So around 18 months ago, I came across minimalism, really it all started with this video:
Now I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in a good place, it didn’t especially feel like a bad place but it certainly wasn’t good.
I wasn’t drowning in debt, in fact I was happily swimming in it. That is to say, I could afford my debt, it represented a small % (well 20%) of my take home salary. I didn’t have car payments, a mortgage, overbearing student loans, just a medium sized loan due to consolidating credit cards I’d run up in my youth. But over all an affordable chunk of debt.
Now this debt has now been with me for around 10 years, going from interest free credit card to interest free credit card to consolidation loan to consolidation loan.
But still affordable. <---- Very important this point
But I found myself in a position where my income was in jeopardy, I found myself at a cross roads and I chose my path based on fear, fear of not being able to find another job, fear of not having enough money to pay my bills, fear of not being able to provide for my family.
Initially I responded to this fear by filling the void with more stuff, being disheartened at work yet still working 80+ hour weeks. No matter how hard I worked, I’d struggle to have enough money to pay myself all of my salary. So then I’d feel even more hard done to, why when I was working so hard, could I not even pay myself, the exact reason I was in this situation was through fear of not being able to pay myself and being out of work.
So what did I do….. you guessed it, I bought some stuff to cheer myself up, started running up that old credit card again.
So here I am, earning less money than ever, unhappy at everything (this is an understatement to say the least) yet spending more money than ever trying to make it right.
Over the past 3 years I can happily say I turned this negative into a positive and I now own a successful business, have a great team around me and overall am much happier.
I don’t attribute this recovery solely to minimalism, it wasn’t a case of throwing out a bookshelf and that resulting in me landing the client of my dreams that just solved all my financial woes. But the mindset it gave me through reducing my worries.
Who would have thought if you spend less, you’d have more money and then with less possessions you have less worry.
So what I found was the less I spent, the more money I had (wow, I know right), the more money I had, the less pressure I had at work, the less pressure I was under the better I could do my job and this became a virtuous cycle.
Work became easier, clients were happier, staff were happier, things got done quicker and all in all things became better. Were they better? I don’t know, we have many of the same clients and then some, much of the same work and then some but it all didn’t seem as hard, so daunting now, I wasn’t struggling to get paid just so I could buy the latest device Apple had released.
So without going to deep into it, that’s how I found out about minimalism, how it has had a positive effect on my life and generally why I harp on about it so much.
Now minimalism isn’t a destination, it’s a journey and on my journey I’m about 6 months away from being debt free which reduces the affordable never dying debt term by over two and a half years, at which point I will never enter into debt again.
My wardrobe is less than a quarter of what it once was, yet I’ve never looked smarter or had so much too wear. Yet there are still things I’m working on.
As a musician, I’m down from 10 basses, 3-4 amps, 50+ pedals, lord knows what in accessories to 2 basses, a double bass, 1 amp, an ipad and about a 10th of the accessories I use to have. Yet there are still things I’m working on.
In fact if picture can say a thousand words, this says them all.
I’ve gone from struggling to fit in a 2 bedroom duplex to looking at one bed and studio apartments. Yet there are still things I’m working on.
I get up 2 hours a day earlier than I use to, I go to the gym more, I see friends more, I make more friends than I ever did before, I smile more (sometimes for no reason, just a big goofy grin because…… I just might be….. happy). Yet there are still things I’m working on.
I can count my furniture on one hand and in the past month I’ve ditched the TV and am now reducing all the tech in the house. It turns out you don’t need £50 light bulbs that do 16 million colours and are controlled by your phone. You also don’t need door and motion sensors so your house welcomes you home after a long day. Yet there are still things I’m working on.
Soon I’ll even be experimenting with turning off my home broadband connection for a more distraction free & intentional life.
But as always there are still things I’m working on.
Is minimalism right for you? I don’t know, as I so often do I’m just talking about myself above, but think about it the next time you’re shopping in Ikea, do you really need more storage? Or do you just need less stuff?