My Journey into Minimalism

Writing Desk

"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:

  1. Real freedom
  2. Less Stress
  3. Souvenirs are good memories
  4. Less luggage
  5. More time for self development
  6. Live in the moment
  7. Time to pursue my passions
  8. Focus on my health
  9. Rid myself of excess stuff
  10. Discover my purpose in our lives
I intentionally live light, I still want material possessions, I still own material possessions, but minimalism helps me make decisions about what I buy more consciously, more deliberately.