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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Your Five Most Precious Resources

A simple life involves, perhaps above anything else, the deliberate use of resources. To inspire you in that effort, we fashioned a handy acronym to help you identify and budget your most precious resources: S.T.E.A.M.

Skills. You may possess certain inborn talents—hulking strength, graceful agility, a beautiful voice—but your talent is blunted if you don’t develop it into useful skills. To get good at anything—to create something significant—requires competence, which is developed slowly, day after day, with rigor, drudgery, and practice, until eventually you’ve whetted a skill. Sure, your innate talent might make it easier to sharpen your skills, but the work is still required. Hard work.

Time. It’s striking that we’ll refuse to pay a few bucks to listen to a podcast, but we’ll hand over countless hours of our day, willy-nilly, to anyone who provides us with “free content.” But, of course, free isn’t actually free if you’re spending your time. There’s no refund on time spent poorly—so spend time wisely.

Energy. We often live our lives as if we’re a deflating balloon, bouncing aimlessly from our inboxes to our television sets to our social-media profiles, allowing other people’s priorities to dictate our actions. It feels productive to be busy, but meaningful tasks rarely reside on our to-do list. If we focus our energy wisely, though, then we can float purposefully through life. Otherwise, we’re just deflating.

Attention. In a world filled with glowing screens, pop-up ads, and multi-platform media, everyone is vying for access to our ever-contracting attention spans. Advertisers have figured out that the shortest route to your checking account is via your attention, so they’ll do almost anything to grab it. Perhaps, however, these corporations are reckless with our attention because we are so careless with it ourselves. If we want to live deliberately, we mustn’t squander our mindshare on every interruption. It’s best to unsubscribe, mute, and walk away from anything that’s not adding value to our lives.

Money. Although we often think of money as the ultimate resource, it is the least important of the five herein. Money won’t necessarily improve your life, but it will amplify your existing behaviors. If you have bad habits, then more money will make your life considerably worse. And if you’re already a generous person, then more money can help you be more loving, caring, and considerate.

P.S. Yes, you could rejigger our acronym as M.E.A.T.S., which would be funnier and perhaps more memorable, but let’s avoid putting money first.