"Wealth is not a number of dollars. It is not a number of material possessions. It’s having options and the ability to take on risk.” - Charlie Lloyd.
Two years ago my life was spread across three continents; the debris of an ill fated union, and, 20 years spent in search of happiness through a materialistic lifestyle.
Most of my adult life I'd associated happiness with wealth: work hard, make money, build wealth, live a good life. A mindset rooted in my childhood. I can remember my parents telling me, "You don't want to be an archeologist, they don't make any money." Not bad advice, given I had probably been watching India Jones, but communicated the wrong way.
So, instead of becoming an underpaid archeologist, I bought into the wealth-creation game; building a successful group companies, setting up offshore wealth protection structures, accumulating cars and toys, investing in properties. The more successful I became, the more my social circle tended to upgrade itself, and that meant sacrificing more to stay in the game – fuelling a never ending need to “keep up with the Joneses".
I soon realized I wasn’t truly successful, I wasn’t truly satisfied, I wasn’t truly happy.
It took a divorce to jolt me out of the social success rut. To consciously decide that the next chapter in my life should be about simplicity, about freedom. I searched for ideas on how to live a more meaningful life and along the way I discovered two guys calling themselves, The Minimalists – one of them reminds me of an old school friend, while the other is the spitting image of Christopher Walken.
Having read about their journey from the trappings of a consumer culture to a more deliberate, minimalist lifestyle, I decided minimalism might be the tool I needed to help me find my own freedom.
I jumped in at the deep end – a tendency I have that often results in a long swim back to shore – embracing minimalism to strip away all the excess in my life.
Starting with the storage units, over a period of six months, I emptied each one. Opening them was like an episode of Storage Wars; a local pawn shop owner hacks off the lock, the door slides open, and; goldmine – furniture, washing machines, quad bikes, underwater propulsion devices – stuff I don’t even remember having.
I donated what I could, but most of it went to a local pawn store owner; loaded onto a truck, 20 years of accumulated material possessions exchanged for a fistful of cash. Although, letting go of those three units saved me $300 per month, $3,600 a year.
Next to go, the business interests. Extricating myself from these wasn’t been nearly as easy, let's just say I’ve learnt a lot about selling and handing companies over to other people. Regardless, over the past two years, I've whittled my professional life down to a small consultancy, happy spending my days helping entrepreneurs and business owners become successful.
Minimalism has also played an important role in the relationships I have with other people. After all, our thoughts, our ideas, our lives, are influenced by the people around us. Now, I avoid toxic relationships and focus on nurturing enduring friendships.
For me minimalism has never been about counting the number of possessions I own, or living a frugal lifestyle where I start cutting my own hair. It's about keeping the clutter away so that I can focus on a more meaningful life. In the 2 years since I adopted a minimalistic approach, these are the 10 things I love most it:
- Real freedom
- Less Stress
- Souvenirs are good memories
- Less luggage
- More time for self development
- Live in the moment
- Time to pursue my passions
- Focus on my health
- Rid myself of excess stuff
- Discover my purpose in our lives