One question I often hear from people interested in minimalism and simplifying their lives is, “Where do I start?”
After all, part of the reason many people turn to minimalism is because they’re suffering from overwhelm, so it makes sense that knowing where to start is sometimes a challenge! And then once you get started? Creating habits that actually stick isn’t always easy either.
This is why I was so excited when Kristen Elyse reached out to me about writing this post together. Kristen is a life coach and she specialises in helping her clients set and accomplish goals, so I thought it would be fun to break down her technique and apply it to minimalism and decluttering!
This is a guest post by Kristen; she shares her step by step goal setting process and I chime in with reflections from my own minimalist journey. (KE = Kristen, JB = me!)
KE: When people come to me with the goal to simplify typically there is an association between emotional and physical clutter. In the process of removing the physical they being to clear out the emotional as well.
When working with these clients I use my 4 step process to goal setting:
#1 IDENTIFY THE GOAL & HOW IT INTERACTS WITH YOUR ENTIRE LIFESTYLE.
KE: This is the stage where you identify why your goal is important and prepare ahead for parts of your life that may help or hinder your desire to become a minimalist.
JB: This is so important and it’s where I really struggled in the beginning; I was curious about minimalism and I had a feeling it would be a good fit for my life but I didn’t really know why.
For several years I made halfhearted attempts to get started, but I was only able to make real progress when I took the time to think about my vision for my future. I realised that what I wanted most in life was to feel loved and healthy, to have freedom to create and learn, and to explore our beautiful world.
Once I started thinking about the big picture I stopped viewing minimalism as a restrictive lifestyle and instead realised it was a tool to help me achieve my dreams. This change in thinking was the turning point in my minimalist journey.
#2 LOOK AT HOW YOU ARE HOLDING YOURSELF BACK.
KE: Most of the time when we declare a goal it is not the first time we have done so. If this is the case for you, it is important to look back at past attempts and make notes of what went well and what you could change this time around. It also important to look at what fearful thoughts you may be having with moving forward.
JB: Yesss – this definitely describes me! I made so many half-hearted, failed attempts at becoming a minimalist in the early years. Unfortunately, at the time I lacked the foresight to reflect on why I was failing, but in retrospect, I can see 2 major stumbling blocks that needed addressing:
- Perfectionism – I felt like I wouldn’t be ready to embrace minimalism until everything I owned was ‘perfect’ (the perfect little black dress, the perfect frying pan, etc). Of course, perfect is an illusion, so it meant I was always shopping for ‘one more thing’ and I was never ready to get started.
- Self Doubt + Self Acceptance – For a long time I struggled with self acceptance and I used my stuff as a mask to hide behind; I thought my high heels made me sexy, my expensive handbags made me successful, and my designer yoga pants made me healthy. Part of becoming a minimalist was acknowledging how my feelings about myself affected my attitude towards ‘stuff’.
#3 MANIFEST YOUR SUCCESS.
KE: Now that you have looked at your goal in relation to how it impacts you in a very large picture it is important to visualize in as much detail as possible what success looks like for you. Be extremely descriptive. It is also now time to start building up your confidence by stating to yourself on a regular basis that you can do this.
JB: This was the fun part! For me this goes hand in hand with step #1; once I started thinking about the big picture I began daydreaming what my life could look like with less stuff.
I imagined peaceful mornings with my husband, drinking coffee and laughing in bed as the sun rose out the window. Instead of feeling stressed about my day I felt calm and present.
I pictured working less and making more time for myself; taking afternoon yoga classes, going on long walks, and making lunch dates with friends. Instead of shopping I was investing in my wellbeing.
I dreamed of spending more time overseas, visiting my family and going on adventures – a life with less stuff and more freedom – and the more I thought about it, the more it began to seem real and achievable!
#4 CREATE AN ACTION PLAN.
KE: Create a plan that breaks your larger goal into smaller tasks. Set deadlines of when you want to accomplish each item by. Plan for moments of feeling low by using visuals that you will see often and will serve as a reminder as to why you started this. Make sure you plan to reward yourself along the way- for your effort, not just outcomes. This will help keep motivation up.
JB: I agree that having an action plan is so important. I didn’t have one … but in retrospect, I know if I’d did, I’d have been more focused.
It took me years to make a significant change in my life and – while I believe everyone’s journey takes time – I could have made things much easier for myself with an action plan!
Goal setting is putting our desires into an action plan. If fear, stress or negative self-talk is holding you back then please check out Kristen’s services. She’ll work with you to take control of your mind so you start accomplishing your goals.
What are your minimalist challenges? Do Kristen’s goal setting steps resonate with you? Let me know in the comments! x
Photo credit: Me!