Jumping into minimalist living can be a scary concept for a lot of people. So many people love the idea of simple living but the “how to” part can seem way too overwhelming. At least this is how I felt. When we lived in our “big house” I felt suffocated by stuff and had no idea what to do about it. Now that it’s been over three years since I began my journey into minimalism, I have put together the best 5 baby steps toward minimalist living for those out there who want simple tips for simple living but aren’t sure where to start. If you are ready to transform your life and start taking simple steps toward minimalism, then keep reading on!
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1. Write down what matters most to you
Minimalism is all about you. It’s about creating a life of intention where you can be who you want, own what you want, and all around create a more simple way of living. The best way to do this is to write it all out.
Just get out a sheet of paper and start writing down everything that matters the most to you. I personally love Warren Buffet’s 3 step method for creating intentional goals for your life.
How do you create a list of what matters to you?
- Make your list
- Look for similar themes
- Determine your top 5 most important things
If you notice your list says family, my kids, my husband, my parents… you could categorize this as “family.”
Items like workout more, lose 10 pounds, eat healthier, drink more water …can be categorized as “health.”
Things like that. Once you have your list narrowed down to the 5 things that are the most important to you, this is exactly what you need to jump start your journey toward minimalist living. Simple living is all about elimination and once you have your top 5 priorities, it makes it easier to eliminate everything from your life that didn’t make the cut.
2. Eliminate the easy things first
When it comes to simple living, I am a firm believer in starting off nice and easy. Chances are you have had things that you’ve felt were holding you back from minimalist living.
Maybe this means you dive head first into your crazy clutter filled closet and start eliminating some old, unused clothing. This could also mean, you stop forcing yourself to run on the treadmill because it’s been 6 months and you still hate it.
Whatever the thing is in your life that has been weighing you down, eliminate it. Especially if it doesn’t fit with your top 5 priorities.
What if health is one of your priorities? Shouldn’t you keep running on the treadmill? –My un-professional opinion says, “NO!” Your health is an all-around thing. It includes your entire body. If your mind is unhappy, if running on the treadmill drains you of energy every time you step onto it then you’re not really getting any healthier.
So what do you do?
Find something you do love to do. Try yoga, hit the weight room, take your dog on long walks around the park. There is always an alternative to the thing in life that is making you unhappy. Find those alternatives and use them. This is the best baby step toward simple living.
3. Declutter the tough stuff
Once you’ve eliminated the easy things, the next step toward minimalist living is to continue to declutter whatever else doesn’t fit with your list.
Baby step 2 toward minimalist living is easy because you are starting with the things that you already know you don’t like or enjoy. This step is a little harder because you might think you enjoy some of the things that have really been holding you back.
My personal example of this was shopping. I wanted more family time, more travel, more money and yet I would spend almost $500 per month on useless things. Things like nail polish, clothes, clearance shopping, fast food and alcohol. I was a sucker for a “good deal.” Even though I loved coming home with new things that I got “on sale,” it wasn’t long before I felt empty and unhappy again.
Even though I was spending my time and money on something that was (at the time) bringing my joy, I wasn’t actually working to better any of the 5 things that mattered the most to me.
This step will be tough. You will struggle and that’s ok. Setbacks don’t mean failure.
The best methods to quit bad habits:
- Write down your top 5 priorities every day
- Avoid triggers that lead to bad habits — for me that was the mall
- Find alternatives that support your top 5 priorities. — instead of shopping on impulse, I would put money into a jar to save for a family vacation.
4. Get support
Having support is important during any big life adventure. During minimalism, sticking with the journey, it is super helpful to have inspiration along the way.
These are some of my top recommendations for simple living and minimalist living inspiration. You could also just follow along with me (wink, wink) Find me on Instagram.
Minimalist reader favorites:
- The Minimalist Diet
- Becoming Minimalist: 3 Thoughts Keeping You in the Clutter
- Minimalist Tips from Simple Living Cultures Around the World
- 10 Simple Decluttering Moves That Take 10 Minutes or Less
5. Don’t compare your journey
This tip holds true for your minimalist living journey and life in general.
When I first started working toward a more simple living lifestyle, it was so tempting to look at what everyone else was doing. There were people who were living in tiny houses or living out of their backpacks. I felt like if I wasn’t living exactly like them, no one would take me seriously as a minimalist.
Please remember that there is no right way to live your own minimalist journey. Simple living should be exactly that: simple.
Get inspiration from those around you, read books, listen to the podcasts but don’t even let those icky feelings of, “I’m not doing good enough.” take over. Do what feels right for you when it feels right.
A big thing with minimalism is that it can easily be rushed into. You might find yourself regretting your decisions and ultimately giving up on your simple living dreams. Don’t do that. Start slow and be patient with yourself and your journey.