In 2014, Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, inspired people to declutter their closets, cabinets and lives. In fact, many people who ditch clutter are so transformed by the experience that they even become minimalists, shunning consumerism and focusing on a more meaningful life.
But how do you know if minimalism is right for you? Before donating, selling or giving away truckloads of possessions, take a few moments to ask yourself these 9 questions.
1. How Do I Feel About Possessions?
There’s no textbook definition of the quintessential minimalist, says Joshua Becker, co-founder of Becoming Minimalist blog. However, a minimalist typically seeks to live only with the possessions they need, believing that excess possessions are burdensome.
“They steal our time and energy and place our focus on money,” says Becker.
2. What Motivates Me to be a Minimalist?
Becker recommends jotting down a list of reasons you’re drawn to minimalism. Maybe you’re determined to become debt free, travel more often or switch to a low-stress job that pays less.
“Figuring out what you want to overcome provides motivation to do it,” says Becker.
3. Am I Ready to Declutter My Mind?
Clutter takes many forms, and one is over-stimulation of the brain, says Anthony Ongaro, founder of Break the Twitch, a minimalist blog. Constant notifications, alarms and alerts from phones and social media interrupt concentration and divert focus from your life’s purpose. You don’t have to go cold turkey, though.
“Pick a few apps on your phone that aren’t critical or time-sensitive and turn off all notifications to find stillness,” says Ongaro.
4. Is My Decision Based on Reality or Fantasy?
Selling your house and living out of an RV while traveling sounds fun until you remember that you hate camping and your dog gets carsick. You might think cutting back on TV, computers and phones is appealing until you discover that you don’t know how to be alone with your thoughts. However, even if who you are now doesn’t jibe with your initial idea of minimalism, you can’t still eventually shape a minimalist life based on your own style and needs.
5. Is Stuff Getting in the Way of What Really Matters?
“Possessions tend to be a distraction from living our lives for bigger things,” Becker says.
The more stuff you have, the more time you spend cleaning, organizing, managing, repairing and replacing it all. That’s time you could spend focusing on your life’s purpose and goals.
6. How Does My Significant Other Feel About Becoming a Minimalist?
While you may be ready to pare down to a couple of t-shirts, two sets of shorts and one pair of jeans, your spouse or sweetheart may not be as willing to embrace a bare-bones lifestyle. Sit down and hash out the details of what you each want out of life. Educate yourself about minimalist options, remembering that there’s no one way to live as a minimalist.
7. Can I Ease into Becoming a Minimalist?
There’s no rule dictating that you must purge your life of all possessions at once. Becker’s family got rid of one car but soon realized that they needed two vehicles. You can experiment with minimalism by starting with something as small as a closet.
“Try putting away half the clothes out of one closet and see if you like living with half,” says Becker.
8. Am I Open to Learning From Other Minimalists?
“Whether online or through local meetup groups, find people that can relate to your particular goals,” says Ongaro.
In addition to Becker’s and Ongaro’s blogs, an internet search for minimalists results in a plethora of minimalist wisdom, including Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, the famous duo known as “The Minimalists, along with plenty of lesser-known minimalists.
9. How Much Do I Care What Others Think?
“What a successful life looks like can be quite the moving target, and most everyone that wants the best for you is going to apply their own vision of that to your life,” Ongaro writes on Break the Twitch. “While others can give well-intentioned advice, some of it might not apply to what you actually want, and that’s okay.”