On Saturday, I crossed the 8-month mark of my yearlong shopping ban. How I’m already two-thirds of the way through this thing is a little crazy to think about – mostly because, truth be told, I’ve almost forgotten about it entirely. I still get the odd pang to buy a magazine or pick up a nail polish, usually when I’m in line to buy groceries or toothpaste or something. For the most part, though, I never think about shopping, because I know there’s nothing I could buy that would make my life better than it is right now.
That has been the most incredible part of this journey, so far: realizing how rich and full my life is, in its current state. When you’re not thinking about all the new stuff you could be accumulating, you have so much more time to just enjoy what you already have and all that life offers you. What started as a decision to declutter my home, and embrace a simpler lifestyle, has turned into what I believe will be a lifelong journey as a minimalist. Here are 3 life-changing truths I’ve discovered in the early stages:
1. It gives you more time (to do whatever you want). This might sound obvious, at first. When you have less stuff in your home, you can spend less time cleaning. Makes sense, right? And that’s certainly been true, for me. I wipe down surfaces all the time, but there’s literally nothing in my condo that needs to be organized/tidied up. As a result, I never have to spend my weekends cleaning. But it’s gone further than that. Everything we own requires a little bit of our attention. Now that I have less physical clutter, my brain also seems to have less mental clutter. I don’t have a laundry list of things that need to be done constantly nagging at me anymore. Instead, I get to wake up and do whatever I want. So, I workout, go for hikes, see friends, read, write… and sometimes I just nap or sleep more, guilt-free. It’s incredibly freeing.
2. It helps you become more resourceful. A few weeks ago, I found myself with two pairs of pants that had rips in them. When you can’t shop, your only other option is to fix the things you own. And when I decided to up the ante on my shopping ban, one of my goals was to learn how to mend my own clothes. So, rather than throw the pants out, I finally asked the women in my family for a sewing lesson. With my aunt’s help, last week, I patched up the hole in my pyjama pants. She also let me take her sewing machine home for a couple months, so I can play around with it and see what else I can do. It’s not uncommon for those who decide to live with less to build up a community of like-minded individuals, who can all share their talents and swap stuff for free. I just never would’ve guessed I’d be one of them. (Next up, gardening… and I will need help with this, too!)
3. It reveals what matters most. Coupled with the shopping ban, minimalism has shown me that I don’t need to consume and spend money, in order to feel better about myself or my life. Beyond that, though, I feel like it has adjusted my entire moral compass to face a new north. Minimalism is both the path I’m taking and the destination I want to end up at, and it turns over a new leaf everywhere I look. It takes self-awareness to a new level, as it constantly forces you to ask yourself: does this contribute to my life or take away from it? I’m finally choosing to only work on projects I get really excited about, spend time with the family and friends who also give time to me, and take care of myself first, by working out more, sleeping more, eating better, etc. And the list goes on and on. The more happiness I find, the more I realize what matters most and the easier those decisions get.
The 30-Day Minimalism Challenge
While I’m happy with everything I’ve discovered about myself in this journey, so far, there are still so many little things I want to try, test out and tweak. I want to do one final declutter/purge, build journaling and meditation back into my daily routine, get offline more, and continue to re-evaluate my priorities and commitments – all things that will help me live a more intentional life.
A couple weeks ago, my friend J. Money shared an image with me that he found on Pinterest, and the minute I saw it, I knew it had to be my next 30-day challenge for 2015. Take a look:
Are you up for the challenge? :)