January Challenge: Living with less

I decided that every month this year, I would set myself a challenge. Sort of like a 30 day challenge for every month (strictly speaking not every month has 30 days) but you get the idea.

January was a cleansing month, in the material sense. I was listening to various podcasts, surfing the web, and talking with friends and it seemed like I was being constantly reminded of the rising level of consumerism we are exposed to. Not to mention the crazy month that is December and how ‘normal’ it seems to spend lots of money on items that are often unnecessary.

I began to examine these social norms and my motivation to maintain them. Yet, the more I thought about it, the crazier (and frankly more stupid) the idea seemed.

I began searching for a remedy for this phenomenon, and that’s when I came across the concept of ‘Minimalism’: living with less, to experience more. The idea appealed to me.

To keep me motivated and on track, I established two criteria for decluttering my items:

1. Does it hold joy, beauty or inspiration?

2. Is it useful/relevant, and if so- do I use it?

If the answer to one or both of these questions was NO- it was GONE. Either in the donation pile or the rubbish pile.

So many books to sort!
So many books to sort!

I started with my closet. My closet is a really important part of my life, yet it was stuffed full of clothes that don’t fit, are too ragged or are unworn. How did I let it get to this stage? I was actually ashamed of myself for not monitoring my input and outtake of clothing. I purged bags and bags full of clothes, shoes and accessories.

Even our paperwork got an overhaul. Check out my link at the end of the post for a great guide on "How to organise your paperwork"
Even our paperwork got an overhaul. Check out my link at the end of the post for a great guide on “How to organise your paperwork”

I worked my way through the house, holding each item in my hands and asked myself there and then the above questions (none of this ‘think about it later’ business). If the item did not bring me joy, happiness or usefulness, I would discard it.

I threw out any products with harmful chemicals in them, and kept the products that were gentle, good for us and the environment.
I threw out any products with harmful chemicals in them, and kept the products that were gentle, good for us and the environment.

Slowly, slowly the donation and rubbish piles grew. And very quickly I began to feel light, and free.

Don’t get me wrong, there were things that proved difficult to let go of. But once I adjusted my mindset to not attach myself to material things the process became easier and even enjoyable.

Our office was a right mess! When we started, Regan and I had a desk EACH. Totally unnecessary. I sold both our desks and used the money to buy a nice new one for us both to use. We are never in the office at the same time, so one of us will use the kitchen table and the other can use the office. Check it out:

BEFORE: Sorting the office
BEFORE: Sorting the office
AFTER: Clean and Clear *sigh*
AFTER: Clean and Clear *sigh*

I realised that owning more didn’t make me happier. In fact, the more I owned, the more I felt weighed down by a feeling of responsibility and dissatisfaction to OBJECTS. That’s crazy!

Linen closet sorted
Linen closet pared back and sorted

I can now report that January’s challenge was successful. I have purged so many items that are irrelevant to my life and the person I want to become. I feel that minimalism itself is an ongoing journey, and perhaps something I will never fully achieve.

January’s challenge has encouraged me to strive to maintain the attitude that I am not defined by the amount of shoes I own, or whether my house is full of furniture. I am not my possessions. Stay tuned for February’s Challenge.

Here are some links that I found really helpful while doing this challenge:

Clean Mama – How to Organise Your Paperwork

Clean Mama- Clutter Free in 30 Days Printable

A blog full of inspiration- The Minimalists 

A thoughtful blog on the process of – Becoming Minimalist 

The Minimalists – 30 Day Minimalism Game

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