How to Find the Perfect Version of Minimalism for You

How to find the perfect version of minimalism for you

I’ve already talked about how your version of minimalism will be unique and personal to you. Your version of minimalism won’t necessarily look like another person’s version of minimalism. And that’s ok! It’s perfect in fact.

Minimalism is not about following someone else’s rules or way of living as a minimalist. It’s about figuring out what is important to you, and getting rid of everything that’s distracting you from the important stuff. Whatever you decide is important to you will be personal and unique to you. So of course, your version of minimalism will be unique to you too!

How to find the perfect version of minimalism for you

There are no rules you must follow to be a minimalist

In one sense, it’s great that there are no firm rules to follow to become an “official minimalist”. Your life as a minimalist doesn’t have to look like another minimalist’s life. There’s no test to pass before you can call yourself a minimalist.

But, sometimes when you are just starting on your minimalism journey, it can feel overwhelming trying to figure out how to actually become a minimalist. Sometimes you are looking for a list of minimalist “rules” to follow to help you know what you need to do to become a minimalist.

I know I was looking for some minimalism rules when I first started minimizing and simplifying! I wanted to know how many of each item I was “supposed” to have to officially be a minimalist. It was hard not to compare my version of minimalism to other people’s around me. I worried that if I had two sets of sheets for each bed in our house, but heard another well-known minimalist say they only had one set of sheets, that it meant I wasn’t minimalist enough.

Eventually I began realizing that there are no minimalism rules. No one else can tell me what minimalism will look like for my life and my family. My version of minimalism won’t be the same as anyone else’s version of minimalism because we all value different things. We all have different values, preferences, lifestyles, family sizes and dynamics, etc.

Your version of minimalism will be unique to you

Even though all our versions of minimalism are different from each other, we can all still call ourselves minimalists. The only requirement to be a minimalist is that you first identify what is important to you and what you value. Then get rid of everything that isn’t something important or valuable to you.

My version of minimalism will be unique to me because what is important and valuable to me will also be unique to me.

Don’t compare your version of minimalism to anyone else’s

The great thing about minimalism is you can’t get it “wrong”. If you have minimized down to what you feel is enough for you and your family, then that’s your version of minimalism. Your version of minimalism can change over time. Maybe next year you want to minimize what you own even more. Or maybe next year you’re in a season of life where you need a few more things.

It’s all still minimalism.

You can’t be a good minimalist or a bad minimalist compared to someone else. Because comparing your version of minimalism to someone else’s version of minimalism is like comparing apples to oranges. Your versions of minimalism will always be different from each other because you are different and unique individuals. Each of us with our own interpretation of what minimalism means to us.

There are no minimalism police to give you a ticket if someone else decides you have too many books. And there are no minimalism awards given to those who “win” at minimalism. It’s simply a matter of figuring out what your version of minimalism looks like for you.

Your goal of pursing minimalism is to give yourself the time, space and freedom to enjoy your life and the things and people you value most. However you reach that place is what your version of minimalism looks like.

Learn from other minimalists, then create your own version of minimalism

It can be helpful to read about or see other people’s version of minimalism to inspire and encourage you on your own minimalism journey. It’s great to learn what is working for them and what stumbling blocks they encountered along the way.

In fact, I think seeing how other people “do” minimalism is one of the best ways to learn more about minimalism. It’s a great way to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and motivate yourself to experiment living with less.

However, you must create your own version of minimalism. One that works for your family, your lifestyle and your priorities. Instead of just trying to copy someone else’s version of minimalism.

How to find your own version of minimalism

How to find the perfect version of minimalism for you

However, what if you are just starting out on your minimalism journey and are feeling overwhelmed without a set of rules or guidelines to follow? Or what if you’ve been decluttering and minimizing for a while, but aren’t sure how you’ll know when you’ve reached a place of enough in your version of minimalism?

With a little contemplation and thought, you can figure out what you want your version of minimalism to look like. Asking yourself some key questions will help you get clear about what you want your version of minimalism to look like, and what you’ll need to do to get there.

Here are 3 questions to help you find your version of minimalism:

1. Why are you choosing minimalism?

First, think about what led you to minimalism and decluttering in the first place. What is motivating you to embrace minimalism?

Are you tired of cleaning up but never getting ahead? Or are you overwhelmed by the amount of work required to maintain your home and possessions? Are you sick of spending the majority of your time dealing with “stuff” and want more time and energy for your family, friends or hobbies? Are you moving and want to declutter before your move? Or are you feeling bogged down by your life and stuff, and looking for a way to free yourself?

There are so many reasons that can lead you to minimalism. So, the first step to figure out how you want your version of minimalism to look, is to get clear about what you want to accomplish by embracing minimalism. Get clear about what your goal of minimizing is.

For me, I was so tired of picking up after my toddler when she was constantly getting into every closet, cupboard and shelf she could reach when they were all full of stuff! One day I realized I was spending way too much time picking up, putting away and organizing stuff I didn’t even use or love. What was the point?! I wanted to spend less time managing stuff and more time enjoying my life and my family.

Remind yourself of the reason why you are minimizing often. When you’re decluttering, and conflicted about getting rid of something, think about why you’re doing this in the first place.

Reminding yourself of your why can help you make hard decluttering decisions. And if you’re in the depths of decluttering, and are feeling overwhelmed or tired, remembering why you’re working so hard to embrace minimalism can help keep you motivated and on track.

2. What is important to you?

According to Joshua Becker, “minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value, and the removal of anything that distracts us from it”. Based on this, before you can embrace minimalism, first you must get clear about what you actually value most!

Figure out and prioritize what is important to you. Maybe it’s your family and being able to spend quality time with them. Maybe it’s your career and being able to give yourself time and space to pursue it. It could be a hobby you love that you want more time for. Or having the time and freedom to travel more.

For me, being able to have more time, energy and patience to give my family is most important. In order to do this, I need to have a home that is easy to maintain. Then I can easily stay on top of chores and housework to be able to spend quality time enjoying my family without feeling stressed or overwhelmed with the stuff and mess in my home.

I want to give my family the best version of myself, in terms of my time, my energy, my presence, my focus and my patience. Not what’s left over after I’ve spent the majority of my time managing the stuff in our lives.

Again, this is something only you can decide. And it will be different for each of us. You need to clarify for yourself what is most important to you, and what you value most.

What is it you’re trying to make more time and space for in your life by embracing minimalism? Write it down to remind yourself and help you stay motivated and inspired along your journey.

How to find the perfect version of minimalism for you

3. What does “enough” look like for you?

This is something you need to figure out as you go through the process of decluttering and minimizing your home. Start questioning what enough looks and feels like for you, so you can let go of everything beyond what is enough.

Again, only you will know what is enough for you. Some people decide enough is owning less than 100 possessions. Others decide their place of enough is much more than that.

There’s no right or wrong answer of what enough looks like for you. It’s simply figuring out what is enough for you. Enough will be mean only keeping things that add value to your life because you use them regularly or they make you happy. But again, what is enough will be personal and unique to each of us.

After you have decided what enough looks like for you, it’s also a good idea to question and challenge your idea of enough regularly.

For example, sometimes we keep things because we’ve always had them and are just used to them being there. Or maybe something came as a set, so we think we need to keep the whole set.

And example of figuring out what is enough

Dishes are a great example of this. When we got married we had a set of dishes with 12 place settings. They all fit in the cupboard easily and were a set, so I didn’t even consider decluttering them at first. But because we had a cupboard full of clean dishes, it was easy to use a new plate or bowl any time we wanted to. This left us with a lot of dirty dishes each day.

About a year ago, I realized we didn’t really need 12 place settings. So I put half the place settings away just to try living with less. The funny thing is, we didn’t even notice. And 6 place settings has been just fine for our family. We have fewer dirty dishes each day simply because there are fewer dishes, so we are more careful about how we use the dishes.

Challenge and question what is enough

Sometimes we need to question ourselves and even challenge ourselves to see if our place of enough is really enough. Or if we could do with less. It doesn’t always mean you have to remove more items. Sometimes it just means intentionally thinking about what enough is for you. Challenging and questioning how much you have and why you have it.

Be flexible with your version of minimalism

Answering these three questions can help you figure out what you want your version of minimalism to look like for your life. It’s important to remember that minimalism isn’t something you attain and then you’re done. It’s a lifestyle you adopt and requires your ongoing attention, maintenance and intention to sustain it. But answering these three questions will help you stay focused and motivated to continue living and pursuing your version of minimalism.

Your version of minimalism will change as your life changes, and it’s important to remember that as well. Minimalism isn’t static or unchanging. It shifts and evolves as your life shifts and evolves. Your answers to these three questions will also shift and evolve over time. Revisit these three questions periodically to make sure your answers still apply to your life.

Answering these three questions is a great way to understand, clarify, and remind yourself what your version of minimalism looks like. Use these answers to work through the hard moments and celebrate the victories of living a life with less.

How would you answer these three questions? What does your version of minimalism look like? Let me know in the comments below!

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26 Comments

  1. Fantastic post Melissa! I’ve been meaning to declutter and try minimalism for a little while so this has inspired me to get cracking! I think I’m just overwhelmed with where to start but I think once I get the ball rolling and just start with something small, I’ll get going . Thanks for the inspiration! X

    1. Thanks Millie! I’m so glad to hear this post inspired you. That’s wonderful! I think you have exactly the right idea, start small and build up momentum and confidence to keep decluttering. You might want to check out this post for some tips on exactly how to do this! Thanks for reading and good luck with your decluttering journey!

  2. Great post. I really like the idea that finding your own level of minimalism is ok to do. Every person is different and has different needs. My motto is that I only keep what I use and what is basically useful to me.

    1. Thank Crystal! That sounds like an awesome motto, love it! I think it’s easy to think you have to fit into a certain box to be a “real” minimalist, that your home has to look a certain way and your life has to be a certain way. But that’s not the case at all! Like you said, we are all different and have different needs, so it only makes sense that minimalism will look different for each of us. Thanks for reading and sharing your insights!

  3. I enjoy reading your blog. I so agree with you that minimalism can change over time and there are no absolute rules to follow. My minimalism is decluttering, simplifying my diet and much more that makes me feel comfortable… again, love this post!

    1. Thanks Christine, I’m glad you enjoyed this post and my blog! I love that you are applying minimalist ideas to all areas of your life, that’s awesome! Thanks for reading and sharing your insights and experiences 🙂

  4. I love this post. For so long I thought that minimalism was just white walls and grey furniture. It wasn’t appealing to me at all. Really getting down to the “why” of the matter makes all of the difference. I am still new to this and so I am trying to cull items. Unfortunately, I have not been able to sell it which is discouraging. I need to get to the point where it is better to have it out of my life for free than to have it clutter my life for a few dollars. Thanks for this great post.

    1. Thanks Becca, I’m glad you enjoyed the post! I think that’s a pretty common misconception about minimalism. That it means cold, stark rooms with nothing in them. But in reality, minimalism can look any way you want! It’s simply about only keeping what you use and love in your home.

      Selling items can be tricky for sure. It depends on your situation and goals, but often it’s exactly like you said. You only get a few dollars and selling items slows your decluttering progress and takes up a lot of your time. I usually sell larger, more valuable items (like furniture), then donate most of what I’m decluttering simply to get it out of my house as quickly as I can!

      Thanks for reading and good luck as you continue to declutter!

  5. Great post! I’m slowly purging but with three other people in the house (who don’t like getting rid of things), it is challenging. My minimalism will definitely NOT look like someone else’s.

    1. Slow progress is still progress Kathy, good for you for keeping at it! It can be challenging when other people in your home aren’t on board with decluttering. The best think you can do is lead by example and show them how much better owning less makes your life. And you’re exactly right, your version of minimalism won’t look like anyone else’s, and that’s exactly the way it should be! Make your version of minimalism work for you, your life and your family! Thanks for reading 🙂

  6. Thank you for such refreshing thoughts! We live
    In a world that bombards us with materialistic goals. We can get caught up in this never ending cycle. I for one am guilty of basing my success and quality of life on the amount of possessions I can accumulate. In the end this leaves us tired and broke. I have been doing some soul searching recently and have decided to focus on what really matters. Your article explains it so well and is just want I needed to read.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Karen. I’m so happy to hear you enjoyed the article and found it helpful. I couldn’t agree more with what you said, and I’m excited for you and the changes you are making in your life. So wonderful to hear! Thank you for reading and for sharing your insights. Your comment made my day! Take care!

  7. Enjoyed reading your post. I too agree that minimalism is different for each of us. One time after decluttering my very small nook (6ftX8ft) room that houses my office, my yoga stuff, and my knitting, quilting, and crocheting supplies a person criticized me stating it STILL looks like a lot of stuff! It bothered me……. That room has several purposes and it is small in size, so I think that did deserve some consideration on her part. I worked so very hard for two days in there reducing all the catagories as much as possible. For me it was minimal enough! Obviously she felt the need to make that judgement. 😞

    1. I’m sorry to hear you felt criticized and judged Cheryl. It sounds to me like you were very intentional and thoughtful about what you decluttered and what you kept. And that’s what’s important! If the things you decided to keep are all things you use or love, then that’s the perfect amount of stuff for you and your life. Keep going with your own version of minimalism and try to ignore the judgement from others. I think you’re doing great! Thanks for reading and sharing your experience.

      1. Thank you for your response! And this article you wrote. It helped me more than you can imagine. As I continue my journey on this road to simplicity your words have encouraged me❣

  8. I value a more sustainable lifestyle and prioritize a zero waste lifestyle, so my minimalism takes a lot of time. Rather than pitch things I put in a lot of effort to recycle, reuse or rehouse what I don’t need. I also find this kind of minimalism looks a little less pretty. It’s more about needing and using items than loving a thing. My couch might be a not so pretty hand me down, but it works and I cannot justify the resources and environmental cost that would go into buying a new one. We now only have one vehicle which means my family bikes and walks a lot, but it does make it inconvenient or impossible to do certain things. It can also take more time to do simple things without a car, like going to the store. I’m not sure where I am going with this, just that I enjoyed your article because I am something of a minimalist, but many things I read do not really resonate with me. Thanks for your take!

    1. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed this post. I love hearing about your experiences and lifestyle. Good for you for being so conscious and intentional with how you live your life. That’s amazing! Minimalism can look so many different ways, it sounds like you have found your ideal version of minimalism. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  9. Hello! I am married but don’t have any skin babies yet, just 2 fur babies 🙂 Between me and my husband we have, what we feel like, too much stuff. I have been wanting to declutter when I have the time to and succeed at times but often not fast enough for me. One problem I always run into when trying to get rid of things is I always find myself wanting to keep things for the future, for during and/or after we have kids. I guess I’m afraid I will get rid of something and then need it later in life when we have kids and I’ll have to go spend money to buy something that I had gotten rid of. What’s your, or anyone else’s, advice on this? I don’t want to sound like a hoarder, because I’m not. There certain things like craft paper, markers and colored pencils, that I never use, but that I want to keep for my kids to use someday. Or kitchen supplies, I don’t use them all but I always think “what if someday after we have kids I need it to make larger meals or use a lot of things for the holidays?” Would it be acceptable to put things like kitchen supplies in a box to save for them when they move out and need things? I just have trouble getting rid of things I might one day use because I guess I’m “tight” and don’t want to spend the money on it later. Like I want to get rid of things like that because I don’t use it but the “tight” part of me says “no, save it so you wont have to buy it again someday”. And I also feel like I’m wasting if I throw stuff out, even though I know that someone else would probably get use out of it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated 🙂

    1. This can be tricky for sure Emily. My philosophy is that I try to only keep things I currently need in our house. I do store things occasionally for future use, but I try to only hang on to things I know I will have a specific use for, in a specific time frame. As far as the craft supplies for future kids. If it was me, I would donate those to a local school so they can be used. They aren’t super expensive to replace when you need them for any future kids, and it will be several years after your kids are born before they start using those kinds of items. To me, it wouldn’t be worth it to have them take up space in my home but not be used for that long. As far as the kitchen items, try to think about what you would realistically need and use. Kitchen stuff can be more expensive to replace, so you might want to hang on to some of the things. As long as you think you will realistically use them in the near the future. A lot of it depends on your home and preferences. If having a few extra things boxed up in your storage room doesn’t bother you, then that’s fine. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the amount of stuff in your home, it might be more beneficial to get rid of it and give yourself the time, space and freedom of living with less.

      Also, if you’re worried about regretting any decluttering decisions, I like to remind myself that the benefits I experience living with less stuff and clutter are worth it for me, even if it means I may occasionally need to re-buy something I decluttering. These occasions really have been rare and I’d much rather have a clutter-free home instead of keeping a bunch of stuff I neither use nor love “just in case” I need it sometime in the future.

      I hope this helps. Try to think about what you want to accomplish by decluttering. Think about what is causing you stress and if it’s worth it or not to keep the extra items. Thanks for reading and let me know if you have more questions!

      1. Thank you so much for the advice! I will for sure keep all that in mind when going thru the extra things that I have. Hopefully in the near future I will succeed at decluttering my whole house!

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