I’ve considered myself a minimalist for nearly a decade now but if you’ve read my minimalist story, then you’ll know that the road hasn’t always been easy for me. In fact, it took me years to go from “wanting to be a minimalist” to actually following through and making any noticeable changes in my life.
It was often a case of one step forward, two steps back. I’d declutter a few bags of stuff one weekend … only to find myself in Target a few days later, filling my cart to the brim with more things that I didn’t really need.
It was so frustrating because I knew I was acting against my own best interest! I was tired of settling and I wanted something different for myself but I just didn’t know how to change the habits of a lifetime.
It took a while but fortunately, I eventually had a breakthrough moment…
The Minimalist Mindset
The *spark* that changed everything was realising that minimalist living is about so much more than just decluttering—in the same way that healthy living is about so much more than just dieting.
Of course, owning fewer things is an important part of minimalism! But binge decluttering without fundamentally changing your mindset is like crash dieting—it doesn’t last and “stuff” will eventually creep back into your life (spoken from personal experience!).
I really started to change my life when I stopped thinking about minimalism in terms of what I couldn’t have (a mindset that relies on willpower) and started viewing it as an intentional choice to have more of what matters.
I wasn’t giving up anything. Instead, I was taking the first steps towards creating a life I truly love.
If this resonates with you, then here are six minimalist lifestyle tips that will help you grow this mindset and move forward on your journey.
6 Minimalist Lifestyle Tips
1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT MOST
If you want to have more of what really matters in your life, then you need to start by knowing … what really matters in your life!
Spend some time thinking about your values: strip down to the bare bones of your life and ask yourself what’s important? What makes you feel happy, proud, and loved? What fuels your heart and gets you out of bed in the morning?
There are no right or wrong answers—it might be family, art, education or stability—everyone has different priorities and that is absolutely okay.
Whatever your priorities are, make them your daily focus and use this mindset to frame your minimalist decisions in a positive light. Here are some examples:
Instead of saying “no” to shopping, try saying “yes” to being debt-free and financially secure.
Instead of saying “no” to going out every weekend, try saying “yes” to spending more time with your loved ones.
Instead of saying “no” to perfectionism, try saying “yes” to self-love and care.
Master this way of thinking and I can almost guarantee that minimalist living will begin to feel like a natural choice.
2. PRACTICE SELF CARE
You probably already know that self-care is important—but did you know that it’s absolutely essential for minimalist living?
Consider this: when I’m feeling insecure, worn out or overwhelmed, I find myself going into survival mode. This means I’m not thinking intentionally about my choices. Instead, I’m looking for quick and easy ways to feel better and I end up doing things like:
snacking on junk food
getting snappy with my loved ones
or the good old “buying things to cheer myself up”
In other words, I make bad decisions. When I don’t care for myself first, I don’t care about anything else—especially not minimalism. I’m not focused on the big picture or thinking about what matters most because I’m just trying to get through the day.
The solution? Prevention.
Regardless of your feelings on minimalism, I’m a big believer that we all need to practice self-care: drink water, eat healthy foods, make time to read or do activities that nurture your soul, stretch and move, journal— whatever it is that keeps YOU feeling grounded and well.
3. SPEND ON EXPERIENCES
One of my biggest minimalist lifestyle tips is don’t be too frugal—especially in the beginning!
I know this might sound like strange advice given that many people turn to minimalism in order to improve their financial situation but stick with me on this one.
If you want to stop finding joy in “stuff” then you need to train your brain to see the joy in other things … like experiences!
Of course, I know there are a ton of fun things you can do for free (like hiking or museums) but at the same time, I’m mindful that minimalism is usually hard at first. The transition to “experiences over things” might be challenging at first, so do what you can to stack the odds in your favour.
Plan trips away, nights out with friends, or unique adventures like wine tours or art classes. Start working your way through your bucket list and get reacquainted with the joy of doing things vs owning things.
Eventually, you can cut back and live more frugally (if you choose to—remember that minimalist living does not automatically mean frugal living) but I highly recommend allowing yourself some extra fun money at the start!
4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS
Have you ever thought:
“All I need is _______ and I’ll be happy?”
If so, you’re definitely not alone. This mindset was one of the biggest challenges I faced on my road to minimalism.
I knew I wanted to own less—but I kept telling myself I just need a few more things first. A new winter coat, a new pair of shoes … there was always something else I needed before I’d be ready to get started with minimalism.
(You may recognise this as the “last meal before the diet starts” syndrome!)
But of course, as I’m sure you can guess, there was always ONE MORE THING I couldn’t live without. I felt stuck in a neverending cycle.
And why was this? Because I wasn’t living in the present.
Instead of paying attention to my behaviour and feeling gratitude for everything I already owned and loved, my attention lived in an imaginary future. A fantasyland … where a new dress or some other purchase would magically solve all my problems.
I had to learn how to live for today and my mindfulness practice was a big part of that process. I started meditating, gratitude journaling, and doing activities I love such as painting and yoga.
Slowly, I began to feel content with what I already had and I stopped feeling like I constantly needed more to be happy.
5. DON’T EXPECT EVERYTHING TO CHANGE OVERNIGHT
If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you’re serious about wanting to change your life. And I understand—you were ready for change yesterday— not tomorrow, or next week, or next month. You want your life to look and feel different, and it’s hard to be patient.
But let me tell you a story.
When I was 22, I rather impulsively packed everything I owned into a backpack and travelled the world for two years.
Although I didn’t consider myself a minimalist (at the time, I’d never heard of the term!) I embodied a lot of the characteristics. I had very few possessions and my life was free and light.
So with that in mind, what do you think happened when I finally settled down after two years of living on the road?
I moved into a gigantic three-bedroom apartment, drove a moving van to Ikea, and turned one room into a gigantic walk-in closet (which I promptly filled to the brim).
The moral of this story is that real change takes time. Even if you somehow managed to declutter your entire life overnight, you’d still be mostly the same person the next day.
The truth is embracing minimalism is a journey and it takes time to unlearn a lifetime of habits. Everyone’s timeline will be different, so be patient and kind to yourself.
6. REFLECT ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Finally, if patience isn’t your strong point (it certainly isn’t mine) learn to reflect and revel in your achievements.
Celebrate your small victories:
when you resist browsing the clearance rack
when you donate your unused ski gear to charity
when you set clear and healthy boundaries
Turn your focus towards how far you’ve come, instead of how far you’ve got to go.
This mindset is important because honestly, there is no finish line. Minimalism is about creating space in your life for what matters most and I don’t think this is a task that ever gets checked off your to-do list.
Instead, I think it’s a constant cycle of reviewing your values, assessing your life, and adjusting accordingly. It’s a new way of thinking and living—there will always be work to do but there will always be things to celebrate too!
More Tips on Becoming a Minimalist
If you enjoyed this blog post, here are a few more tips and resources you might find helpful.
First and foremost, I invite you to download Mindful Decluttering using the form below. In this free guide and workbook, I’ll teach you more about the minimalist mindset and you’ll also learn my step-by-step decluttering process.
(Plus as an added bonus, you’ll get my regular newsletters with more tips, inspiration and personal stories!)
Alternatively, if this blog post speaks to your heart, then you’ll love my signature course Clear Your Clutter. I’ll teach you how to think like a minimalist so you can finally clear your stickiest clutter and start living with the freedom and ease you deserve. Click here to get started today!
Popular Blog Posts About Minimalist Living:
Minimalism Before and After: How It Changed My Life
6 Powerful Benefits of Decluttering Your Home + Life
20 Minimalism Do’s and Don’ts
10 Simple Decluttering Tips for When You Feel Stuck
I’d love to hear any of your stories or tips you’ve learned on your minimalist journey. Let me know in the comments! x
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