I still remember the day I decided it was time to minimize my book shelf. I was so excited. I'd been waiting all week for it. I had a goal of completely getting rid of all 4 of my book cases (yes! I had 4 bookcases at one time). I wanted to start by FIRST taking everything off of the shelves and THEN go through it but as I took books off the shelves, I just kept adding and adding to the donate pile. It was a lot of fun! I loved it and the satisfaction of putting up my bookshelves to sell a few days later was like apple pie!
BEFORE pics of bookshelves
with October Stickers over faces
Don’t hate me, but I found minimizing my stuff easy. It wasn’t that hard for me and I actually enjoyed it. When I realized most people don’t enjoy the process, I decided to more closely examine what I did that made it so enjoyable. Here are my “secrets” to make minimizing easy:
Find a VERY compelling reason Any good marketer will tell you to start with “Why”. Market to yourself about why you should minimize. Find a REALLY good reason to get rid of things. Something that will make you stay the course for a year. Things that are for YOU. IF you say “I want to minimize so my neighbours don’t talk about my messy house” - no! Don’t do it. It’s not going to work- it's not an internal motivator. You need reasons that are for YOU! Not for the way others will think about you. My two motivations were my mental health and my kids. I knew I was not on a great path, mental health wise (to learn a little more about my path check out my blog post here), and something had to change if I wanted to get out of the mud. My kids were a powerful motivator, because as a mother, I would lay down my life for them .
Ask good questions When getting rid of my stuff, I asked myself some pretty harsh questions. I didn’t say “does this bring me joy?” Although that’s not bad, sometimes it’s not enough. I often asked myself questions like: “Do I love this more than my kids?” “What’s more important, this __(insert item here)__ or my sanity?” These questions worked because they were connected with my ‘why’, they were pointed, and designed to get me to my ultimate goal.
Stay inspired I don’t know about you, but after having kids, my memory feels like it’s shot. I don’t remember to stay motived. This is why I surrounded myself with people and books that inspired me to be minimalist. I watched every YouTube video about minimalism. I read each blog post. I followed every minimalist on social media. I read every book about it that I could find. I talked with other people who were of the same mind. I talked to all of my friends about it (yes, my friends thought I was crazy, but only until they started seeing the enormous difference it made in my life).
Revel in it When I cleared out an area, I’d look at it and look at it. I would open that closet door when I walked by just to look at how nice it looked. I’d take before and after pics. I send them out to my mom and sister. I allowed myself to enjoy the feeling. We, as humans, are wired to gravitate towards good feelings. If we maximize our good feelings associated with a behaviour we want to encourage, we are more likely to do that behaviour. Maximizing our joyful feeling conditions us to want to declutter.
Don’t make it boring Sometimes we feel things aren’t done correctly unless we suffer through them. We feel like we need to make a list, follow that list, and if we don’t, it’s not right. We feel like we have to go in a specific order, it HAS to be hard. NO! It’s not hard. You can just do what you feel like. I started with the place that was driving me crazy the most. Every time I went into my coat closet, I had to sort though piles of coats, mismatched shoes, etc. It was driving me crazy. This is where I started. I pulled everything out and went through it one by one. I didn’t make a list. I didn’t go in a specific order. I went with my feelings and where I wanted to go. Some weekends, I decided that I didn’t want to declutter, I wanted to go for a hike, so I did! Don’t make it hard. I listened to minimalist books on Audible when I decluttered. This made a tedious task more enjoyable AND provided a ton of inspiration. Listen to music, dance along, chat with your friend on the phone. Make it fun.
Visualize This is one of the best parts! Go onto Pinterest or look at some magazines and pick out images that inspire you. How you want your house to look after it’s minimized. The beautiful vacations you’ll go on when you have time and more money to spend. Visualize yourself AFTER you’ve achieved your goal. Science proves that these kinds of visualizations, especially if you include feelings in them, will make you more likely to achieve your goals.
STOP the influx I'd half heartedly tried simplifying before but never really seemed to have less stuff. I finally realized that if I didn't stop buying things, I'd never reach my goal. I had to stop shopping! I had to stop taking hand me downs! I had to minimize the flow of stuff INTO my house! If you don't do this, you won't get anywhere. The BEST part of this was we started saving a TON of money! We had no idea how much we were spending on little frivolous things.
Those are my secrets! I know, not really secrets but this is how I went about minimizing my house. I ended up going through many areas more than once. The more I did the more my minimizing muscle got stronger and this would allow me to be able to go over places I'd already minimized and still get rid of a lot of things I didn't need. It continues to be a journey and I will always be going through my stuff. I will always have a perpetual donate pile because our lives change, our needs change, and quite recently even our house changed!