Minimalism is not an end-goal, it is a tool

I have been practising minimalism for about three years now BUT if you came to my house you wouldn’t assume I was a minimalist.

My kitchen is full of craft supplies and appliances…. and I have a jar-hoarding problem that my husband makes fun of UNTIL he needs all the jars for his screw and nail collection.

My living room is full of books and every shelf has a collection of tools, toys, and socks that never made it back to their homes.

My bedroom has clothes on the floor and baskets of folded laundry seem to live at the foot of the bed.

I am not apologizing for this because I have learned that minimalism isn’t about ‘stuff’.

When I started minimalism the goal was to declutter my home.  As I learned, I was really decluttering my life.

pile of clutter in spare room

The decluttering process was an emotional boot camp

You are getting rid of things you use to identify with, clothes you never wear, things that you have to admit you will never get around to using, things that you hold on to for security, things that have sentimental value.

You get rid of the purchased and curated layers of yourself.

And then you take time in the empty moments to ask, if I can get rid of these things I THOUGHT I had to have but it turns out I don’t really love or need, then what is that I DO love and need the most?

toddler sitting at the park

Minimalism is the tool to reach the goal

Minimalism becomes less about having fewer possessions and more about how you are living life.

And when you stop to think about it you might see that you probably aren’t living the life you wanted.

I knew I had made this mental shift in approaching minimalism as decluttering to minimalist as a lifestyle but didn’t quite identify until I heard someone else explain it. I recently listened to a podcast from the Cohesive Home where they were discussing intentional living. They said something that was a bit of an aha moment for me. They said ‘minimalism isn’t the goal, minimalism is a tool to reach the goal’.

a parenting lesson we learned the hard way, simple on purpose

What is the goal?

The goal is to live a life you want,

with the things you value,

in a home you take care of,

with people you love,

and time and space to live with purpose and passion.

All of this equals intentional living, AKA Life on Purpose.

It had taken me getting rid of over half my possessions to see how much complacency had seeped into all areas of my life. They say that clutter is a form of delayed decisions. I wasn’t ever making any decisions, I was just reacting to things.

I could see that if I stayed on this path that things would deteriorate: my health, my finance, my relationships, my sense of passion and purpose. I knew I didn’t want that.

These past few years I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate more dreaming, more planning and more action in my life.  It hasn’t been seamless, or easy, or very clear on what I should do next – but I feel more awake to my life. (Check out the LIFE ON PURPOSE series here)

Why minimalism works as a tool

How could putting things into garbage bags and thrift store bins cause such a shift?

When I think about how minimalism led to such a life change I can see how it makes sense.

When we learn about minimalism there is a clear action and a clear why: get rid of the clutter you will feel better and your house will be cleaner.

So maybe we clean out a drawer or a cupboard, or even ‘that room’ that has become storage in the house. And we FEEL it. We feel proud and productive. We stand on patches of unearthed carpet looking at clear surfaces and the possibilities for the space feel endless. Heck, we could even use ‘that room’ for SELFIES now! Because NOW the world can see this room without strategic staging out of boxes and piles of clutter.

Action leads to feelings. We underestimate this fact. If we act in line with how we want to feel, for the most part, the actions will result in the feelings.

Starting the ACTION of decluttering your home can make you feel empowered. It can lead to feelings of embracing a home and a life that is meaningful to you.

(Of course, if you are suffering from a mental health issue then talk to your doctor about this, don’t assume that actions will supplement your need for professional support)

Making minimalism work for you

Of course, it can be hard to sustain enough steam to purge the whole house and keep going through it over the years. Finding ways to stay motivated can be so important. I find that doing something simple like cleaning out a drawer each month can help me remember those feels of being in control of my space vs my space being in control of me.

And if you want some regular motivation – don’t forget about the Simple Saturdays email I send out every two weeks (sign up below)

Minimalism can feel overwhelming if you treat it as a Pinterest-standard end goal. But when you start to view ‘intentional living’ as the end goal you see minimalism as something that can reach into your daily life and mindsets to help you accomplish a life on purpose.

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