I’ve dabbled with the minimalist lifestyle since 2014, but it was only a month ago when I had the courage to live and breathe it. I started with decluttering my stuff, aiming to own a maximum of 500 items, including my car, undergarments, shoes, books – basically, everything. I purged more than 50% of my belongings in a span of three weeks with the end goal of getting more sleep on a weekday.
It has been a month since I did this exercise, and I’ve been seeing nothing but positive changes in my life. Not only was I able to get more sleep; I also had more time to do things I’ve always felt were impossible to achieve before. I’ve had the time to reflect on my life so far, leading me to shortlist 2 things I’ve learned from my month of minimalism:
Time is the only asset that will make us rich.
We’ve all been brainwashed to believe that money is the only thing that can augment the quality of our life. Most of us do this by buying things. I know this because I was in the exact same situation. During my early 20s, I used to hoard clothes and shoes to impress my colleagues and be the trendiest person in the office. It came to a point wherein it took me almost 2hrs to just prepare to work. My mornings were spent thinking about how it wouldn’t be obvious to my co-workers that I repeated the same shirt from last week. It was hella stressful, I swear.
But now that I’ve significantly cherry-picked my wardrobe to just the essentials, I can finish prepping in a matter of 20mins. Since I started trimming down my stuff, I have more time to do things that add more value to my life. I’ve been exercising, reading, writing, and even interacting with people who share the same passions before my 8am call time to work.
This time surplus has made me richer, qualitatively-speaking. My wealth is now defined by having a healthy, meaningful lifestyle aligned to my values and the things I deeply care about. I’m improving myself and the different aspects of my life with the endgoal of helping and becoming more valuable to the people around me.
We are all equally given 24 hours in a day to do the things we want. If spent wisely and meaningfully, I’m sure we won’t be living in regret. Money is only an added bonus; it won’t even be used if we don’t have time spend it.
Decision-making is now easier because I know who I am and who I’m not.
A major pre-requisite of my minimalist journey was establishing my taste based on my personality and values. Because I’ve set a system to identify what best represents me as an individual, it’s now easier for me to make decisions especially those involving material things.
During a workshop I attended for work a few weeks back, the concept of decision fatigue was brought up. The speaker mentioned that we make approximately 35,000 decisions on a normal day. Unfortunately, the quality of our decisions degrade as we go about the day because we get tired physically and mentally. Studies also show that major decisions are best done in the morning because that’s when we are in out optimal mental and physical state.
The fact that I have significantly improved on my morning rituals is a very comforting feeling because I know I’m saving my best self to things that matter most. I’m reserving my precious human bandwidth in making the best decisions for my work and education.
In just a matter of 4 weeks, I already felt notable improvements in my life – I have deeper conversations with friends, I sleep better and exercise more frequently, I get to enrich myself by listening to podcasts and reading books/essays/articles that will help me become better in my craft. By owning less material things, we are given the chance to allocate our time, money, and energy on relevant, memorable, non-depreciable stuff that we can take with us even to our deathbed – relationships, health, passions.