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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 Update 1: January 2011

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

I’ve received some interesting questions and comments from readers, some of which I’ll attempt to answer here:

Why aren’t you buying anything this year? That’s not what minimalism is about, is it?

You’re correct—that’s not what minimalism is about at all. Minimalism is about getting rid of life’s excess so you can live a more meaningful life—a life filled with happiness, passion, and freedom.

Why aren’t you buying anything then?

It’s a personal experiment. I’ve never been interested in New Year’s resolutions, but it seemed apt this year, so I’m simply proving to myself I don’t need to buy things to be happy. I’m proving to myself I already have everything I need; I’ll never need more than what I already have.

But what if something breaks and you need to replace it (e.g., an umbrella or an iPod)?

Great question. That hasn’t happened yet, and I’ll address it if it does, but I won’t worry about it until then. My guess is I’ll have two options: do without the item, or replace it. Time will tell.

What about food, deodorant, and toothpaste?

As I stated at the beginning of the year, I’m abstaining from purchasing physical items, but 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 much easier than I anticipated. I thought it would be similar to quitting smoking cold turkey, but it has been easy thus far. Placing strict restrictions on myself took away all my options—I just can’t buy stuff. I imagine that’s why fasting is easier than dieting: it’s easier to say, “I’m not eating,” than it is to say, “Just one small piece of cake won’t hurt me.” We’ll see if this trend continues as the year progresses, but so far it has been—ahem—a piece of cake.

I’m more conscious than ever. My thought process has changed drastically because I’ve changed my mental state. I used to see something I wanted, and I would follow a specific thought process: a) Hey, I like that thing! 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: 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.

That’s my new thought process. It took me most of the month to realize I couldn’t buy more stuff—and I subsequently didn’t purchase any new physical items. And life goes on and money is saved, which is indirectly related to our freedom.

Click here to read my original New Year’s Resolution and other updates.