Nobody is born a minimalist, you must choose to become a minimalist. The most important guiding principle of minimalism is the desire to living more meaningful lives. People seek out the minimalism lifestyle for all kinds of reasons but it always comes down to more focus on what makes them happy.
Because the minimalism lifestyle doesn’t have a doctrine or governing body it’s difficult to claim an exact set of standards for minimalists. As I’ve discussed before, there are many different types of minimalists. And for every “rule” one minimalist claims as a non-negotiable, another minimalist scoffs at.
I’ve boiled down the principles of minimalism into some high level do’s and don’ts for anyone considering the minimalism lifestyle. Let me know if you agree with my assessment of our core values as minimalists.
Do’s for Minimalists
Do focus on quality over quantity when it comes to possessions
One of the critical points made against minimalism is that it is elitist because not everyone can afford to buy high quality items. To be sure, there are economic privileges that can exist for those pursuing the minimalism lifestyle.
A minimalist might spend more on a pair of shoes, but they own fewer shoes than the average person. My personal shoe collection consists of 1 pair of Hunter Rain Boots, 1 Birkenstock Gizeh, 1 Birkenstock Mayari, 2 Rothy’s, 1 pair of Jessica Simpson high heels, 1 pair of North Face slippers, 1 pair of Nike Running Shoes, and 1 set of Rainbow Flip Flops. While that may be more shoes than a lot of minimalists it is also less shoes than most non-minimalists.
Do be mindful of purchasing decisions both financially and in terms of sustainability
It’s true that responsible financial decisions and environmental concerns both have nothing to do with minimalism. The connection between minimalism and these two topics cannot be ignored.
People investing in the minimalist lifestyle aim for a meaningful life. Building a happy life requires solid financial planning. Rising concerns about global warming, clean air, and toxic environments affect the future of our planet. It would be extremely difficult to truly be happy if the planet couldn’t sustain our way of life anymore.
Do prioritize experiences over things
As a minimalist mom this has been a central focus of our minimalism lifestyle. If we have $500 we prefer to go to DisneyLand over buying a new anything. As a full-time slowmad family, we create memories that cannot be lost or broken like possessions.
In the beginning days of social media the ultimate flex was a fancy car or a designer handbag. These days the ultimate flex is time freedom, location freedom, and financial freedom. Being able to do what you want when you want is far more important than anything you could possibly own.
Do declutter regularly to re-asses your possessions
The process of becoming a minimalist doesn’t have an end date. Acquiring new items is virtually unavoidable. Regularly re-assessing items for elimination is an important part of the minimalism lifestyle. Items can age themselves out of relevance or get to the end of their lifespan allowing a previously important thing to become useless.
It might feel awkward to donate that gift you just got or throw away the freebie from a business, but just do it. You are not obligated to care for an item and give it a home just because it made it’s way into your space. Keep purging on a regular basis forever.
Do align your minimalism with your life goals
In traditional goal setting you always want to make sure your goal is relevant to your life purpose. You will lose motivation if the task you are working on doesn’t progress you towards your dream life.
Get clear about where you want your life to go. Use minimalism as a tool to help you achieve your goals. Remember, minimalism is not the goal. Minimalism is the means to your ideal life. Your goal could look like operating a sustainable farm or becoming a full-time traveling family like me. Your minimalist journey will look different based on your end goal.
Don’ts for Minimalists
Don’t confuse minimalism with deprivation
Anyone who claims that minimalism means denying oneself is misinformed. Becoming a minimalist is all about having more of what you want and only removing what hinders your ability to have that.
Minimalists focus on what lights them ups and brings them joy.
Don’t get rid of items you don’t want to
Nobody is forcing you to get rid of your high school yearbooks or your grandmother’s hand mirror. If purging an item would bring you extreme stress than you should by all means keep it. Certain item are truly irreplaceable and I would never want you to regret letting go of an item.
If your resistance to give up an item is more like not wanting to let go of a room full of items then we may have a problem. Do the inner work of trying to understand why you are hesitant to let go of those objects. Most issues with the minimalist journey stem from mismatched expectations and reality.
Don’t feel like you need to follow minimalism trends
Oh this is a fun topic since minimalist influencers are always seeking to create new content. All of a sudden the minimalism lifestyle has gotten trendy. You’ve got minimalism wardrobe gurus, minimalist interior designers, and minimalism lifestyle coaches like me.
As time passes their is an impulse to keep one upping the previous version of minimalism that they taught. Jumping on the bandwagon of a minimalist trend can make you feel like part of the community, but I promise you, it’s not necessary. Your path is your path and you don’t need to go down these weird side paths just because someone came up with a catchy name for it.
Don’t compare your journey to any other minimalists journey
I’ve been a minimalist for nearly six years now. My progress is going to be totally different from someone discovering minimalism for the first time. Becoming a minimalist is not a competition or linear path. Every single minimalism journey is unique.
Sharing my minimalism lifestyle is not ever intended to be a benchmark of success with the journey. I’ve changed the way I choose to handle minimalism many times throughout the years. My only goal in sharing my life is to further inspire minimalist curious individuals.
Don’t be afraid to come up with your own rules
Minimalism is not a religion or organized philosophy. You have just as much right to come up with minimalist principles as anybody else practicing this lifestyle. Maybe there are no minimalists who have ever been avid woodworkers before and you have to decide how to manage that hobby within the minimalism lifestyle. Cool! We’d all love to hear how you decided to incorporate minimalism into your love for wood working.
As you become more and more confident in your minimalist journey there will be areas you get more hardcore and areas you become more loose about. As long as your choices lead you closer to living your best life, than it was the right choice.
Minimalism Lifestyle Your Way
Something about minimalism has piqued your interest. Just because nobody around you seems to care about simplifying their life shouldn’t deter you from simplifying yours. The impact of becoming a minimalist will ripple out to every area of your life and impact your future for the better.
Your decision to embark on a minimalist journey is a divergence from the norm. But you are far from alone on this journey. If you don’t have any minimalist people in your network, come hang out in my world. ** FREE FB Community **