How To Start Living A Minimalist Lifestyle

live a minimalist life

If you’re wondering how to live a minimalist lifestyle, you’re probably a lot like me when I first started. I had an “okay” life, but one fateful Friday afternoon the economy tanked, my career disappeared and I started asking some big questions. Questions that lead me to a simple life and started me on my journey to figure out how to live a minimalist lifestyle.

Let’s start with the basics…

What Is The Definition Of A Minimalist?

Minimalism is the practice of intentionality as it relates to your relationship with possessions and how you live your life.

While many people focus on the decluttering and downsizing, for me, minimalism is all about intention. It is not that having stuff is bad, it’s when the thing you own, end up owning you that’s the problem. We want to have exactly what we need and nothing more because it affords us a life that is perfectly aligned with our vision of an ideal life.

What Does Minimalist Life Look Like Practically?

what does a minimalist life look like

For me, it was all about building a life where the things I wanted more of in my life became my focus and those things that I wanted less of were either eliminated or minimized. It was there that I laid out some parameters of my version of a minimalist lifestyle:

 

  1. Focus on what matters: quality time with loved ones
  2. Earn a living while being location independent
  3. Be debt free
  4. Have a flexible schedule with minimal commitments
  5. Pursue what’s interesting and, where possible, profitable
  6. Minimize distractions and unpleasant elements in life

minimalist interior

What you’ll notice here is nothing about that says “own less stuff” or “declutter my possessions”. But things like being debt free means I don’t buy a lot to begin with and minimizing distractions means not having a bunch of stuff standing between me and my goals.

How To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle

how to life a minimalist lifestyle

Minimalism can take many forms; the important part is to figure out your flavor of minimalism and optimize your life towards your ideal life. You could try to live with very few possessions, you could put together a capsule wardrobe, or you could adopt a frugal lifestyle to only work a few days a week.

To get started with a more minimalist lifestyle, you might want to consider a few different approaches

Try Decluttering Your Possessions For A Simpler Lifestyle

declutter your lifestyle

To live a simple lifestyle, you’ll need a simple living space. Take some time to declutter your living area. Focus on keeping things that you value deeply, and toss things that you don’t need any longer. I took about six months to fully declutter my space. Giving yourself time will ensure that you are intentional about what you keep and what you discard.

I recommend you kick start your decluttering by doing a 30 day Decluttering Challenge, which gives you simple 15 minute things to declutter your way to a decluttered home.

I like to complete the decluttering process in sweeps; the first sweep, get rid of anything that you know you no longer use. Take a few weeks to live without those things, and notice if the things you’ve kept are serving you. I did three sweeps in total, after noticing that I had held on to things following the first two sweeps that I still didn’t need. After the third and final sweep, I was shocked to see how few possessions I actually used in my daily life.

Question Everything About Your Lifestyle

Question everything about your lifestyle

The best skill you can hone in your life is the ability to take a step back and look at things objectively. As humans, we have blind spots into things in our lives that hold us back. It could be a toxic relationship, it could be not holding ourselves accountable when we should have stepped up, it’s the million little things that bother us as we go about our day. Any time I realize I just got used to something or hear “that’s just how we’ve always done it” I start to ask questions.

While getting square with things in our career, our relationships and our money is critical, those are things that take a lot of time because you need to navigate changes carefully. I found that me fixing small little things in my life that bothered me was a game changer for me.

I had a whisk that I’d make eggs with every morning, but I hated it because the handle was so uncomfortable. Its such a little thing to be bothered by, so I just put up with it. Then one day I realized every day I’d pick up that whisk and it bothered me and said aloud “whisk are like $5 why am I putting up with this!”.

question everything about your lifestyle

So, I threw it in the trash and went shopping for my “perfect” whisk. And now, I enjoy making eggs each day.

Stay Mindful And Live With Intention

a lifestyle filled with intention

Minimalists live intentionally. If there is something in your life that you don’t love, change it! When I started my minimalist journey, I was in a job and on a path didn’t serve me. Within six months, I had made a plan to change it and took made the leap.

I like to think about what my ideal life looks like, and then work toward that. Cutting out the things that aren’t serving you is the first step to creating the life that you want. An exercise that helps me is to write down what an ideal day would look like for you in five years’ time. Then outline what things you want more of in your life and what things you want less of in your life. With that in hand, you have a goal post to work towards as a goal.

Consider Your Lifestyle Around Relationships

a lifestyle that focuses on quality relationships

Going minimalist to me meant that I was spending time with only the people I wanted to spend time with. Though I have many friends, only a few of them are people who motivate and inspire me to grow and learn. I evaluate my relationships on how well they fit into my future ideal life and focus there.

To me, becoming minimalist meant focusing my social time on people who lifted me up. This way, I was maximizing my social time on people that mattered and freeing up time to spend on other priorities in my life.

Many people use this time to evaluate relationships in their lives, then let others fade away. While many people view this as cutting people out, I prefer to look at it as a relationship that has run its course, it’s natural arc. You don’t have to be rude or dramatic about it, in many cases I’d just stop accepting invitations and over time they stopped coming.

Be Intentional With Your Time

being intentional in our lives about our time

Reclaim your time. Instead of RSVP’ing “yes” to everything you’re invited to, take some time to think about whether it’s something that you are excited about attending. Be intentional with how you spendminimalist journal goals time management your time. I realized the biggest challenge that I had to overcome was getting over any uncomfortableness with saying “no”.

When I started my minimalist journey, I decided to cut out a lot of stuff in my work, my social calendar and more. I knew having a flexible schedule hinged on me taking control of things.

While saying no to things at work can be tricky, I developed some tricks to get out of meetings, cut out unnecessary tasks and free up a lot of time. In my social life, I stopped spending time with friends that didn’t meet the criteria of “is this relationship growing?” or “is this person matching the effort I’m bringing to the relationship?”

Simplify Your Wardrobe

simpler lifestyle with a simplier wardrobe

One of the biggest changes I made was adopting a daily “uniform”. I don’t need professional dress clothes because I work for myself and rarely go into an office. My uniform consists of a simple grey T-shirt, a white undershirt, one type of jeans and one type of shorts. I also have identical work out clothes, 2 pairs of shoes and a bathing suit. All my shirts are identical in cut and color, they work with everything I have.

how to have a really simple closet of clothes

This is obviously an extreme approach, but it suits me because I never have to think about it. I grab one shirt; one bottom and I don’t have to spend time making sure it matches etc. I just grab and go, it’s so easy!

If that’s too much for you, consider a capsule wardrobe which lets you have some variety, but still keeps it simple.

Doubling Down On Debt Free Living

live a debt free lifestyle

A huge part of minimalism is creating financial freedom and the number one enemy of freedom is having debt. Throughout my journey working hard to get debt free has made almost everything else in my life better. If I didn’t like a job, I had the money to find a new one. If the economy tanked, living below my means made it easier. If I had a big bill come up unexpectedly, I had the cash in the bank.

Minimalism has affected my life in ways that I never thought possible. When I started my rent was $1500 a month, after I built my tiny house, it only cost me $15 a month (not a typo). It’s hard to describe how life feels when you literally can earn an entire year’s worth of living expenses in under a months’ worth of work.

The security it brings, the peace of mind you have and the ability to weather the worst life can throw at you is a blessing of the highest level. It also allowed me to be very picky about what jobs I took, how I spent my time, where I lived and the life I live.

Maximizing Your Earning Potential

maximize income

One area I don’t see a lot of talk about is not only getting out of debt through frugal living, but maximizing your income. In a time that I was cutting my cost of living dramatically by living as a minimalist in a tiny house, I was also working to increase my income potential.

Why? Because part of being an adult is paying your bills, paying taxes and saving for retirement, but I didn’t want to spend all day doing that. The ideal situation was to do work that absolutely loved, but at an hourly that meant I didn’t have to work a ton if I didn’t want to.

To do that, I choose skills I enjoyed, but also were incredibly valuable to others. Meaning, I had skills that could earn other people a lot of money. For me, that meant I consult on marketing, where I could charge sometimes up to $1000 an hour. This allowed me to do focused work to earn my income fast and move on with my day. It also meant when I needed funds for a trip, a big purchase, etc. I could pick up additional work to pay cash.

Adopt A healthy Lifestyle With Simple Meals

healthy lifestyle

I love to cook and since I have more time in my life now, I pretty much cook all my meals from scratch every day. With the added bonus of being healthier and cheaper, I eat really well and, for me, cooking is a way I relax. You can adopt a weekly meal schedule, plan your meals ahead or do meal prepping. Whatever works for you, just think about how a simplified diet can make daily life easier and healthier.

a simple diet with simple foods

Take Time For Introspection

be introspective about your lifestyle choices

One of the best “investments” I’ve made in my life is to take time alone for introspection, which is just you sitting with your own thoughts to analyze your thoughts and emotions. In a world where we are so “busy” I think people are terrified to spend time with our own thoughts because they’d come face to face some uncomfortable truths.

The biggest thing is to just make space to think. So put your phone on silent in the other room, turn off the TV and block out distractions and just sit with your thoughts. You’re going to feel a lot of internal resistance to this, but pushing through to the other side is where the magic happens. Ask big open ended questions and don’t judge the answers that come.

 

Learn To Live A Minimalist Lifestyle:

I’ve written a lot about living a more simple lifestyle, so check out other was you can do the same in other areas of your life!

 

Your Turn!

  • How would simple living affect your daily life?
  • Would you be willing to give minimalism a try?
10 Comments
  1. There isn’t a way to get the declutter checklist. It said no email was set up :/

  2. I have an image of Ghandi in my mind – what he seemed to be quite content with at the end of his life was a book and a pair of glasses. I would like to live contentedly with perhaps my Kindle, laptop (I already have the glasses!) The main idea here is to be CONTENT with having a little and this is what I am trying to work towards. I am a beginner – I have made a start and I am hoping this website will help to inspire and motivate me.

  3. Do you have any suggestions on how to be intentional with my time, when I have 2 elementary aged children, and the school frequently asks for parent volunteers (something I really don’t like doing, but feel obligated to take my turn) once or more a month?
    My reason for wanting to start living minimally is to be more present and involved in my children’s lives…

    • There is no chance to go “minimalist” with 2 children:)

      • whaaat? why not? MAYBE not the Youtuber Minimalist style, but still, minimalism isnt a movement with rules to follow. Its about have what you use, dont be so close to material things, and know that you use a thing and its done. You dont have to keep it forever.

        Minimalism isnt about dont consume anything, its about consuming what you want and need, learn what you can about it and move on.

    • It all begins with slowing your mind down. As you do that the rest will follow

    • Amanda, you can do it. There is nothing wrong in not doing voluteering. Ask your kids os it is important yo them. The other parents don’t matter, your kids do. So if they ask you to do stuff, do for them, because will be good memories for them, but dont sacrifice your time doing because the other parents do. Maybe the majority of them feel the same and struggle with the same “i don’t like it but i feel obligated to” 🙂

  4. It sounds nice in theory but also very selfish. There is value in sacrifice and being a self giving person. It’s not all about “us” and how we feel. “Cutting out the things that aren’t serving us”, why would expect everything to serve me? While there is good in being a minimalists, I question the application to all areas of life.

    • I understand your thought process, but I saw it more like being a little bit more selective in who you interact with and what you do, focusing on the things that bring you positivity instead of settling for the things that don’t.

    • The application in theory would be to keep it as simple as possible …

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