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The Minimalists

Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus write about living a meaningful life with less stuff for 4 million readers. As featured on: ABC, CBS, NBC, BBC, TODAY, NPR, TIME, Forbes, The Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and National Post. They live in Missoula, Montana.

Minimalist Resolution: January Update

New Year Joshua Fields Millburn

It’s been one month since I told the world that I am not buying anything for a year, and it’s been an interesting month indeed.

I’ve had some interesting questions and comments from readers, some of which I’ll attempt to answer and address here.

Question: Why aren’t you buying anything this year? That’s not what minimalism is about, is it? Answer: No, that is not what minimalism is about at all. Minimalism is simply about getting rid of superfluous excess so you can live a more meaningful life, a life that’s filled with happiness and passion and freedom.

Q: So why aren’t you buying anything then? A: It’s a personal experiment. You see I’ve never really been into New Year resolutions, but it seemed apt this year, so I’m simply proving to myself that I don’t need to buy things to be happy. I’m proving to myself that I already have everything I need. I’ll never need more than what I already have.

Q: But what if something breaks and you need to replace it (e.g., an umbrella or an iPod)? A: That’s a good question. That hasn’t happened yet, and I’ll address it if it does happen, but I won’t worry about it until then. My guess is that I’ll have two options: I’ll see if I can do without the item or I’ll be forced to bite the bullet and replace it. Only time will tell.

Q: What about food and deodorant and toothpaste? A: As I stated at the beginning of the year, I’m abstaining from purchasing physical items, and I’m still purchasing consumables, otherwise I wouldn’t smell very pleasant.

Lessons Learned

I’ve learned a lot from this experiment so far, but two things stand out:

It’s way easier than I initially anticipated. I thought it was going to be like stopping drinking or smoking cold turkey (although I don’t have experience with either), but it has been incredibly easy thus far. Placing strict restrictions on myself took away all my options, I just can’t buy stuff; I imagine that that is why fasting is easier than dieting (viz. it’s easier to say, “I’m not eating,” than it is to say, “oh, just one small piece of cake won’t hurt me.”). We’ll see if this easiness trend continues as the year progresses, but so far it’s been a piece of cake (no pun intended).

I’m more conscious than ever. My thought process has changed drastically. Tony Robbins calls this changing your state. I used to see something I wanted, and I would follow a very specific thought process: a) Hey, I like that thing! (e.g., book, gadget, pair of jeans, etc.), b) Do I really, really want that thing? If yes, then, c) What’s the best way to purchase that thing? d) Go online or into a retail store and purchase said thing. Done. But now my thought process has a glitch in the middle: a) Hey, I like that thing! b) Do I really want that thing? If yes, then…wait, there is no then, I can’t buy it, I’m not allowed to. Oh well, nevermind.

Literally, that’s my new thought process; it took most of the month before I started to realize that I couldn’t buy stuff anymore. But I didn’t purchase any new physical items. And life goes on (and money is saved, which, as we’ll talk about extensively in the coming weeks, is indirectly related to our freedom).

So, it has been easier than I thought. You should try it for a week or a month or longer. It’s not hard and you become far more conscious as a result.