“The enemy of art is the absence of limitations.”
Since about last year, I’ve been learning to lead a simpler, more minimalist life. Before, I would plan every month’s budget based on things I wanted to buy: shoes, dresses, trips. Now, I’m constantly looking for ways to spend less and save more.
Most recently, I’ve also reduced my working hours, meaning a significant salary drop. For years, I’ve strived to earn more to spend more – now, for the first time ever, I made a conscious choice to earn, work and spend less.
To my own surprise, the sense of relief, freedom and pleasure I discovered in the process was truly refreshing. Not only do I need less than I initially thought – spending less has helped me shift focus to my true values, allowing me to dream again.
For years, work has been my greatest goal. I’ve let myself be guided by a false idea of security and success, surrounded by stockpiles of possessions, extending my lists of must-haves and expanding the space to store them.
While I’m still not quite ready to call myself a minimalist, I’ve been busy reducing my clutter and consumption, learning to streamline my storage and spendings, putting the minimalist principles into practice.
To my own surprise, this new approach seems to have worked wonders. I’m calmer and more focused on what truly maters: freedom, friends, health and happiness. For now, I don’t have an end goal in mind – just enjoying the tiny steps along the way.
Are you ready to kickstart your own journey into minimalism? Here’s what I’ve learned so far: a few surprisingly simple truths I uncovered in the process that helped me change my attitude towards money, lifestyle and happiness.
- We need less than we think. When I started streamlining my wardrobe, I realised that I mostly reach for the same pieces and outfits, day after day. Same goes for beauty, books, kitchen supplies, etc. Uncovering my true needs and preferences helped me let go of the things I didn’t actually need.
- Transformation takes time. I’ve embarked on the decluttering journey around a year ago, when moving to a much smaller apartment. Initially, I was scared and overwhelmed by the prospect of downsizing – now, I constantly search for new ways to simplify, discard and organise.
- Money is a tool. By understating exactly how much money goes into fixed monthly costs – and cutting down, where possible – I managed to create a specific spending plan that gives me peace of mind. Knowing I have enough to meet my needs each month means I can stress less and enjoy life more.
- Spending doesn’t bring happiness. I used to reward myself for every little success or accomplishment by heading to a store or surfing online in search for the next it-bag. Now, I find joy in very different experiences: a healthy home-cooked meal, a little gift for the loved one, a steamycup of cappuccino.
- We notice what we have. Owning less has helped me appreciate what I already have. While occasionally I still feel tempted to refresh my wardrobe or house, I know I have enough, which in turn forces me to be more creative with my current possessions, eventually reducing the urge to add more.
- Every purchase matters. Before committing to anything new, I stop, notice and ask myself a series of questions. Will it bring me closer to my goals? Is it in line with my values? Do I really need it or am I just filling an emotional void? How often will I use it? Will it make me happier in the long run? Where will I store it?
- We become more generous. Now, that I finally have more time, energy and financial freedom, I notice I have become both more generous and intentional with the way I spend my resources. Having the chance to celebrate the people who mater to me the most is the biggest and greatest accomplishment so far.
- Life becomes easier. Less possessions lead to less maintenance and less stress. A neat, organised space is much more satisfying in terms of aesthetic and efficiency. It also reduces “decision fatigue” – the small, everyday choices, such as what to eat, what to wear or when to respond to emails.
- We start saving more. By optimising my spendings and significantly reducing my shopping lists, I tend to end up with some extra money that I can save or add to the next month’s budget. It also helps me adjust my spending plan, meaning I know exactly where my money is going.
- Freedom is priceless. Knowing what truly matters and working towards the real goals and dreams is what life is all about. Owning and needing less is so liberating because it expands the space and time to acknowledge and pursue our most authentic values – whatever they may be.