Minimalism has been a part of my life for…. well, probably for most of my life. For me, living a minimalist lifestyle is about having only what I use. If I don’t use it, then my desire is to get rid of it. I have this attitude because I’ve spent so much of my life travelling around, and having too much ‘stuff’ has been unreasonable. However, over the years, I’ve still managed to accumulate a reasonable amount of ‘stuff’ (sometimes I get things that I think will improve my life and be used a lot – but they don’t always end up that way), which I’m going to be looking at eliminating from my life over the next few months.
Is Ev Bogue returning to minimalism?
Ev Bogue, a minimalist whom I interviewed recently, has been talking this week about returning to writing about minimalism, after having rejected the term a few years ago. In his post, Is minimalism a dead unicorn? he asks:
Over the past few days I’ve been mulling over a return to minimalism… I still find myself self-identifying as a minimalist. All of my stuff still fits into a bag in the overhead compartment… The big issue for me is whether or not anyone cares anymore… Does minimalism have any teeth, or is it a dead unicorn? If I hit minimalism again in a series of posts, am I just kicking a dead unicorn?
I don’t think we should discuss whether or not anyone cares any more about minimalism, but whether or not WE care about writing about it. Engaging in a minimalist approach to our own life is a personal choice we make about how we live our life, rather than about what others might think of it. And for me, as a writer of a lifestyle blog, my primary interest is in writing about my life for myself, not for anyone else.
His post and resulting conversation in his new comments system has made me think about minimalism in my own life. Even though I’ve never actually dedicated myself to a life of travelling out of a backpack, it’s certainly always appealed to me.
Too much stuff
I’ve had a lot of stuff in storage for quite a while. Stuff in boxes that have been packed away and stored and which I’ve had for many years. In some cases, this includes stuff going back more than 20 or 30 years, which I’ve kept because it has strong sentimental value.
There was a time a few years ago that I threw away a great deal of stuff that had sentimental value, but my desire to let go of it was stronger than my desire to keep it, so out it went. However, the sentimental value of some of it was stronger than my desire to be rid of it, so some of it stayed. Over the next few weeks I intend going through it all again, and seeing which of my stuff no longer has any value to me, that I really no longer need to keep in my life.
These days, I can take photos of stuff and keep the photos in online storage. The only time they’ll become unavailable to me is when civilisation collapses and we don’t have electricity or the internet and we’re unable to access anything stored online. But if that happens, I wouldn’t care about this stuff even if it was physically in my life. I’d be worrying about too many other things. Maybe I’d be living out of a small backpack at that point, dodging aliens trying to shoot at me or something. (I may have watched too much Fallen Skies….)
But until then, I’d like to continue minimising the stuff in my life, so I’ll be going over my belongings with a more stringent attitude than I’ve had in the past.
The 100 things challenge
I was doing a bit of research into minimalism today, and found a few blog posts written by other minimalists about the 100 things challenge, which is basically about setting a goal to have less than 100 things in your possession.
I like it. I’m going to do it.
The idea behind it is to:
- declutter your home, and
- help you work out what’s really important to you, and
- free yourself of the bondage that many possessions bring your life, and
- have some fun in the process!
I want to do this because I know I have too much stuff already. I’ve got a few keyboards and mice lying around that weren’t suitable and were replaced. I’ve got cables everywhere. I’ve got books that I don’t need because I can get them in Kindle. I’ve got stuff that can be photographed and archived, with the originals being thrown away.
I want to minimise the possessions in my life, to feel less cluttered, less restricted, and more free. We’re often enslaved by the things that we possess, and many of those things possess us too.
So I’m going to get rid of my possessions, so that I have more choices in the future, with a goal of having less than 100 things.
The 80/20 principle
Also known as the Pareto Principle, it states ‘roughly 80% of the effects result from 20% of the causes’. In the context of minimalism and this post, only 20% of your stuff gives you 80% of your effects. 20% of your clothes are worn 80% of the time, and 20% of your household items are used 80% of the time, and so on.
Using this principle, you could probably quite easily get rid of 80% of your stuff, because it’s the remaining 20% of your stuff that provides you with 80% of your lifestyle. If you can work out what this 20% is and eliminate the remaining 80% that’s only providing you 20% value, then you’ll be a minimalist in no time!
Who invented the 100 things challenge?
It was started by a minimalist blogger called Dave Bruno, who said this about taking the challenge:
“If you do this — if you will give up your stuff for a while — I am sure you’ll never go back. You’ll spend the rest of your life creating a more valuable life, instead of wasting your money and time on stuff. You will be glad. And best of all, the people around you will be blessed by your efforts to prioritize more meaningful pursuits.”
What should be included?
It’s up to the individual what rules they set for themselves, but for me, it’s really simple.
- If I haven’t used it in the past year, and unlikely to use it in the future, then it needs to go.
- If the only reason I have it is because of ‘sentimental value’ or emotional attachment, then I need to question whether or not that’s valid moving forward, or if I’m just holding on to the past. It’ll probably go too.
- If it’s something of mine that my wife values more than I value it, then it’ll probably stay. Having stuff is important to her, but not to me – but what she values is important to me too.
I’ll be creating an itemised inventory of sorts, which will allow me to take note of all the individual things I have. I’ll use that to make some decisions about what to keep and why, and what to get rid of. The goal will be to get this inventory down to 100 things or less.
I’ll have to include stuff I have for the car too. Really important things need to stay, like the toolbox, recovery straps, air compressor hose, etc. Everything else has to go.
Will you join me in the 100 things challenge?
I invite you to join me in this challenge. Blog about your thoughts on it and your progress, and provide a link to your blog in the comments below so that we can do this together.
If you’re wondering why you might want to consider it, you shouldn’t if anything above doesn’t excite or inspire you. But if you ARE inspired and excited by this, and you’d also like to have less stuff in your life, then join me in the challenge!
You’ll declutter your home, work out what’s truly important to you, free yourself of the things that bind you, and have a lot of fun along the way.
Maybe if you have less than 100 things then you’ll be able to consider yourself part of the minimalist community. It’s not just about being able to live out of a backpack, but about your approach to life and the things that you have.
Thanks for reading! Please add your own thoughts below.
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