In 2010 I decided to clean my desk, Reduce my belongings, free up my time and have less expenses and start a blog. I was scared to do it. Despite that I named my blog minimal changes and I started doing small and unnoticeable changes. A few months into it I decided I wanted to become a minimalist. I wanted to live with less than 100 things. I wanted to cut down my overhead expenses to a minimum. I wanted to be content and happy with my life. I realized that I was tired from the get rich first before you can live a happy life and just learn to live in the present.
A couple of weeks ago, I paid for the hosting and renewed the domain for minimal changes. Here are some lessons that I find interesting.
1. The same people who discouraged you from going after success will discourage you from living with less. I know right. It’s the same people. A few years back I talked to my dad about how I plan to be ultra successful selling skin care (Nu Skin) and I got blasted with feedback. In 2011 we got to talk again and I told him that I was pretty content with my life and I’m trying to live with less and be content but still trying to improve a bit and I got a similar reaction, only this time it was about me throwing away my ambition.
2. Life is easier with less stuff (physical items). It’s true. Before I started, I could fill an SUV up to the roof with my stuff. I had so much clutter lying around you’d be embarrassed you know me. Now, I can pack all my stuff in less than 5minutes. I can put all my clothes in two back packs (I can get one large bag but I’m making it a point not to buy new stuff) and my shoes in a paper bag and I’m good to go. I also know where all the items are because there’s not much to track.
3. Letting go of unnecessary expenses opened up the possibility for bigger expenses I wanted to spend on that I previously couldn’t afford to do so. I couldn’t pay for a $200 debt because I had no money left at the end of the month. I didn’t have a savings account. I had no budget for dates and going out. When I started to write my expenses down, I saw where all the money went and made adjustments regularly. After a few months, I was able to pay for my debt, start a savings account, pay for dates, massages, road trips and whatever I previously only wanted to spend on. In fact, right now I only spend half of what I make. That’s for another story though. I’ll tell you about it later.
4. Shopping should be a pleasurable activity and not a troublesome one. I like shopping. I like nice clothes and gadgets and home stuff as much as the average guy or maybe a little bit more. I’m also an impulsive buyer. When I became a minimalist, I started questioning every intention to purchase, I always think in terms of permanent before I buy anything. That way I have I’m able to keep my eye open for good deals.
For example: Is this the bag I’d want to use permanently? If this is the last bag I’m buying in this lifetime would I be happy with it? What bag do I have am I willing to give up for this bag? How many hours of work do I need to spend to pay for this bag?
Doesn’t that make it more stressful? Not at all. I get to look at more stuff and find better value for my money. Sometimes I get stuff for free or close to free.
5. Knowing you have money and not spending it is a lot better than having a lot of stuff to impress other people. It’s true. I know people who have good stuff (cars, gadgets, clothes, etc) but are pretty broke all the time. I guess appearing cool has it’s perks but having money has better perks.
Another thing, window shopping feels a lot better when you have extra money rather than shopping knowing that you’re spending your last money and should you need money later you’ll have to pull from your savings or borrow from someone you know.
Things really are limited at one point. I’m not questioning your ability to make more money but let’s just use how much you made last month as an example. For example, $2,000 or whatever your income you made last month has a limit and it’s a number. It’s limited to that number for that point in time. Knowing that your income is limited would you put it where it delivers value or where it doesn’t. Pick your battles carefully.
6. Being limited sets you to be creative. Instead of relying on technology, I used some techniques to get things done. I don’t have Siri to transcribe dictated text so I created a work flow where I write most of the stuff I want to write on a bus. I encode and publish with an iPod Touch or a laptop. Previously I only used Google docs or simplenote to be able to write from anywhere then publish. I wanted a Macbook Air and an iPhone but that can wait. My current tools will suffice.
7. Your current tools are enough. I used to just write things on paper and encode things online through a computer rental place or by borrowing a housemate’s laptop or during break time at work. I eventually got myself a USB thumb drive, then a laptop of my own, a home internet connection, then an iPod touch. I always wanted an upgrade. I also realized that I”ve been doing fine without these things. The Macbook Air I’m lusting for has roughly the same specs as my current laptop. 2 GB ram. 70 GB hard drive. I’m using a Fujitsu LifeBook ultra portable laptop (you know those netbook sized laptops?). The Macbook Air is so slim and light I can bring it anywhere. That’s the only thing I like about it and the cost is about $1,000. I can write from anywhere with my current laptop. My work recently provided me with a larger laptop with similar specifications and I had to bring it with me all the time.
8. You are enough. Self improvement and productivity junkies spread the mantra be positive and get better. Subtly it says, you have to be positive no matter what and you have to change because your current self is pretty worthless. For several years I got stuck to that mindset. I hate all of them now. Hanging around with them made me feel inadequate and the words seem to have done more harm than good. It made me treat non-positive people badly. It turned me into a liar. I pretend bad things don’t happen and just focus on my goals. Clinging to their words are all bullshit. Here’s an alternative mindset. You’re already perfect. Nothing in you needs to change. You don’t have to. If there’s anything that needs to change in you you’ll be the first one to know. If you’re interested in learning some stuff you’re free to do so. I would recommend that you don’t let others nag you. Your goals are adequate, your current state is adequate. You are enough.
With that said I don’t think I should add more. The last lesson is at eight. I wish I could do more but this is all I have at the moment. I hope you enjoyed this post. I hope you enjoyed joining me on this minimalist journey. I wanted to become a minimalist because I wanted to be free and to have more control. As I learned to live with less I realized that I also needed to give this up. The less I feel I needed to be in control, the more opportunities for me to love, be grateful and enjoy the moment. Perhaps, that’s another lesson. Perhaps, I should rewrite this paragraph. But that’s all what I wanted to say. As I type this, I imagine I’m talking to you. I picture both scenarios, you’re here in my room reading what I just typed or me, wherever you are, waiting for you to finish reading, smiling at your reaction and excited about your comment.
I’m sorry there’s no number ten. I ran out of what to say. You’re welcome to reread number nine though.
Thank you for reading.
Did you also go after a minimalist lifestyle? What was your experience?