It’s true that minimalism allows you to break away from the vices of modern day society in order to lead a more healthy and focused life. However, it’s also true that nothing is 100% foolproof.
We’re going to have our bloopers, our slips, and our regrets. Minimalism is definitely a learning process. You have to take time to learn more about yourself, about the world, and about what methods work best for you.
To minimize the number of errors you might face during your minimalist journey, remember to take your time and declutter your life at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Mind you, you’ll have to challenge yourself—if you don’t push yourself, you won’t move.
But don’t rush it. It’s likely to be a little uncomfortable at first; If you’re experiencing copious amounts of overwhelm and anxiety then consider that you might be making changes that are a little too big, a little too quickly.
It’s the same when you’re going into anything new: you’re going to navigate the situation using your best judgement until you get stable footing and confidence in what you’re doing. So we might stumble sometimes, and minimalism is no different.
However, it’s important to know how to laugh at yourself and dust yourself off, then adjust your course a little and keep moving forward!
Usually to make our introduction to something new as smooth as possible, we do some research. Which, surely, has brought you here! Let’s learn from others and take a look at the top most common minimalist regrets that people experience in the midst of their minimalism adventure.
The Biggest Minimalism Mistakes
First off – don’t let the mistakes get you down enough to discourage you—you’re doing just fine! And minimalism mishaps are aplenty.
Do they ruin your life? No. Can they be major inconveniences? Yes. Thankfully, these regrets can be circumvented. So jot these down in your mind so you don’t encounter the same problems.
1. You discarded something you needed
Whether by choice or by accident, you threw away something that, turns out, you actually need. In the fray of the declutter tornado you accidentally donated the necklace your grandfather gave, or purposely threw away your winter coat “in the name of minimalism!”.
The degree to which this loss will sting will depend on how special or useful the item was, but surely it’s quite a bother.
Decluttering isn’t the same as a spring cleaning session, in that it’s not necessarily something you can (or should) try to take on all in a few hours. It requires you to put considerable thought into each thing you’re parting with.
Consider everything carefully. If you really are unsure about your need for it, store it away and be mindful of how often you use it in the future. If, say, in a month you realize that you actually don’t need it as much as you thought you did, then say goodbye to it!
Minimalism procedure calls for you to steadily rid yourself of what’s not necessary over time. Just stay conscious of your possessions and how much you engage with them, and discard as you go. Trust yourself and take your time.
And if you find yourself second guessing your decision to get rid of that physical possession, maybe keep it for a few months and think it through.
2. You rushed the process
Minimalism isn’t a job, you don’t have a quota to reach (unless you give yourself a reasonable one). If you want to get rid of one thing or two things a week over the period of a year, that’s absolutely fine.
Touching on the last section, don’t start hulling heaps of your things out the door! Some people will do this in the spirit of “getting it over with” or being too eager for the challenge. Love the enthusiasm, but such hasty action can lead to problems down the road.
This is a major lifestyle change and should be enjoyable and reflective. You could toss all your things in one go. But using that method, you’re liable to be curled up on the floor a week later, wondering why you would ever do such a thing. Don’t set yourself up to regret what could be a brilliant metamorphosis.
If you want the most out of this experience, take the time to absorb the lessons you learn as you get rid of what’s not serving your best interest. Observe the steady shift in your worldview and self-confidence.
Maybe take up some mindful activities to make the transition smoother and more beneficial for you. Remember (for the hundredth time, I know) minimalism is a process!
3. You didn’t trust the process
Regaining your independence and freedom is seldom a smooth path, but we take it to reach the oasis on the other end. You might be enticed, at some point, to give up before you reach it.
Sometimes we give up or fall off just to try to get back on when things have become more overwhelming. At that point, you’ve probably accumulated more things since your first attempt which will make the second round that much more daunting.
You’re perfectly entitled to making mistakes or having an off day or two. Progress is what’s important.
Don’t get discouraged or let your anxiety make you second guess. If you aren’t feeling too good about it you’re probably taking big leaps. Slow down and make more decisions based on what you want.
Take breaks when you need to decompress. Refer back to your goals often when you need a motivation boost. Then as you begin to reap the benefits of those accurate decisions, you’ll want to do more. Stick with the process and adjust it to your comfort.
4. You didn’t start sooner
You’ve just moved into your new place: you have a clean slate and everything that you’ve brought with you. You have an expressed interest in minimalism and want to experiment with it yourself.
You could sort through your things while you’re unpacking and toss away things you don’t need or didn’t actually use often at your previous home. You could invest in a few pieces of functional furniture and storage bins so it’s that much easier to keep your home organized and clean.
You could mount your T.V. and use wall shelves to keep things off the floor. You could go through your clothes as you’re hanging them in your new closet and part with anything that doesn’t fit, is damaged, or permanently stained.
But you did none of those things. And now, months later, you’ve now have triple the amount of things you had when you first moved in. The idea of pausing the life you’ve by now established in order to make this immense change is more intimidating.
You’ve gotten used to the atmosphere in your home and can’t bother to put energy into switching it up.
Ideally, if you have the opportunity, you’ll want to start minimizing when you’ve acquired a new space or downsized. If it’s too late for that, but you know you want to minimize, make steps towards it as soon as possible.
You don’t have to immediately start tossing things—write up some necessity lists and map out a plan. A well-defined plan of action will make minimalism easier to dive into.
Do yourself a huge favor and don’t wait until you’ve acquired even more things because that’ll create a bigger task when you do finally decide to make your move.
5. You took it a little too seriously
There are no strict guidelines for being a minimalist so it’s easy to feel like you’re doing it wrong. Being wrong is so frustrating, right? That frustration could turn your smooth minimalist hike into a stressful perfectionist mission.
You’ll be worn out from rearranging your living room for the fourth time today by the time you realize that you’re probably not doing this right. You’ll get discouraged when your decor doesn’t look the part or you can’t bear to whittle down your closet any more than you already have.
Being a minimalist does require discipline at first, that’s true. But don’t feel like you’re failing just because things aren’t how you picture them in your head right now.
You have to ween yourself from certain things, practice some mindfulness, and adjust to this great change that you’re making. You’ll make choices naturally when you’ve reached the point of stability to do so.
So don’t attack it like an obligation. Instead of getting discouraged or upset, reflect on where you’re unsatisfied and why—you’ll discover a constructive way to address your problems a lot quicker.
Also, please limit the extremity of your minimalism reduction to something manageable for your circumstances. Extreme minimalists are famous for strictly possessing only that which they need to survive.
Famously, you’re considered an extreme minimalist when you can fit all your possessions in a single suitcase. However, extreme minimalism is not feasible for everyone. Don’t approach minimalism so vigorously that you end up downsizing more than what’s reasonable.
You should make it a priority to make this as pleasurable a transition as possible for you. If you make it stressful you’ll eventually turn yourself off from the idea.
Contrarily if you approach it with reasonable goals and an open mind you’ll glide gracefully into it, as you’re able to more intimately recognize and appreciate the benefits. Be nice to yourself, forgive yourself, and celebrate your smallest feats.
This is just as much an internal process as it is an external process—your environment has an effect on your thoughts and feelings and vice versa.
6. You let others’ opinions stop you
This is another reason that it’s vital to have only supportive and caring people around you. People are going to come to their own conclusions about what you’re doing and why. Parting with your possessions, downsizing your home, and simplifying your wardrobe could allude to financial or mental/emotional issues.
People’s opinions can be discouraging. Before we get to the point of detaching from opinions, we’re socially conditioned to care about what others have to say. Outside influences can be heavy and dissuade us from even starting.
Keep in mind that they’re judging from a “more” mindset. Consumerism is so deeply ingrained in our society that anything outside of that is hard for others to mentally compute – many consider consumerism as the opposite of minimalism.
Most people can’t understand exactly why you would want to do this—except for people who try to understand. Those are the kind of people you’ll want to keep close.
Perhaps you could communicate with the people close to you about your decision. Let them know you’re interested in minimalism and thinking about pursuing a minimalist lifestyle for your betterment.
Don’t worry, you’re not asking permission. You’re just expressing this transformation that you’re considering and how you feel about it.
You’ll find so much more to love about minimalism when you take the time to lull comfortably and naturally into it. Keep your goals in mind and make steps everyday towards where you want to be. Don’t force anything on yourself.
If it feels forced, you should take time to reflect on it. Confront those feelings of resistance, then minimize the emotional influence as much as possible and make an objective, goal-oriented decision.
Practice mindfulness and self-awareness while you’re engaging in minimalism—it makes an exceptional difference. The skill of detachment acquired through mindfulness allows you to make more accurate decisions without as much emotional influence. Being aware of yourself and what’s around you also lessens the frequency of mishaps.
Each of us will have a different approach and go at a different speed. And mistakes are okay! The great news is that it’s never too late to start or start again. We can only grow through trial-and-error.
Try your best not to compare your journey to others’ or what you see on Pinterest. You are unique, your circumstances are unique, and you’ll do great as long as you trust yourself and take your time.