Start With Something Simple

minimalism, clearing, closet, 333 challenge

When I realized that I didn’t have to have some life-changing goal to propel me into the new year, I decided I would just go about doing little things that were in my best interest.  Things like spring cleaning, decluttering, reading more, building better relationships, and contributing to others.  These activities would bring more space and calm to my life.

Something simple

One of the first things I did to begin the process of making space in my life was to go through my closet.  I think, comparatively speaking, I had fewer clothes than most women, however, I still had more than I had the space for.  I also had many items that I didn’t wear regularly, if at all. It seemed like the easiest place to start clearing excess.

Often, when people start exploring minimalism they immediately go to the things that will be the hardest to let go.  Things like books, photographs, or heirlooms.  That’s a great way to stop before you ever get started.

Clothing, however, is simple.  Either you wear a garment or you don’t.  Either they fit of they don’t.  Either you like it or you don’t.  Sentimentality rarely shows up in your wardrobe.  At least in the majority of it. And we know that, on average, we wear only 20-30% of the garments we own.  The rest is just baggage.

The 333 Challenge

I had come across this thing called the 333 Challenge.  It’s a challenge to pair down your wardrobe to 33 items for 3 months.  You donate or box up the rest.  Even if you don’t get rid of them, you box it up and store it away.  After three months you pull out the items you missed and donate the rest.

33 is an arbitrary number, however, it’s small enough to cause you to be very selective about what you choose to keep in your wardrobe.  It forces you to pull out a capsule wardrobe.  A few multi-functional garments that you can wear over and over at a variety of events and in many kinds of weather.

Items like undergarments, loungewear, and workout clothes aren’t counted.  Although, you can include them in the count if you decide you want the extra challenge.

Soon after starting the challenge, I realized that I wasn’t even wearing all the clothes I had kept out.  So I continued to weed out during the challenge.  I was also very disciplined about not buying anything new unless it was to replace something that had worn out.  (How often do we actually wear out an article of clothing?)

At the end of three months, I pulled out three or four items to add back into my wardrobe and donated several garments I had originally thought I’d miss for sure.

The benefits

  • Number one was having so much space!  My hanging clothes had plenty of air flow in my closet.  No more crammed, wrinkled clothes.  My drawers were mostly empty.
  • The second benefit was picking out an outfit was super easy and stress free.  I didn’t have to worry about what matched or how I looked.  The clothes I’d kept in my wardrobe were all my favorites.  I knew they fit well, were comfortable, and flattering.
  • The third benefit of clearing my wardrobe was having less laundry.  A lot less.  Many of my sweaters and skirts I was able to wear several times before they needed to be laundered.  Folding and putting away took no time at all.

Not only did I get more space but I got my time back and had less stress. Those are some highly valuable advantages to living with less. It also got the ball rolling on doing some more clearing in other areas of my home and life.

I learned that clearing and letting go doesn’t have to be painful.  It can be freeing, spacious, and refreshing.  The alternative of being cramped, stuck, and stressed is not an option.  I want so much more from life.  How about you?

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How To Be Content With Your Life

relax, simplify, content, relationships, friends, minimalism, let go, declutter, thankful

relax, simplify, content, relationships, friends, minimalism, let go, declutter, thankful

The quickest way to find happiness in your life is to be content.  When you truly appreciate what you have, the longing for something more almost disappears.  I said almost.  I’ll explain later.  But think about all the things that you have in your life and be content with that.

1. Be Thankful.

Start by thinking of all the things in your life that you’re thankful for.  Write them down in a journal.  Remember to count all the little things as well as the big things.  Always include something that you couldn’t buy with money.  Those are the most precious gifts.

2. Simplify.

Sometimes less is more.  If you’re having a hard time keeping up with the laundry, dishes, or general housekeeping. Get rid of some excess.  We don’t realize how much stuff we accumulate until we try to declutter.  Go through each room and think about what you would take with you if you had to move.  All else can go to Goodwill, a yard sale or the dumpster.

If you’re too busy to enjoy what you have, then simplify your schedule.  It’s okay to say no.  Dump some activities off your plate and spend time on things that really matter.  If you find the most joy with your family or on a hobby, make sure you allow time for that.

3. Relax.

I know, it’s easier said than done.  Remember, not everything is an emergency.  You don’t have to do it all.  The world will not come crashing down on you if you’re not perfect.  Take some time to just breathe and take in the scenery.  None of us is irreplaceable.  That doesn’t mean to slack on your responsibilities.  Only to remember that we’re not on this earth to be perfect.  We’re here to contribute our best.

4. Be okay with you.

Everyone is different.  You might feel like your stranger than the rest.  Like a square peg being force in a round hole.

Stop.  Don’t compare yourself with others.

You have unique talents and thought processes and problem solving skill for a reason.  You don’t belong in a round hole.  Somewhere there is a place just for you.  You might have to create it.

Don’t worry about conforming to society’s standards or masking who you really are.  We don’t want to lose what you have to offer.  If you feel like you’re different.  Be okay with being different.  Genius doesn’t come from the status quo.

5. Let it go. 

(Song cue)

Seriously.  Don’t carry baggage in your brain.  Close the door on some things that you can’t change.  Don’t look back.  Life is all about forward motion.  Becoming better.  Becoming wiser.  Becoming stronger.  We don’t live in the past.  Learn from it and move on.  The best things are always before us, not behind us.

Let go of some relationships that are dragging you down.  If you’re helping someone swim, don’t drown in the process.  Not everyone wants to do their best.  You can’t make them.  Some will appreciate the help you give, others will hold out their hand for more.  Keep enough energy resources that you can make it back to shore.

6. Roll with it.

Life changes.  Things happen.  Unexpected event occur.  It can be scary and painful.  But nothing ever stays the same.  Even the bad times.

When life knocks you down, don’t stay there in the dirt.  Dust yourself off and look for the next opportunity.  Complaining doesn’t do anything except annoy the people around you.  What ever comes your way, do something with it.  Learn from it. Build on it. Or leave it behind.  You get to choose.

Unexpected events are the times that you remember the most.  They become monuments in your lives that you’ll look back on and clearly see where the road forked.  We measure our lives in spans of time between these events.  They add the color and flavor to life, that wouldn’t have been there otherwise.  They are crash courses in life that really make the difference in who we become.

7. What money can’t buy.

Work harder on accumulating good friends and strong relationships than accumulating stuff.  The things in this life are temporary.  Stuff wears out.  Things break.  Styles become outdated.  The things that are worth keeping are the things that money can’t buy.

If your comfort zone is rattled or completely blown apart, think of what you will have left.  Relationships.  A healthy relationship is not swayed or changed by physical circumstances.  Build strong relationships that you can lean on in hard times.  Your family.  Your friends.  Your God.  These things are a constant.  Seek shelter and advice from these relationships.  And then remember, “This, too, shall pass.”

Contentment vs. Complacency

Don’t confuse being content with being complacent.  Contentment is being truly thankful and happy with what you currently have.  That doesn’t mean that you don’t ever work to get more, become more, or be better.  There is always room for improvement.   Accept what you have while making the most out of every day.

Is there any of these areas that you need to work on?  Share in the comments.

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