A minimalist life?

Ever since I can remember, whenever I was given money for my birthday or received my hard-earned pay from various employers since the age of 15, the money would get transferred into my bank account and I’d spend it. All of it. Work, earn, spend. Repeat.

I would buy the best-I-could-afford speakers for my car, games consoles, games, clothes, bikes that I could barely afford and would take me 12 months to pay off, gadgets that I didn’t need. You get the picture.

Saving was never part of my mentality. It wasn’t really something that my parents told me to do and I’m sure I could’ve saved, it’s just that there was always something else to buy. Something that would be the next step up from what I currently had, an item that would be fun to play with, to show off to my friends, that would make me more interesting, make my life more fulfilled. It would give me a purpose.

I turn 34 in a few months. I feel like I’ve reached a point in my life (probably should’ve got here sooner to be honest but such is consumerism) where I’m starting to realise that endlessly buying, consuming for the sake of consuming is not going to improve my life any further. That beautifully-shot staged lifestyle photo in a shop or online where everyone looks so happy is just that. Staged. It’s taken me long enough (and cost me enough) to realise this for sure. And I should’ve known better as I work in marketing & advertising.

Upon reflection, I’ve got an enormous amount to be happy about.

I was bought up by a very loving family, my parents love each other and I get on really well with my sister. In 2002, I met my amazing wife, Sarah and we’ve been married for just over 6 years. In 2005, I co-founded a business which I then sold 8 years later. In 2012, my beautiful daughter Ella was born and in March of this year, our family was made complete when our twin boys, Finn and Rory were born very early at 27 weeks. After spending 103 days in NICU, they’re doing great now.

Over the past couple of years, I’m been thinking that there must be a different way. And I think I’ve found it.

It’s a movement (that makes it sound a bit like a cult) called minimalism. Not the art-form nor the design practice, but the way of living. The concept of having less and living a more meaningful life.

“Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.”

I’m a big fan of people like Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus who nevertheless are from different backgrounds to me, but found themselves in the same predicament a few years ago.

They were chasing ‘the American dream’ of high salaries, large houses, nice cars and material goods only to find that it was a never-ending journey. Once they hit their salary goals, bought what they were striving for, the goal posts changed again and they had higher goals. They worked to consume and were knee-deep in debt.

It’s been a long journey for them and they’ve effectively simplified their lives by removing most of their physical and mental clutter. Experiences are central to their daily lives rather than physical products. And now they’re more fulfilled, happy and content.

I’m going to do the same. I know that it’s not going to be easy either. I’m sure of that. Especially living with 3 young children but Joshua Becker (who has 2 children) and Leo Babauta (who has 6 children) appear to have managed it successfully so here goes.

Wish me luck.

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