Have you ever had the overwhelming feeling that you just need to get rid of some stuff? Whether you’re planning for a big move or you’re just ready to clean out your desk at work, you might have reached a point where you feel suffocated by your material surroundings. Then, once you declutter the space, you feel instantly better.
There are some people who thrive on a creative, even messy environment. It’s not uncommon to walk into their artistic studio and see paint cans, brushes and canvases strewn about erratically. Or, maybe your favorite co-worker works best with a pile of paperwork on his desk, or buried under stacks of folders that make no sense to you but are perfectly organized to him.
On the other hand, some people are minimalists at heart. They crave neatness, simplicity and a clean living and work space. Do you think this might be you? Have you recently been looking to make a major change toward minimalism but you’re not sure you have it in you? Before you pack your first box up, read on. Today, we’re sharing five signs you’re ready to destress that mess and take the chaos out of your life.
1. You’re not attached to your belongings.
We all have those ticket stubs or photo boxes we just can’t throw away. Yet, save for a memory capsule or two under your bed or on the top shelf of your closet, you don’t have a real attachment to any of your material things.
While our culture will tell you that more is indeed more, you understand that it’s the people and experiences we surround ourselves with, not the clothes, electronics and furniture, that really matter. If you can confidently say you agree with this statement, you might be a minimalist. Are you ready and willing to share your favorite things? If someone asks to borrow your shirt or use your laptop for the weekend, is the parting quick and painless or do you do it begrudgingly if even at all?
At the crux of minimalism is the intent to own just what you need. Anything in excess is able to be given away or freely parted with without hesitation. If you’re ready to take that step, you might start in your closet. Are you still holding onto clothes you haven’t worn in 10 years? Start by creating a donation pile and see how you feel afterward.
2. You’re ready to shop less.
Are you overly tempted by online sales? Do you find yourself stopping by the local mall on a weekly basis just to check and see if any new inventory is available? If the answer is “yes,” you might not be ready to adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Why? This movement is about creating an environment of the essential, and most of the time those impulse buys leave you with more than you really need.
In other words, it’s about avoiding the urge to buy something just because it’s on sale, looks great or you’ve been eyeing it for ages. Rather, you’ll be using your things until they wear out, from blue jeans to pots and pans. This means you’re willing to pay more for things that you know will stand the test of time and outlast flash-in-the-pan trends.
There’s a reason so many of the simply-curated homes you see on social media are stocked with basic essentials such as high-quality furniture or those fiddle-leaf fig plants minimalists keep talking about. These items add beauty without overtaking a space and are designed to be long-term investments.
Conversely, that leopard-print pillow cover that costs more than your mortgage? It’s probably wise to pass on that. Thinking about buying a new plaid button-down for the fall, but you already have two hanging in your closet? A minimalist is content with those, while someone who’s not quite ready to commit to this change will hop online and find a few to grab for when the chilly temperatures hit.
3. You know what you need.
How can you know what you really need until you’ve spent some time thinking about it? In your quest to live contently with less, you might not know where to start. Begin with the basics. What hygiene products can you not live without? What about clothing items, food staples and electronic devices? Can you confidently create a list of the essentials that you use on a daily basis and commit to only using these items moving forward?
Of course, minimalism is not a jail sentence. You’re not prohibited from buying anything new at all, but the cornerstone is being able to discern your needs from your wants. To do so requires first understanding what those needs are. You aren’t setting out to deny yourself anything but to redefine your spending habits and improve your contentment along the way. Once you have this list written down, review it again to see if there are any extras you inadvertently threw in there and eliminate where you can.
4. You give away what you don’t need.
Do you find yourself constantly going through your belongings looking for things to give away or share with others? Someone who is a true minimalist at heart is dissatisfied with a closet that’s stuffed to full capacity, or an electronics drawer filled with devices that haven’t seen the light of day since 2005.
If your home is filled to the brim with unnecessary items and add-on extras, you might need to take a little time to go through these before starting down a path toward minimalism. If you have any doubt about a piece, ask yourself what value or function it gives to your life. One place to begin: If your children’s closets are still filled with plastic figurines and they’re about to graduate from college, now might be the time to consider going through those containers.
5. You want to rein in your spending.
If you’re interested in minimalism, it might be out of necessity more than an inner need to live with less. For instance, your finances might hit hard by your spending habit or your credit score might be suffering from the myriad debts you have piling up. In this way, living a minimalist lifestyle can help you maintain your quality of life while you seek to reduce those numbers and reclaim your independence.
As you do so, you may find more opportunities than ever before to save. For instance, if you buy just what you need at the grocery store instead of planning ahead for the next three months, you can better realize how you consume food to eliminate excess waste. Or, you might see that you need far fewer new clothing items than you thought as the seasons change. Sometimes, it takes adopting an entirely new lifestyle to make yourself aware of old habits that were hindering you in the first place.
Learning to Live with a Minimalist Lifestyle
Ultimately, minimalism isn’t for everyone and it’s rarely a change to be attempted cold turkey. Still, if you feel a nudging that your current consumption is over the level it needs to be, or that you have items lurking in your home that you don’t need, you might be ready to take a few small steps toward the transformative shift.
Start by culling through your old clothes and go from there. See how the change made you feel and whether or not there are other areas of your life that could use a little decluttering. As you simplify and streamline, you might find that the most important things begin to fall into place, filling the cracks and crevices that used to be chock full of filler fluff that you never needed or even used in the first place.