Generically, a minimal lifestyle is getting rid of what you don’t need. I’ve gotten rid of clothes, dishes, knick-knacks, books I’ve read, books I haven’t read, toys, furniture, square footage, keepsakes, and shoes. Some things are easier to get rid of than others. I’m definitely struggling to get rid of things. I still have bins full of stuffed animals, keepsakes from high school, CDs that have been on computers, iPods, and iPhones for ages, and all the other stuff I just like to have.

Practice makes minimal-er

Today, I filled two garbage bags full of clothes. I still have a six drawer dresser, half a closet, and a laundry basket full of clothes. Not to mention a hall closet full of jackets, a shoe organizer full of shoes, and a dresser top and closet shelf full accessories. Baby steps! I consider myself a minimalist even if it may not look like it. Call me a beginner.

clothes in two trash bags

Practice makes minimal-er.

And then there’s the whole accumulation problem… I’m starting two new careers right now and all I want to do is buy the things that make me look like someone who does those things.

As I was attempting to get rid of all but 33 clothing items (Ha! No.) I started thinking about all of this minimal stuff from a different angle. Why am I trying to get rid of this stuff? What is the real purpose? Am I just trying to be minimal and fit in with the cool kids? Well, yeah, always. But not actually. Okay, but only a little.

Why minimal?

No. I’m not trying to fit in and be a minimalist. That’s not even a goal for my life, not really. I am trying to create the lifestyle that I want and it just so happens to be outside the scope of what I (and many others) consider ‘normal’. I am trying to mesh work and life, I am trying to save the world, and I am trying to create a life that fits as close to 100% of my values as possible. And that’s a HUGE psychological burden. And it calls for a LOT of work and time and courage and risk and I already have anxiety issues. Anything that makes it harder for me to accomplish my goals has to go.

Minimalism is my means to an end

Pursuing a minimal lifestyle reduces the psychological burden that having ‘stuff’ brings. It makes sure that the things I own are directly related to my goals and happiness. It takes away barriers, both literal and imagined. It is easier for me to get ready in the morning if I only have so many clothes to choose from. The books I want to read are easily visible on my shelf. Living in an apartment means I don’t have to spend time cleaning more than the spaces I actually live in and use on a day to day basis.

I’m not getting rid of things because I don’t like or don’t want those things, I’m getting rid of things because I need the physical and mental space to keep working towards my goals. I got rid of the clothes that I don’t wear, that don’t make me feel good, and that are just done. I’m okay keeping what I have, for now. Everything has a place and everything has a use. I’m trying not to accumulate things unless they are something I don’t have and that I do need to accomplish my goals. I did keep the zip-up and the workout pants I bought last week because they did fill a space and make me feel good as a coach.

Future practice

Over the next few weeks, I am participating in a meditation/mindfulness group and one of the goals I put was to get rid of 15 things a week. Since my last purge of stuff, there are more things that I know I don’t need, but after those things are gone, I’m going to have to push myself. I’m going to have to recommit to my goals and analyze what I need in my life. I think that will be good practice for the future as well. As more decisions and opportunities present themselves, I will (hopefully) get better at identifying what truly aligns with my goals and values. And each choice will take me one step closer to my goals.