I’ll be honest, I didn’t give minimalism much thought until Joel and I were faced with some big life changing decisions last year. It was just something nice to think about, that I’ll get around to someday.
A sudden change
But then I was unexpectedly let go from my full time job in February of 2019. I suddenly had some very important decisions to make. Would I try to find another full time job or would I start my own consulting business and work for myself?
Even though it was scary to think about a future that didn’t include a steady income every month it was also freeing! I could take a couple of months off and really think about how I wanted to live my life going forward, and how it fit in with Joel’s life and what he wanted.
Joel had been working as a freelance film producer in Nashville, TN since 2010 so he was very supportive of me transitioning into working full time for myself. We would both be working from home, or rather, working remotely now. That meant we had an even bigger decision to make.
Do we sell the house, everything we own and travel? Well, it turns out, Yes. As you can imagine, that led us to rethink our whole lifestyle and began our journey of how to live as a minimalist as possible.
How to start decluttering
This is just the beginning in a series of posts about minimalism, how we got here, why we decided to sell everything we own and what we’ve learned along the way. It will by no means be a complete guide but will hopefully get you started. Now onto the steps!
Step 1 to minimalism
First and foremost to starting on the minimalist journey, you just have to make a decision. I’m the type of person that once a decision is made then it’s full speed ahead. No looking back, only moving forward.
Once we decided to sell our house, everything we owned and travel full time we had to set goals and give ourselves a certain amount of time to get everything done. This can be applied to anything, maybe it’s simply cleaning out a room, or a small closet or downsizing. Sometimes the decision is the hardest part so starting there can already be a win.
Step 2 to minimalism
Where to start? This step was one of the more difficult ones for me because it was so overwhelming. We went to the extreme with selling pretty much everything we owned but you can certainly start smaller which I would recommend.
The easiest place for me to start was with my clothes. I looked at each piece I owned and if I hadn’t worn it in over a year it was going to be donated or I would try and sell it. I had to take a couple of passes at this but I eventually got my clothing situation down to a manageable amount. Next I moved onto shoes, belts, purses, and jewelry and applied the same rules.
Update: after traveling for the last 10 months I can say I kept too much clothing and need to purge even more! So I will be taking my own advice again!
Step 3 to minimalism
The next step for me was to move onto closets. Since I had already gone through my clothing that seemed like the next best area to tackle. I had a wooden chest and another container I had designated for keepsakes so that made it easy to start culling through items. I ended up keeping pictures, family heirlooms, some books and a couple of mementos from past vacations.
I also set aside a small filing cabinet for essential papers like taxes, medical records and insurance. Everything was labeled and then filed away. Again, I evaluated each item and if I hadn’t pulled it out to look at it or use it in the last year it needed to go.
Step 4 to minimalism
I think this step was probably the hardest and also the trickiest for Joel and I. We had to start by picking a room and methodically go through all the things in that room. We had bookcases full of CDs, books, notebooks, binders full of notes, stacks of papers, more books, music posters and memorabilia and the list goes on!
Because we only had a couple of months to get this done a lot was donated or thrown away. We ended up throwing away way more than I thought and that was tough. I would not advise doing this.
If you aren’t on a tight deadline, do a little bit of research to find charities or organizations that would benefit from the stuff you are letting go of. Then you can schedule pickups or drop offs with them.
We did this with some of our furniture and it really helped to get it out of the house quickly and efficiently. We called Habitat for Humanity and they came to our house with a truck, a couple of guys and hauled it away, super easy and our items will have a second life helping others!
Step 5 to minimalism
Step five is a repeat, take another pass at everything. I found I actually had to do this a couple of times over the course of about five months. When you initially start going through things, especially for the first time, it can be pretty hard to let go.
Revisiting some items later on can help once you’ve become more detached from them or more open to the idea of minimalism. Now that we’re 10 months into this whole lifestyle change I can say that we still have too much stuff! Time for us to start going through the steps again.
Final Thoughts on our minimalism journey thus far
We’re still in this journey to living a more simplistic life and have a lot to learn. After selling our house and getting rid of pretty much everything I have to say I don’t miss any of it. For me, and I know for Joel, it felt like there was a big weight lifted off of us. I don’t know how long we’ll live a minimalist lifestyle or travel full time but for now, it feels right.
Would you sell it all to travel?
Let us know in the comments