aspiring minimalist

Why are you still just an “aspiring” minimalist?

Something I’ve seen a lot lately while browsing Twitter for new friends to follow is people labeling themselves as an “aspiring minimalist”.

Aspiring? Aspiring to me sounds dreamy, like those far off dreams we have of living on an island and being a surf instructor, when we have never even touched a surf board. It lacks the concreteness of reality.aspire definition

Why limit yourself?

If you “want very much” to be a minimalist, why not be one?

Perhaps those self-defined aspiring minimalists are just waiting to find the time to go through all their belongings. Maybe they long for a clutter-free home, yet see the process as so grand and daunting, they can never quite seem to spare an afternoon.

I invite them to find 30 minutes to clear one junk drawer.

Perhaps there are some aspiring minimalists who have taken those first steps, gone through the KonMari method with their wardrobe, and yet still don’t feel they’ve quite achieved “minimalist” status.

To them I say, you don’t have to live in an empty room to call yourself a minimalist. (tweet that)

How do you become a “minimalist”?

Minimalism can be a long, slow process. For some it can take years. You don’t have to wait until your mission is complete before claiming your title.

I don’t remember when I first started calling myself a minimalist. I think it was when I realized how much physical clutter affects me and when my perspective on possessions changed. With my new perspective came my new label.

But in retrospect, I’ve always been a minimalist — I just didn’t realize it for many years. I lived in clutter for most of my life, and felt the emotional repercussions of it. I was a minimalist living in a cluttered house.

Do you have to wait until you’ve achieved Christ-like perfection before calling yourself a Christian? Or wait until you’re floating around in enlightenment before calling yourself a meditator? Or until you can bend in ways previously thought impossible before calling yourself a yogi? No. These things are practices, lifestyles, or ways of life. They are ideologies you can choose to follow because they resonate with you.

Minimalism isn’t as extreme as you think it is

We often picture a minimalist as someone who sits on the bare floor of an all-white apartment with maybe, maybe, a glass of water and a lamp in the corner.

Minimalism is not that extreme.

Everyday people living everyday lives can be minimalists. Your neighbor or child’s teacher or coworker might be one and you don’t even know it!

Minimalism doesn’t even have to be a huge change for you. You might find that you only have a few extra things around the house that aren’t serving you — yet what a difference it makes to remove them!

Making the jump

If you resonate with the ideas of minimalism, you are a minimalist. If you’re a minimalist and haven’t started decluttering your home or changing your purchasing habits yet, I invite you to start now. It’s uncomfortable to live counter to what feels true to you. And living with intention feels so much better.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

Do I have to pay hundreds for this bachelorette party? | Ask LFB

Dear Brianna,

A good friend of mine is getting married next year and her bachelorette party is coming up. The girls who are planning it seem disorganized but want us all to commit to chipping in a certain amount for it. It seems like a lot of money for one weekend and I’m not sure what it could possibly be going to. I do know they want to do some extravagant things like fancy dinners and spa treatments, which I would personally rather not spend money on. It’s important to me to show up and support my friend, but I feel conflicted about committing when they aren’t sure what the final budget will be yet. What if I commit and then have to pay hundreds of dollars for something I don’t want?

—Sincerely, Crystal

Hi Crystal! Welcome to the LFB fam!

First of all, let me tell you that you are not alone. I’ve talked in depth with friends who know the wedding struggle all too well. Between bachelorette parties, bridal showers, the wedding and reception, plus gifts for each occasion and airfare and hotels and dinners… it adds up real quick.

It’s all done in the name of supporting your friend and the love that she has found. Which, really, what better things could we celebrate in life?

But is spending tons of money the best way — or the only way — to support them? What if you end up going into debt to do it? Or working overtime and burning yourself out trying to afford it all? What will you sacrifice that you’d rather put that money towards?

Bachelorette parties can be tons of fun, but it sounds like some of the activities they have planned wont be much fun to you. You have to decide: if you do spend money on those things, will you likely end up having fun afterall, or will you likely resent it and just be stressed the whole time?

Two things are important to remember:

  • You always have a choice (tweet that)
  • You can set and keep your standards without limiting others (tweet that)

So here’s what I would do:

First, tell the girls in charge that you will commit to attending, but that you might not participate in all events. That might mean that everyone else goes off to the spa while you go for a walk around the city by yourself, or do another cheaper activity. Send this in a group email if you can, so that the other girls see that one person was brave enough to voice concern, and I wouldn’t be surprised if others speak up, too. If enough girls speak up, they’ll make alternative plans. If only a few, at least you wont be alone while the majority go out.

Next, tell them that you are definitely prepared to chip in, and will do so once the final budget has been established. Wording it this way, you’re setting your standard without dissing their current organization skills.

Third, ask them to have the final budget broken down by event (ex. ~$100 dinner here, ~$75 tickets here, etc) so you can see where the money will go and make your own final budget from there. Let them know that you will then pay an amount based on the activities you will participate in, so they can be assured all your expenses will be covered.

I’m sure you’ll be able to attend the party and still stay within your financial comfort. And you’ll have fun even if you skip a few events! These occasions are more about bonding together as women than they are about the activities.

And, for any readers in a similar situation who decide to skip the whole weekend altogether, remember that that is a perfectly acceptable choice and that there are many other ways to show the bride your support. You never have to spend money you can’t afford to show your love for someone. (tweet that)

Have fun and congrats to the happy couple,

Brianna

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

You’ve done well. Now enjoy.

With the new year quickly approaching, I want to remind you of a few things:

1. You’ve done well. You’ve done well this year. You’ve pushed through things, overcome some and are still working on others. But you’ve done well so give yourself some credit.

2. You’ve done a lot more than you think you have. Looking back at the year as a whole, it can feel like only a few things stand out. We easily forget all the little things we have done, which often add up the most.

3. You deserve to relax and enjoy yourself. And don’t tell yourself otherwise. Relaxation and happiness are not things we need to earn. You don’t need to reach some quota before you’re allowed to have fun. Waiting to reward yourself after you complete a goal is great, but too often we hold out until the big goal is accomplished, before letting ourselves enjoy even the tiniest rewards. Reward yourself for the small steps you’ve taken. Or just reward yourself because you’re wonderful and you deserve it, no matter what you’ve accomplished today. (See points 1 and 2.)

Relaxing and enjoying are different from splurging. Enjoy freely. Splurge occasionally. (tweet that)

4. You have the power to decide how you feel next year. How did you feel this year? What were your predominant emotions? Were you mostly stressed, happy, bored? Of course we experience a range but if one feeling stands out to you, is that feeling something you want to feel again this next year? If not, what needs to change?

5. Everything is a choice. This is something that really hit hard for me this year. I found myself committing to things because “I had to”, only to realize that I actually could have said no. “But I didn’t have a choice,” I found myself thinking. It was when I had that exact thought that I realized, “No. I completely, 100% had a choice. And I always have a choice.” And so do you.

Next year is filled with so many possibilities. Whatever limitations are coming to your mind right now, challenge them. Ask yourself if they must be so, or if you have a choice. You can make next year whatever you want it to be. For that matter, you can make the remaining days of this year whatever you want them to be.

You can.

Now enjoy.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

Only a few things really matter

I started re-reading Essentialism this week. Essentialism is a book by Greg McKeown about simplifying your life in all areas and prioritizing “the vital few” over “the trivial many”. It’s been recommended by The Minimalists and many others, and was given to me by a close friend.

About a third of the way through is the Essentialist principle “Only a few things really matter.” When I read that again last night, I right away thought about something I’m currently going through. I’m debating keeping one of my multiple jobs, because it’s turned out to not be an ideal fit. My hesitancy to leave comes, I think, from the idea that quitting would be wrong or somehow taking the easy way out. I know the right choice is for me to leave so I can pursue something that’s a better fit, but I haven’t been listening to myself. Instead, I’ve been making it a big deal in my mind and going back and forth.

Reading that only a few things really matter, I instantly realized that neither this job nor the stress I’m feeling about leaving this job are things that really matter. I like to look at the big scheme of things and think, “a year from now, will this even matter?” Usually when I ask myself that, the answer is no. That makes my decision a lot easier. (tweet that)

What are you making into a big deal in your life that doesn’t really matter?

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

You don’t have to finish that book that sucks

Have you ever found yourself reading a book that you really aren’t into, but you feel like it would be wrong to stop reading it? You give it chapter after chapter of “it might improve” but it still sucks. And it’s sucking away your time.

I’ve had books that I’ve started, hated, put down, but kept in the chance that “maybe when I’m older I’ll appreciate it more”. Then years later I’ve opened them with renewed patience, only to nearly bore myself to sleep with it a second time. It’s laughable but true that I’ve even done this a third time with some books.

Why should we continue doing something — anything — that does not bring us joy? (tweet that)

If a book sucks, donate it. If a movie is awful, turn it off. Don’t waste any more time on it.

If the IT person you’re on the phone with is in a bad mood, hang up right now and call again to get a different person. (Real-life advice I was given just this week! Bye, Felicia.) Your time is precious and limited. Those minutes or hours are ones you won’t get back.

I think we have been conditioned from being in school, where we had to finish a book for an assignment, that no matter how much we dislike something, the point isn’t to like it, it’s to finish it. What backwards thinking.

If you buy something and change your mind, return it. If the tags are already off, give it to a friend or donate it. But don’t let it sit in your home taking up your precious space and your precious mental energy to look at it every day.

It’s only when we start valuing our time and our energy that we will see how much of it we’ve wasted in the past. (tweet that)

And on that note, I’ll let you get on with your day. How do you want to spend it?

 

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.