Six months ago if you had asked me what minimalism was, my first thought probably would have been IKEA furniture and even though a mantra of mine has always been ‘less is more’, coming from a self-confessed hoarder I’m surprised it’s taken me so long to spot the gaping difference between my words and my actions.

However, having read a lot more on the subject recently, the notion of minimalism has come into much sharper focus for me and rather than see it as an abstract notion or ideal, more and more I’m seeing it as a valid and necessary way for me to live.

The fear

I’m not going to lie, the idea of minimalism scares me, far less than it used to but still when I think of fully embracing it my stomach does a little somersault. Why? Because it means letting go of my security blanket of stuff. I collect books and CDs like most people collect paychecks and don’t even get me started on memorabilia – I have every cinema, gig and theatre ticket from the last 20 years, plus thousands of photos. That’s a lot of shoeboxes full of stuff.

Why change?

The more I read about minimalism the more it resonates with me and the more I want in on the benefits of living a minimalistic lifestyle. It fits with my principles and beliefs and to do anything less than embrace it as a lifestyle choice would make me feel like a hypocrite.

To give you an insight into the benefits of embracing minimalism as a lifestyle choice, I’ve quoted some of my favourite bloggers on this very subject:

Nina Yau of Castles in the Air says:

Living a radical life means eliminating all clutter and stagnation in your life so you can be free to enjoy the simple pleasures and joys life has to offer…Starting over can be truly liberating, the most freeing decision we can make for ourselves in regards to a minimalist life.

Leo Babuta of Zen Habits says:

Minimalism says that what’s unnecessary is a luxury, and a waste. Why be wasteful when the unnecessary isn’t needed for happiness? When it just gets in the way of happiness, of peace? By eliminating the unnecessary, we make room for the essential, and give ourselves more breathing space.

But my favourite quote of all is probably what Everett Bogue of Untether to Evolve once wrote:

Minimalism can be reduced to a simple sentence: ‘When you throw out all of your stuff, you free yourself to do anything.’

Selling my crap

Adam Baker over at ManvsDebt is a big advocate of getting rid of the crap we collect in our lives. In his ‘Sell your crap’ guide he states:

We desperately need perspective. We need to remind ourselves of how basic our true needs are and thus how fortunate we have become. We need to stop and appreciate. Doing this regularly will have dramatic effects on our consumption, the levels of unneeded crap in our lives, and ultimately the sustainably of our lifestyles. It will not only bring us more joy, freedom, and purpose (the selfish part!), but will increase time, energy, and re-sources for everyone across the world. Oh yeah, and it won’t literally destroy our planet… small bonus.

Using Baker’s ‘Sell Your Crap’ resource to guide me, I’m planning to sell the vast majority of my crap over the next 6 months and plan to tackle selling my belongings in a staged approach (in order to minimise the shock to the system) as outlined below:

  1. Books I own that I have no intention of reading (I have a surprising amount of these!).
  2. Books I’ve read and won’t read again.
  3. My CDs – all of them (having saved them to my iTunes and creating a back-up).
  4. Clothes that I don’t wear, won’t ever wear or don’t need.
  5. Electricals – hairdryer, hair straighteners, ipod dock, printer etc.
  6. Modes of transport – car, bikes (yes I have more than one!), surfboard (could be considered a mode of transport?)
  7. The rest of my books including books I haven’t read but want to read. (the hardest part of this list)

As well as selling stuff, I also plan to do the following:

  1. Get all my hard copy photos scanned into a digital format.
  2. I’m going to create an e-scrap book by taking photos of my memorabilia, but only the important bits – it’s time for the cinema tickets to go!

I’m sure a number of you are thinking that this all sounds a bit extreme but following through with this plan will allow me to follow a dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember. For details of this dream and my plans to achieve it, check out my goals round-up for July, which I will publish this weekend.

What are your thoughts on minimalism? Does it terrify or excite you? Are you already living a minimalistic lifestyle? Let me know in the comments below. Also help me out by tweeting and sharing on Facebook and if you haven’t already please put your email in the box down below to receive regular updates from me.