Last week, when I was alone in the apartment, I heard a loud bang on the floor from around the corner in my bedroom. Startled, I peered cautiously around the wall to find that my dresser had completely toppled over – totally untouched. Creepy, right? I shuddered to myself. Could it be ghosts? Demons? A strong gust of wind?
Nope, it was just extremely imbalanced with all of my junk in the drawers and toppled over on its own.
Much to my surprise, as the contents of my dresser spilled onto my floor, there were so many things I forgot about or didn’t even know I had. Old jewelry, clothes still bearing store tags…you name it. Needless to say, this instance prompted me to assess my belongings in a big way.
What I found is that I have so much unnecessary shit. Mountains of it so high I can barely walk through my living space. That pile of t-shirts? Hadn’t touched them in months. Those old high heels? Haven’t worn them in a year. For someone that travels as often as I do, it’s pretty unacceptable that I hold on to so much stuff that I don’t use. I decided I had to do something about the incessant amount of junk I own.
My First Foray into Minimalism: The Game
Cue The Minimalists. If you’re wondering what that is, it’s a minimalist blog and a movement founded by two guys who believe that life is best lived with less material stuff. I stumbled upon this website just as I was trying to figure out the best way to get rid of the things that are cluttering my home and my life.
On their blog, they posted about a 30-day game they designed to help people get started with minimalism. Basically, on day 1, you get rid of one thing. On day 2, you get rid of two things. On day 30, you give up a whopping 30 things. So on, so forth. If you do the math, by the end of the 30 days, you’ll have gotten rid of 465 things total.
WOWZA. Seriously, 465 things? Do I even own 465 things?! Well, this month, I’m about to find out.
Why Minimalism? Why Now?!
I’m currently on day 13 of the Minimalism Game and still going strong. I’ve given up over a dozen old t-shirts from college, several “souvenir” type things that end up being more like trash (wrinkly free tourist maps, anyone?), and a couple of things I’d been holding onto for no apparent reason at all (burnt out candles, broken pens…? Kay, what are you doing?!). I thought it would be really hard to give up so many things, but to be honest, it has felt freeing more than anything else.
Why did I decide do this, and why now? To be candid, I think the toppling ghost dresser incident gave me some perspective on the extent of junk I own that I simply don’t need. In that moment, I realized that I can live the same (or higher) quality of life as I do right now, with probably 50% less stuff. I have some problems with keeping things I don’t need around for way too long, so I felt like this challenge would help me pare down to the essential few items that I know I need.
You might wonder why I decided not to post a material gift guide this year. Well, honestly, a lot of the stuff on those is junk and would just clutter my house and life further. Instead, I opted to buy all of my loved ones experiences instead of things this year. You should try it, too!
What Does Minimalism Have to Do with Travel?
Part of being a young professional and a jetfarer is being able to pick up and go places on a moment’s notice. Having fewer things (and relying less on material things for happiness) is one way to make this freedom and mobility easier to achieve. As someone who knows the trials of working full-time and traveling, I thought sharing this challenge might help inspire you fellow travel-loving young professionals to do the same.
Additionally, minimalism isn’t just for your life at home – it can extend into a lot of aspects of travel, too. For example, it’s always better to pack light. How do you pack light? By only bringing the things you’re absolutely certain you will use, and leaving the rest at home. On top of that, you can apply minimalist principles to buying souvenirs and items while on the road. If you don’t really need it, save the money and invest in an experience, tour, or more travel instead.
How Can I Live a More Minimalist Lifestyle?
Where to Begin
Feeling ambitious? Start with the Minimalism Game yourself. If you make it to the end, you will have gotten rid of 465 things. If you don’t, then hopefully it at least helped you get rid of all of the extra clutter in your home and life. It helps if you can find an accountability buddy who has similar goals to help keep you on track.
If you don’t think you can swing 465 things, that’s okay. Work on one aspect of your life at a time. Spend a day clearing your desk at home of everything except the critical few items you need to work and focus. Then, head to your closet. Soon enough, you will have cleared up all of the areas of your living space (and hopefully have made some additional space to move around in).
How to Maintain It
Of course, getting rid of stuff is fine and dandy, but the more important part of that is to keep up the hard work you’ve done. It’s as much as mindset as it is a lifestyle – if you believe that you do not need things to make you happy or improve your life, then you’ll choose to spend your time elsewhere. This mindset can manifest itself in a couple of ways, including:
- Day-to-day: Being ultra-selective about what you buy, and ensuring everything that enters your home or life is something that you need and will use often.
- Buying groceries: Instead of filling your fridge with more than enough food, try buying the bare minimum and replenishing as needed. If you think about buying groceries this way, you’ll likely produce less waste and spend less money unnecessarily.
- Holiday shopping: Many people think that holiday shopping = things. In fact, you can get your loved ones great presents without buying a single thing. Think about some amazing experiences you can give as gifts to your friends and family this holiday season (I hear massages are really nice…)
- Packing for a trip: Instead of packing every possible thing you could wear on a trip (or when going camping), try packing the bare minimum of what you need. It’s amazing how easily you can get by with fewer things while traveling, simply because you didn’t bring them.
You get the picture. Minimalism can impact many areas of your life, or just a few, depending on how much you invest in the concept. Isn’t that awesome?
The Bottom Line
The Jetfarer lifestyle is all about maximizing for movement. Whether you want to travel more, or be location independent, or move across the country, it’s much easier to move around when you’re less bogged down by things. I was so inspired by the Minimalism movement that I decided to immediately bring aspects of it into my own life. Hopefully, getting rid of the things you don’t need can also help you visit places you’ve always dreamed of going.
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Do you feel like minimalism could help you in your daily life? How so? Do you think this is all just fluffy advice? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
And, for even more discussions, inspiration, and travel advice, join the conversation on our Jetfarer Facebook group!