All the wrong reasons to be a minimalist
Minimalism fails if you don’t want to become one for the right reasons.
It can be easy to dismiss becoming a minimalist, or a psuedo-minimalist (which I think I probably fall into the category of being), because you are not mentally prepared to do it for the right reasons.
Here are some misguided reasons people want to embrace minimalism.
REASON #1: YOU WANT TO BE MORE ORGANIZED
You don’t need to turn into a minimalist to be organized and to get rid of clutter.
What you need to do, is declutter, which means to toss away items, and to stop trying to organize them in different ways.
Now if you want to have less stuff, minimalism can help with that, but it isn’t going to be the reason you became more organized and got your house in order over night.
You can’t organize clutter, you need to eliminate it completely.
Just get rid of what you have.
Consider what you use, what you don’t, and get rid of what you don’t use or don’t need.
REASON #2: YOU WANT TO FIND MEANING IN YOUR LIFE
If you think turning into a minimalist is the be-all and catch-all that will help you find peace and zen inside yourself, then you’re barking up the wrong tree.
Changing your mindset on how you see things in your life, and detaching yourself from your things has nothing to do with finding meaning in your life.
Find out what it is you want to really live for and why you do what you do.
Sure, minimalism can be a small part of it, but it is not the answer to what is inside of you.
You need to figure that part out on your own without minimalism as the crutch.
It won’t turn you into a zen master over night.
Heck, it might even stress you out living with just a teacup and a mat because you trashed everything without thinking.
REASON #3: YOU WANT TO SPEND LESS MONEY
Again, minimalism can help and be part of that, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you will spend less money if you are a minimalist.
In fact, you may spend more. Or the same amount. Who knows?
What you’re really looking for is personal finance help, that is is to say…learning how to be frugal with your money, investing in wisely, and budgeting it carefully by spending it well.
(You are in the right spot for that by the way, here are all my Money posts.)
REASON #4: YOU WANT TO TRAVEL THE WORLD FOR A YEAR
Again, being a minimalist helps because you don’t have a ton of stuff and you won’t need to put it in storage, sell it or otherwise get rid of it to travel extensively, however you do not need to become a minimalist to travel the world.
Want to travel more and work less?
Then plan for it.
Save up your money, be frugal with your travel plans and take the plunge to do it.
Or travel in small chunks. I traveled full-time for a year and found it exhausting near to the end of it.
I would have actually preferred traveling in smaller chunks so that I would appreciate the time I was taking off in between work.
REASON #5: IT IS THE TRENDY THING TO DO THESE DAYS
Do I really need to tell you how silly this is? What you find interesting is not what I would necessarily find interesting, and that is OK.
So you don’t want to be a minimalist, then fine! It doesn’t mean that you aren’t a great, well-rounded, super fun and smart person to know.
It just means…. you don’t want to be a minimalist.
Maybe you’re the opposite, you’re a maximalist.
I find that interesting too because you can learn a lot about someone by the things they do keep, just as much as you can learn about someone by what they discard.
So what is minimalism then?
Simply put, it is living only with what you truly want and need and getting rid of the excess.
All of it for me, has added up to mental sanity and health. I don’t see things I don’t need or want, and that cuts down on the guilt that those dust-covered items used to bring.
Without all that junk, it gives me more mental and physical breathing room because it is not visually cluttering my mind or my home.
My reason to be a minimalist or aim to be one is because if the area where I live is filled with things I don’t use, I get depressed. There is only so much stuff I can handle and keep track of (not to mention to keep clean). And it doesn’t help the thought of moving a lot of stuff is a big pain in the ass.
This was great, thank you! Agreed on minimalism does not equal more savings. It just depends. Personal finance and minimalism schools of thought intersect but are also stand alone. Minimalists can spend more on higher quality items, experiences (like travel) or on future leasing costs of items infrequently used. My parents come to mind. They do many things themselves so have an abundance of home items like tools, etc – some of which may be used infrequently. It wouldn’t save money to get rid of those items due to their DIY lifestyle. A minimalist could also have very little possessions in their home but still purchase too much car (or lease when an outright purchase would’ve made more sense). Or as a minimalist, you can still have an “income problem”, particularly if you were relying on becoming a minimalist to enable you to pursue a different career or freelance. Personal finance knowledge is still needed to make that work. For someone like me, who has a consumer spending problem, adopting minimalism helps as I don’t buy too much of the same type of item. However, it is easier for me to slip on minimalism alone. Watching my finances, on a daily basis (geeking out on savings/spending/debt reduction graphs via my mint app), is much more motivating to not spend. A minimalist lifestyle and personal finance definitely intersect though.
There is so much debate about what a minimalist is too. At this point I find myself simply saying I prefer to live in a small uncluttered space and be mindful about my spending and my time. Otherwise I feel like a fraud because I have a lot of bags 🙂
“REASON #5: IT IS THE TRENDY THING TO DO THESE DAYS” – this instantly reminded me of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oht9AEq1798 – of the Ultra Spiritual Life series :).
On a more serious note, I am one of those people who are not minimalists, mostly because I’m more in love with the idea of homesteading. We recently moved to outside the city and we have steadily begun to amass an increasingly array of tools for the garden or stuff for the dog or cooking and canning materials.
And I’m more than happy with that, as long as I get to eat cherries from my own garden.
When I look back, I’ve been an aspiring minimalist way before it became the in thing. I’ll never be an uber-minimalist owning 100 things or less but everything around me gravitates towards having just enough to be content.
And like ArianaAuburn said, clutter and un-used items just totally drive me bonkers