.
I believe that subscribing to a minimalist lifestyle is about being intentional. And that intention carries into all aspects of your life. Your home, how you spend your time, clothing, and collections.
Yes, you can still be a collector and be a minimalist. For example, say you love comics. Rather than collecting all the comics that you can get your hands on, what if you decided that what you truly loved is vintage Superman comics? Of course, you would read and enjoy other comics, but rather than putting them on the shelf in your home, you would pass them along to someone else. Whether to another fan, your local buy-nothing group, or a free little library in your neighborhood. You would adopt the mindset of minimalism within your collection of vintage Superman comics by intentionally filling your bookshelf with what you truly love. Not just what happens to be there or what you can get your hands on.
An easy way to try minimalism on for size is by conducting an experiment for a set amount of time and seeing what it feels like for you, how you respond to the challenge, and if it changes your habits in how you live your life.
Here are five ideas to get you started with living an intentional minimalist lifestyle.
Putting the idea into practice for 30 days is a good idea. You don’t have to wait till the beginning of the month to start, though! Begin tomorrow and try it on for size for the next 30 days.
- Eat the same thing for breakfast every single day. Pick an item that fills you up and sustains you for the morning. Removing this one decision you tend to make first thing in the morning frees your mind to wander and play. Savor the daydreams and embrace the security of knowing how the day will begin.
- Turn off the television as background noise. Watching a show or movie is okay, but having the TV on in the background trains your brain not to listen. Several of my clients who have done this experiment noticed that the word “huh?” was removed entirely from their kids’ vocabulary! If you find yourself frustrated that you constantly have to repeat the question to your kids or spouse when you ask them something, try this experiment! Observing the sounds of your house, the thoughts in your head, and the space to think creatively by simply turning off the television is mind-blowing!
- No-Buy Month. For thirty days, try living with what you have by not purchasing clothes, makeup, shoes, or accessories. If something comes up that you need to purchase, write it down on a list for when your thirty days are over or take a screenshot of the item to save for later. Oftentimes the great deal we see on something that we think we have to have isn’t a real need in our lives. This pause on shopping gives us space to see and acknowledge what we already own and how we can use it more effectively.
- Clear the clutter. Pick one table and chair and clear the clutter from them. You don’t have to do every surface in your house right now! Just pick one table and chair. Maybe it’s the side table and chair that no one ever sits in in your living room. Or maybe it’s the dining room table and accompanying chairs. Or even the nightstand next to your bed and then your side of the bed can count as a chair in this experiment. Remove all items from the surface of the table, wipe it clean, and then only place back the things you absolutely need to live, or the things you would pack if you were going to a hotel. What to do with the things you cleared off? Put them away where they belong or place them in a reusable tote bag in a closet to go through after the 30 days are over.
- Pick a day to unplug from something. Maybe you aren’t ready yet to completely put down the phone and unplug from everything for an entire day. I’ll be honest, in my day-to-day life it’s nearly impossible for me to unplug because texting with my wife and kids is how our family functions effectively with four people’s work and school schedules in order to do pick-ups and drop-offs. But when we are on vacation, I always look forward to unplugging. I love the feeling of being untethered. So a way that I have incorporated unplugging into my everyday week is to choose an app to unplug from for a day. Maybe it’s Facebook or Instagram or a game you obsessively play? Pick one and don’t look at it for an entire day, and continue doing that on the same day for a month. One of my clients has referred to it as her day of sabbath from social media.
Conducting these small experiments is a way to try an aspect of minimalism on for size, so to speak. It may inspire you to make more significant changes in your life and reevaluate how you are living. It can also allow you the space to evaluate how you spend your time, what you fill your home with, and who you enjoy being around. Making massive changes all at once is not a sustainable habit change, instead, small changes for a set amount of time gives you the opportunity to lean into the change and turn it into an intentional lifestyle.
Let me know in the comments what you choose to do this month!