how i define minimalism in my life

When I first started this blog, I was in the early stages of my journey into minimalism and simpler living. After first being drawn to the concept when I was living out of a suitcase and feeling a glimpse of freedom from the discontent and decision fatigue my closet was causing, I dove deep into getting rid of all of the things that felt unnecessary in my life. Namely, my excess possessions. At the time we were living in limbo in a two bedroom apartment in California for a five month stint while my husband completed his initial job training. I spent my days as a stay-at-home dog mom determining what kind of excess we had in our home and purging anything I could for the thrill of it.

That was nearly 6 years ago. Since then, we have moved a few times, spending three years in North Dakota in two different rental homes, and now we reside in Wyoming in a house we bought over two years ago (#militarylife). We’ve added another dog to our family, completely eliminated our debts (minus a mortgage payment), and cycled through purging and purchasing items for our life and home. Over this time our circumstances, styles, and needs have shifted. A lot has changed, I’ve learned a great deal, and I’ve grown in many ways, so minimalism looks and feels a little differently for me now than it did back then.

With that in mind, I felt like it would be worthwhile to revisit this topic, because quite honestly it has become foundational in my way of life and it is going to be a springboard for much of what is to come on this blog. So before I dive in any further I think it’s valuable to define my style of minimalism – because not only can it vary from season to season, it can also vary from person to person. I don’t live in a 300 square foot apartment and I can’t fit all of my possessions in a suitcase, but I can still consider myself a minimalist in my own regard. I like how Joshua Becker (creator of Becoming Minimalist) defines minimalism as, “living with things you really need. It means removing anything that distracts us from living with intentionality and freedom.”

Do you see how that can look very different for each person? You don’t have to live in a tiny house or wear the same uniform every day or limit yourself to one set of silverware to be a minimalist. You certainly can if that is what works for you and brings you freedom. But it’s not a requirement.

So what do I personally mean when I refer to minimalism in my life?

I think the best way I can define it is a mindset and way of life that helps me pursue LESS of what bogs me down so I can focus MORE on what fills me up. It often equates to living my life more fully by filling my life with less. Less stuff, yes. But it also extends beyond that. Over the last 5+ years minimalism has led me to:

Own less clothes & get more wears out of the ones I have.
Wear less make up & take more care of my skin.
Have less clutter & therefore more mental clarity.
Waste less money & spend more thoughtfully.
Have less (read: no) debt & more financial freedom.
Eat less junk & consume more nutritious food.
Buy better quality & therefore get more use out of what I purchase.
Hang on to less junk “just because” & find more value in what I keep.
Have less stress & more boundaries.
Have less distractions & more motivation and focus.
Hurry less & have more structure in routines.
Compare less & have more contentment.
Feel less guilt & experience more grace.
Commit to less obligations & connect more deeply with people.

Less of what bogs me down. More of what fills me up.

Simply having less just for the sake of having less is not the point. That will leave me empty the same way having more just for the sake of having more will. But when I narrow in on what I gain from what I shed – that’s where it gets good. I want my time, money, attention, and affection to go towards what matters more in the long run. And I want to ditch the weight of the things that demand so much of those precious resources, and leave me empty.

And so, minimalism has developed into living my life with intention. Because as I clean out the clutter and excess, I gain a clearer vision on what’s working, and what’s not working. I am able to make better informed decisions to live a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Decisions as small as what kind of socks I wear or what kind of food I’ll eat today, to as big as what I want to do for a living or what kind of legacy I want to have. Thought can go into all of it. In fact, I believe thought must go into all of it regularly. Because as I age, learn, and grow, or as my needs or desires change in different stages and seasons, intention can look differently, so there’s always room to reassess.

While at times the elusiveness may feel overwhelming or exhausting, I’m learning to find it liberating. It means there is no one standard of the way life is lived. It means I can shift when something isn’t working for me. It means it is more about the journey than any destination. It means I am still able to be completely and wholly me, even as I change. There’s no box I have to be caged in by in order to be a minimalist. Instead, minimalism has been a tool that has helped me clear out the physical, mental, and emotional space I already reside, and reveal just how expansive my life can be.

So what exactly does minimalism LOOK like in my life then? Well, that’s the exciting part – because it looks like a whole slew of things that I’m looking forward to sharing more about here on this blog. What’s in my closet, how we utilize our finances, how I manage my time – all of these and more are affected by this way of thinking. And I’m so excited to share more about it with you all.

Until then, I’d love to hear from you! What are your thoughts on minimalism? What could you use less of in your life, and what could you use more of? Let me know in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “how i define minimalism in my life

  1. Less of what bogs me down. More of what fills me up. I love this Kelly! For about 5 years I’ve tried to become a little more organized each year (in every area of my life). Since we moved a little over 2 years ago, I have been focusing more on spending my time intentionally w/those I feel God has brought across my path. The season I am in now allows me to do this more freely, but it does take focus and planning. I’ve also been minimizing the stuff In my house. It’s definitely a work in progress. A very slow process for me because I’m finding I have trouble letting go of some things, but little by little I’ll get there. Deciding what bogs me down is key! Thanks Kelly, I really enjoyed this piece and look forward to more. Going to share w/aly. I know she’ll enjoy it too ❤️

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    • Becki I love all of this so much! I love that you are using this season and the time you have for something so valuable – quality time with people. That’s what it’s all about!

      I encourage you to keep viewing minimizing your house as a process. Just because I have a lot of minimalist perspectives doesn’t mean that I don’t still have excess. In fact this month my big goal is to do a total closet overhaul…again. It’s a constant adjustment. And sometimes there are things I’m not ready to let go of now that in a year or two I’ll realize that I am if I haven’t used it at all. Sometimes we have to be tough on ourselves if we’re hanging on to too much, but sometimes we need to give ourselves grace to feel what we need to feel through the process. You’re doing great!

      Thanks for reading Becki 🙂

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