Hello to all of my cherished readers – it’s been awhile since I’ve put pen to paper (or rather digits to keyboard) but I am very pleased to be back and writing today. What can I say – life has been happening in full swing.
Over the past few months, I’ve certainly been reflecting on my journey with minimalism and simplicity, particularly in the context of where I am right now, and I’m going to confess something I never thought I’d feel when I embarked on this journey – that maybe, just maybe, I’ve reached …. the end?
Plateaued. Levelled out. Completed all I can to simplify. De-cluttered all there is to de-clutter. Cleared my schedule. Culled my wardrobe. Got un-busy. BAM.
Nothing else to do – tick it off – done and done.
Anyone who knows me knows I am a list-maker. I love the thrill of writing or thinking of tasks with a little tick box on the side, and then acting with the intensity of a gazelle trying to escape an incoming leopard in getting those things completed (and then enjoying the eerily satisfying act of checking a tick in the little box). It’s what I do and how I’m wired. I’m constantly on the prowl for opportunities to optimise.
On one hand, this has always been a fairly positive trait, thrusting me forward with motivation and the ability to follow-through in my professional and personal life and getting it done. On the other, it opens the door to the potential for creeping dissatisfaction and, do I dare say it – discontent! Heaven forbid. When you live in a state of perpetually scanning the horizon for new opportunities to improve or advance, it can be difficult to relax, and can create an unnecessarily black and white view of progress versus stagnation.
Let’s take de-cluttering as the most tangible example I can provide. I have described my journey in clearing the stuff out of my life since 2014. It’s now almost 2018. I’ve been progressively de-cluttering for four years! Not in a constant way, more like bursts a few times a year in an attempt to tackle the decades’ worth of stuff that I had unintentionally held onto. In the last few months, I’ve encountered what other minimalists have aptly described as a ‘de-cluttering black hole’ – I ain’t got nothing left to de-clutter. Well, that’s probably not entirely true – there are always items boxed away that when re-visited will probably make the cut. But the bulk of the clutter? Gone.
The point is that I have sold, donated or binned all the stuff we I no longer needed, and because I am now aware of my purchasing habits and am skilled at not buying much, I’m not bringing excess in to our home. Hence – clutter creep is not really an issue. Laugh all you like, but something strange happens when you get to this point – it’s like you want to keep going, keep de-cluttering, because you remember how darn good it felt when you first got started. The positive associations and motivation to simplify are still alive and kicking and you desperately want to keep harnessing that lest it fall away and old cluttery habits move back in.
I have felt a sense of discontentment creeping in over the past few months because I believe that I reached this plateau point of ‘done’ and then thought ‘what now?’. What now? As someone who loves having a project on the go, de-cluttering and simplifying my home, wardrobe, lifestyle, schedule, and mental approach have been a cornerstone to my last many years. Because of this, I’m now reaping the many benefits that simplifying has bestowed. But I’ve grown restless, longing for the next thing, the next level minimalism, the uber simplifying.
It seems to me that despite my deep understanding of the philosophy of minimalism, and the ‘aha’ moments I’ve encountered with this lifestyle, I’ve still got a lot to learn. Minimalism is the journey – not the end goal. Because there is no real ‘end’. In preparing to write this post I have reflected on two aspects of my current experience that are shaping the way I think and feel about simplifying moving forward:
Focus on the reasons why you started
I de-cluttered because I wanted to spend less time and energy on excess amounts of things and activities and rather I wanted to re-invest that time and energy focusing on my relationships, my health, my skills and interests, and the things that I truly enjoy. To feel like I am approaching the next chapter of my journey with minimalism is a great thing. I’m moving away from Chapter 1 ‘lots of time spent de-cluttering’ to Chapter 2 ‘use that free time any which way you like’. Amazing!
Nothing is ever really ‘done’
Life is a season of changing constants and the pursuit of simplicity will wear different hats in different seasons, but it will show up as opportunities nonetheless. Stuff will creep in, schedules will get busier, demands on time and energy will be made by new people, new activities, new circumstances. There will always be an opportunity to simplify in the ebbs and flows of life.
For now, I’m leaning into the next chapter with interest and enthusiasm. I look forward to writing about simplicity in a way that is both reflective and relevant, with a nod to the past and a fresh perspective on the dawn of a new era of my minimalism.
Where are you on your journey to a simpler life?
Until next time – simplify, focus, pursue, and count your blessings.
The List Maker