Rightsizers, not minimalists

It’s the season for spring cleaning! Seems like it arrived late this year, but our desire to clean up, refresh, and pare down is in full swing. Like so many others, we were somewhat caught up on the movement towards a minimalist lifestyle–from selling our first home to aggressive decluttering. But we realized that we do want art on our walls. So can we call ourselves minimalists? We think of ourselves as designers of a lifestyle that suits us. We aren’t trying to get the the least amount of stuff, but we do want everything to serve a purpose. And yeah, we also want stuff that brings us joy. Rightsizing has so much corporate jargon connotation to it. We appreciate the simplicity of minimalists, but have a hard time getting there. We found that our philosophy is more about having “enough” than it is strictly reducing.

Moving to a smaller living space and discovering all the life enhancements that came along with that transformed us. Having less space for storage and furniture and everything else forces us to confront our possessions: what’s worth keeping around and what needs to go. We live in a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo. It is so fulfilling to use what we own and to constantly work on better ways to store the things we need and let go of the things we don’t. The smaller space is easier to clean. There are downsides, like when houseguests come to visit. But the vast majority of the time, the space is more than sufficient.

We took inspiration from minimalism and adopted the mindfulness and intentionality that comes with it. We weren’t always this way. We often feel like recovering packrats, with barely controlled hoarding tendencies. When we sold our first house, it was such an emotional thing. We managed to donate and trash a lot of unnecessary items. But losing that huge amount of storage space still stressed the capacity of our downsized living space. We’re not proud to admit that many items moved from one garage attic to another, smaller garage attic. This is a process, though. We continue to declutter and re-organize one area at a time. Progress is slow at times, but the good news is that once cleared, areas have not regressed to their former levels of clutter.

Our approach incorporates the best practices from many cleaning gurus. We use a little bit of Konmari to fold our clothing and figure out whether this item is serving our needs and wants. We use a little bit of the minimalists in annually playing the minimalism game (going on this month!). And we don’t know where the “one area at a time” technique came from, but it prevents overwhelm.

Not only does limiting our stuff to what’s useful and important reduce stress, but we also view it as preparation for a possible future nomadic lifestyle. If we’re going to give up our permanent home someday to move onto a boat or spend a year living in a different country every month, we’re going to need a lot less. Although some of the items are needed now but won’t be needed then (hello business suits!), we still find the exercise helpful. In fact, it’s one of the things that can get me through the slog– that part when it feels like Financial Independence Day is so far into the future. Tackling an area in need of organization is free and is something we can do in a short amount of time to feel like we are making progress toward our big goals and makes our lives better today, too.  

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