I don’t openly tell people (outside this blog community) that I’m a minimalist. I think there’s a certain image that comes to mind: whether aesthetic minimalism, extreme minimalism, or philosophical minimalism– and I don’t want to be immediately associated with those things.
Moreover, being a minimalist is not my primary, personal identity. As I’ve written before, minimalism is a vehicle that takes us somewhere we want to go. It lightens our load on the path forward. It helps us see clearly.
So even as minimalism continues to unfold as the buzzword of our decade, I want to stay true to why I write this blog. This space is designed to be a hub for those who have a goal, purpose, or raison d’être behind their desire to simplify. I want to encourage you– yes you– to pursue what it is that makes you come alive.
The irony is that, in order to be a “good minimalist” (if there is such a thing), you have to ground your identity in something else. And it needs to be something worth grounding yourself in.
While there’s nothing exclusive about minimalism– like most ideas, we can make it mean what we want it to mean– but the path ahead is not easy for those who desire to be steadfast. It is all too easy to commit to decluttering, and then to bring home tons of souvenirs. Or perhaps you might choose to quit buying things you don’t need, and suffer the agony of sitting out on a shopping trip with friends. Some of us have peers who are living for bigger, better and more– saying no to those things flies in the face of the circles we walk in.
So how can you tell if minimalism is right for you? How do you know that it’s something you should actively pursue? Here are some things that might be true of you if you are ready to become a minimalist.
5 Telltale Signs That You’re Ready For Minimalism
1) You value what you’re pursuing more than what you’re going to leave behind.
Do you really love generosity (or family, joy, impact) more than your stuff? Can you become permanently less trendy than your friends, and still invest in those friendships? Are you truly tired of relying on your possessions to give you confidence? Whatever it is you’ve decided that you love more than your stuff, ask yourself if you love it enough to sacrifice for it.
2) You already go against the cultural grain in some way.
Allow me to reference the Lego Movie– in which, at the beginning, everyone in town sings the same song and has the same reactions to the same things everyday. We laugh at them, but we’re not always so different from the Lego people. It’s hard to go against cultural norms for deep, true convictions. Everyone enjoys a little rebellion here and there, but minimalism is going to challenge you to continue to continually rebel for the sake of something you value more.
3) You’ve identified what it is you’re after.
This is so key. One of the major flaws of the minimalist movement is the lack of emphasis on the need to find one’s purpose first. We like to throw out a lot of feel-good terms as the things we’re after: peace, intention, joy, mindfulness. But do we have a clear path towards those things? Do we have a mission, or at least a mission statement? One thing I love about minimalism is that, when taken seriously, we need to know what exactly we’re after. If our purposes are still shrouded with uncertainty, minimalism will make that painfully clear.
4) Your actions and desires actually align.
We can talk about what we want all day– but if we take absolutely no actions, then those desires will be for naught. It seems natural for actions and desires to be in sync, but many of us have contradictory behavior. Perhaps there are habits we say we want to put an end to, but we’ve failed to quit for years. Or we claim to have every intention of making better decisions, but manage to find a cop-out every time. Merely saying that we want to change is not enough.
5) You have a community of likeminded people ready to support you.
I hope that there is at least one person who will be your partner in this. Perhaps your spouse, another family member, or a close friend who understands your vision and mission. Having someone by your side can make the biggest difference in those painful moments of self-discipline. And if you don’t have a community (or even if you do), why not join mine?
The bottom line: minimalism can only help you if you’re ready.
There’s no shame in not being ready to take big strides towards simplicity. Nothing about becoming a minimalist needs to be drastic, and never does it need to look like legalism. But if you’re ready, I hope you’ll take this leap. Take it with me and thousands of other people who recognize that the true value in this life is to chase after the ultimate.