Traveling Packrat

Do you think this guy needs to apply a minimalist lifestyle?This is me showing off my bad habit in a different country. How embarrassing.

Post written by Kevin Olega. Follow me on twitter. Let me start by telling you a secret about myself. Before I wrote this, for the longest time, my goal was to be successful. How successful? Millionaire, passive income, financial and time freedom, gadgets and toys and living anywhere while helping others were the words I’d use to define success.

What can I say? I wanted a better life.

I started by reading books, doing research, attending seminars and meeting people trying to learn the secret of their success and pretty soon I learned how. The funny thing is, I got successful mentors and later on, I met even more successful mentors. I’m always hunting people who had what the other didn’t have. I told myself I was upgrading. Or so I thought.

As I learned the skills, I learned to be productive and I also learned how to productively be unhappy.

The old things that I valued and focused on, my talent, the industry I worked in, the company I get my support from, the products I’m selling, my ability to make a connection is all that matters. Everything else doesn’t matter. I became an entrepreneurial sociopath.

I became overly critical. Even my closest friends refer to me as “anal” about things in life. I made money and lost money while trying all sorts of things. My goal had been to make progress in leaps and bounds and I didn’t care about any consequence as long as I had success. During the time it was measured by the stuff that I could buy. I refer to this process as upgrading.

“I have got to keep upgrading” I told myself.

I upgraded gadgets and toys and in the process, I upgraded my financial obligations, also in leaps and bounds.

I was focused on the wrong things most of the time when I think about it now. I met a couple of financial disasters that forced me to stop. In my stupidity, I met more later in life.

The sudden pause from running out of money made me look at my life. I saw that my life was full of clutter. A lot of clutter.

As time passed I asked myself these questions:

What do I want?

What Is Important?

Am I sure?

Is this really what I want?

Is this really what I want or is this what other people sold me?

Is this path my idea? Is it possible that this image of success that I have in my head a well crafted image by a genius marketing team?

Am I sure this goal is mine or is goal sold to me for a vendor’s benefit?

Don’t read further and think about your life for a moment. 

Where have your decisions taken you?

I guess this is the part where we should lighten up. I’m starting to sound melodramatic. My experience wasn’t entirely useless. The weight just appears bloated. The lessons I received from training to the stuff I bought were blessings that I should be thankful for. Most of them were powerful. They were also heavy and does not fit my needs at the moment. My experience from earlier taught me that you can find anything that you need as long as you look for it. I now ask myself: “What if there are other options?” “Is this it?”

Every failure is a learning experience for future victories right? Here are a few things I learned:

1. It’s not what I didn’t have that caused my trouble, it’s the fact that I had too much. Just like food, too much is bad for us. More training and more skills spread me too thin and I had very little time to practice and implement. I was learning something new but not using any of it. I didn’t get to practice any of my skills to mastery because I was trying to fix all my flaws. I was too fucking greedy.

2. It’s not what you have that limits you, It’s what you have that you don’t use that limits you. I realized that writing was a key skill that I had for the longest and I never bothered to use it. Think about your life. What is the one thing that you are really good at? Both in your work and in life? What are you really excellent at? Are you using that skill every day to move you to your goal? I know that we could all use a little improvement in another area but the question is: “Is that area the reason why we are just average at our “specialty?””

3. It’s not the fact that you don’t have what you want that makes you unhappy, it’s the fact that you have too much that makes you unhappy. I used to think that having more is something I can use for later on and as a result, I have more stuff than I can handle. More stuff is a hassle when you want to move. More stuff is a hassle when you want space. You paid for the stuff which costs money and to maintain it and to keep it costs money and most of the time, stress, etc. I don’t know about you but I don’t like it if I have to clean and organize stuff all the time.

So what happened next?

I started checking out minimalism because I thought the interior design concepts were cool. As a result I had a long talk with two of my friends Google and Wikipedia. I found several sites that talked about a minimalist lifestyle and I was shocked to see people “giving up” their possessions, expenses, goals etc and I thought about it as their way to save up on cash, which I’m an expert at trading for totally useless stuff. 

Some writers became friends and they wrote regularly so I saw through their eyes. It’s liberating for me to become minimalist. As I explored what it meant, I tried applying minimalism to my life and bit by bit mostly because I was interested in decluttering and organizing. Everything was the same, Situations and all, but things on my end started getting lighter and soon after curiosity became an objective.

If you liked this post, send me an email to let me know. You can reach me at minimal changes at gmail dot com.