Hi friend! Over the last year and a half of my minimalism journey, I made some choices that ended in some minimalism regret. I consistently worked towards living a simpler lifestyle, decluttering, and trying to figure out what I want my life to look like. However, I did not always keep my focus on the end goal. I have tested out different ideas, methods, and strategies to develop my dream life. Some worked, and others failed. But that is the beauty of this lifestyle being a journey versus a destination.
When I started my minimalist journey, my husband and I were in a transition of getting ready to stage our home and purchasing land. We knew we wanted to build a house, and it was time to put that dream into motion. We put pen to paper when trying to come up with a path to follow. I had one idea, and my husband had a completely different idea. It was definitely a challenge to evaluate what each path would look like and what worked best for us.
In the end, my husband’s idea was the better of all the options we discussed. However, this meant that we would downsize our living environment by more than half! I was TERRIFIED of what this transition would do to our emotional health, and how we would fit all of our things comfortably in such a small space.
The answer was obvious…. we had to let go of some things.
& by some things, I mean 80% of what we owned!
Yes, it is completely possible to downsize 80% of what you own, when you own a lot of excess! I have lost count of all the boxes and car loads of things that have been sold or donated. I had no clue we had so much we really did not need! It is insane just thinking about the spare rooms that were full of things we no longer have.
In addition, we were not only decluttering our possessions, but also changing our thought process. Thinking about all the excess we had, we began transitioning things in our life. Minimalism is not only about being tidy and having just what you need; it is also about conscious and purposeful living.
We looked into removing chemicals, plastics, processed foods, etc from our home; reducing our carbon foot print; and how to live more sustainable. At one point, it became overwhelming, because we were trying to change so much so quickly. I currently have running list of things I want to improve in our lifestyle. It has taken time, and, so far, each change has been worth pursuing or researching.
We have a long ways to go, but are so excited about our journey. It is funny, because at first, my husband was hesitant about all of the changes. Now he is almost completely on board with what I hope to change in our lives. [I am the research guru in our home. When I find new ideas, I bring them to him, so we can collaborate about the possibility of trying it ourselves or not.] It has been a complete adventure downsizing, minimizing, and transitioning to a more sustainable lifestyle.
So why am I telling you this story?
Well, I am glad you asked! I get asked a particular question that I have not had an answer for until a few weeks ago. It took a few family emergencies, super busy schedule, and a new endeavor for me to see what I had been missing.
The question I am answering today is:
What is my biggest minimalism regret?
This is a tough question, because I love everything about living simple and intentional. But after some thinking, I think I know what my biggest minimalism regret is…
My biggest minimalism regret is thinking I needed to change everything all at one time versus changing one thing at a time. When transitioning into a minimalist lifestyle, certain things are brought to your attention, such as
- ethical shopping
- certain diets
- living plastic-free
- living chemical-free
Becoming a minimalist can open your eyes to seeing what is important, and being eco-friendly is a high priority for a lot of minimalists. I am not disagreeing with it, but I took these thoughts to the extreme. Thinking I had to live as a zero-waster, vegan, only shop second hand, etc. While these are things I may or may not transition to in the future, I did not have to do them all right in the beginning. Thinking I did drove me crazy!
In the first six months, I focused on decluttering as well as all of these. It did not take long to become burnt out with thinking about my next step. For some reason, I could not grasp that I did not have to do all of this at once.
Baby steps were only allowed in my decluttering stage, because I wanted to make a lifestyle change. Why this idea did not carry over into everything else that spiraled from this transition, I am not sure. It could have saved a lot of headaches and feelings of not doing enough.
So let me walk you through the changes that stuck, did not work, and could possibly work in the future.
Changes that worked…
A year and a half into my minimalist journey, I have transitioned my life with a few of these ideas. My family grows a garden each year so that we eat quality vegetables and fruit. We purchase things in bulk to reduce excess waste, and raise most of the meat we consume. I try to purchase organic when possible, and have reduced the amount of processed foods we eat. We are currently trying to transition into clean eating, but my rules may not be as strict as your rules.
When it comes to clothing, I love shopping second hand. While it does not always work out for me, I do my best to not buy new. If I do buy new, I make sure it is something of quality that will last for years. Same goes for my husband. Neither of us have large wardrobes, so when something needs to be donated or tossed [for whatever reason], it has to be replaced. Being more conscious of how clothes are made, I do try to always buy from ethical brands.
Reducing plastic is another change we are making. So far, we have switched our kitchen utensils to wood or stainless steel [weary of silicone, because it is a plastic bi-product] and our drinking glasses from plastic to glass. Our soap dispensers are glass. While my husband is not on board just yet, I have started to use a filtering water system for our home to reduce the plastic water bottle waste.
Changes that did not work…
Becoming zero-waste is something I can only dream of achieving. We do not have a bulk store close to us, so taking glass jars to be filled instead of buying things already packaged is not an option. I do shop at our local club grocery store that has the larger/industrial sized products, so there is less waste than purchasing from my regular grocery store. For example, I purchase industrial sized containers of cooking oil versus several small containers, leading to much less waste.
Simplifying my aesthetics is another change that has not worked. I love the Scandinavian minimalist look, but switching to all black and white with natural accents is not my thing. I love color! My bedspread is a red and grey plaid. My rug has green and red all over it. Several furniture pieces are chocolate brown. While this is not as eccentric as some, my home contains more color than the black/white aesthetic commonly associated with minimalism. I have tried to tone down my color palate a bit, but it will never completely be to the black/white standards.
Frugality is something that is associated with minimalism, and I am not sure why. I am typically a frugal person by nature, but what I am referring to is an extreme frugality. I do believe being frugal is a great option, but is not always essential. For instance, shopping for a staple item in your closet is one that you should consider spending a little extra to get. I have purchased many cheap pieces of clothing because the price was right. However, I actually spent more in the long run, because I had to replace these items more frequently. By purchasing a quality item that costs a little more can save you in the long run, due to being a better made piece.
Changes that can work in the future…
I believe my husband and I will make many changes in the future, but a few to name specifically are:
- Becoming completely chemical-free in the home. [almost there!]
- Eating 100% clean. [Of course this is by our standards and rules. It may not look the same for you.]
- Replace OTC medicines with holistic options.
There are many more, but these are some that I want to share with you today. This list could change, expand, contract, and all the fun things lists do. Regardless, we have some goals to work towards!
If you are struggling to take the next step in your minimalist lifestyle, I want you to know you are not alone. I was completely lost in the beginning, so I turned to minimalists that inspired me for guidance. Samantha Lindsey, Melissa Alexandria, Rachel Aust, Karin @ Truncation, and Jennifer @ Simply + Fiercely were a few who helped me directly and indirectly.
I encourage you to find one or a few minimalists who inspire you! [Of course, I would love if one of them was me 😉 ] Just reach out and ask for help! We are in this together, and no you do NOT have to do it all at once! Baby steps are the steps that change our lives!