I’ve been tinkering with minimalism lately and it is making a profound impact on my mindset. Minimalism is the act of stripping away excess stuff from your life and getting off the vicious consumer ferris wheel. We’ve all fallen under the spell of our social media feeds with inspiring outfits, black girl magic t-shirts, shoes, hats, nail polish, make up, natural hair products and that so-needed thrifted find. We spend copious amount of time strolling up and down store aisles and thumbing through online retail shops. All of this stuff adds up and fills our homes and keep us tied to unfilling careers because of credit card debt. For some of us AfriGens, creating the home of our dreams and a closet full of clothes of our choosing is an innate longing. At one point or another we all remember wearing bo-bos (shoes from PayLess that were promptly ridiculed on the playground). In some ways, I and many other first-gens like me are comforting our inner child by creating the homes we longed for as children that our parents’ cab driver or nurse salaries could not provide. Some of us are doing well now and can design a life of our choosing. However, if that life includes being a part of the consumer lifestyle, it is robbing us of an opportunity discover our personal life’s mission and focus on our purpose. Minimalism provides an opportunity to reset. Here are a few ways that minimalism has helped me at work and home:
Lighter Closet, Lighter Mind
My first foray into minimalism was by stripping down my closet, specifically my work clothes. For years I spent many mornings running late to work looking for the perfect outfit to wear, cruising stores on the weekends in an effort to continually update my career clothes. A few weeks ago, I spent a weekend going through my closet and donating 75 percent of my clothes. I allowed myself to only keep 10 full sets of outfits. While whittling down my closet, I found that I was drawn to black, olive, and dust pink clothing. Simple cuts, clean lines, flattering and neutral designs. I found my style profile while tossing out impulse buys and trends that did not suit my body. During the weeks following, I was able to quickly select an outfit for work and get ready in record time. Walking into a lighter closet each morning also gave me a lighter mindset to tackle the day. It allowed me to start the day without being overwhelmed and mired in choices so I was able to focus on my purpose for that day.
Ending the Chase
My lipstick and nail polish collection also took a hit. As well as the knick-knacks I tend to buy for the house such as cozy throws that sit perfectly on my couch. Whether it is shopping for that perfect fall lipstick color or strolling through HomeGoods for fall housewares, we are constantly on the chase. The chase costs us valuable time away from family, time, and money and ultimately from our purpose.
Choosing a minimalist lifestyle allows you to take stock of what you already have and intentionally choosing to make do without chasing new or more stuff. It effectively ends the chase. When this happens, you discover that you truly have all you really need and the rest is just overindulgence. With the chase by the wayside, you discover more time on your hands. You are able to think more clearly about your career and personal goals actually take small steps towards accomplishing them because you are no longer focused on things that don’t matter.
As my commitment to minimalism has progressed, I’ve discovered a shift in my thinking. I’ve felt a sense of freedom and an abundance of choices/pathways that I hadn’t noticed before. When you relinquish the idea that you have to buy things and begin to downsize your living, you begin to feel free from your things and you actually stay in that carefully planned budget. You begin to imagine yourself in smaller quarters where you can be free from materials. The large home, the fancy car and all the other trappings of success are just that⎯traps.
Minimalism eliminates the feeling of discontent with where you are in life and makes way for you to see a new path. A path that isn’t dependent on a career that is zapping the life out of you, but an opportunity to imagine a different path because you are no longer in the chase and your bank account is on an upward trend. Freedom is found in that sweet spot of relinquishing things and putting your money to work on more enterprising goals.
While minimalism is not a panacea to all of life’s challenges, it provides a well-needed pause and recalibrates your mind. I’m a firm believer that your mindset plays a key role in your success at work and at home. Minimalism catalyses that shift in mindset.