If you are close to me, you know I am a big believer in goal setting. I am always diving deeper; pushing myself, reflecting, moving forward and discovering. While not normally a stationary person; to achieve the result I desire some long sitting-sessions, filled with deep reflection and contemplation, may sometimes be required. Where I am going, what I am doing, who am I? Frankly, I have had a lot of success with goal setting, both physically or mentally.
I have been hard at work, saving money for a long-term goal, one that has been in the works for quite sometime. So I have been saving my pennies simply by doing less, and thinking more. And this in the long-term has been life changing. Before I penny pinched, I used to blow all my money. I couldn’t even tell you where 78% of my money went after I got a pay check. I shake my head perplexed, but I know where it went. Into things. Things that in the long-run have made no positive change to my life.
When I finally took a step back and looked at what I wanted (travel) versus what I had, I knew I had to make a change. Last year I started to budget, starting with simple excel documents and then going to full blown charts, and other methods of tracking my money. I did this all in the name of travel.
While not typically into New Years Resolutions, I wanted to challenge myself. One of my main goals for 2016 was to not buy any clothing at all, for 365 days. I had spent the entire year not buying the ‘extras’ and carefully cutting back on all the things I owned because how much can you actually fit in a suit care or a backpack?
Eventually, as the year came to a close I realized I lost my impulses. My impulses to buy clothing, browse stores online, go to malls to ‘pass the time’, and I stopped looking at things like I needed them. I started looking at things with a clearer view on its true cost and its true value. I just lost the impulse to throw my money at stuff, to try and get ahead, to try and buy happiness. It was amazing, I was (and still am) so proud to see myself saving money, and breaking the habit of ‘needing’.
“Your actions are your only true belongings.” Thich Nhat Hanh
When I returned home from my glorious year in Australia, I knew deep down, I had to save all my money. Somewhere along my travels I picked up an amazing thing – I stopped valuing things more than moments. But what I didn’t expect was to come home to having so much stuff.
Pulling behind me my two suitcase filled with the things I had used and loved over the course of one year, I walked into my room to find:
- A closet full of clothing – stuff I didn’t deem necessary for my trip
- A laundry basket & bin full of clothing
- A row of about 50 garments hanging up
- Shelves and shelves full of plants, Knick knacks, books, DVD’s and CD’s and mementos
- Boxes of photos, art supplies, and old files
- Boxes of bedding, and extra blankets
So many things. I was truly overwhelmed. And the worst part was, I came home with 2 massive suitcases to add to that. This was a shock. How had I accumulated so many things? And why in the world did I do it? I hadn’t even thought of those knick knacks, clothes, supplies, etc. for over a year, yet they were still there, filling a space and stressing me out.
It took me 2 days to rearrange my things. Then I went through my closet and got rid of 5 massive garbage bags of clothing and donated them. It was just insanity. I felt a little relief… but I also felt restless among all this stuff. What would I ever do with it all? Then came the idea, I will sell it. So slowly but surely I sold over $2000 worth of stuff. My new appreciation for moments over possession rubbed off on my family, they began asking me to sell things they never used but that were still in great condition.
Mind you this is still very ongoing. Everyday I donate or sell somethings all in the hopes of clearing out my once clustered lifestyle. All the while saving a few extra dollars for a few extra meals on the road, a night in a hostel, or a flight out of Canada.
Then I watched something that completely strengthened my beliefs and helped me realize what I was doing actually has a name, Minimalism. ‘The Minimalists,’ a documentary following two men on their book tour across America, talking about how minimalism changed their lives. For 80 minutes I sat enrapture, hearing their story, but also my own. They talked to specialists and everyday practitioners, people who had also learned the truth behind ‘stuff.’ Each and every one of us, from infancy to adulthood accumulate stuff believing we are on the ‘road to happiness’. This video revealed so much truth, I was in awe and instantly knew I needed to learn more. Minimalism is the slow riddance of the things in our lives, things that take away from our passion, our relationships, our mental capacity, and our livelihood. We fill our lives so full of things, but in the end that isn’t what we so desperately crave.
This short documentary, proved just that. So I dove in. I read the books and blogs, listened to podcasts and I am now a believer and practitioner of minimalism. As the video revealed there are many types of minimalism, you create your own. If it adds value to your life, keep it. If not, you don’t need it. Although simple, we have been conditioned to do the opposite. I still have to rid myself of many things, but I already see the change, not only in my bank account but also in my own psychology. We have the room, physically and mentally, to open our minds to better things, and opening ourselves up to more experiences. Because isn’t that what life is about? Isn’t that why we are all here? (Also Creme Brulee)
Minimalism isn’t just about getting rid of things. It is about growth, valuing your time, yourself and others. Clearing the clutter, clearing your schedule, and clearing your mind, of all the unnecessary and negative things. It is about rustling up passion, and conversations, asking questions and going against the grain.
Even as I write this I am overwhelmed with the sense of ‘simple.’ Sell the unnecessary, save money, invest your time in your happiness, promote growth and pursue your passions.
‘Make yourself a priority, at the end of the day you are your longest commitment.’ Anonymous
If you want to know more about minimalism, or the movement check out: http://www.theminimalists.com