7 Habits of Highly Effective Minimalists
Habits of people living a more simplified, and less busy life
One of the beautiful aspects of living a more simplified life is that you get to define and create your own version of a simplified and unbusy life.
My own definition of an unbusy life is constantly being tweaked and refined, as I learn more about myself and what makes me and my family happy.
What I consider a simplified life, is different from what, for example, my sister or my mother would consider a simplified life. And I’m sure my version of unbusy is slightly different from your version of unbusy.
I have a friend who loves fashion and shopping for clothes, but does so with intention and purpose, rather than going on a random crazy shopping spree.
She has culled her wardrobe and adopted a more minimalist approach to what she wears. She enjoys shopping for quality pieces and loves admiring new season styles but no longer feels the need to buy whatever everyone else is wearing.
This has resulted in spending less money and reducing her credit card debt. She now feels more freedom from not owning so many clothes and from not having as much debt. This is her version of a simplified life.
But whether we own 375 items or only 55, or we spend our spare time reading or hiking, there are certain similarities we all share when we live a less busy and more meaningful life.
The following is a list of 7 habits of people living a more simplified, and less busy life. These habits form the foundation of a minimalist lifestyle, regardless of what you build upon this foundation.
I have gleaned these habits from spending time with friends who have embraced minimalism, as well as bloggers I follow and look to for inspiration, and what I have found out while on my own journey.
1. Letting go of perfectionism
Embracing a less-than-perfect life is a great way to slow down the pace a little. Think about how many actions you take because you strive for a certain level of perfectionism? Now imagine how different your life could be if you stopped trying to make everything perfect.
This can be difficult at first, but it doesn’t have to involve dramatic changes overnight. It could be as simple as accepting the less-than-perfect moments- a pile of dishes or washing not yet completed, or not being as organized as you previously would be.
Letting go of perfectionism creates a less busy life- it frees up time and money and reduces stress. We are already perfect in our own way, the good bits, and the not-so-good bits!
2. Accepting the things we cannot control
I have to admit that this was one area of my life that completely changed once I created a less busy life. Previously, there was so much in my life that I wanted to control: the way my team behaved, the direction of my life.
While it is true that we can steer our lives to a certain extent, there is still a lot that is determined by what is going on around us. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
By letting go of control, we are not allowing our lives to spiral out of control. Rather, we are not fighting what is a natural occurrence! If we let life just “be”, and let the universe work its magic, life becomes quite amazing.
This was something I had to work on after I was made redundant from my job (“laid off”). I couldn’t control what my employer had decided for me, but I could control the way I responded. I had to let go of my fears of the unknown and have faith that everything would work out for us; that my family and I were always going to be safe.
3. Quality over quantity
Contrary to popular belief, living a minimalistic lifestyle does not involve sticking to a certain number of items. Or even counting items, for that matter! It doesn’t matter if you own 50 things or 500 things, what matters is your connection to the things you own.
It is true that the fewer things you own, the less stress and busyness creeps into your life. However, we are all at different stages of our simplistic lifestyle, and we all let go of “stuff” when the time is right- when we are ready to learn a new lesson.
4. Practice, don’t preach
I learned this lesson the hard way, but can you really blame someone for wanting to share something exciting with as many people as possible? But sometimes being the sharing and caring type can really put other people off.
The best way to get your message about minimalism across to the people you care most about is to simply live an unbusy and simplified life. The benefits will be obvious to everyone around you and will speak more loudly than words ever could. My wife still doesn’t really “get” what minimalism is all about, but he sees the change in me and the change in our family.
5. Swimming the other way
As you begin to change your way of living and adopt a more simplified lifestyle, you will notice that some of your choices and decisions will not be considered “the norm”. In fact, you might find that you start swimming away from the rest of the crowd.
As Maya Angelou once said, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
Consider your new direction to a less busy life as the beginning of something amazing. Ignore any negative comments from others, and stay strong and true to your word. I promise you, that by living a less busy life, your perception of the world will change. Your perception of your own life will change. This can open up some amazing opportunities for you!
6. Starting on the right foot
Do you feel stressed and in a rush as soon as you get out of bed each morning? I remember waking up and the first thing I would do is run a list in my head of all the things I thought I had to achieve and complete that very day. This was before I had even had a chance to wish my family good morning, or even have a cup of coffee.
People who live a less busy and minimalist lifestyle value morning time. Making the time to eat a nutritious breakfast. Making the time to perhaps meditate, or do some yoga. Making the time to wish the family a good morning, and to ask how they slept the night before.
I now make sure I wake up an hour earlier than I used to before the kids wake up. I spend about an hour in my lounge room drinking a cup of coffee or peppermint tea and eating breakfast. If I still have time, I might read for about 10 minutes. Spending this time on myself means I don’t feel so stressed for the rest of the day, and I feel that I have honored the importance of looking after myself. Which leads to the final habit.
7. Honouring yourself
One of the biggest flaws in our society is believing that thinking about ourselves, or doing things for ourselves is selfish. This is not to say that we abandon our responsibilities and run away with the circus. But rather, doing small things on a regular basis that makes us feel happy and healthy is vital. We need to put more value and emphasis on the “small things”, and realize that they are actually “big things”.
A couple of examples that spring to mind is spending the time enjoying our meal rather than scoffing down a quick lunch because we are too busy (and possibly ending up with indigestion!). Or taking a longer bath or shower because the warmth of the water feels so relaxing and soothing after a hectic day.
For me, I love sitting down with a good book and reading, uninterrupted, for about half an hour. We need to learn not to feel guilty for enjoying these simple pleasures. We deserve to be looked after. We deserve to be happy and healthy.
I hope that this list of habits of highly effective minimalists helps you on your unbusy journey. It might take some of the confusion or guilt out of changing your lifestyle, or it might make you feel that you belong to a community of other like-minded people. Because there are many of us out there- more people are opting for a simplified lifestyle.
We may have lives that appear very different from the outside, but beneath all that, we are minimalists at heart.