Personal Challenges of Being a Minimalist

The Personal Challenges of Being a Minimalist

This post is about six months overdue.

I’m three and a half years into minimalism, and there are some things that I want to talk about that I’m sure will resonate with others.

When Michael and I first started this journey, my mindset around minimalism was to start throwing out (donating, gifting, rubbish bin etc.) as much stuff as I could, that I didn’t need.

We occasionally came across items that we didn’t even know we had! We came across others that we had meant to get rid of, but just never got around to it.

When we go through the process of decluttering, we feel liberated, lifted, mentally lighter and it’s awesome! However, what happens after that initial burst of cleansing? Maintenance which is the most challenging part.

The reason it becomes challenging is that it’s not front of mind like it once was. We can easily slip back into old habits and stop asking ourselves those questions that will help us every single day.

For me, this took a while. I’ve been finding it difficult since we opened up our online store. Not straight away, but a few months in.

As we test out products to potentially sell, we accumulate things in the end that we usually wouldn’t buy. I’ve caught myself giving things to others because I don’t want to deal with it or it needs a second opinion. It’s hard.

The other section of my life where I’ve felt that things have slowly started creeping in is food and product photography props. I have half a shelf of them in the office.

The last couple of weeks I’ve been staring at them thinking “I wouldn’t even use half of what I’ve accumulated here”. I used to think “what if I make (insert name of dish here)? I’ll need this prop to present it nicely and shoot it”.

Let’s be honest, I’m never going to create recipes that require three sets of tapas dishes or old rusty stands.

So this honest reflection that I’ve just shared with you needs an action plan. Requires some kind of process that was learned during this journey of being a minimalist.

I’ve never been a fan of living in a tiny house or having complete empty spaces. That’s not what minimalism means to me. It never will.

What minimalism means to me is having things that bring me joy or have a practical purpose. Everything else is just weighing me down. Literally.

I sit here at my computer writing this post, and I turn to my right and see the mess I’ve created with these props and it makes me feel unsettled. I love decluttering but why would I create this mess in the first place to have to declutter?

The older I get, the more I value my time and what I spend doing with it. Accumulating things and then decluttering them is just not on my radar, ever.

When you run a business from home that sells physical goods, it can be challenging. However, it’s important to reset. Don’t beat yourself up and remind yourself why it’s causing you discomfort.

Next time I look at a prop that would be “perfect” or think about testing out a new product for our store, I’ll think about the time that I had to go through and reduce.

No one enjoys the process of clearing clutter, but everyone loves the feeling they get from the end result. Why not have that feeling all the time? Why put yourself through all that time and energy to come out with the same result?

Up until this point, I’ve managed to maintain my mindset around everything else in life, the people I spend my time with, how many podcasts and bits of information I consume, the amount of clothing I own and what I do with money in general.

I’ve been fortunate to travel overseas for a total of three months in the last two years, which has been incredible and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Action step for me now is to reset and refocus myself.

How are you going on your minimalist journey? Are you finding that you slip up every now and then? How do you reset yourself and get back to it?

Would love to hear you share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

8 comments… add one
  • Erica 22/07/2017

    I’ve been working to minimize big time this year. Basically I’ve been through the first overhaul which was followed by a yard sale and major donation but I feel like the stuff we got rid of what just the first tier and there is still so much stuff that needs to go. I continue to feel the presence and weight of clutter all around me so I have started doing more cutting as of the past two weeks, including my daughter’s stuff. I figure I will just keep working at it until the space around me feels calm and simplified. 🙂

    Erica
    http://www.awastenotkindoflife.com

    • Masa Ofei 22/07/2017

      Hi Erica, sounds like great progress! 🙂

  • Debbi 30/07/2017

    Hello Masa. Thank you for your article. I have been decluttering and minimising for about 2.5 years now. My husband and I were working in another state and my husband had employees working in several remote areas, which meant having several houses…all requiring furnishing etc. While each of these in their own right were minimalist, when we returned to our primary place of residence we had several households of items. We had a huge garage sale, advertised items on Gumtree, gave away things and donated items. I have minimised every part of my life; digital, finances, mind, work as well as home. This has produced many benefits as well as making me feel much better about my carbon footprint. However my struggle is giving up my vehicle. I drive a huge 4WD, which I really don’t need but I am really attached to for some reason. I have even given it a name! Currently, my justification is our massive dog ???? but of course he would most likely adjust to a smaller vehicle. Anyway, I will keep working on this, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again for your article and please keep them coming.
    Debbi

    • Hi Debbi, thanks for sharing your story and for the kind words! 🙂 That would have been a lot to sort through, good on you! That’s interesting, have you had the 4WD for a while? Oh it’s over once you give it a name haha. I was personally attached to most cars that I had (gone through 3 now) but once I understood why it was that I was parting with it, then the decision was much easier. If you already see that you don’t need such a big car (and big cars can be a little impractical at times), see what else is out there. In saying that, if it’s practical and serves you a purpose and you love it, then just keep it! Best of luck x

  • Melissa 04/08/2017

    My husband and I are just starting on this journey. We love the outdoors, and live in the Pacific Northwest which is beautiful. We decided we want to have the space and time for what is most important to us. On the same token, I work as a nurse care manager, and have overcommitted and over extended myself for far too long. I know there is a journey ahead.

    • Masa Ofei 05/08/2017

      I wish you the best of luck on this journey, it is a beautiful one. You’ve done the biggest step already and that’s acknowledging that something needs to change. Thanks for sharing Melissa!

  • Tamela 22/08/2017

    I appreciate how you look at minimalism. I am in the process of defining exactly what it means to me. I want to get past the decluttering stage and be more proactive about how much consuming I still do. I take particular joy in my large clothes closet. I have tried to downsize it but in all honesty, I really love expressing myself through my clothes and my style. I would like to be less of a consumer of clothes but perhaps this is just part of my evolution. Any thoughts on this? It feels like if I allow myself this indulgence, I am not really committning wholeheartedly to the minimalist lifestyle.

    • Thanks for sharing Tamela. Good on you for thinking about it! Could you achieve this with less? Does every piece in your closet represent you and your style? Maybe if you took it all out one by one and asked yourself that question you may downsize a little. Progress over perfection. Sometimes you may find things that you haven’t worn in a while and someone else may wear every single day. Other pieces may not fit as well as they could or simply don’t align with your style anymore. Focus on the pieces that are a must keep and things that bring you a lot of joy that you wear often. I’m sure you’ll be able to cull some of it 🙂 Best of luck! Masa

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