For years, I have always wanted to be a true minimalist and get rid of every single thing that had no purpose in my life. Over the last couple years, I tried this and there always seemed to be some reason or another why I'd get flustered, and give up.
And I'm not one for new year's resolutions. If I want to make a change in my life, I do it immediately, or I know it will never get done. So, this trying-to-be-a-minimalist thing has been an on-going effort not just once a year, but several times a year randomly sprinkled here and there. Which would make me feel hopeless and defeated, but yet I'd still give it a go when I'd randomly have a spirt of motivation.
So what gives? What really has been getting in the way of me becoming a minimalist? Because I'm sure I'm not the only one who struggles with this. I have clients who struggle with this when it comes to their homes and keeping them clean and organized. And for me, that's a cinch. Easy breezy. But becoming a minimalist? Well, that is taking it to a whole new level that for some reason I've had a mental road block for the past couple years.
In order to really get to the bottom of this, we have to dig a little deeper and explore the actual issue, or issues. (I hope you all like psychology, because there's lots of it coming in hot!)
First off, what does it actually mean to be a minimalist? Minimalism is, simply put, the concept that you are not to own anything, or do anything, that you don't actually need in your life.
Obviously this can be taken to the extreme, but I personally just would like to find a nice balance of minimalism that is appropriate to my lifestyle. It's not about being perfect, it's just about being truly happy with not having so many "things", instead cherishing experiences, time with loved ones, and doing things that make you glow. Because after all, isn't happiness the meaning of life? Okay, maybe we're getting a little too deep...
But anyway, to get back on track, I've been trying to figure out just what being a minimalist would mean to me in hopes that this would make the process a little easier.
So naturally, I started with an organizing session in my own home. Time to clear out my own clutter, and get rid of the items that I no longer want, use, or need. Easy enough, right? Of course, I'll never be able to get rid of everything. There are things that I don't use on a regular basis, and I wouldn't exactly classify them as "making me happy" on a spiritual level. For example, I have a little pink drill and a small tool kit. I'll use it on occasion, and it definitely comes in handy, but I'm not a handy-person at all, nor does using power tools bring me any kind of joy other than just getting what needs to get done over with so I don't have to think about it anymore.
Now I have two options... 1) Decide these items don't have enough significance in my life to hold on to and make the decision to always hire someone when I need any of these tools, 2) Keep these items despite the fact they are not used that frequently and they do not bring me joy. If I go with option 1, I have to either sell them or donate them and I'll have the added expense of hiring someone for simple projects. And if I go with option 2, then comes the next choice of finding a home for these things when they're not in use. Decisions, decisions.
Add up a bunch of little decisions like this with several other items, and it can ultimately lead to a very frustrating outcome.
Take a step back, and look at the bigger picture. Why do I want to be a minimalist in the first place? Why is this lifestyle important to me? "I want to spend less on things I don't need, and save more money for family vacations", or "I want to downsize things I have been holding onto for sentimental reasons because I know I don't need an object to remember a loved one who passed away".
Personally I just can't stand clutter. I believe too many things in the room puts out a negative energy and will suck the happiness away. I'm happiest with less, and I know I don't need more to be happy. (Except maybe more pets, in a perfect world, you could never have too many pets.)
Evaluate why it is important to you to have less, and base your rules around your goals. Spend less, save more... make a rule that nothing enters the home that isn't NEEDED to survive and put the money you would've spent on that item into a savings account. Downsize sentimental items... instead of keeping that old crusty sofa you inherited from your great-grandmother Gladys, find a photo of her and put it in a beautiful frame that reminds you of her and display the photo in your living or family room. (I don't think of photos as clutter, there's photo display choices I may not be enthusiastic about, but art is a whole other can of worms we'll have to discuss in another blog post.)
Just being more mindful and aware of what you bring in your home, your office, your car and anywhere that you spend a significant amount of time. Or maybe you have a vacation home that you never use. Is it worth the extra mortgage for something you are not utilizing? Would the extra money be more useful to you than the item itself? Perhaps just even processing this will make you decide that you want to spend more time using the item and enjoying it. Then commit to that and do it.
Life is really very simply. Our society overcomplicates things unnecessarily. But don't panic! Just step back, assess and make a decision. Will this make me and my family happy? If the answer is no, audios to that object or activity.
As for me? I will be documenting my road to becoming a minimalist on my social media accounts. So follow me for some tips and tricks!
Melle Hartley is a professional organizer, interior designer and blogger. She currently lives in Minneapolis with her two cats and enjoys binge watching British (and American) reality shows on Hulu in her spare time. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Chamberlane's Chambers is a design blog created by Chamberlane Interior Services. We are passionate about all things interior!