Mastering Minimalism as a Millennial
If there’s one lesson to be learned early in life, it is that life is hardly simple. With corporate jobs that keep us hyper-aware at all times, aiming to attain balance amongst the relationships in our lives and completing our everyday responsibilities, life seems to be the furthest thing from simple. The overwhelmed feeling we all know too well; the feeling of not having enough hours in the day, of just needing five minutes to take some deep breaths. They’re sensations that will forever be a natural part of life and of the workplace.
But you have the ability to make real, busy, day-to-day life simpler with a little intention, mindfulness and preparation. The question is: How can I create mental and physical space for what matters? The answer is simple: minimize. Here’s how.
1. Remain accountable.
Keeping yourself on track requires establishing systems and resources that work. Ultimately, we need to be able to lean back on reliability and security within our daily schedules when things don’t necessarily go as planned. As much as we can spend our time planning ahead, the reality is we’re all just taking it day by day. We can cautiously prepare—to a point. Then, we can remain versatile and resilient despite the daily unexpected curveballs, and ultimately, we have to be our own heroes when that responsibility falls back on us.
2. Take inventory.
Decluttering the distractions in our lives is a key step to achieving a minimalist lifestyle. As a millennial forging a career, while realizing the new commitments and obligations we never used to have, it becomes evident we only have time for so much. It can be easy to spread ourselves too thin, to the point that we forget the most important thing to put our time and energy into: ourselves. Take inventory of your life, regularly remove distractions and erase the excessive. Accept the fact that it is perfectly OK to say “no.” Paring down to what truly matters is key, and allows us to recognize the dos and don’ts of everyday life.
3. Establish a routine.
Building structure provides stability. With a routine comes peace of mind and backbone, so you can say, Whatever comes my way today, I have two or three keystones that don’t waver. Whether those are a morning workout routine or nightly bedtime regimen, it’s the little things that become the big things supporting our mental and physical sanity.
The most valuable aspect of embracing minimalism is the realization that the most basic and beautiful treasures are already so apparent in our lives. Sometimes it feels like every part of modern-day life is begging for attention—the ring of a phone, the red number reminding us how many unread emails we have, a last-minute 8:00 a.m. meeting. The world is constantly calling, and at times it seems our only option is to answer.
But the reality is, we can’t enjoy the simple pleasures in life when we feel as though we’re being pulled in 10 different directions. Yes, these certain tasks must be completed, and minimalism doesn’t ask us to ignore them. What it does require—the grace it provides—is this: a simplified life means that what needs to be done will get done—some way, somehow. When we strip life down to its most raw form, we recognize that we do have room to find beautiful its most basic parts.
It’s OK to leave work with 10 lines still uncrossed on your to-do list, or answer that email tomorrow morning rather than 11:00 p.m. Sometimes, simply setting those boundaries allows us to find peace. This can be difficult for an inherent multitasker, but the minimalist lifestyle allows us to complete one task at a time, with intention. We often forget just how much of our overloaded mental space adds to the daily feeling of being overwhelmed.
When planning your simplified days, first make the conscious decision about what matters to you. Taking that a step further—commit to those priorities as you plan your days. What are your non-negotiable commitments? For many of us, the answer is “my career.” As we settle into a formative period where we’re building our brands, generating steady income and determining the things we value as professionals, we embrace our work as being high priority in our day-to-day lives.
What does “success” in a career look like? Is it staying at the office until 8:00 p.m., bringing work home every weekend to get ahead or neglecting relationships to catch up on emails? I hope not! Simplifying teaches us there is a time and a place for everything. When we quit overdoing things and adopt the mindset that “less is more,” we can finally attain the balance a minimalist lifestyle offers.
Margin is key in the minimalism that comes with these actions. You have the power to create your own space—a space that allows you to find peace and gratitude in the midst of your busy schedule. It’s in taking a step back that you will be able to move forward. In a world filled with so much noise, make your main goal finding your personal peace.
Whether it’s in the workplace, at home or by yourself, achieving minimalism opens this door. At the end of the day, less is, simply, always more.
Allie works in the fashion retail industry as an Assistant Buyer at Stein Mart Corporate Headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida. Avid coffee-lover, to-do list maker, and believer in laughter as the best medicine.Keep up with her on instagram @alliepheiff.