The 5 stages of Minimalism
Three years ago I discovered the concept of Minimalism through the documentary from the minimalists. The documentary put into words and pictures what I always felt but couldn’t articulate. I was blown away about the simplicity and the value proposition this concept offered.
📣 Value and keep what is useful to you while getting rid of clutter.
This can be applied to things, relationships, experiences and how you spend your time in general.
However, entering the world of Minimalism was a steep learning curve. It sometimes felt like being on a roller coaster. Roughly put I went through 5 stages of Minimalism:
Finding out about Minimalism – Discovering a new world
The message from the documentary resonated with me instantly. I was right away able to identify some easy fixable problems in my life.
The first order of business was my collection of cloths and shoes. I don’t know why I had the habit of buying new garments even though I had so many pieces sitting around unused. The biggest revelation was the way we work and how wrong this feels.
Spending the majority of the week in an office in order to chase a salary. Sometimes completely exhausted at the end of a week I resorted to spending unnecessary money to reward myself. This of course is like stepping into quick sand.
Applying Minimalism – Starting a marathon with a sprint
Jumping right into it, setting a bunch of rules to get rid of unnecessary items was the beginning of my journey. Soon after that I was feeling overwhelmed because there was so much stuff in my house. I am the 3rd generation in this place and some parts of the house are still occupied by my grandfathers things.
Realising how long this might take was raising my stress level and giving me a headache. It felt like a perfect first date that shortly afterwards turned into a nightmare.
A long Posting from a user on the Blog Mustachian Post describes his version of this problem in detail. You can literally feel his pain during the process. So there I was, getting rid of things while new things constantly entered my life.
Minimalism extreme – Falling into the rabbit whole
What started with my closet led quickly to financial mindfulness and a frugal lifestyle. I was reading on sites like frugalisten.de how people were spending around 300 Euro a month on groceries in Germany for a family of four.
Similar stories happened in the US, also people in my home country Switzerland were able to live on a thigh budget. Our grocery bill each month for two adults and a toddler is easily 4 times as much.
I started evaluating our grocery shopping, making it a lot more stressful than it should be. The low point were 5 minutes spent in front of the Chips shelve deciding between two options (difference where not even one Swiss Franc). This way of shopping groceries led to an exponential growth of unnecessary decisions. In combination with my wife (who is world famous for not being able to decide on grocery options) and a screaming toddler at my side, life was great. Something had to be done.
Redefining Minimalism for myself – Taking a step back to reflect
The only way out of this mess was taking a huge step back, reflect and redefine what minimalism means to me. The core concept of the idea of minimalism is where I start.
🎯 Focus and invest on things, people and projects that are useful and bring me joy. Get rid of items that are unused. When buying new things don’t buy on impulse, wait a couple of days and then decide.
This is my mission statement to keep Minimalism in check.
Frugalism on the other hand is not for me and I rather work until I am of old age in misery than driving an Opel Corsa or whatever is popular in the Minimalism scene. It is okay to make a financial unwise decision and buying a car in the luxury segment when you enjoy the car. It is also okay not to pay attention what you pay while buying groceries if you like quality food. I always disliked Aldi anyway.
But trimming the fat where it doesn’t hurt makes absolute sense. Stop buying the 40th pair of shoes or the 23rd pair of jeans to name a few. My closet went on a diet since then and is only equipped with items that are being used regularly and of quality.
Living Minimalism – Wearing it like a second skin
After recovering from a near Minimalism burnout in front of a package of Zweifel Chips, I was able to rebound. Getting rid of clutter feels right. Every time we start to declutter a corner in our house we can breath better.
Accepting that living a minimalist lifestyle is an ongoing project also eased my mind. It is okay if there is still a lot of work ahead of us, what counts is that you are on your way. Plus ending up in an almost empty apartment like Céderic Waldburger, a famous Swiss essentialist, is not for me.
Like all good things in life, define for yourself what works for you and what doesn’t. It took a while for me to realise that but once it is settled I feel at peace.
The 5 stages of Minimalism summary
Minimalism is a helpful tool in world that is full with stuff. Too much stuff is burdensome and expensive. But defining how to use Minimalism has each individual to do for him or herself. I went through the 5 stages of Minimalism to arrive at a destination that works for me.
This doesn’t make the world a less materialistic place. Christmas for example became challenging because people often misjudge Minimalism for stinginess. In this situation it is important not to force your own ideas on other people. Try to educate your surrounding and pick your battles one at the time. Happy decluttering.