Minimalism – the true breaker of chains

Is work weighing you down? I am sure the majority of us would say “YES.” Maybe you should first ask yourself “How much stuff do you really need?” Have you ever taken a step back and realized that 1) you are working yourself to death and 2) its to pay for things that aren’t truly contributing to your life’s happiness? Well I did just that on my recent anniversary trip with my husband. Drew loves documentaries, and he came across one on Netflix that he said I just had to see. While winding down from an eventful day on vacation, we watched Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. To say that this documentary resonated with me is an understatement. Over a hot cup of cuban coffee in 100 degree weather, my husband and I vowed to turn our life upside down so we could enjoy more of what we love and find financial freedom. Since watching this documentary starring Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, I have been even more inspired by their books and podcasts. I have also researched like-minded individuals like the fabulous Courtney Carver who is the author of a very popular blog Be More with Less. I encourage anyone and everyone to learn more about minimalism from these inspiring people who are living and breathing a more meaningful life with less. It just might be your saving grace too.

Once we were home from vacation and had made the decision to pursue this lifestyle, I immediately took inventory of all the excess that we had accumulated throughout our lives and thought “Geez. We have A LOT of stuff.” A key point to remember is that one does not become a minimalist overnight. This is something I have had to say out loud to myself in the mirror. “Baby steps, Amanda. Baby steps.”

As a child, my mother and I lived in a small apartment and did not have many “things.” I was often made fun of for not having trendy clothes, a fancy house, a nice family car, etc. Given the chance to have my childhood all over again, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. My mother loved me to pieces. We played, watched Disney movies, and baked all kinds of sweet treats together. I learned at an early age that spending time making memories was what love was all about. I have found this to be the most valuable lesson I have learned thus far. As an adult, I have continued to have the desire to be minimal but let the “American dream” try and convince me otherwise. I felt the need to purchase a nicer car and bigger house because that was just what you’re supposed to do. If you can afford it, then you should get it. Right? I also felt the need to keep up with the lifestyle that I thought my husband wanted. It wasn’t until we sat down and had a really honest talk about what we wanted out of life, that we realized we were after the same thing. We both wanted more TIME. Time for adventures, time for hobbies, and time for each other. Sure, we have had these deep discussions before. However, life has definitely changed during our 8 years together and it was time to re-evaluate. We agreed that minimalism was our breaker of chains. That and taking all that money we will inevitably save to make wise investments that will do the work for us in the future (more on that later).

Shedding the excess is a daunting task. Luckily, the experts I mentioned above have great advice on how to get started. An approach that has worked well for me so far is having 3 tasks per week. The goal is to look at everything I own and ask “Is this essential?” or “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is “no”, then it will either be sold, donated, recycled, or thrown away. My tasks for the first week included: Going through all my books and only keeping what I haven’t read, sorting through clothes in dresser drawers, and rummaging through the dreaded bedside junk drawer. I’ll keep up with this pattern until I eventually go through everything I own.

Getting rid of the excess in the house is one thing, but we are not going to achieve financial freedom without removing some big ticket items. For us, this starts with getting rid of the shiny cars and finding something reliable that we can pay for in cash. This was a bit difficult for me. I purchased a used car last year after getting rid of one that was on its last leg. I certainly wasn’t looking forward to a car payment, but just assumed it was time to have a nicer car. I can honestly say that I have loved driving this car. It’s safe, comfortable, and has lots of cool shiny features. I felt that after all my years of hard work that I deserved this car. One quote by the minimalists that has become my sounding board is “Love people and use things.” The opposite will only lead to discontent. So now I find myself asking, “Is it truly worth having a car payment when I feel obligated to work more just to afford it?” For me, the answer was an easy “NO.” Put another way, I felt uncomfortable in this car. As nice as it was, it honestly never felt quite like me. As I’ve mentioned, I am a veterinarian. Ipso-facto, I have a dirty job. I often leave the hospital covered in dog urine, blood, etc. So getting into a nice shiny car never sat right with me. I need a vehicle that can transport my slobbery dog, handle a spilled cup of coffee, and get my urine-soaked self home safely. Thats it. So out with the new and in with the old! Today, I met my new mode of transportation and I am proud of the freedom it represents! Thanks for stopping by my page today! Stick around for future baby steps on my road to minimalism. I feel that it may become my signature blog ending to leave you with a relevant quote from The Office. In regards to this wave of change, the infamous Michael Scott once said, “Well, well, well. How the turntables.”

4 comments on “Minimalism – the true breaker of chains

  1. Jamie Robbins-Comer

    Dr. Amanda you are so right. I’ve slowly been going through this process myself. Dealing with the fact that my dad has cancer and is trying to be put on the list for a liver transplant it has made me take a different look at my life and how I’m living it. This all makes sense to me and slowly I am making some progress. Since getting to know you I have always looked up to you and the way you carry yourself and always coming to work looking like a million bucks and never hesitated to get down and dirty. I guess I can say I have always admired you and I look forward to watching you through this journey, and know I miss working with you!

    • How kind of you, Jamie! I’m sorry to hear you are going through that with your dad. I know you have had more than your fair share of tragedy. I hope this process is able to bring you some peace! Thank you for the incredibly kind words! Miss you too!

  2. Amanda Morris

    Really enjoyed reading this! We, too, are working towards a path of minimalism and downsizing! Sometimes it can be difficult living in a world that tells you “if you can afford it-get it!” Looking forward to hearing more!

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