People call themselves with different names and add imaginative titles in their social media description section all the time. They add loud, big and bold titles like entrepreneurs, hustlers, rebels, innovators, travelers, even minimalists. But at the end of the day, it’s not about any of those things.
Even though it sounds super sexy to say – write in your social media profile box – that you’re an entrepreneur, life designer, world traveler, spiritual mentor, it won’t matter much. It won’t mean anything unless you do something to back this statement.1
It’s not about being a minimalist either, or living with less, or calling yourself a minimalist. It’s about creating the life you want for yourself and being OK with what you have, don’t have, and not feeling like a fraud when you want to buy a new pair of shoes only because you like them.
The Extreme Minimalists Mantra
This is a list of all of my possessions: Pair of pants, a couple of socks, underwear, one shoe (why have a second?), belt so I can hold my pants on my skinny body, 5 t-shirts (all black), a hat, jacket, laptop, phone, cables, bathroom thingies, and a backpack that has the word minimalism in the description.
When I first started this blog, I thought that I should also create an article where I will list all of my possessions (I nearly did it). To ditch everything from my home and leave only the oven.2 Plus the laptop, so I can write about having X amount of things and nothing else.
Later, I decided that this is a stupid idea. Things come and go. I need a new pair of shoes, I go and buy a pair. I don’t feel the need to explain to the world (or let say the small group of people who will end up reading this) what I keep in my wardrobe and what I don’t. Also, I believe you, the person reading this, have other things to worry about than reading what some dude you saw online has inside his home. I doesn’t make sense, right? Why the hell you will want to see what’s in my home. Are you a cop or something?
Nevertheless, there are a lot of minimalists that proudly share their possessions in articles and make other minimalist argue and feel like they have a lot of stuff or the opposite:
“You have 3 pairs of socks, really?” or “Did you really own 3 forks since you’re only 2 people living in this house? Wow, you’re not a real minimalist.”
Personally, I owe 12 forks. And by the standards of the United Minimalism Community – UMC in short, I’m a fraud.3
When me and my girl bought an apartment, we got 2 sets of forks and knives. Why?
Well, when we have guests we want all of them to have a real, not plastic, fork and a knife. Also, when I use a fork I place it inside my dishwasher, then, I take another one, use it, and I place it inside my dishwasher again. When the dishwasher is full, I turn it ON. If I had only one set of utensils, I had to wash my fork every time I use it.
This simple strategy is saving me time. It’s not something significant but otherwise what’s the point of having a dishwasher if you don’t use it.
My point here is that when you search online for “becoming a minimalist” or “living with less”, you end up setting up this goal to have X amount of possessions. Let’s say to own 30 items. I did the same. I took the advice “have less stuff” too literally in the beginning.
I thought: “Man, I have to ditch practically everything” and I started throwing away stuff like crazy. Even the dog.4
I’ve decluttered my home from most of the things I don’t use, but there are still such that exist and stay. Not that I use most of them regularly, but I feel OK having them.
Because minimalism, it’s not about decluttering.
It’s Not About Decluttering
Let say you have, or you’re considering purchasing an online course to declutter your apartment and your life from excess.
Good for you. You’ve just bought a guide that will only going to show you how to clean your apartment. You might as well hire a cleaning lady and watch her how she does her job.
Things, physical possessions, are created with a purpose. For example, you need a glass so you can drink coffee or water from it. If you don’t drink coffee (or water), you will obviously won’t need a cup, unless, of course, you don’t have people visiting who drink coffee.
The same goes for your clothes, we purchase long fluffy jackets, shirts, skirts, because we want to be warm in the winter or because we want to look good for a special event. If clothes are not used, they are not executing the purpose they were created for in the first place – to be worn.
So, the whole decluttering process is simply getting rid of things you don’t use. You surely don’t need a guide for that, you simply need a kick in the butt to get up and start arranging, cleaning, deciding what you use and what you don’t use.
But let’s say you’ve got the course, and you’ve gone through it. Your house is now clean. Good.
You’re now a minimalist!
But what if one week after this exercise your home is cluttered again?
Are you really a minimalist?
You can share it in social media and ask your online support group but is this something minimalists do? Do they use social media?
It’s Not About Quitting Social Media
Social media detox!
Ahh, the tool every minimalism have in their sleeve.
We can all gather round and talk shit about how bad is social media for days.
“This guy Mark Zuckerberg ruined our offline lives. The government should put him in prison.”
Hold your horses.
We can say the same about the guys who invented alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.
The fellow Mark didn’t force us to stay at home and look at a screen during the whole day and add emojis to pictures and stuff. We did it upon ourselves.
If you can’t control your own actions you won’t need social media detox, or a rehab. You need a slap in the face. That’s the only way you can realize that you’re wasting your time liking the pictures of half naked girls on the internet.
Social media can surely ruin your life but it’s also a powerful tool that allows you to connect to lot of people. If you have a message that’s worth sharing, besides having a website, you can use social media to make a point or simply express something.
Even the guys who created the site The Minimalists have social media accounts and they regularly update them.5
I mean, it’s not about not using social media. I use it sometimes. Facebook is the perfect place to see when my friends and colleagues have birthdays. The bad thing about social media is that it’s hard to quit. When you open the app you see notifications, likes, comments, pics, videos and all kind of stuff that are grabbing your attention. Basically, the whole platform is designed to keep you inside.6
That’s why I’ve unfollowed everyone on Facebook and I have only a few people on Instagram and Twitter that I check. Like James Clear put it in an interview: “Social media is like building your own city. You get to decide the citizens in your town.” So, be sure to allow only people you love to see and greet.
But that doesn’t mean that I’m a better person or I’m uberly successful.
I might be in social media detox state but during the time I’m not watching pictures of meals and bikini models, I might be playing video games or watching adult movies, or both.
I mean, I can still waste my time doing unproductive stuff if I’m not on Facebook. Like spending all of my money on clothes.
It’s Not About The Amount Of Stuff You Own
A quote from the famous book The Fight Club states the following:
“The things you own end up owning you.” Chuck Palahniuk
The idea behind this is simple. The more stuff you have the more time you will need to service them.
For example, if you have 100 pieces of clothes, you will need more time to arrange them in your wardrobe than if you have only 10. If you own a car, it will cost you more money to repair it once there is a problem. On contrary, the other day I got a flat tire on my bike and it cost me $5 to change it with a new one.7
Still, you can own 5 things, 10, or only 30 items, and you can still be a walking zombie. Someone staring at his phone through the whole day. A person with no real purpose and no real direction. Someone who is suffering from anxiety.
You can sell or donate all of your possessions and live in a tiny house somewhere in the forest. But is this really going to make you feel good and complete?
I doubt that.
It’s About What You Want to Do
Everything you own, your habits, the people you know and you communicate with, even your beliefs and the religion you profess (if you’re into that), are things that will either reinforce the life you want to live or hinder it.
I might want to become a famous director but if I don’t have a lot of time to practice, shoot videos, seek opportunities, if I’m in a toxic relationship that drains all of my energy, I will die without achieving anything.
The first step is not about decluttering, or going through a social media detox, throwing away most of your stuff and writing a cheesy blog post about this – even though these things might help – it’s about first understanding what’s your One Thing and actually begin pursuing it.
Understand what path you want to take and actually start walking in this direction.
For instance, if you want to become an owner of a food truck, your main thing will be to get a truck (+ all licenses) and get food inside that truck. Everything else comes second: the sauces you add to the food, the logo, the beverages, the staff.
You can have a food truck without beverages, but if you remove the food from the truck you will simply have a fancy truck, no business.
Sit down and really think about what you want to do and achieve. Then, focus on what’s necessary.
All other things are simply tiny tools, or obstacles, that will help you build the life you want for yourself, or bury it.
Obviously, you will need to lower the amount of things that are preventing you from reaching the final destination and increase the ones that will shorten your path.
If you want to become a minimalist, don’t sell all of your possessions and go live on a mountain or something.
Take a look around and decide first where you want to go and what you want to do.
Throwing away old stuff is fun and particularly easy. The hard thing is to understand yourself and what you want to do for a living. The hardest of all and the last is actually showing up every single day and executing tasks towards the goal you want.
Stress more on doing things rather than thinking about what to type inside your social media bio.
Because simply adding the word “entrepreneur” in your Twitter bio won’t earn you a mill.
I’m really concern about the last: Spiritual mentor, really? What are you, Budha?
I need to eat and you won’t like me when I’m hungry
Yup, I just invented that. But who knows, in the future we might have such organization.
I’m kidding. I don’t have a dog.
Probably UMC approved their online existence. After all, they are The Minimalists.
I know this for sure because I’ve watched an interview with one of the people who designed the platform.