Monday, 28 December 2015

5 tips for a successful minimalist journey

Whilst we are in the midst of the holiday season, and those New Years resolutions are slowly creeping out ready to be announced and affirmed to the world in a few days, I thought I would share some tips that will help anyone who seeking some change. For me personally I feel like I've been on this minimalism train for a few stops now. By no means am I a fully fledged, certified minimalist, we're still working towards that. But I wish someone had shared some insight and some tips with me from the beginning. 

I don't like to fail. I don't like to quit. I like to approach new concepts and adventures with a plan and a bit of caution. But I'm very enthusiastic, when it comes to something as exciting as minimalism as a lifestyle. Minimalism just seemed to offer answers and solutions, to my stressful, confusing life which steam rolled over me every, single day.

Not surprisingly, I have made quite a few errors along this minimalist journey. I'll try and help you avoid those bumps as much as I can.

1. Be realistic

It's not going to happen overnight. It probably won't even happen within a year, unless you make some drastic and maybe brutal changes. Whether you are down sizing a 3 floor mansion, your spouse is a borderline hoarder or no one else in the family is willingly joining you in this lifestyle change, understanding and accepting the reality of the situation will save your sanity! I know it saved mine! For me personally, minimalism was like learning how to walk. It starts slow. There are lots of stumbles at first. The more you practice, the better you get at it.

2. Set small goals.

I mean tiny. Get rid of one thing a day. A few things a day.  Spend15 minutes a day decluttering. Dedicate yourself to one area of the house a week. Whatever suits you, your home, your schedule and your lifestyle. I have three kids so unless I get them involved in the decluttering process it normally occurs when they are asleep. My husband can not declutter to save his life so occasionally I will just ask him "give me 5 pieces of clothing that I can get rid of." "Hey you hate these shoes right? Can We get rid of them?" It's small but its better than nothing.

3. Celebrate every achievement.

One of my favourite achievements was decluttering our cups and mugs after several incidents where glasses had fallen out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor. It was an obvious safety hazard. Now my kids can safely get their own cups and I haven't broken a glass in a long time. Decluttering can seem never ending and it's quite easy to lose motivation but by really celebrating the small stuff, you will be motivated to continue on with this process.

4. Don't compare yourself to others on this same journey/lifestyle

I read a great post at about this exact danger over at mnmlist. If you think about it, it makes no sense to compare yourself to others, in any way, about any aspect. Everyone has their own definition and approach to minimalism. It would be silly of me to compare myself to a single lady with no children who has adopted this life style, because I have 3 very creative kids and a husband whose hobby is fishing and can you imagine the amount of clutter paraphernalia associated with that??

5. It's not about the stuff

I thought for a long time it was about the stuff. It's not. It really isn't. Yes, I'm sure!
Minimalism is about letting go of the things that don't matter to you, so you have the room, time and energy to focus on what DOES matter to you. I use the term "things" very loosely. Okay, yes that does involve getting rid of "the stuff" but it shouldn't become obsessive, which it almost did for me. I just love that feeling of have an empty drawer or space on the floor. Seeing the back of the kitchen cupboards is exhilarating (to me).

These "things" we need to get rid of could also be commitments you don't want to commit to, toxic relationships or even other people's opinions. Just let it all, go. A lot of the time we buy "the stuff" to impress others. We have closets full of clothes that we hardly wear to try and portray this image to people whose approval we subliminally seek. Now I wear something because I like it, it's comfortable and I will wear it over and over again with pride. Many times we say "yes", "okay", "that's fine", when we really don't mean it. I think it's time to be true and put a stop to all that.

Hopefully I've given you a little perspective and a little push towards a more uplifting minimalist journey. What kind of challenges have you experienced when starting out a more minimalist life? How did you overcome these challenges? Comment below or let me know over on Twitter. I'm over there way too much!

Step 93,

Monday, 21 December 2015

Minimalism is not about the stuff

It's not, I promise.

The beauty of minimalism is that everyone has a personal definition and approach towards it. Which begs the question, how do you know if you are a minimalist?

Some days, especially when I'm drowning in the stuff, I have my doubtful days and minimalism just feels too hard. Like yesterday.

I was out to buy some birthday gifts for some upcoming birthdays within our families. The minimalist in me wanted to buy some "experience" type gifts instead of a material item but the old me just wanted to find the latest toys and be done with it.

The minimalist in me must have been napping because I ended up buying things for myself that I didn't intend to or really, REALLY need and this afternoon my house is feeling it. Of course my children also brought home all their school "stuff" from this past year and that stuff is EVERYWHERE.

minimalsm, simple living, declutter
The Stuff. It's everywhere.
The house was quite chaotic with stuff and I really didn't think a few things brought home from school and a few small items bought on a whim from the store would make that much difference. But it really does. Especially in a small home like mine.

How did this happen?? I had been doing so well for so long! I had gotten rid of what felt like SO MUCH stuff. Damn you Kmart and your awesome bargains! Honestly decluttering and getting rid of stuff is both addictive yet tiring. But decluttering has to coincide with not bringing more clutter in. But, truthfully, it’s not about the stuff. Okay, it is about letting go of stuff, but it is more about letting go of the deep connection and obsession with the stuff. I didn’t think I was obsessed with stuff. I thought I was drowning in stuff. Stuff just always seemed to be in the way of focusing on what was really important.

It comes down to a mindset. I haven't fully adjusted the wiring in my brain to be inclined towards minimalism. Aly over at Minimalism is Simple has 3 great tips on how to change your mind set. Three tips doesn’t sound like many but I’m telling you, it’s easier said than done.

If I really, really think about it, it's much easier for me to be a minimalist when money is tight. The second we have some spare cash lying around, nothing else matters and I just have to spend it. Even though we are currently (trying) to pay off our debts, I still think spending a few dollars here and there won't matter. But it really adds up to more stuff around the house and less money that could have been used for the debts.

If I really, really, really think back to how I was attracted to minimalism, it stemmed from always having things fall out of cupboards when I opened them, or not being able to shut a drawer or cupboard without having to stuff things in or constantly having to look for "stuff". I still remember when I bought an expensive jar of organic honey, which fell out of the cupboard and smashed on the floor and I never even got to have a taste. No one was hurt but I knew things had to change. I have found that minimalism really does extend to all parts of your life. Those over flowing cupboards were full of over processed foods that weren’t really good for us. When money permitted I shopped on a “just in case” way, buying multiples and extra items I didn’t really need.

Minimalism lets me really focus on what is important to us as a family.
The root of a “just in case” mindset is fear. Good decisions are never made out fear. I still sometimes find myself parenting out of fear.

Fear of what though? Fear of running out of food? It can’t be.

Daring Clarity has a great post on How to stop making fear based decisions. I love a good post that just wakes you up.

What trumps fear? Courage.

So, minimalism takes courage?

In a sense yes. Unless minimalism is all you have ever known, adopting this lifestyle will require change. For some it will require lots of very big changes. But it goes back to mindset. How important is minimalism to you? I think a really important question to address is

Why do you want to adopt minimalism?

In my previous post I mentioned how I was adopting minimalism before I really knew what it was.

I wanted a life of intention, direction, focus and purpose. I didn’t want to feel like my life was being lived for me on auto-pilot. I also wanted a streamlined, simple home life where I could find what I needed and wasn’t always picking up after everyone. I also want more financial freedom. I wanted more authenticity and transparency in my life.

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” 
– Hans Hofmann

With minimalism, you strip back to the bare basics and there is nowhere to hide. What on earth am I hiding from? Deep rooted insecurities? Fear of rejection? Not being good enough? Failure? Disappointment?

Being a parent comes with A LOT of expectations. Being a woman also comes with an overload of expectations. From yourself, family members, friends, colleagues and the wider community. Minimalism has slowly helped me lower what I expect of myself. I used to strive for such a high standard, I almost always set myself up for failure.

Whether it was keeping an immaculate house, ensuring my kids had all the “stuff” I thought they would ever need, cooking meals that met all of their nutritional needs, pushing the kids to get their homework finished as early as possible so they would never hand in their homework late. In the grand scheme of things, how important is all that stuff? Who really cares? Am I defined by those things? No. I’m not. As soon as you stop chasing the stuff and what you expect the stuff will give you, such as acceptance, validation, success, happiness, etc. stuff loses its value. Fast.

I’m slowly learning to let go of high, unattainable standards and other peoples approval. Good enough, is good enough for me. That makes me sound like a quitter but I’m not. I just understand that I am the determining factor in this equation. Not other people. Not the stuff. I determine my values, my happiness, my successes, my passions and my goals. My stuff really doesn't determine anything.

So will I really ever be a minimalist? Eventually.Will it be easy? No, but it will be worth it.

Minimalism, it couldn’t be any less about the stuff.

Step 92,

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Unconsciously becoming a minimalist

I haven't blogged in a long time so who knows how this post is going to go. I just really felt the need/ desire/ urge to write. My house some how looks like a tornado has ripped through it and right now I really could not care less.

In the many (bloggless) months that have passed, a lot has been going on. I was back on the uni wagon for a few semesters. One year left of my degree. The sleepless nights. The confusing and desperate emails to lecturers and tutors when I have no idea what is going on. The many discussions, reports, essays, thesauruses and presentations. They will all be worth it. I'm sure I will miss university once it's all done and I am launched into the real world where I have to like work and like interact with other adults. For a veteran stay at home mum, that's more scary than it sounds.

Back to the title of this post, I started this year wanting things to be better. In December, are they?

A little.

After lots of time trying the figure out exactly what I wanted to change, I realised I wanted a more intentional life. I always went to bed feeling as though life had run me over and I just lay there and let it happen. I wanted a more present life where I didn't feel like I was just constantly yelling at my children and was actually enjoying my children. I started to declutter because our tiny apartment just felt stuffy. Decluttering became quite addictive quite quickly and I was easily filling multiple bags per week of things to donate, get rid of or sell. Financial things happened which changed my spending habits and I had to learn quickly how to be frugal and make do.

I had no idea that all these things combined would lead me to a some what minimalist life style.

If you could look at my Google search history it would read like this:

"tips for living in a small space"
"how to declutter quickly"
"how to declutter with kids"
"how to simplify your home/life"
"how to save money"
"how to make less trash"
"time management and simple living tips"
"living with a non-minimalist"

and other topics and questions of that nature.

All answers lead to minimalism. I posted about minimalism previously and by no means am I a minimalist, even today. I don't even think I will ever be a fully fledged minimalist. I just find it so interesting how I almost landed on this journey. Is the journey challenging? Yes. But I love a challenge. The biggest struggles for me are staying motivated and truly simplifying my life. With three kids I really don't know how simple things can get. I don't think minimalism is a destination though. I see it as an on going process. Many, many little steps.

Step 91,

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