A Simple Approach to Living With Less

Where are You on Your Journey to Minimalism?

It has been said, “the joy is in the journey.” I find that the journey is also the challenge and it’s how you meet that challenge as to whether we find the joy in it all. I have been on my personal journey to minimalism for several months now. I am thoroughly enjoying cleaning out the clutter in our home and it’s so nice to see the transformations.

Today I’m wondering where are you on your journey to minimalism? Are you still wondering what this thing called minimalism is all about and trying to decide if it’s for you? Or have you been a minimalist for awhile now and just enjoy seeking out like-minded people?

I ask for two reasons:

1) I love talking about minimalism with anyone that will listen and I’d love to hear your story too.

2) Knowing where you are in your journey helps me know the kinds of topics to write about here.

I’d love it if you would take a second to vote in the Poll in the right sidebar. I purposefully didn’t create too many choices so if you’d like to further expand on where you are on your journey, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Thanks so much!

UPDATE: The poll is now closed but I’d still love to hear from you in the comment section.

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photo by Chemtec


Article originally published on 11/05/2010

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Comments

  1. Hi Faith,
    I first heard about minimalism in November 2009. I’ve always been one to declutter, but in January of 2010 I stopped the buying, and I’ve been purging on and off all year. It was hard to choose if I was just getting started or not because I started awhile ago, but I still have so far to go.

    • Faith Janes says:

      I’m an impatient declutterer. I want it to happen all at once but important truth I learned was “it didn’t get this way overnight so it won’t be gone overnight either.” Congrats on your progress so far!

  2. I actually went through a phase of voluntary simplicity about 10 years ago. And we made a concious decision NOT to keep up with the Jones, however we have collected our share of STUFF! Now my kids are about grown and I am ready to clear out this place! As soon as they are out for sure, we plan on traveling and working around the country, probably in a truck with a camper on the back, so I need to get used to living with less, lol! Oh well, I probably have at least 2 years before we can do that fulltime, but it will probably take me that long to lighten the load.
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/the-perfectly-imbalanced-life/

    • Faith Janes says:

      Those are some fun sounding goals. I would love to travel and camp more. It’s gonna be a great feeling to be able to pick up and camp full time. Best of luck!

  3. Faith,

    I am kind of in the same boat as Cheryl. Always a de-junker, but still have a ways to go in my journey. My newest challenge is my baby boy. I don’t buy lots of stuff for him, but our family sends him stuff constantly! Quite the challenge.

    • Faith Janes says:

      Yes, that is a big challenge. One rule to try to keep is “One thing in, one thing out.” So when a new outfit or toy arrives, see if there’s something that you can exchange it for.

  4. I have always been a declutterer, and have the personal moto that “Less is more” but recently we halve started to simplfy other areas of our life, such as work, volunteer work and activities for the kids. I thought that one activity per child at a time was a good idea, but somehow even this related to somtimes 4-5 nights a week out for the family. The family dinner is often in pj’s at 8pm while doing homework. Recent health concerns have are helping to cut back even more.

    • Faith Janes says:

      It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with activities. You’re at a big advantage just by noticing that things need to be cut back. Awareness is key.

  5. I have spent the past 6 months trying to simplify and minimalize. I don’t keep a lot of stuff, but with 3 kids the stuff keeps coming. I hope to be more strict in what we do, buy, keep and cherish as we end this year and start 2011.

  6. I am a mother of 4, who started the downshifting when my twins were born 4 yrs ago. Just in the recent year, has it turned into minimalist living. I have recently purged every area of my home including closets, drawers, attic, etc. After about 10 loads to the Goodwill and as many to the dump, I am now comfortable with our home. But as you say, its a journey and with kids its a battle. I am fearfully contemplating how to handle Christmas. One side wants the magical moment of what Santa brought under the tree for the kids, the other side doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath. Such a dilema..

    • Faith Janes says:

      This is our first Christmas as new minimalists. It is a bigger mental shift than I originally expected. Surprisingly I’m finding it harder to think of selecting a few quality gifts instead of selecting various toys to fill up the tree.

  7. I’ve been reading about the minimalist journey for months, I can’t even recall how I came across it. I’m another person who is always working on decluttering. I’ve never really spoken about minimalist living with my husband, but now we are working on a plan to move to Australia in about two years (currently in Canada). That is really changing how I think about our belongings. Do I really want to pay a fortune to ship everything to Australia? Probably not.

    • Hi Amy….you will love Australia (I live there :-)…all the best with you moving plans.
      I have been de-cluttering for a few years. Since we moved interstate (a good motivator!). But discovered Minimalism a few months back. I don’t think I will ever be a super-minimalist, but like the idea of simplifying every aspect of our lives. Even if we are busy…I want those things to be important things in our lives that build us as people rather than just doing something for the sake of it. It is getting rid of the needless things both household items and schedule items that free our lives up to do and be what we want. I guess as many people have said, it is choosing to purchase/do something wisely.

  8. Karen (Scotland) says:

    Hmm, I guess I’m new to the concept of minimalism as a lifestyle (as opposed to architecture and interior design). Although I’ve always preferred a tidy house and definite down-time in my home (as opposed to a busy meaningless social schedule), I’ve only adopted minimalism as a “policy” in the last few months.
    So, I guess we’re just at the start of our journey but I don’t feel like this is a phase. When I started reading minimalist blogs (like this especially relevant one), it all just sort of clicked and I thought “That’s it. That makes total sense in so many ways.”
    I, too, am SO impatient to be further down the path. I’d like to be at a point where I can look around a room (any room, tbh) and think, this room has what we need for this point in our life – no more, no less.
    We may have to travel at some point (Dutch husband and a possible move to Holland always lurking in my mind) so I’d like to keep it simple and easy and not a monumental task to pack up our house – that’s the extra motivation.
    OK, long enough comment now, sorry.
    Karen (Scotland)

  9. I too am just starting on my journey. Like others I’ve never been one for clutter and will happily pass on items to the best destination whenever I can in the interest of making my life ‘minimal’ but it was the beginning of life as a mother who spends most of my time in the home that I realised that we still have a lot of things that we just don’t need or use. I too, don’t like the consumerism that comes with having kids, the presents / toys that come into your life where there is no thought to where / how they are made or where they will end up in the future also gets to me.

    I look forward to when we decide to have our last child to be able to find homes for all the baby equipment that one accumulates. I’m constantly decluttering and as we’re moving back to Australia from Ireland in the New Year I’ve got a great incentive to do some serious decluttering.

    It’s also with interest that I’m finding myself not just decluttering physically but also mentally (which of course has led me onto the internet to read great blogs like yours). After working hard for so long and my mind being filled with so much information, and spending a long time coming to terms with slowing down and no longer working, I’m embracing the minimalist approach to my mind as well. Keeping it minimal and simple in all areas of my life has becoming so refreshing that I want to keep moving forward!

  10. I am fluttering..I am impatient. I want it all done now, but with the kids, work and life–I find it really hard to do the work to declutter and cull items. I have most recently had to learn and keep telling myself–that one drawer/cupboard at a time is still better than NONE.
    I am one of those sidetrackers who will get started on ripping everything apart and then I sit in my mess and think-there is NO WAY I can get thru all of this!! (all while I have created a big mess!! tee hee!) so, this week I am in the kitchen. all I have gotten to so far is my fridge. I am working around clockwise though….i put some pics on my blog….but haven’t updated that yet. sheesh!
    Much luck to all!

  11. I have just begun. After realizing this summer that I was truly miserable, I knew something had to change and I started to try to find out why I was so unhappy. I was taking on too much in life; spinning my wheels all day every day and feeling extremely busy, but also feeling like I was not actually accomplishing anything. So, I decided to let go. To say no. To let the world turn without me in charge and see what happend. And you know what? I calmed down. I am learning to be bored. To read a book again. To stop feeling obligated to keep up with current events and ‘go’ somewhere every day. I have also stopped, and looked around at my ‘stuff’ and realized that it had to go. Reading blogs like this one has helped me to let go of things that I had held onto for years ‘just because’ it was a gift, or I ‘might’ need it once a year for company. It’s great. I still have a long way to go, and getting rid of a ton of my daughter’s toys and books is challenging, but it can be done. My husband is not on board, and has a tough time letting anything escape this house once it’s in. He even ‘garbage-picks’ the piles I make for donations. This is frustrating. But I am trying to live by example, and maybe he’ll be motivated once he looks around and realizes that the only ‘piles’ left in the house/basement/sheds are his.

    • Karen (Scotland) says:

      This works, Kristin (with regards to your husband noticing).
      I cleared all “my” clutter from the attic after my last child was born (mostly baby stuff, btw so not technically mine but ours :-)). Next time my husband was up the attic, he was moaning about all the “stuff” up there and said he was sick of re-arranging all the boxes. I asked him to show me a box he would class as one that I was allowed to interfere with or bin and he realised it was all his stuff – even boxes he brought from Holland in the millennium that still hadn’t been opened. Two weeks of intensive decluttering and he had rid himself of almost 15 boxes and a whole lot more loose stuff.
      I think once people see you living by example and that you are calmer and can find the essentials easier, they realise that there might be something to what you are doing. Also, they lose that ability to say “Oh, it’s OUR mess – I don’t know where to start.”
      Just to give you some encouragement!
      🙂
      Karen
      (PS He held on to some cassette tapes. I have no idea why. I’m trying not to judge… )

  12. Catherine says:

    I have struggled for years with “stuff” cluttering up the house and consequently cluttering up the rest of my life. Housekeeping was a constant struggle as was the debilitation of constantly feeling overwhelmed, and when people came over, ashamed. It took a few years for my husband and I to realize the connection, but when we did, it was like a light bulb went on. The transition has been easier for me, for whatever reason.

    The hardest part is that I’m not a natural declutterer at all. My upbringing taught me that stuff is a symbol of your hard work. A kind of “You’ve Earned It!” trophy. The equation for me was fewer things = poverty. And why would you want to look like you were poor if you weren’t? Also when I was married I moved all my worldly possessions in two suitcases from Australia to the US, and deeply regretted some of the things I left behind, so once I was here, I clung to everything that had sentimental value.

    So for me minimalism has required a lot of self examination, and mentally and emotionally retraining my mind and heart to think differently about the whole thing. Changing habits and patterns that are so deeply ingrained is very hard, so for me it’s a very very slow process. Baby steps have been key. But it’s working!

  13. My husband, two children, and I started our path toward minimalism when my second child was born 6 months ago. The first move was to get rid of our one and only television. After that, we went through every room, closet, and drawer and purged all the unnecessary. Our most difficult tasks have been the playroom and the storage closet (where we have 7 large bins full of memories). I find myself in these two rooms several times a week asking myself what I can rid of now. But they are memories and toys my 2.5 year old plays with, so it’s been really hard.

    We maintain our minimalist life by not buying “things” anymore – except the occasional book. In our journey to minimalism, we have not gotten rid of our 500 books. In our list of what we live for, books is #2 and we cannot part with them.

    Now we are at the part of our journey where we are attacking our student loans and car loans. We already attacked and got rid of all credit card debt. Our goal is to pay off all student loans and car loans in the next 4-5 years. Then I can quit my job and stay home with the kids (thinking about home schooling).

    We love our minimalist life. I love taking the kids for hikes instead of plopping them down in front of the TV. I love having exactly one week’s worth of clothes. I love looking around our sparse house and knowing we have exactly what we need, and no more.

    Most of all, we love being able to breathe.

  14. Faith Janes says:

    Thank you all for sharing your stories and your journey. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate hearing from other people on the same journey that my family is on.

    Like many of you, I still consider myself at the beginning of my journey. But the freedom that I’m already feeling just inspires me to keep shedding more and more clutter and spreading the word to anyone that will listen. So thank you for listening and I especially thank you for sharing.

  15. I came across this post rather ‘late’, but loved reading all the replies. I got rid of a bunch of stuff last month. One area that isn’t so noticeable was going through my cupboards, purging out dishes we seldom use. I was surprised that most of them sold on yardsale! Then, my husband was talked into buying someone else’s box of 24 dinner plates that they didn’t have room for or need. So there went most of my empty cupboard space! The bright side is, we seldom will have to use disposable plates for company anymore, and we have a dishwasher.
    Otherwise, I’m still working on de-cluttering bit by bit. It sure is easy to get impatient about it!

    • Faith Janes says:

      It’s never too late to share you journey. I love reading them! 🙂

      Great job with the decluttering. Baby steps are still progress I like to say.

  16. Annienygma says:

    Our journey is still unfolding. Things that we thought we needed we didn’t and things we thought we didn’t need were handy (like toaster ovens and microwaves). I honestly don’t think our minimalistic journey will ever end.

    • FaithJanes says:

      I feel the same way. I never feel “done” with the decluttering or minimizing or even organizing. I suppose if I didn’t have kids and a such a large family, things might feel differently. But even then the messes might be smaller but there’s still a continual evaluation of what we’re keeping and what we’re adding to our lives. @Annienygma

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