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Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, CBC, and NPR.

This Year Beat the Crap Out of Me and It Was Awesome

I feel like a bruised thing. Tired, tattered, and threadbare, I’m not entirely sure how I made it through this year. But I did—we did—and it was awesome.

Four years ago we started a little blog and called it The Minimalists, and we never anticipated everything that would follow. Among all the successes and failures these past four years, 2014 has been our greatest year of personal growth: we published our best work, Everything That Remains, our bestselling book to date; we brought our simple-living message to tens of thousands of people in eight countries during our 100-city tour (photos); we planted 100 free local meetup groups across three continents; we spoke at TEDx, Apple, and several other conferences, organizations, and universities; we introduced a team of mentors to assist people one-on-one with their challenges; we filmed a documentary about life’s most important things; we partook in hundreds of television, radio, and newspaper interviews, including our Christmas Day appearance on the TODAY show; we taught 127 students how to write better; we watched our audience grow from 2 to 4 million as readers shared our message with their friends and family; and, most important, by testing and expanding our boundaries, we grew in every area of life: health, relationships, passion, contribution, creativity.

It is astonishing what one can accomplish in a year. Glancing in the rearview, though, everything seems much easier now than it did through the windshield in January. Back then, had we tried to plan all this out, it would have seemed impossible. But rather than focus on arbitrary goals and plotting every potential outcome, we avoided busywork and instead remained intensely focused through it all. That’s the only way we could have done it: not busy but focused. Because busy for the sake of busy is, by definition, unfocused, which makes it impossible to discern that which matters most amid the blur.

Of course with great growth comes great growing pains. Hence the bruised feeling I’m currently experiencing. So now, after slamming on the breaks to enjoy the holidays, Ryan and I are caring for our bruises, attempting to recover, spending time with people we love, resting before moving forward toward the new year on the horizon.

Thank you for being with us on this exciting journey, helping us spread a message we truly believe in.

Looking back, here are my favorite essays from 2014:

We’ll see you next year. We have a lot in store, including an outstanding documentary, a new tour, and a surprise or two. The best way to stay in the loop is to subscribe to our essays via email (no spam, ever).

Take it simple.

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