6 Powerful But Unexpected Minimalist Lifestyle Tips

Are you struggling to create a minimalist lifestyle? If so, then these powerful (but unexpected!) minimalist lifestyle tips will help you move forward and create real, sustainable change.


I’ve considered myself a minimalist for nearly a decade now but if you’ve read my minimalist story, then you’ll know that the road hasn’t always been easy for me. In fact, it took me years to go from “wanting to be a minimalist” to actually following through and making any noticeable changes in my life.

It was often a case of one step forward, two steps back. I’d declutter a few bags of stuff one weekend … only to find myself in Target a few days later, filling my cart to the brim with more things that I didn’t really need.

It was so frustrating because I knew I was acting against my own best interest! I was tired of settling and I wanted something different for myself but I just didn’t know how to change the habits of a lifetime.

It took a while but fortunately, I eventually had a breakthrough moment…

After years of failed attempts at minimalism, how did I finally make real, sustainable changes in my life? Read to find out.

The Minimalist Mindset

The *spark* that changed everything was realising that minimalist living is about so much more than just decluttering—in the same way that healthy living is about so much more than just dieting.

Of course, owning fewer things is an important part of minimalism! But binge decluttering without fundamentally changing your mindset is like crash dieting—it doesn’t last and “stuff” will eventually creep back into your life (spoken from personal experience!).

I really started to change my life when I stopped thinking about minimalism in terms of what I couldn’t have (a mindset that relies on willpower) and started viewing it as an intentional choice to have more of what matters.

I wasn’t giving up anything. Instead, I was taking the first steps towards creating a life I truly love.

If this resonates with you, then here are six minimalist lifestyle tips that will help you grow this mindset and move forward on your journey.

6 Minimalist Lifestyle Tips

1. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU WANT MOST

If you want to have more of what really matters in your life, then you need to start by knowing … what really matters in your life!

Spend some time thinking about your values: strip down to the bare bones of your life and ask yourself what’s important? What makes you feel happy, proud, and loved? What fuels your heart and gets you out of bed in the morning?

There are no right or wrong answers—it might be family, art, education or stability—everyone has different priorities and that is absolutely okay.

Whatever your priorities are, make them your daily focus and use this mindset to frame your minimalist decisions in a positive light. Here are some examples:

  • Instead of saying “no” to shopping, try saying “yes” to being debt-free and financially secure.
  • Instead of saying “no” to going out every weekend, try saying “yes” to spending more time with your loved ones.
  • Instead of saying “no” to perfectionism, try saying “yes” to self-love and care.

Master this way of thinking and I can almost guarantee that minimalist living will begin to feel like a natural choice.

2. PRACTICE SELF CARE

You probably already know that self-care is important—but did you know that it’s absolutely essential for minimalist living?

Consider this: when I’m feeling insecure, worn out or overwhelmed, I find myself going into survival mode. This means I’m not thinking intentionally about my choices. Instead, I’m looking for quick and easy ways to feel better and I end up doing things like:

  • snacking on junk food
  • getting snappy with my loved ones
  • or the good old “buying things to cheer myself up”

In other words, I make bad decisions. When I don’t care for myself first, I don’t care about anything else—especially not minimalism. I’m not focused on the big picture or thinking about what matters most because I’m just trying to get through the day.

The solution? Prevention.

Regardless of your feelings on minimalism, I’m a big believer that we all need to practice self-care: drink water, eat healthy foods, make time to read or do activities that nurture your soul, stretch and move, journal— whatever it is that keeps YOU feeling grounded and well.

3. SPEND ON EXPERIENCES

One of my biggest minimalist lifestyle tips is don’t be too frugal—especially in the beginning!

I know this might sound like strange advice given that many people turn to minimalism in order to improve their financial situation but stick with me on this one.

If you want to stop finding joy in “stuff” then you need to train your brain to see the joy in other things … like experiences!

Of course, I know there are a ton of fun things you can do for free (like hiking or museums) but at the same time, I’m mindful that minimalism is usually hard at first. The transition to “experiences over things” might be challenging at first, so do what you can to stack the odds in your favour.

Plan trips away, nights out with friends, or unique adventures like wine tours or art classes. Start working your way through your bucket list and get reacquainted with the joy of doing things vs owning things.

Eventually, you can cut back and live more frugally (if you choose to—remember that minimalist living does not automatically mean frugal living) but I highly recommend allowing yourself some extra fun money at the start!

4. PRACTICE MINDFULNESS

Have you ever thought:

“All I need is _______ and I’ll be happy?”

If so, you’re definitely not alone. This mindset was one of the biggest challenges I faced on my road to minimalism.

I knew I wanted to own less—but I kept telling myself I just need a few more things first. A new winter coat, a new pair of shoes … there was always something else I needed before I’d be ready to get started with minimalism.

(You may recognise this as the “last meal before the diet starts” syndrome!)

But of course, as I’m sure you can guess, there was always ONE MORE THING I couldn’t live without. I felt stuck in a neverending cycle.

And why was this? Because I wasn’t living in the present.

Instead of paying attention to my behaviour and feeling gratitude for everything I already owned and loved, my attention lived in an imaginary future. A fantasyland … where a new dress or some other purchase would magically solve all my problems.

I had to learn how to live for today and my mindfulness practice was a big part of that process. I started meditating, gratitude journaling, and doing activities I love such as painting and yoga.

Slowly, I began to feel content with what I already had and I stopped feeling like I constantly needed more to be happy.

5. DON’T EXPECT EVERYTHING TO CHANGE OVERNIGHT

If you’ve read this far, it’s probably because you’re serious about wanting to change your life. And I understand—you were ready for change yesterday— not tomorrow, or next week, or next month. You want your life to look and feel different, and it’s hard to be patient.

But let me tell you a story.

When I was 22, I rather impulsively packed everything I owned into a backpack and travelled the world for two years.

Although I didn’t consider myself a minimalist (at the time, I’d never heard of the term!) I embodied a lot of the characteristics. I had very few possessions and my life was free and light.

So with that in mind, what do you think happened when I finally settled down after two years of living on the road?

I moved into a gigantic three-bedroom apartment, drove a moving van to Ikea, and turned one room into a gigantic walk-in closet (which I promptly filled to the brim).

The moral of this story is that real change takes time. Even if you somehow managed to declutter your entire life overnight, you’d still be mostly the same person the next day.

The truth is embracing minimalism is a journey and it takes time to unlearn a lifetime of habits. Everyone’s timeline will be different, so be patient and kind to yourself.

6. REFLECT ON YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS

Finally, if patience isn’t your strong point (it certainly isn’t mine) learn to reflect and revel in your achievements.

Celebrate your small victories:

  • when you resist browsing the clearance rack
  • when you donate your unused ski gear to charity
  • when you set clear and healthy boundaries

Turn your focus towards how far you’ve come, instead of how far you’ve got to go.

This mindset is important because honestly, there is no finish line. Minimalism is about creating space in your life for what matters most and I don’t think this is a task that ever gets checked off your to-do list.

Instead, I think it’s a constant cycle of reviewing your values, assessing your life, and adjusting accordingly. It’s a new way of thinking and living—there will always be work to do but there will always be things to celebrate too!

More Tips on Becoming a Minimalist

If you enjoyed this blog post, here are a few more tips and resources you might find helpful.

First and foremost, I invite you to download Mindful Decluttering using the form below. In this free guide and workbook, I’ll teach you more about the minimalist mindset and you’ll also learn my step-by-step decluttering process.

(Plus as an added bonus, you’ll get my regular newsletters with more tips, inspiration and personal stories!)


Alternatively, if this blog post speaks to your heart, then you’ll love my signature course Clear Your Clutter. I’ll teach you how to think like a minimalist so you can finally clear your stickiest clutter and start living with the freedom and ease you deserve. Click here to get started today!

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I’d love to hear any of your stories or tips you’ve learned on your minimalist journey. Let me know in the comments! x

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21 thoughts on “6 Powerful But Unexpected Minimalist Lifestyle Tips”

  1. Is there a way to get the guide& workbook preprinted and mailed to me? Old school in alot of ways. Minimalism interests me on a deep level. Thank you for your time.

    Reply
  2. Thank you for encouraging me to pursue what really matters in my life and sort out my priorities from there in order to fully incorporate minimalism into my lifestyle. We’ve always lived a lavish lifestyle and looking back at the years of my life made me realize that I really don’t need the extravagant things and the huge mansion I’m living in right now. It might be a good idea to start with selling our house and looking for some small mobile homes for sale where we can settle for good.

    Reply
  3. I read so many blogs about people who have thrown caution to the wind and set off on their journey of discovery around the world – I absolutely love the idea of doing that!
    But when it comes down to it, all I keep thinking is – How did you fund this? How did you survive for 2 years traveling around? Where did you get your food – where did you sleep? I would really like to know the practicalities of living out of a backpack while travelling the world for 2 years! I just can’t picture how to make that work….. Do you have incredibly rich parents who funded this? Did you have an awesomely well paid job that allowed you to save up to then take off? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to be a wet blanket – I would really like to know, for myself, how this can be done – please!

    Reply
    • Hey Jillian! Thanks for your question and don’t worry – I completely understand why you’re asking. I actually wrote a really detailed post about how I afford to travel https://www.simplyfiercely.com/how-i-afford-to-travel/ which might answer a lot of your questions. I definitely don’t have rich parents!! The quick answer is over the years I’ve done a mix of working abroad, travelling in very cheap countries (often with a budget around $150/week) – but the post explains in a lot more detail. If you have more questions feel free to comment again and I’ll try and be more specific ?

      Reply
  4. Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for this post. I found it on pinterest, and since subscribed to your blog. This spoke to me a lot, as well as a few other of your posts I have been reading. We had/have a LOT in common, and I definitely struggle with a spending addiction. While I never got in a literal debt, I would be barely getting by each month living paycheck to paycheck, when I really didn’t need to be if I was just getting what was required. I saw you mentioned the topic of fashion blogs. I know that feeds my spending addiction, but I genuinely enjoy reading a few fashion blogs and I have built a connection with the women who write them. I struggle thinking about letting go of that, do you have any tips on what to do? I am glad I found your blog, and in time maybe I can make a transition to other types of blogs.
    Based on my personality, very few people know I have this problem, yet it affects my day every day. After being open about it with my partner, I feel empowered to change my life around, and take control of my life, and create freedom!
    Thank you for your inspiring words. <3

    Dana

    Reply
  5. I’ve recently discovered minimalism by total accident, but it was one of the best things that could have happened. I suffer with anxiety on an on and off basis. At one point when my anxiety seemed it was the highest, we moved from a 1,400 square foot house into one bedroom of my mother in laws how while we built a shop that included 600 square foot of living space. My anxiety was going to be the death of this experience, until I found minimalism.

    Since then, we have moved into our 600 square foot shop apartment, and I have gotten rid of tons of things I thought I needed. My anxiety has gotten under control quite a bit, but I still have a little ways to go before I am where I want to be with my journey. If I would have known living a more simple lifestyle could change my mental health this much, I would have done it years ago! I’ve also started writing about my journey, and it has helped on so many levels. I still have a ways to go, and I especially realize that after reading this post.

    I’ve also challenged myself to a 30 Day Minimalist Decluttering Challenge that I created myself. Here’s the link if you would like to check it out. http://www.awelderswife.com/2016/01/30-day-minimalist-decluttering-challenge/

    Reply
    • Hi Erin! Sorry for my slow reply, but thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s so inspiring to hear about how minimalism helped you with your anxiety. I love your challenge, but I’m currently travelling (and living out of a backpack) so I won’t be able to participate right now. However, I’ll share the details on my social media accounts and spread the word. All theist on your minimalist journey and thank you for commenting!

      Reply
  6. This is such a great post, Jennifer! I loved the analogy of minimalism and dieting!

    With our recent move to Seattle, we’ve downsized from a 2200 sq. ft. house (with a garage and shed) to a 980 sq. ft. apartment. We went through everything we owned prior to moving and got rid of a bunch of stuff using the mantra of “If it’s not beautiful or useful then it doesn’t have value to us.”, but watching how much the movers packed up, I have a feeling that we still have a lot of decluttering left to do when we finally get to move into our apartment in two weeks. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Mackenzie, great to hear from you 🙂 Wow, that is a big move – how exciting!!

      I love your mantra and it’s so true. I’m sure once you settle in you’ll find a sweet spot that works for your family. Thanks fro you comment and all the best xx

      Reply
  7. These are all great tips! I’m a big believer in self care. If you aren’t doing well, nothing in your life is doing well. Also, experiences are huge for us, that’s why we became minimalists!

    Reply
  8. I loved this post, Jennifer! The self-care tip really bowled me over, especially the line on not caring about minimalism when you don’t care for yourself. I need to work harder on that.

    Also, the “Don’t expect to change overnight” tip has a little typo.

    Will be pinning & tweeting this post! Thanks for sharing with us!

    Reply
    • Hey Daisy! My hubby felt the same way about the self care tip – I guess he see’s it in me firsthand (and not just about minimalism, about other habits like healthy eating or even just positive thinking.) I’ll be addressing this in my intention plan next month!

      Thanks for your help with the typo, I need a proofreader at times! And thanks for sharing!! xx

      Reply

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