4 Steps to A Minimalist Life: Nomadifying Your World
*This is one of our first post's about Minimalism from way back in 2014. We have come a lot further down the road of simplifying, and we did indeed follow our nomadic dreams, and currently live in Australia. For more recent and expansive reading on this topic, check out the minimalism section*
Life is somewhat defined by accumulation; gathering memories of special experiences, meeting people and forming loving relationships.
We accumulate these connections when we are living our lives to the fullest and they are part of what constitutes happiness and fulfillment for most people.
The flip-side to this, is the accumulation of things, material goods and random accoutrements; many people also associate being wealthy and acquiring 'things', with happiness.
I disagree on that point, and so do followers of the minimalist movement. Many steadfast simplifiers come from big money backgrounds, who traded in the corporate lifestyle when they realized it wasn't the key to deep and lasting fulfillment.
An article written by Rebecca J. Rosen of The Atlantic interviews people who changed their lives radically and improved their all-round happiness and stress levels tenfold...
How did they do this? By adopting a minimalist style of living.
I had been thinking about making a blog post about de-cluttering your surroundings and your life, for quite a while, and happened upon this article which perfectly highlights the ideas behind my own changing relationship with consumerism.
The interviewees are consciously selective about what they do acquire, and seek to add only things with meaning and true usefulness.
That's only further spurred on my desire to Nomad-Ify my own life.
Apart from seemingly inventing a word, I really mean, simplifying your surroundings and belongings, so that you are truly prepared for a nomadic travel lifestyle.
And if you aren't planning to travel any time soon, you can still follow these ideas, and achieve the same positive effects for your own life.
Wouldn't it be nice if every time you moved home, it wasn't such a stressful process, because you simply had less stuff to move?
How pleasant might it feel if your cleaning routine took half the time and you suddenly created a more productive day with time to spare?
Step 1: Time To Off-Load
- Pick a drawer. Pick a cupboard. Pick a whole room in your house if you like. Just begin somewhere. Choose the space which is stressing you out the most, or, select the smallest space.
- Question your possessions. For example, go to the kitchen cupboard and question, why do I have 40 mugs, when I only have one mouth? Now go up to the bathroom. Why do I have 8 varieties of shower gel on the go, when all I do is wash it down the drain?
- Before you try and fix everywhere in your home, really focus on the space you either spend the most time, or the place you go to feel relaxed. For me, that is the bedroom... I love having a minimalist and tidy feel to mine, it creates a really relaxed feeling in there. I have cultivated that by spending months slowly getting rid of stuff. Go over to the wardrobe or drawers....it's time to tackle the clothes. Get some plastic bins or baskets, and label them Charity, Donation and Bin. Charity for the charity shop, donation for those huge bins they have in supermarket car parks where you can donate clothes that are not quite good enough for resale, and then the bin, well, that's for the stained pair of comfy jogging bottoms you can't bear to part with. Of course the clothes you want to keep, put to one side. Also, if you wish to sell some things, create a separate pile for this. Bear in mind that we often set aside clothing we believe will make us some money back and we just never set aside time to actually list them for sale!
We're not just discarding stuff without thought here, we are reassessing it's value in OUR lives and whether these items are useful to US. When the answer is no, then this stuff becomes useful to others, or is just junk, and it's time to say goodbye to it.
RULES: HAVE I USED THIS ITEM WITHIN THE LAST 6 MONTHS? WOULD I BUY THIS IF I SAW IT IN A SHOP TODAY?
If you answer No, then put it in the chosen pile.
Pheww! you are already nearer to the minimalist life.
Step 2: A Shopping Detox
Is it a big hobby of yours to peruse local supermarkets or head into town to the shopping centre, just to mull around, even though you always end up buying SOMETHING. Well, you are now on a shopping ban. Don't worry, you can still buy food, we aren't talking about de-cluttering our bodies here (food is my one spending vice, it keeps me sane).
- If you are shopping to quell boredom, find escapism or seek that momentary buzz associated with acquiring something new and shiny, could you be using that time and money more healthily?
- Do you struggle to pay bills or are you unable to repay your debts because of what you spending on random things?
- Confront yourself. Are you guilty of needless and impulse spending? Are you one of those people who comes home with several shopping bags a few times a month? STOPPPP ITTT. For a while at least. It's more of a bad habit, not a fun hobby; you need to see it that way in order to realize you can stop doing it so much.
RULES: DO I REALLY NEED THIS DRESS? IS IT OF SUPERIOR QUALITY TO ANYTHING I ALREADY OWN? DO I NEED THIS PAIR OF HEELS WHEN I LIVE IN FLATS? DO I NEED ANOTHER THROW CUSHION WHEN ALL I DO IS LITERALLY THROW THEM OFF THE BED EACH NIGHT?
Be honest with yourself, nobody needs eight cushions.
Step 3: Make Money, Make Room
So you've tidied up, and thrown lots away. Now it's time to tackle the stuff you could make some money out of.
- List items of quality on Ebay or gumtree (craiglist if you are American) and set yourself a target of how much extra money you want to make selling your things. If you a figure in mind you will feel more motivated to follow through on listing, advertising and selling.
- Go to a car boot sale (or have a garage sale), and let your things find a new home. Just because you no longer need this item, doesn't render it useless or unappealing to someone else.
- Consider if some of your things could be repurposed, like old furniture or decorative items, that you could then re-sell at a decent value.
RULE: WILL I BE USING THIS AGAIN ANY TIME SOON? WILL I BE ABLE TO REPURCHASE IT IF I EVER DO NEED IT AGAIN? DO I SOURCE ANY DAILY ENJOYMENT OUT OF THIS OBJECT?
Step 4: Envision A Simpler Life
When I clean or tidy, or throw stuff away, I feel physically and mentally lighter.
Whether it's all in my head or whether its my energy responding to something different in my surroundings, it brings a sense of calm and peace. I feel so much more prepared for my nomadic dreams knowing my clutter footprint is reduced.
The idea of travelling becomes even more exciting to me and the thought of leaving behind what belongings remain, incredibly easy.
As I witness myself saving money and not buying more random stuff, I imagine enjoying a day on the beach in Australia, where my last concern will be for the stuff I threw away; it will just be Taran, me, a towel and the sea.
What do you see when you imagine a simpler life?
What steps do you need to take to reach that? Maybe begin with the above 3.
Possibly it's about changing your attitude towards consumerism.
Maybe you need to take up some hobbies which don't rely on accumulating stuff or spending much money. If we can develop passions that are independent of our financial state, that can withstand times of difficulty, we will learn to be happy with less; less stress, less push for money and less financial commitment, but, more joy.
It's not just about throwing things away, it's a re-imagining of your relationship to material things; your happiness can come from so much more than what's in a shop window. When I felt lost and passionless, I also had massive debts and a huge shopping addiction. I was miserable and misguided in how I used my money. When I fully embraced the multiple benefits of a minimalist life, I did indeed find my dreams, follow them and start afresh.
Your bank balance does not define how full your life can be. It's how you use your money, your time and your energy that will lead to long-lasting fulfilment.
So take control, de-clutter, and Nomad-ify yourself.
Why? Because it feels really, really, good.
Hey, before you go...
In 2016 I released my Book: Minimalism: Cleanse Your Life, Become A Calmer Person
If you're into minimalism or reducing stress, its really worth a read!
Thanks for reading!
Hannah and Taran here. We hail from Southern England, where we met online and are now realizing our mutual passion for travel here at NomaderHowFar. We discuss Nomadic Living, Simplifying your Life and Long-term Travel, to empower, motivate and inspire our readers. Get to know us here!