About a week before Christmas, I watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things on Netflix. The film features Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, and other minimalist thought leaders discussing how life could be better with less.
“Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” – Millburn and Nicodemus.
As the new year approaches, I’ve been contemplating ways in which I can practice more minimalism.
I spent a few hours, one December day, clearing out non-essentials from my home office. Old files, bills, knick knacks and the like. The task wasn’t hard; I run an (almost) paperless law firm and (usually) keep a clean desk.
As I scanned the rest of my home, and the personal possessions and family property in it, I found it much harder to decide on which other stuff to let go.
I didn’t choose a single toy, from my child’s pile, to give away or donate. And there were more goodies to be shared on Christmas Day.
I didn’t resolve to get rid of my car. Even though I no longer commute to work, I still need it to run errands, meet friends, etc. And I think it’s an overall bad idea for my husband and I to share his.
I didn’t talk to my hubby about selling our house and moving back to a smaller place. We have a toddler after all, and being spoiled suburbanites, we enjoy having ample physical space.
But I do stick with educational and creativity-inspiring toys that stand the test of time. I avoid trendy, heavily-branded, mass-marketed products. I choose quality and playability over quantity.
I will not replace my 2004 Toyota Corolla – which I bought while I was still in law school – with a newer and cooler car, any time soon. (Millburn and Nicodemus have the same car model and drove it around on their book tour across the U.S., which you’ll see in the documentary.)
I will not bring more things into my home unless they serve a real purpose or truly add value to my life or my family’s well being.
Side Note: In January 2016, after many years of resistance, I finally got rid of my old-school LG flip phone in favor of the then-latest IPhone. My IPhone turned out to be a useful tool in emailing clients and snapping photos of my kid. I consider it an intentional purchase and won’t be buying a new version when the current one works fine.
“There’s nothing wrong with consumption; the problem is compulsory consumption.” – Millburn
Minimalism involves more than just your material possessions. It also means saying no to unhealthy relationships and life-draining obligations to make way for positive, energizing ones.
Clearing out the non-essentials is consistent with having an internally-oriented approach to creating success. You can read more about this in my article, How to create success without setting goals.
Cheers to you and the new year,
Productivity & Purpose Coach
P.S. The car in the photo is a 1972 Valiant Ranger. My father, a natural minimalist, drove this car model for decades and, after it finally went kaput, never owned any other vehicle. The Ranger was essential. Another car was not.
Photo by: sicnag