Last Updated on October 6, 2022 by Thalia
Many people think that owning expensive luxury items leads to a life of fulfilment and contentment.
Purely because we’ve been taught that our sense of self-worth comes from the opinions and validation of others.
But the truth is, true fulfilment doesn’t come from owning material possessions. It comes from making real connections with people, making memories, building healthy relationships (especially with yourself), having a sense of purpose and living a life of simplicity.
“We buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.”Dave Ramsey | The Total Money Makeover
Table of Contents
- A little backstory
- What is minimalism?
- 5 ways to simplify your life and embrace minimalism
- Final thoughts
- Further reading
A little backstory
When I lived in London I used to spend a lot of money on things I didn’t actually need.
My toxic obsession was clothes. And expensive ones.
Instagram was becoming more and more popular and I felt like I couldn’t wear the same outfit more than once in case those pictures ended up online.
I also worked in a modelling agency where you were expected to look good and always be on-trend. So, once I paid my rent I would go to Oxford Street and spend the rest of my salary on clothes.
I owned around 10 pairs of RayBan sunglasses, numerous pairs of shoes, countless number of jeans and piles of jackets and coats.
I even once dropped £1k on a Mulberry Willow (which I’ve since sold) because it was the “in-style” bag to have at the time.
We’ve been sold the narrative of “retail therapy” since the 1980s, and I honestly believed that shopping would improve my mood and make me happy.
But in actual fact, having an abundance of clothes did nothing for my self-esteem or worth.
At the time, I had an incredibly unhealthy relationship with my body and would feel insecure in anything I wore whenever I left the house.
I also seemed to have this mindset that I was buying the wrong type of clothes for my body. So I constantly believed that I needed to start over and buy more clothes to rectify this.
In short, I was a self-diagnosed shopaholic.
And this was something else that ultimately added to my dependence on alcohol. Because it gave me the confidence I needed to wear my clothes and numbed my self-hate.
The moment my obsession started
You could say my obsession with clothes goes back to a moment I distinctly remember in my early teens.
I was 14 years old, had just started a new school and wanted to impress the other girls in my year.
But I didn’t really care about clothes or fashion at the time.
I had grown up with 2 brothers who loved football and playing outside.
I was pretty much a tomboy. Wearing my brothers’ hand-me-down t-shirts, grungy jeans (you know the ones with a chain hanging off them) and Vans trainers.
To put it simply, I wasn’t a girly girl.
But suddenly I found myself in a new school with dozens of girls in my year who all wore make-up, high-heels and fancy jewellery.
And one day, when I was hanging out with a couple of friends outside of school, one girl said to me, “why do you always wear the same outfit?”
Well, I was mortified. Embarrassed even.
And classic 14-year old me took this feedback to heart and changed her entire ethos towards style and fashion.
I persuaded my mum to give me an allowance and I started to shop in more grown-up shops.
Goodbye Tammy Girl and hello Topshop.
I slowly became obsessed with clothes, started reading Vogue magazine and went off to University to study Fashion.
All because a girl (who is now completely irrelevant to my life) said one nasty comment to me.
My entire ambition was based on proving this girl wrong.
No wonder my life in the fashion industry didn’t last. Because I wasn’t destined to live a life of abundance and own a large number of material things. I now believe my true purpose in life is to find meaning elsewhere. In the work I do, the people I meet, my relationships, the places I visit and the way I value myself.
“We are taught to look for external validation and associate our sense of self-worth with the opinions and judgement of others. It is through this process that we develop our people-pleasing’ tendencies, which become the enemy of authenticity.”Roxie Nafousi | Manifest
From “retail therapy” to “less is more”
Fast forward to 2019 during my solo trip in Peru, I read Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
It was life-changing.
I know I say this about books a lot but honestly, Rich Dad Poor Dad literally changed my entire perspective on money and what it means to be “rich.”
Once I returned home I began selling a lot of my material possessions and clothes.
Because after spending 12 months in South America with just a backpack, I realised I didn’t need a lot.
I now live mostly “on the road” (I know that sounds slightly pretentious but I travel a lot) and only have access to a few items.
These include a small collection of summer clothes and a jumper to keep me warm, a pair of Birkenstocks, a pair of trainers and a pair of flip-flops, my trusted Levi’s denim jacket, hiking gear that folds away nicely, hiking boots, underwear, 2 sets of bikinis and 2 sets of sunglasses.
I also have a smaller backpack that holds my laptop, iPad, phone, notebook, book and device wires.
Aside from this, I have some other personal possessions (which I can’t travel with), a collection of books and a suitcase of winter clothes in storage in the UK that barely take up any space.
In all honesty, living out of a backpack has given me a new sense of freedom as I no longer feel tied down by things.
I don’t have endless possessions to keep track of or lug around with me every time I move. I also don’t have a mortgage or bills to pay each month, a car to run or credit card debt to pay off.
And for me, this means freedom.
I don’t owe anything to anyone. I’m in complete control.
I also no longer shop to fill my wardrobe with items to impress others or with ones I won’t wear.
Instead, I’m a lot more mindful with my money and shop around a bit before buying.
This means I no longer impulse buy. I take my time when buying something and make sure it’s something that I really need and will last me a long time.
Now I’m not saying I feel completely content with this life every single day.
Yes, sometimes I wake up wishing I had a more permanent base that I could make my own.
Other times, I have days when I feel like a tramp because I’m wearing the same thing over and over.
And sometimes I feel my clothes just aren’t nice enough for the city I find myself in.
But these are simple mindset beliefs that I can easily change.
What is important, is that I’m slowly learning more about what I truly value in life.
And that is making memories with my partner, forming meaningful connections and visiting countries that leave an imprint on my soul.
What is minimalism?
Before I do a deep dive into how you can embrace simplicity, let’s first cover what minimalism actually means.
Minimalism is a lifestyle that values simplicity and promotes the concept that “less is more.” The idea is that by owning fewer things, you can live more intentionally and focus more on what’s truly important and meaningful to you.
Minimalist author, Joshua Becker describes minimalism as “the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of anything that distracts us from it.”
For some people, this means keeping only what is essential and getting rid of everything they don’t need. For others, it simply means having a limited or “capsule” wardrobe.
Minimalism can also be applied to other areas of your life such as work, relationships and social media. Like unfollowing anyone on Instagram that makes you feel like shit, ending toxic friendships or decluttering your schedule and limiting unnecessary commitments.
For me personally, it also means minimising pointless decision-making.
It’s also important to note that minimalism isn’t about living with nothing.
It’s about making room for more; more time, more freedom, more joy and more energy for things that matter most to you.
The ultimate goal of minimalism? To eliminate anything that doesn’t add value to your life.
The benefits of living a minimalist lifestyle
Minimalists believe that having fewer material possessions leads to a simpler, happier and more fulfilling life.
But there are also numerous other benefits that can positively impact your health and well-being.
- Being less stressed and overwhelmed
- Making time for things that truly matter
- Spending less and saving money for more important things
- Living more sustainably as you’re now being pickier of what you buy
- Stopping the comparison cycle and the need to constantly want more
- Fewer distractions from possessions mean more time to be productive
- Freedom to roam and not be tied down
- No more decision fatigue, i.e. struggling to decide what to wear
- Releasing your emotional attachment to things so you can stop living in the past
- Learning about what you value most in life
“We were never meant to live life accumulating stuff. We were meant to live simply enjoying the experiences of life, the people of life, and the journey of life – not the things of life.”Joshua Becker
5 ways to simplify your life and embrace minimalism
Minimalism is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can be a helpful tool to help you simplify your lifestyle.
So let’s look at the ways you can embrace simplicity and start to declutter your life for more meaning and fulfilment.
I encourage you to bookmark this page so you can refer back to it whenever you need to.
1 | Start by decluttering your home
Most of us have way too much stuff.
Brand new clothes we never wear, books we never read, trinkets and nicknacks that hold no relevance or sentimental value and entire cupboards just full of stuff.
So if you get overwhelmed with the accumulation of stuff, try your hand at decluttering.
A great place to start when decluttering your home is to get rid of anything that doesn’t serve any real purpose or things you no longer use, like ornaments that are just taking up space.
You can also use the KonMarie Method and only keep the things that spark joy.
Another thing to consider is to not overbuy things you don’t actually need. For example, if you live in a house with just one other person, stick to only 4 sets of cutlery, plates, mugs and glasses, etc.
You really don’t need any more than that so stop buying for the “just in case scenario.”
Once you start decluttering, you’ll be surprised at how much lighter and tidier your house feels.
And the best part about decluttering?
You don’t need to get rid of absolutely everything if you’re not ready to. Just getting rid of unnecessary stuff first, can make a huge difference and help you embrace a life of simplicity.
Plus it’s incredibly liberating!
2 | Shop less and choose quality over quantity
Another area where you can embrace simplicity and minimalism is by shopping less and choosing quality over quantity.
Instead of buying things on impulse, take time to think about whether you really need something before you make a purchase.
If you can live without it, then chances are you don’t really need it.
And if you do need it, see if you can borrow it or buy it second-hand before investing in a brand new item.
Not only will this save you money but it will also help to reduce your consumption and waste.
Other things to consider when shopping is whether an item has been sustainably-made, is of good quality and will last you a while.
These are simple lifestyle choices you can make to help you become more mindful and less materialistic.
3 | Simplify your schedule
As I’ve said time and time again, being busy 24/7 is not a badge of honour.
Being productive is about optimising your time and working efficiently towards your goals. So if you want to make sure you are getting the most out of your day then start by simplifying your schedule.
The first step – remove any unnecessary commitments or tasks from your to-do list.
You can use The Eisenhower Matrix to help you decide what is a priority and deserves your attention, and what doesn’t.
The second step – set boundaries and learn the power of saying no. This means being realistic with your capabilities and only taking on what you can.
Likewise, say no to anything that comes your way that you don’t feel like doing.
Saying NO doesn’t make you any less of a person.
In fact, it makes you more of a person as you are protecting your energy and only reserving it for things that you want to do.
I know starting to let go of the things in your daily routine that no longer serve you can feel daunting. Even knowing you have an hour spare in the afternoon might make you feel as though you’re not doing enough.
But let me tell you, you’re doing absolutely fine.
As long as you are working towards your goals every day, who cares if you choose to work a 4-hour day or take the afternoons off during summer.
So nail your daily routine and keep track by using a daily productivity planner. This simple tool will provide accountability and structure to your routine so you can accomplish more by doing less.
“It’s only by saying NO that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”Steve Jobs
4 | Limit your wardrobe to timeless but versatile pieces
Another way you can embrace minimalism and simplicity is by limiting your wardrobe to a capsule collection of timeless but versatile pieces.
A “capsule” wardrobe is a small collection of essential items of clothing that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of different looks as well as take you through any season.
Each one of these basic pieces is also extremely well-made so you don’t need to replace it every few months.
By cutting down your wardrobe to only essential pieces, you can save time and money in the long run. And by choosing timeless but versatile pieces, you can create looks that will never go out of style.
So if you’re looking to simplify your life, then start with your closet. Choose classic and sustainable pieces that will stand the test of time and will make you feel good.
I know it can be difficult to say goodbye to certain clothes but it’s important to be strict if you want to adopt a minimalist mindset.
And limiting your wardrobe to just a few key items will also help you cope with decision fatigue as you are eliminating the need to choose between tonnes of clothes.
Stick to just 10 key pieces and you will no longer have to ask yourself the question, “what shall I wear today?’
So when you’re decluttering your wardrobe try on each piece of clothing and ask yourself:
- Does this fit?
- Does it make me feel good?
- Is this comfortable?
- Will I wear it in the next 3 months?
- What else can I pair this with?
- Has it been made sustainably to last a long time?
- Can I get good money for this if I sell it online?
5 | Declutter your online spaces
As I mentioned earlier, the art of minimalism is not just reserved for your home or work. It can also be applied to your online spaces and social media presence.
Decluttering my social media and supporting my digital well-being has become one of my main focuses since starting my business.
Back in the early days of my entrepreneurial journey, I fell into the trap of being influenced by what others were doing and consequently compared myself to other business owners online.
I now make it a non-negotiable to declutter my “following” list on Instagram every so often and unfollow anyone who makes me feel like shit.
Give it a go yourself after you’ve finished reading this blog post.
You’ll be surprised at how free and more confident you feel in your journey once you have eliminated the negative energy from sight.
Other things you can do to help declutter your online spaces are:
- Mute all notifications and only check them at specific times in the day
- Unfollow anyone on social media who doesn’t inspire you daily or provide you with enough value
- Delete any unused social apps or the ones that distract you the most
- Do a digital detox to help limit your screen time
- Unsubscribe from pointless mailing lists
- Delete unimportant and unread emails to get to inbox zero
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I hope this post on how to embrace simplicity has been helpful and you’ve enjoyed reading about my own relationship with material things.
I’m not an expert on minimalism but I write this with past experiences in mind in the hope that they will inspire and help you in some way.
Whether that is to make you feel less alone, give you support or encourage you to make a change.
If you need any more guidance please feel free to send me an email or check out the resources I’ve listed below for further reading.
Until next week,
♡ Thalia xx
- The Minimalist Way by Erica Layne takes you through minimalism strategies to declutter your life and make room for joy
- The More of Less: Finding the Life you Want Under Everything you Own by Joshua Becker explains why minimising possessions is the best way to maximise your life
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo shows you how to declutter your home by following the famous KonMarie Method of “does it spark joy?”
- Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport discusses how we can apply the principles of minimalism to technology and our online lives
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki is the #1 personal finance book and a must-read
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