I’ve been trying to live a somewhat minimalist life for over 10 years, but one thing stayed everything else but minimalist. It’s March, and that means it’s almost spring in Germany. Even though I am not there right now and I haven’t had anything else but summer for about two and a half years, I felt the need for a traditional spring cleaning. But what does that mean?
I tend to feel overwhelmed a lot. I am really good at amassing a big list of projects, starting new ones even though the old isn’t even finished completely, readily available to jump ship. Isn’t that the same thing with owning stuff? We buy something new even though the old isn’t even finished yet? It’s a curse.
Minimalism with things was something easy to solve for me. Giving some things away, trashing others, and storing the really memory loaded stuff. I have a suitcase, a backpack, and a tiny corner in my moms basement. And even I think I have too much, and every time I go back to that corner I trash some more.
But what about projects? They feel different to me. They are in my mind. I can’t just put them in a box. Everything is connected. The data still on my MacBook. The notes. The todo list. I imagine so much potential in each one of them. But they aren’t there yet. And what about passion?
Eventually, I have to sit down and make a decision. Project overwhelm will not get me anywhere. So I decided to go for more minimalism on that. Do said spring cleaning. And it was incredible.
Minimalism = Freedom and Focus.
So what’s my solution? What I went through in the past few months can be pretty much be boiled down to five consecutive steps:
1. Accepting Yourself
This might sound a bit weird in this list, but it was essential for my growth. Months ago I started to work with a healer and coach. In the beginning, I was very skeptical of the whole idea of investing in myself in that way, doing emotional work, and doing so with alternative techniques. I’ve considered myself open minded, but at the same time, I also look at the judgment that I have towards something. Eventually, I find other people judging something, and I don’t let myself go into that area just because I fear to get judged for it myself.
Isn’t that funny? Once I actually accepted that offer, went with it, and experienced the change and growth in myself, I had a realization about what I just wrote in that previous paragraph. I judged something because I thought others would judge me. It’s a hugely transformative step to take. Understanding that I can do what I want, go for my goals, like the movies I like (The Lucky One is pretty special to me), and create my own path. I might get judged, but why do I (or you) care? That’s actually a very good question to go deeper into. Maybe something you can journal.
So to get to the point: It’s about finding a way to understand who you want to be. It’s more powerful if you do that in a mindset of no limits, no judgment, no blame, no restrictions, no stigma, and no rode-blocks. Which is easier said than done. It might actually take you years and many iterations to get to the core. It took me well over five years to get where I am now, and I am pretty sure I haven’t fully arrived yet.
2. Get Clearer on Your Vision
With that knowledge of who I want to be, the next step for me was to find the WHY behind that. I’m still in the process of reading “Start With Why” by by Simon Sinek (Aff), but all that I have learned about the concept through the TEDx talk and other videos it’s definitely a core achievement to understand why you do what you do. Is it for pleasure, to inspire, to make money, to create a life for your family, or to express yourself?
I noticed that I have been very money motivated. At least that’s what my vision board and goals are telling me. Looking back, however, my actions speak a different story which was very powerful to realize. How I am living my life clearly showed me that I am not really motivated by big gains, I am much more interested in:
Helping Others, Expressing Myself, and Learning New Things.
Making money is not the main objective.
Realizing that, I found new power in my decision making. New energy for pathways which I put away and closed off for far to long. And it made the decisions that follow that much easier.
To help in this step, I journaled about some of the following questions: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? What will be my result?
“Where focus goes, energy flows.”
~ Tony Robbins
Let’s talk about the hard part. Making the decisions. It’s painful. It’s hard. But it’s incredibly important.
Based on the explorations and creation of the new vision. Which parts of your life need adjusting? In my personal experience right now that was a question I specifically had to ask myself about the different projects I was involved in. Projects I created over the years, half finished and taking away decision power.
Eventually, I knew: the things that I need to continue are content creation and client work. Both of which are aligned with my new vision. I can help others in my client work as well as the content creation, but I also can explore new things, and I can express myself in videos, photos, and other media. I fell passionate about the possibilities.
What didn’t fit the picture any more were the many software projects I had started. They had to go. Decision time called and I decided to shed it all. Get rid of the weight. Actually, take steps that would block me from doing it again.
The same process is also something that can be done with things, people, and clients. Which of these areas are bringing the fun, the headaches, the money? This is also a good point to check out the 80/20 rule so often referenced by Tim Ferriss, as well as the question “What would this look like if it were easy?” (this is also discussed on the Kevin Rose show).
Be prepared, this step tends to be the hardest. At least it was for me. It is one thing to think about killing a project. It’s an entirely different experience to actually send the email to current users of your software and tell them that a few days from now the software will no longer be there.
Pulling the plug so to say wasn’t easy. But a different part of me also felt so satisfied. Taking screenshots of the projects current state, downloading the code base. Collecting all the todos, plans, and notes. Creating a backup of everything. Uploading said backup to online archive storage. Putting everything far away.
Making this all or nothing decision was important. Actually shutting the projects down. Yes, I could have let them run in their current state. But then I would still think about them. I would occasionally get support requests, server issues, or other reminders of their existence. It makes it all harder to stick with my decision.
It also was imperative for me to do the shutting down in a state of motivation and clear headedness. Otherwise, I could see myself questioning my decision and not taking action to the fullest degree. But while I was in that state, I was able to build a wall between me and my past projects.
What steps can you take to actually create separation, to put up a bit of a wall? What steps do you need to do to end relationships, finish projects, shut down a company? Can this be accomplished quickly? What would this look like if it were easy?
5. Moving Forward
Make it happen.
It’s been a week since I’ve done this shedding. I shut down 7 websites. Clearly focusing on my primary vision. I feel that there is even more focusing going to happen eventually. This is a process to go through multiple times to actually get to the core of everything.
Overall I feel empowered, there is new life in my main project and client work. I have much more energy available to distribute between less tasks which is incredibly helpful to get stuff done.
Moving forward, I will mainly work on creating content for this blog, my Weekly Newsletter, YouTube Channel, Instagram Account, and do Client Consultations. I also have some courses in the works which will get much more attention now.
How could you reduce your life? Get more minimalist in all areas, and create your vision? It’s a lot in one post. All these different things that culminated to being able to do this. As I have mentioned, I have been doing steps like these for years, and I am pretty sure I am not even close to being done with the search. It’s a process. But you haves to start at some point.