My concept of minimalism hasn’t changed much over the years. I originally wrote this article in the fall of 2012. I do have less possessions now than before, and yes my wardrobe each season is currently around 33 items or less. But I only made those changes when I was ready to, and gradually at that. Learning to enjoy the processes of life versus compare and compete with others with similar interests is challenging at times. It is so important to define your life based on what is in your heart. That’s honestly the only thing that matters in life anyway!
When I first decided to live a more minimalist lifestyle, I was sure that I needed to own only 100 possessions to do it right. Even looking back a few months ago I was determined to count every possession so that I could come up with the exact number that would confirm that I was a true minimalist. Wow! How silly of me to limit myself and occupy my time with such nonsense.
Just as one may want more things to keep up with the next person, I was finding I was doing the very opposite to validate my minimalist life.
Today I spent a good amount of time cleaning up the apartment. It didn’t take too long as there really isn’t that much to organize. I was mainly giving the floors a good sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming as well as cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. While doing these chores, I had a moment where I thought that I shouldn’t have to move small items to clean. I should be that minimalist. “Should” is such a merciless word, yet I used it being unnecessarily hard on myself.
The definition of minimalist as an adjective is “being or offering no more than what is required or essential.”
What is required or essential for everyone in terms of possessions is going to be uniquely different. When I started counting my personal possessions, my dance related essentials alone added up to 37 things. At the beginning of this year I even had a goal to downsize my wardrobe to exactly what was on my My Wardrobe Checklist. My wardrobe checklist contained 50 items that did not encompass my new desire for color or enough dance attire to get me through a week of classes or rehearsals. Although I am content with my current wardrobe around 80 items, I am more clear that this numbers game can feel very restrictive.
When creating personal goals, I believe it is very important to be self nurturing in the process.
Whether your goal is to declutter your home, pay off your debt, or save for a much needed vacation, we can choose to be more patient with the process, and more rewarding for each little step we make that is closer to meeting our goal. Minimalism has served me well in so many areas of my life. To subject myself to numbers to prove my progress to others is pointless. It is nearly impossible to explain all aspects of the evolution that has occurred in my life over the past three years on this journey.
The true definition of a minimalist lifestyle is what serves you in the most effective and essential way. My preference is that this minimalist lifestyle also include low environmental impact.
We all need different things and have very specific goals that only pertain to our lives. Today is one of those days were I’m learning to become more flexible with myself as I continue this process of downsizing. I will not set any numerical goals, yet counting my personal possessions allows me to see how abundant my life is. I find it more than enjoyable and okay to live with less. I’m also leaving the word “should” out of the picture and becoming much more flexible with my ideals.
I will continue this minimalist lifestyle making decisions based on what serves me energetically not numerically. What does minimalism mean to you?
(Image by D Sharon Pruitt)