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Where to Start to Become a Minimalist

You like the idea of minimalism, and you look around your home. Well.. it looks like an impossible lifestyle you can have. Your home is full of miscellaneous items that you think you can’t just throw away.

Where do I start? Can I really be a minimalist?

If you are thinking like this, the answer is “YES.” So don’t worry.

Of course, it can’t be done overnight. And we are also still trying to live simply and minimally. 

But definitely, once you start putting efforts to pursue the minimalist lifestyle, you will benefit from it almost immediately. The perk of pursuing a minimal lifestyle is that you can experience the benefit even right after your first action.

And this is where to start if you want to become a minimalist.

Can I really become a minimalist? The perk of pursuing a minimal lifestyle is that you can experience the benefit even right after your first action.

1.Stop buying more

Let me be honest. I love shopping and buying stuff. It doesn’t have to be something big. Little things I buy time to time used to bring me joy. The joy to pick one that I like and bring it home really excites me! Then, why should I stop buying more? How can I stop?

Well, if you want to become a minimalist, you definitely need to stop this vicious cycle. If you don’t stop buying more, organizing items, getting rid of stuff, and cleaning home won’t make you a minimalist. You are still accumulating at the end. You need to stop this first.

How many times do we pay for an item and bring it home because we think it is unique or useful or whatever reason you can make up. We always think we are rational and we make a good decision. We try to think if the item I want to buy is really necessary, and if I would be really using it well. 

We typically ask ourselves, “Do I really need this?” or “Is it going to be useful?” Well, wrong questions. You need to stop asking these questions. There are thousands of items in the world that can be useful and that you might think you need. And I’m sure if you really want, you can come up with 10 different reasons why you need it. Are you planning to bring them all to your house?

I realized that these questions above won’t stop me from buying stuff. The right kind of question that we should ask to ourselves is rather this.

Can I live without this?

If you feel like everything you see is useful and want to bring the items home, ask yourself.

Have I lived well without an issue until now? 

If the answer is yes, congratulations, you just proved yourself that you lived well without the item up until now. How can you justify now that you need the new item? Now it’s time to let go of the item you picked up and head home without it.

It is not an easy process at first. Just keep asking the same questions above. And you will learn how to deal with the emotion to let go of it. Once you learn how to stop yourself, great. You made a big step toward a minimalist lifestyle.

After trying this a couple of times, you will easily refuse the temptation since you have done this before. And you know it didn’t hurt so much after all.

Now that you don’t bring more to home, your first step is done. Easy, right?

2. Give away items that you haven’t used for a year

I guarantee that there are things in your house that you are keeping hoping to use one day. But again, let’s be honest. The “one day” never comes in a year, or in many years. This is a good sign that you don’t actually need that item.

Some people say “6 months” is a good rule of thumb. But I prefer thinking it as 1 year, because I am not always ready to give away things just because I didn’t use it for 6 months. Some items are seasonal, as well.

  • I had a 24 color pencil set that I had kept to “one day” start drawing as a hobby.
  • I had a food dehydrator a friend gave me that I had kept to “one day” make sweet potato snacks with it. 

I let them occupy my small home without using much (well, at all) for many years.

When I looked at them, all I was thinking was “one day, I will use it.”

Thinking back, it was almost like a to-do-list that I had created unnecessarily.

Our life is busy enough to avoid this type of to-do-list that we would never achieve in the nearest future. What’s the point of it then? If you have kept pushing to start your hobby for a year, maybe it is not meant to be your hobby at all.

I call these items “one day” items. Because I always say “I will use/wear it one day.”

What “one day” items do you have that you never made a progress in a year? Give it away, and you will feel so accomplished.


3. Make a place for “maybe” items

So, now you know you need to get rid of many items that you don’t use much. But the thing is, it’s not that all the items are ready to be thrown away.  Sometimes, the “1 year” rule of thumb doesn’t even work.

When I first tried to become a minimalist, I felt like I did need most of what I had. I just couldn’t figure out what to get rid of. Because I had developed a strong attachment over years with little items at home, whatever I had seemed valuable and necessary to keep.

If you are like me, label them as “maybe” items. 

It works extremely well for those who are not so decisive like me. 

I typically like to sleep on it and not make a decision too quickly. Before labeling the items, I would think about it and never made an action.

If you are like me, make sure to find a space (cabinet, storage bin, etc.) for these “maybe” items. This way, you can clean up your house and still postpone the decision. 

After having a space for my “maybe” items, it becomes a lot easier to make decisions. You can simply come back later to sort out from the “maybe” items a month later, or even a year later.

I did that with my clothing, because I felt like I couldn’t give up the clothes that I never wore. They looked just fine! I decided to hang them separately with a different color of hangers.

A year later, (well, I didn’t realize that a year had passed) I came back and realized I really didn’t wear any of them. Now that my experiment is over, I can easily give them away. Sure, they look brand new because I never wore them. 

You might think, “a year? That sounds awfully long! I want to clean up now.”

You are right. That’s pretty long time to wait. If you can make a decision within 3 months or 6 months, that’s even better.

The reason I honestly waited a year was because I was too busy with my life, and didn’t have time to think about organizing my clothes. But I’m glad I separated them earlier. Even if I was so busy with my work, the different color of hangers definitely helped me later to make a quick decision.

4. Find items that bring you the most joy

Minimalism is a lifestyle, though most of the efforts seem to go to organizing and cleaning home. This is definitely true (for some extent), but you don’t necessarily have to be an “interior expert” or spend hours to decorate home. Again, minimalism is more of a lifestyle. 

Look around your home and figure out what brings you the most joy.

The food dehydrator I had was creating more stress than joy by making a to-do-list that was totally unnecessary. Now I am living without the obligation to use the dehydrator “one day.”

The clothes that I would “one day” wear were never my first choice to wear. They definitely did not contribute to bringing  joy in my life.

Now it’s time to find what brings you joy. There are the items that make you really really happy.

Your next step is to identify those items and create your environment around those items (and the rest is likely to go to the “maybe” box or be given away).

If you are confused what I meant by “bringing joy,” here is an example.

Your closet is full of clothes, but you might find yourself looking for a same outfit over and over. Some of the shirts you have might not be easy to style with and get you into struggle in the morning. These shirts are definitely not bringing you enough joy.

Imagine that your closet only has the clothes that you enjoy wearing. You just can’t figure out which one is even better. Sounds amazing, right?

Figuring out and sensing what items around you bring the most joy is a step you need to go through to become a minimalist.

Again, minimalism is a lifestyle you are creating, you don’t have to be perfectionist and you don’t need to be always a functionalist. You can be as clumsy as I am, and you can still enjoy little decorative items. 

Once you start trying the four things I just suggested here, you will feel more joy, and your mind will be less cluttered. This is what minimalism truly is. And you will love your new lifestyle!

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Can I really become a minimalist? The perk of pursuing a minimal lifestyle is that you can experience the benefit even right after your first action.
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