Minimalism & Reality-Givers

The road to minimalism is decorated with all the usual discomforts that come with change, from the guilt of indulgence to the glaring realisation that you’ve been moving, except in the wrong direction.

From the beginning, Minimalism in my mind has represented the path that would help me pare back all the distractions, all the debris and all the disillusionment that exists within my life so that I could get to the core of what life is really about. But so far, I am fighting a battle with the ‘me’ that I have dedicated 30 years to creating, and every single day is an epic battle. My brain, my habits, my weaknesses, my environment, my lifestyle has (up until the last 6 month) been designed to cater for indulgence, excess, greed and the unceasing hunger for more.

How easily my mind tricks me into thinking that it is acceptable to buy order after order from online stores, how deviously it makes me believe that spending money will make me happy and that I’ll regret it if I don’t. These subliminal influences ever so gently nudge me off course, bit by bit, thought by thought until one day I realise with a start that I don’t even know where it is I’m headed anymore.

Today I met someone who does not come from a life that is as lucky as mine and because of this he has to work so much harder to even dream of having what I have. And one question he asked me which was a sobering dose of reality was: “If you knew you would die in 2 years time, what would you spend your time doing?” I answered without hesitation: “I’d travel the world”, to which he laughed and said, “We say that and yet if we look at what we do day-to-day, it doesn’t reflect that at all”.

My Dream: to be free and not anchored down by possessions, to be weightless so that I can move easily to wherever I may please, all around the world.

My Reality: spend most of my time working to make money, which I will then waste while countless hours shopping for things I don’t need.

I’ve watched countless Youtube videos on Minimalism, I have read books on the topic, I have watched documentaries and while they do act as a gentle reminder of what I should be doing, nothing is more sobering than someone smacking you in the face with reality and pushing you out of your existing perspective and into a new one.

Therefore my recommendation is: if you choose to go on this journey and you’re going to be in it for the long haul, then invite and welcome these reality-givers into your life with open arms. They will be people from different walks of life, people you may not normally associate with, people who see with different eyes then you and those close to you. They will help propel you into the direction you want to go in when you are wayward and lack the discipline or strength to follow your goal. Let them pry open your mind and your eyes so that you can see what’s really there.

Questions to Ask as a Minimalist

My weakness, my addiction, my love – shopping. If there is an opportunity or excuse to go shopping, I will find it in a heartbeat. Online, offline, sale or no sale, I will find a reason to spend money like a fish finds water.

For me, to change my habits successfully I need to stagger it into stages, with each stage being a further departure to what I am currently used to.

My current change process for my shopping habits – Step 1:

  1. Asking myself a list of questions regarding the item during the buying process.
  2. When I online shop, I try to cull my shopping cart as much as possible.
  3. When my purchases are delivered or when I bring them home from a store, I try it on with different outfits to make sure its versatile and complements more than one outfit.
  4. After all the above, I ask myself again – do I love it?
  5. Unless I have fallen madly and deeply for an item, I will return it. If I feel like I have fallen in love with an item, I will then wait a few days and if the feeling remains the same then I’ll keep it.

For this month alone I will be returning more than $900 worth of purchases which equates to roughly 95% of what I ordered. This in itself is a drastic improvement from the 50-60% that I’d previously return.

Questions I now ask myself when making a purchase:

Judging Criteria for clothes

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Does the colour suit me?
    (Note: this is different to “Is the colour pretty?” – just because its a pretty colour doesn’t mean it suits your skintone)
  • Does the material feel nice and look nice on me?
  • Does it fit me?
    (Note: this means ‘Does it fit me now?”, not some arbitrary date in the future when you’ve lost 5kgs)
  • Is the cut flattering on me?
  • Does it complement other clothes/outfits I already own?
  • Does it fit my lifestyle?*
  • On what occasions will I wear this and how often do those occasions occur?
  • Do I already have something similar to this?
  • Can I wait for another week/month before I buy it?
  • Do I need it right now?
  • How hard is it to clean and care for?
  • Is the cost worth the value?

Judging Criteria for other items

  • Do I love it?
  • Does it bring me joy?
  • Do I already have something similar to this?
  • How often will I actually use this?
  • Does this item serve more than one purpose?
  • Does it fit into my lifestyle?*
  • How difficult will it be to dispose of this item? (Sustainability)
  • Is the cost worth the value?
  • Where will I store this item?
  • Can I wait for another week/month before I buy it?
  • Do I need it right now?

Step 2 of my change process for shopping is to go from ‘buying it and returning it’ to not buying at all in the first place.

*Note: the question ‘Does it fit into my lifestyle?’ refers to whether the items you purchase actually match the way you live. For example, I spend 80% of my time at work and 20% of my time socialising with friends. This means it doesn’t make sense for me to have 80% of my wardrobe focused on casual clothing when that only takes up 20% of my life.