8 months ago, Xav and I got serious about becoming more minimalistic in our lives. We were very far from it. Every drawer and shelf of our 110 squared-foot apartment was filled with stuff. We were organized hoarders. As such, discipline was necessary. I had read the Marie Kondo book and had been listening to The Minimalist podcast. The Konmari method was a good starting point, but it didn’t feel enough. Life was still cluttered, and I decided that it would be good for us to partake in the Minimalist Game.
The Minimalist Game
The rule is simple. For 30 days, we each would get rid of one item on day 1, two items on day 2, etc. By the end of the month, we would be giving away over 20 items a day. In total we each gave away 465 items, totalling 930 for the household! Maybe because my day job was in finance, the numbers really motivated me and held us accountable.
The structure forced us to ask tough questions on why we still hold onto the stuff. So often, we were reminded of what we own. In one case, Xav found three pairs of the exact same trousers – same brand, same cut, same size. He simply thought he had seen the same pair in different places. In other cases, we told ourselves, “oh, I’ll keep this because I will use it now.”
Partaking in the game as a couple was helpful, as it adds some friendly competition and accountability. 30 days later, we felt lighter both in our physical and mental space. A good starting point to our marriage.
After the game, we began to look at our lives differently, examining its purpose and whether each item or activity brings us value. In May, we decided to push for another round of the game after my coding camp. Things we told ourselves that “we would start using”, were toss out because, well, we didn’t touch it. We also inspired a few other friends to join, and began a group chat where everyone shares daily photos to keep one another accountable.
Preparation Meets Opportunity
“luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Half way through May, when the opportunity came to decide if a job offer for Xav is worth staying in Shanghai, we were ready to say no. I am not sure if we would’ve been able to make this same decision 8 months ago, but here we are.
The decision to leave Shanghai kicked that Minimalist Game into high gear. It’s one thing to pick and choose items to rid around the house, it’s another to decide we will part with only contents that fit in one carry-on and a backpack per person, and everything else must go.
I took this opportunity to assemble a capsule wardrobe that would serve all four seasons (with the exception of heavy snow). Layering is key. I like colours, and and my wardrobe is definitely not only grey, white, and black! I find it helpful to lay our all of my articles of clothing on an open space, and evaluate if each piece can serve at least two outfits.
In the end, I’m leaving with a suitcase slight bit larger than a carry-on. Still baby steps to this whole lifestyle, but am mighty proud to get my entire year-long wardrobe to just 45 items. The toiletries and other miscellaneous items, that’s an area for future improvement.
Habits take time to develop and refine. Our upcoming voyage will force us to continuously evaluate what matters most, and how much possessions we are willing to trade for experiences.