2 In Life

My Quest for Less

I have been on a serious cleaning frenzy for the past month! If you’ve been here before, you may have read my Out with the Old post about clearing out, making space, and evaluating my relationship with consumerism. I basically haven’t stopped since. Back then, almost exactly a month ago, I had been working on my office space – getting rid of unloved books (the tragedy!), organizing papers from more than 2 years ago, and just putting shit away.

After that process, I realized how much better I felt. There were less things taking up physical space, and energetic space. I could breath easily. My creativity spiked. I was way more productive. It sparked my new quest for less.

Minimalism has always seemed appealing to me. I love the philosophy – owning only what we truly need so we can focus on the things that make us happy: relationships, passions, personal growth, life itself. While it seems like such a romantic idea, I’ve also found it to be very intimidating. There is no way I can fit my life into a duffel bag.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t try to move towards minimalism. I can try giving possessions less power. I don’t have to give into the pressure of buying the latest trends – in fashion and technology. I can put more thought into the purchases I make. Do I really need this, or do I want it? If it’s just a want, will it enhance my life or be something that just takes up space? What value will it add to my life?

For now, I’m still working on clearing out what I already have, and trying to be more conscious of purchases from this point forward. I’m taking this process step-by-step in an attempt to make it more accessible, less daunting. I want this quest for less to be fun, not another boring task on my to-do list.

Right now, I’m focusing on my closet. I am fascinated with the idea of a capsule wardrobe and I’ve spent a lot of time watching Youtube videos about how people approach it. The Anna Edit‘s have been immensely helpful! She has a fairly simple style, but she has put thought into each and every piece. And it shows. Even in casual outfits, she looks really put together. I also love that she was inspired by Caroline from Un-Fancy, who makes a capsule wardrobe for each season. Maybe that’s how everyone does it, but working seasonally has made it seem less scary. I’m sorry, but I like to have variety and I don’t think I could handle wearing the same 37 pieces of clothing all year round.

That said, Anna doesn’t stick to hard and fast rules or count each item in her wardrobe. Sometimes it’s less, sometimes it’s more. For more info on her closet, I highly recommend watching this video with Liv Purvis, where she explains her wardrobe and the philosophy behind it. Basically, she only keeps out what she needs for that season, and ideally, does all of her shopping at beginning. Then she stops spending until it’s time to switch items out as the weather changes.

To start, I’m still taking things slowly. This weekend I went through my closet (again) and tried to be really honest with what I wear and what I don’t. Some items I feel like I need to keep because I paid good money for it, or I like the style but it doesn’t fit quite right anymore. I tell myself, well it’s too big now, but maybe it won’t be in 2 months. No. If it doesn’t fit, if I don’t wear it, it needs to go. It was hard, but I filled up 2 garbage bags of clothes and shoes, and created a pile of clothing to sell.

I’m not going to lie – the letting go process is hard. But my reality is I teach yoga full time. I spent 6/7 days of the week in athletic clothes. I don’t need a ton of casual, every day clothes. I hated saying goodbye to some beautiful pieces, but it had to happen. My lifestyle is different than it was 3, 5 years ago when I worked in a school or was still a student. In some ways, I have a uniform now. I don’t need 5 pairs of jeans when I have to wear yoga pants. That took some time to accept, but it has made this process so much easier.

My next step is to get to know my closet, and my style, better. I’m going to spend this season paying attention to what I wear the most and try to find where I have gaps. In Georgia, I can basically wear the same stuff for Fall and Winter, so hopefully within the next month or two, I’ll have a strong understanding of what I have too much of, and not enough of. And then I can take it from there.

Let me leave you some tips that have helped me, so far, in my quest for less –

  • Start with clearing out what you already have. This can be a big task, so don’t feel like you have to get it done quickly. Take it space by space. Fridge. Pantry. Office space. Bathroom. Closet. Focus on one at a time.
  • Be brutally honest. This tip is especially helpful when getting rid of stuff. When was the last time you wore that top? Do you really think you’ll read that book again? Based on your answer, keep it or ditch it.
  • Sell some of your unwanted stuff. It adds more work for you, but I’ve found that trying to sell some of my old books or clothes makes it easier emotionally. There’s less guilt if I spent a lot of money on it, and it makes me happy to know it’ll be going to a good home. For books, I highly recommend Half Price Books if you live in the Atlanta area. For clothes and shoes, I’ve been trying out Depop.
  • Acknowledge your bad habits. Start to be aware of your bad spending habits. The next tip is definitely one of mine.
  • Stop buying duplicates. I have at least 3 face cleansers, which is completely unnecessary. I’m working on using everything up before buying more beauty and skincare products. But this goes for clothes too. When I find something I like, I don’t need it in another color. In the past, I’ve thought I did, but I end up primarily wearing only one of them (the one in black, usually). So from now on, no more duplicates.
  • Make a want vs. need list. The one is new for me, but I’m excited to see how it works. What is it that I truly need? I’ve created a spread in my bullet journal so that whenever the thought pops into my head that I NEED this or that, I can stop, open my journal, and ask myself – is this something I really need, or is it something I want? I think adding this extra step of the buying process will help with impulse buying (another bad habit) and bring about more mindfulness.

I hope these tips help you get started! If you have any amazing tips, please share them in the comments below! Good luck, my friends, on this quest for less 🙂

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    c dill
    October 15, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Great post.

    These last few weeks, I’ve started to decluttering my fantasy self, and that include some ideas about how my relationships should be and how it should be working for myself. I’m contesting the thoughts about who I should be or the speed of my accomplishments. I’m trying to have fewer expectations about all my interactions with people.

    I began to introduce into my life ideas of impermanence, insufficiency, and about the temporality of everything. It can be scary, but worth it.

    Now, I’m doing it more consistently.

    Having fewer expectations is really refreshing. All these changes are allowing me to be aware of what matters and allowing me to be focusing on it.

    I want to recommend a book to you: “Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill” by Matthieu Ricard.

    • Reply
      Madison
      October 15, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Managing expectations is something I, too, struggle with. It’s amazing how it can completely change our perception of our interactions once we let go of them. Thank you for sharing your experiences, and for the book recommendation. I will definitely add it to my list!

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