Happy October, friends! For this episode, I chat about a topic that is really important to me: minimalism. Minimalism has been something that has become "trendy" in recent years and because it slowly is becoming mainstream, there are things that people tend to believe that it is. In actual fact, it's a lot more than just decluttering and getting rid of your stuff to live from your backpack. Today I share my journey to minimalism, what it has done for me and what it really means.
Hello, and welcome to a podcast by Pauline. I'm your host, fully novice. And thank you so much for tuning in. I hope that wherever you are in the world, you're safe and well. So it's been a while since I've recorded one of these because life got in the way, I really wanted it to be quite consistent. And I was planning like an every two weeks sort of thing. But because of life and everything that's gone on recently, it's been quite difficult to actually sit down and talk about topics I had planned. But it's it's crazy how the last time I recorded the podcast, it was in September, and now we're in October already. That's crazy. That's insane. This whole year has flown by. And it just seems to be getting faster and faster now that we get reaching to the end of the year. today. I wanted to like, reflect, slow down and talk about a topic that I've really enjoyed talking about other people and writing about and sharing on social media of the last few years. And that is minimalism. So this is an interesting topic. And something like I said, but I've been forming thoughts on over the last few years. I think also minimalism is one of those things that is just being thrown around recently. It's like becoming more trendy and popular. And sometimes when things get trendy, unpopular, it it's quite easy to like, lose its meaning almost. And so I wanted to just chat about, you know, my journey into minimalism what minimalism means to me. So where do I even begin, I think it's really important to talk about how my approach towards minimalism was something that gradually, like switched on for me in my brain. So just to paint a picture, my family are from the Philippines, because of the struggles that my parents went through. They had sort of this mindset that, you know, the more stuff you have, the better off you are. And I think that sort of influenced me growing up, that's sort of where my hoarding behaviour began, my first retail experience was a in fashion retail, I worked at a place that was quite a demanding place in terms of staying on top of trends. And I guess, like it was my first experience experiencing the fashion industry, and how terrible it was, actually. But I see that there is progress in this area. And but slowly, the fashion industry is becoming more mindful in terms of the amount of clothes and items that they produce. And you know, just approaching it in a more sustainable way. But at the time, I worked at a place that really encouraged you to stay on trend, and really encouraged you to buy new things every season to you know, show customers who are walking into the store that Oh, look at the sales advisor that is working in our store, they're wearing the latest things I need to get on top of that. And yeah, so I was part of that cycle for a bit. So for me, I just constantly spent half my paycheck every single month to buy new clothes from the place I was working at. And it got to a point where like, it was getting a bit ridiculous because my wardrobes would be full of clothes that I'd only wear like, what, for a month for that season. Because then there'd always be a new thing I needed to get. It always be a new outfit, but I needed to like wear for work, but also then it sort of like filled my whole mentality in like my day to day stuff. So day to day, I would always look trendy. And again, it got to a point where I was just exhausted, because it was like constantly looking at what was on trend and then buying them wearing it for a bit and then feeling bored of it. So then I buy some more stuff. And it was just the cycle of buying, feeling unsatisfied, and it just got exhausting. I always talk about 2016 because it was literally the year that changed everything in my life. And it sounds like really silly, but it's true. It really did change everything in my life. So 2016 I was tired of how everything was going and I decided to click that reset button and I've talked about within other podcasts episodes around like health and wellness. And that was the year I genuinely was like, you know what I'm fed up of the shifts, I'm gonna start again, and really focus on me and look inwards and think of what I actually want to do with my, with my life. So as as a part of that journey. Before I even got into like health and wellness, it was around, just looking around me and getting rid of things. And at the time, I didn't know that this was a movement. I didn't know, minimalism and decluttering was an actual thing. But I got really into it. And then eventually, the more I looked online, the more I realised that there's a whole community of people who have also got to a point where they're sort of fed up, where they're fed up of being part of that cycle of constantly buying things to feel better, when it doesn't make them feel better, or it will only last for like a couple of weeks. And so they were looking for something else to fill that void, something else to help them feel that there's more to life than all the items that we accumulate. So, in that year, I decided that I'm going to start with clothing and all the other items that I wear, because like I said, working in retail really inspired me to like buy as much as I can. So yeah, I got all of my stuff. And I was like, Okay, I need to get rid of things that just don't fit me anymore. And things I didn't like. So for example, I used to buy for some reason, I used to buy a lot of like strappy going out dresses, even when I only went out like once a year, it made no sense at all. But that was just something that like I did, because I would see at work. And I'd be like, oh, that would be great for this occasion. That didn't really happen. And even when I did go out and buying a new thing for that occasion anyway, so I just have like a backlog of random dresses that I never wore, which is insane. I started there, I started with clothes, and getting rid of things that just didn't serve a purpose in my life and my lifestyle. And then things that also didn't fit or didn't feel good on me. That was the first step clothes and items that I would wear. And like I think it was quite a successful activity, I got rid of a lot of things that led me to only having one wardrobe. And that's amazing. I, I stopped getting like decision fatigue every morning of what I should wear, because instead of running around the whole house trying to look for something to wear, I would just have one place one wardrobe with all of the things displayed to help me in the mornings Get ready. And getting rid of that decision fatigue early on in the morning just set out my day. And it was great. I think the main thing for me was clothes. And that was like a problem area. And over the years, I feel like I've gotten a lot better at like impulsively buying clothing items. Now nowadays, I try and be more mindful about what I'm buying and bringing into my, into my space for me like the most difficult one was probably clothes because I had this emotional attachment to everything, even though they didn't serve me a purpose or that I never even wore them. But it was that mentality of like I spend money on them. So I have to keep it. But at the same time, it's never been used or worn before. So there's literally no point of me, you know, hanging on to them. And obviously also shows that maybe it was a waste of money. When I talk about getting rid of clothes, I don't mean like just chucking them into the bin. I'm talking about donating, selling, giving it to other people. I did a lot of that throughout the years. And that was great. Because again, I could give away some of the stuff that no longer serve me but served someone else and it felt really good. So after like moving on from clothes and stuff, I looked around my room, looked around the house and looked at other things that weren't serving me any purpose. And a lot of that was all of the like pieces of paper and notebooks and diaries that I kept over the years. A lot of them actually brought back some negative memories, which I didn't really want to like bring into my life anymore. So I decided to to get rid of them even though it was really difficult but what really helped me was knowing that you know if there is something that really is a sentimental item, I didn't have to get rid of it as such. If I really wanted to keep it for the future, then I could like I never was like I need to get rid of it to get to like zero items in this like drawer or whatever. It was more about, like what I could let go of and a lot of the stuff that I did end up getting rid of, I took photos of it. So I have like a digital copy if I ever wanted to look back at it. But again, since I started this whole process, I've never had to really do that. So again, it shows what is really important. Sometimes letting go is a step in the right direction. When I moved out in 2018, that process helped me get rid of a lot of stuff and select the things that I actually really need. And I'm really thankful for that time. Because, again, some of the things that I held on to for so long were just things that I felt like I couldn't part with and I couldn't possibly remove from my life. But then, as I moved on to the next chapter of my life, I realised that things can be let go of, and thing and you know, you move on and you find other things that you really like. So like I said, I found a lot of different communities in terms of like minimalism and decluttering one of the key drivers in my whole minimalism journey was the minimalists. I highly recommend that you check out that minimalists website and the blog and even their podcast which I used to listen to every single day. And I still do to, to help reminds me of you know, what is actually important in my life. And most of the time, when I listen to them, I realised that actually, a lot of things that are important in my life are actually things that people and so the people that are really important to me, I want to spend more time with them, I want to spend less time like tidying my wardrobe, or like going through all of the clutter every day, I want to spend more time speaking and connecting with the people that's really important to me. And I think the minimalists really helped me understand that. And it further inspired my journey into like, minimalism. And, you know, bringing in that minimalist mindset into my day to day life, I started to realise that what it meant to live a meaningful happy life wasn't the amount of things that you accumulate, or the amount of things that you have to show for. But it was more about those other factors that aren't actually things, like I said, people that are really important to me, and the people that I love, are the most important things in my life. They're not things that people, the humans. So after this phase of like, going through all of my physical items, I realised that the more I spent, like working online, the more I, you know, create started creating all of these different pieces of content, I'm really investing a lot of my like time into that hobby. And then obviously, moving into the tech industry, I started to accumulate a lot of things digitally. And again, I just applied the same principles. I was like, just this documents bring me like any value at all, or like the Maria Kondo way of decluttering. Does this bring me joy? Or do I need it? And the answer was always most likely No, it was just junk. And so I spent a lot of the last like few years focusing on how I can improve my workflows in the digital space, digital things are quite, it's quite easy to just build upon them because like, you can't physically see them. But I personally have found that when I have a lot of things cluttered on my desktop, all things cluttered in my like folders and stuff, I just feel like cluttering my mind. And it helps, it doesn't help me focus. So I make sure that I've got into really good habit now, actually, where every single week I go through all of my emails, I organise them into the correct folders, and get rid of things that just I just don't need anymore. And you know, having this daily practice has been really good in terms of like minimalism, because again, I've applied the concepts of minimalism into like, my digital space. Another area that is isn't just files and stuff that's online is also like social media, and the people you're following the stuff that you see on your feeds. So it took me quite a while to like, try and get this right, because I tend to, like follow a lot of people at a certain point, and then I just leave them there for a couple of months, even though I know that, you know, I don't really interact with them or that their tweets don't provide me anything but negative, like emotions or negative reactions. So yeah, it took me quite a while to get this right. But nowadays, I've been doing like, regular cleanse of my following list. So I go through the people I follow on social media and I'm like, okay, is this person someone I want to see on my feed? Have they been posting things that like, I Doesn't really benefit me. And that actually is quite detrimental to my like mental health. And yeah, I just go through it like that, and it helps keep my following numbers are a good level. And by that I mean like, it's not about the numbers, but it's more about like, the people the amount of information I can like, take in once. I think it is really important to constantly review what is important to us and like ground ourselves to our grounding values and ask ourselves, is this what I need right now? Is this what I want in my life? Is this adding value? Is this making me happy? And yeah, I think, again, in a world where we're constantly stuck on our phones, we're constantly online, it's more important than ever to make sure that we have these routines to ensure that we're mentally well, but we never lose sight of what's important. So I wanted to quickly just talk about minimalism and travel. So when I travelled a lot in 2019, I'm actually looking at all of the photos that I printed, to put on my world right now. And it always makes it feel a lot of overwhelmingly positive emotions. Because last year was such a fantastic year for travel for me. And I'm so glad that Matt and I spent a lot of time out of the country exploring what's out there in the world. And again, I'm really grateful for that time. But when I reflect back, as all the times I've travelled, I realised that I was the happiest and most fulfilled when I was out exploring, seeing new things, learning new things on the go, and how I wasn't weighed down by everything back at home. So that was like, my wardrobe. That was everything I owned. And, you know, I realised I started to find like, little joys in being a like a minimalist, travelling in a minimalist way. And just looking at the things that I have in my bag and making the most out of it. And yeah, I just started to find a lot of joy in that the only thing I brought when I travelled was one carry a bag, like one large travel bag, and I managed to fit all my clothes in there, my laptop, all of the other like toiletries, and all of the stuff there that I needed. And going through that process of packing was always really fun for me because it made me it like forced me to look at look around me and look at what was really important. At the end of the day. It wasn't all of the fancy things I have at home, but it was about having enough stuff to then just enjoy my life in a really free way. Freedom is for me like a meaningful life. So So yeah, that was that was a fantastic thing to like experience in terms of my attitude today. So I think Coronavirus really changed things a little bit for everyone. And it challenged a lot of minimalist mindsets, because suddenly when you you're going into the stores, everyone was hoarding like toilet roll, and eggs and stuff like that. So then I think it really encouraged a lot of people across the world to like, hoard as much as they can, because it felt like a zombie apocalypse. And yeah, I think I think that's just how it was this year. And I have to say I was really guilty of that. Like, I tried not to go out and go through that whole panic buying thing. But I remember the first few weeks of lockdown it felt like it was it felt like that was the only way people could get through this and the only way that people could survive. I think eventually as we all started getting used to like the changes that Coronavirus brought especially in from my like personal experience and perspective that I started to slow down a little bit and I was like actually I don't need to panic payments, always things around there. There's been so many times throughout this year where I've had to like refocus and ground myself again on what's important to me. I just need reminding, especially this year where it can feel really overwhelming and that the only thing that you can do is like buy things to make you feel better to make you feel safe. I know I definitely fell into that trap. But that's not to say that I am perfect all year round even if there was a virus or not. So over the last few years I've there have been some things I've definitely started to accumulate more of compared to like usual clothes are so for example, one of those is workout gear. And I got it actually got to a point in like 2017 where my fitness and health obsession really kicked off, where I basically bought so many like different gym outfits and workout gear, but I could probably, like wear a different outfit for a couple of months, every single day. Like it got ridiculous, they got to a point where I realised this and I was like, actually, I don't need all of this, because I'm clearly not wearing every single like, sports bra, every single legging every single day, you know, I mean, so yeah, again, that's something that I've definitely improved on since like 2017. And I think for the first time ever, I've got to a point where in my collection, where my gym stuff is at a good level, so that I wear every single thing that's in my jaw every single day I work out, and that I have more than enough. And I have to remind myself that sometimes because it can get quite easy, especially when I'm scrolling on Instagram, and I see someone with a really nice like sports bra that looks incredible. And sometimes I fall into that trap. And whenever that happens, I tend to try and like, take a step back, reflect on what I have. And it really helps like sometimes for me to physically go into my drawer and look at my stuff and be like, actually, I've got more than enough here. I'm really happy with what I've, like, curated over the last few years. And yes, so I'm pretty happy with that. But again, I'm not perfect, I do tend to like fall into that trap. And it's something that I'm definitely working on. Another thing is plants. My plans obsession kicked off in 2008. Tea no 2019 last last year. And the more plants I had, the happier I felt. So I feel like, you know, again, it was something that I felt really brought me happiness and joy when when I got back home from work and you know, hanging out on on the weekends at home and just looking around me and being like, this is great, I love my plants. But again, it got to a point where it became a bit of a unhealthy habit where I was buying loads of new plants every single week. And no, it got to a point where I was looking around and I was like there's no space for more plants. I think if I lived alone, I would have like a proper like urban jungle, I'm happy with the amount that I have. And I'm again, you can tell that I'm not perfect. I go through these like cycles sometimes or these like dips throughout my life where I'm like, Oh, I must get that I need to get this, I need to get that. But then it always, I always like sort of wake up and I remember that, oh, I have more than enough. And there's like plenty here I can start you know I could get on with and Yeah, and I think like that's the thing with minimalism, it doesn't mean like you're 24 seven perfect. But what it does mean is that you're always willing to go back and reflect and look around you and make those changes. As as on when nowadays my attitude towards getting something new is always like aggressive research on why I need in my life. And also, if it's a new item of clothing, I always tend to go through the one in one out rule. One of my goals in 2020, as well was around sustainability. What that means for me was buying less stuff, saving more money approaching new items in a more sustainable lens. So thinking about how it's gonna get to me how it's made. I'm just thinking about the overall impact on our world. And I think this year, I've done a really good job of it compared to other years where I just wasn't that mindful or as aware as I am right now. And I'm really glad that I've made that as one of my main goals this year, because I definitely have stuck to it. So So yeah, I've been living a lot more sustainably this year. And again, when I look at that goal, it tends to like stop me in my tracks and tends to like knock some sense into me, which is always a positive thing. My attitude towards decluttering is quite positive this year, actually. And I think I've really formed a good habit over the last few years. And that is just decluttering every so often. Overall, the inspiration for me is that minimalist mindset and minimalism as a personal value. So how has minimalism impacted me? For me, I felt a lot lighter I felt more focused. Because I look around and things aren't cluttered things are like, overwhelming me with like too much stimulus of like all the clothes I own all of the like stuff by own minimalism has also had a positive impact on my money and how I spend it. So last year, I moved spend money on travel and, and you know, when I look back at that time I'm I just feel really happy and I feel like that was money well spent. This year it's a little bit different because we're indoors all the time. And I have definitely bought more things for for like home improvements and things that will help me as I work from home. But overall compared to especially by retail days, I've definitely had a more mindful approach towards money and what I spend it on. And it's never nowadays like mindless shopping sprees. I've also talked about the environmental impact. And again, that is something that I'm really proud of, like focusing on this year, and hopefully continue practising for the rest of my life really. Overall, minimalism has helped me focus on what's important, sometimes it's quite easy to forget. And sometimes it's quite easy to get swept away on what we, what society wants us to do, what consumerism wants us to buy, and stuff like that. And sometimes we fall into the trap where it feels like the more things we have, the happier and more successful we are. But in actual fact, trying to fill that void, with more things isn't the answer. And I'm glad that, you know, I got to a point where I realised that that wasn't the answer. I've like shifted my whole, like mindset on what is actually important. I just wanted to conclude this episode with the number one fact around minimalism. If there is one true fact of minimalism, then that is minimalism looks different on everyone. Some people just have one outfit, some people just wear all black, some people just don't want that decision fatigue. So just wear the same thing every day. And that's completely fine. Some people live with nothing, but the bare essentials. And some people have more stuff than other people, but get rid of the less like physical clutter to spend time with their families. So that could include like things like stress, work stress. So maybe some I'm in MLS is someone who has decided that the most important thing to them is family and having that time back whether or not working so they may reduce their hours. And that's that could be minimalism for them. Some people even count minimalism, as you know, living from their backpack so that they can travel the world freely. And that's okay, as well. I think the main take home message here is the fact that minimalism isn't about reaching an X amount of stuff. It's a principle that focuses more on what is really important to you. I have to say that minimalism has really changed my life. And it's a principle and a value that I feel like I can always go back to whenever I feel lost or overwhelmed with everything going on in the world. And especially right now during Coronavirus, where sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that the only thing that will help relief by something, but then whenever I go through that whole process, I'm like Actually, this isn't healthy. This is why I should be doing and so sometimes, I am really successful in stopping myself. And I'm like actually, what is important right now and that is picking up the phone to speak to my parents or to speak to a friend. I also just wanted to end this episode with two of my favourite quotes from the minimalists. And they're things that I always like to tell myself whenever I end up in a cycle where I feel like I need to fill the void with more things. So the first quote is by Joshua Fields Millburn from the Minimalists in that book, everything that remains. Now, before I spend money, I asked myself one question, Is this worth my freedom? Like, is this coffee worth $2 of my freedom? Is this show worth $30 of my freedom? Is this car worth $30,000 of my freedom? In other words, am I going to get more value from the thing I'm about to purchase? Or am I going to get more value from my freedom? And the second quote is, the point is that minimalism is a tool to help you achieve Freedom, freedom from fear, freedom from worry, freedom from overwhelm freedom from guilt, freedom from depression, freedom from enslavement, freedom, real freedom, and yeah, those are two of my favourite quotes that that always grounds me whenever I do tend to lose my way. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'd love to hear your thoughts on minimalism if it's something you practice or if this is the first time you've heard of it. I'd love to hear what You've got to say, let's have a conversation. You can find me on social media, on Twitter at @paulienuh on Instagram at @paw.lean and on my blog, pawlean.com. Thanks so much for listening and I hope to see you in the next time. Thank you!