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Is Your Stuff Holding You Back? Thoughts On The Art of Being Minimalist

“…You have to prove to yourself that that fear is unjustified. Because it really is. The world isn’t as hard as they make it seem on TV. One of the easiest ways you can waste your life is by spending it in mediocrity. Not moving, unchanging, settled down and waiting for something to happen. In these moments you have to jump. Don’t think about it, just leave it all behind. These moments are rare, but they are exceptional. Leave it all behind and see what comes next…” - Everett Bogue | The Art of Being Minimalist

Last week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Everett Bogue, author of the e-book “The Art of Being Minimalist” and blogger over at “Far Beyond the Stars“. Following our chat, I had the pleasure of reading his book – and – put simply – it’s completely changed my perspective about the way I see the ‘stuff’ around me.

Below are a few takeaways from Everett’s book, I felt that words on a page really wouldn’t do justice to my thoughts. Enjoy!

The Art of Being Minimalist I STRONGLY encourage you to go and buy a copy of “The Art of Being Minimalist”. Everett in no way asked me to write up this review, I’m simply a passionate believer in his message (which goes far beyond “selling your stuff and traveling the world”) – there’s nothing “preachy” here, just a plethorea of tangible takeaways to implement into your own life. It’ll only set you back $17.00, and he’ll give you a full refund if you’re not happy with the read. What do you have to lose?

Question for my readers: What “stuff” is currently getting in the way and holding you back? How can you start getting rid of some of the stuff today, right now?

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24 Comments

  1. Great Video Matt,

    The hardest part of this is seeing that what you think you NEED you really don't. I'm getting ready to sell the car and after that I will have pretty much eliminated so much this year…

    Good luck getting rid of the stuff…

    -Shane Mac

  2. Thanks for the review Matt!!

    I've decided to sacrifice my own personal space of living in a studio to moving in with 2 other people (in a room that is the size of a dorm room). Therefore, I will be selling a lot of my stuff that I currently have in my apartment. Also, I am in the process of selling my car.

  3. Aaah where do I begin!

    This post actually kick started my “stuff” elimination! I've been milling around about getting rid of old documents and files from my past job thinking one day I'll need them (haven't touched the boxes in 9 months!!), then there's all the old clothes and knick knacks that just sit there “clogging” not only my physical space but my mental clarity too.

    I'll definitely give Everett's book a look!

  4. It's easy to develop an emotional attachment to stuff – both material, human, etc. Every once in a while it's important to take a step back, figure out what you need, and consider dropping some of the 'excess'. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Is there a particular reason you're moving in with others and selling your car? Is it strictly financial and a way to save money? Cutting out 'material' stuff is important, but what I love about Everett's book is that his concept goes far beyond just cleaning out your closet – it's about living an overall simpler life by streamlining what matters most…

  6. Everett touches on documents and books (like old college textbooks) in his book – guilty as charged there. I still have many college textbooks that do nothing but sit in a closet and collect dust. I highly doubt I'll be picking up my Algebra book anytime soon to brush up on my skills. It's one of those things where you fall into habit and it can be extremely tough to detach from all of those 'things' in your life.

    Kudos for giving some thought to 'cleaning house' a bit. Hope all is well with you Shereen!

  7. Hi Matt – I am in the process of getting rid of anything we don't enjoy using. That means my home will become more minimal, but might not be the definition of minimal, if that makes sense. There is “stuff” we use only once a year, like plastic Easter eggs, for instance.

    Someone might think – gasp, they're plastic, and gasp, they're only used once a year – that's a waste!

    To steal a line from Mr. Quotable (that's you!): We enjoy using them. The end.

  8. Thanks for the recommendation, Matt! I was just thinking earlier this morning that I need to go through my winter clothes before I store them for the summer to weed out what I didn't wear and donate it. Very timely post, in my mind, goes right along with spring cleaning!

  9. Haha,,,Mr. Quotable? I'll take it :)

    Everett makes a couple really great points in his book in regards to keeping vs. getting rid of stuff. One is that he has a 30 day rule when it comes to bigger buying decisions. To avoid impulse purchases, before buying something significant he puts it on a list, waits 30 days, and then, if he still needs/wants it after 30 days, he'll go buy it.

    Two – he gets rid of everything he doesn't use at least once a month. Think about that. For me – that's a TON…there's stuff sitting around my apartment that I haven't even looked at in six months – so it's about that time to start taking action and clearing things out a bit. If nothing else, maybe I won't lose my keys as often…lol

  10. Maybe the main takeaway here is that Spring Cleaning shouldn't be only material things, it can be a time to clean the mind and soul as well. I'm going to take the next couple months to 1) enjoy my wedding and honeymoon and 2) really focus on what matters MOST. I feel like Everett's book “shocked” me into reality a bit (in a very good way)…

  11. Also true! I think we can learn that lesson from the Jewish
    celebration of Passover as well. Before Passover, Jewish families
    clean their houses, re-decorate, meditate, clear their minds, break
    out the new and the fresh… in a way, Christians do this during Lent
    as well.

    I think the physical cleaning leads to the mental and emotional
    cleaning as well.

  12. Matt,

    I had a chance to talk with Everett myself and definitely a great guy with some very interesting ideas. One of the funniest things he told me is somebody asked him one of the the 50 things he owned was a toothbrush. That being said I think that we can all embrace components of what Everett talks about and benefit from them. I'm not getting rid of my xbox anytime soon and I plan to buy a flatscreen. These things give me enough pleasure that they are worth keeping. So, I guess you could call me a yuppie minimalist. But, I think getting rid of clutter in, papers, etc, is really a wortwhile pursuit. I have a big DVD collection. I've been on the fence about selling it. Since everything is accessible online maybe I don't need it :). Might have to see what business school textbooks I have lying around.

  13. Speaking from my experience, you have no idea how much you can get rid of until you don't have a job for 7 months. America's unemployed are learning this lesson in ways that run deep.

  14. Everett Bogue is awesome – starting from his blog design and ending with his core message.
    It's simple and effective advice – I'm currently getting rid of all the useless trash that's in my life – I throw throw throw and destroy and then throw a bit more away – it's soooo relieving.
    BTW-I luv your site

  15. Matt,

    Great insight. I myself have definitely learned to cut back. My fiance and I are down to only one car. Mind you, I can work from home. But I don't mind taking him into work everyday and picking him up. I think its actually one luxury other families do not have everyday. Probably has given us both time to actually TALK more. And as your typical girl I have not nearly been able to shop as much as I'd like. A sacrifice for sure. :-) But instead have been able to dig deep into my closet and become more creative. Building a new outfit out of other clothes feels like you've bought a new outfit anyways! :-)

    But I digress.

    In all seriousness I think, living with less, has also helped me to decipher the professional and personal relationships that are worthy of going forward and quite frankly those that are just “trash”. I'm so blunt. I know. But it's true. Good post.

    But dude…the glasses? Really?

    Haha…I kid…I kid. :-)

  16. Haha – I hear ya buddy. Everett mentioned he was chatting with you and it came as no surprised, is there anybody you haven't interviewed these days? :)

    I don't plan on getting rid of all my stuff – I just got a ton of wonderful stuff from my wedding shower and I plan to enjoy every single new dish and waffle maker :) I think I took away the more important lesson that there's too much “stuff” in my head and I need to focus and streamline my thoughts to breathe a little easier at night.

    Thanks for the comment buddy.

  17. I think this is one reason we're seeing such an interest in the concept of minimalism (Everett and I talked about this last week) – that as a product of the recession, people are learning to survive on less – live and you learn, right? We all think we need a lot more than we actually do…

  18. Thanks Mars – love that you love my friend. Not sure if you've read Everett's book but he hits on the point that you should literally have a bonfire and burn the unnecessary crap in your life. It's a bit terrifying for me to think about burning my “unneeded things” but sometimes it takes a big leap instead of a million small baby steps. Your respect for Everett and the message he's putting out there is mutual. Glad to have you as a reader here as well my friend.

  19. I like your thought about being able to actually TALK in the morning and evening when you drive your fiance to work (when are you getting married by the way? For some reason I already thought you were married. But now I digress…)

    Trash is a harsh word but it's honest and to the point – there are always going to be those people in your life that want nothing but to hold you back – best to cut those out of your life as well.

    And what's wrong with the glasses? I actually do wear them almost all the time while I'm working on the computer, I just take them off to hide the nerd appearance during (most) video posts and Skype calls :) Don't hate.

  20. This is great, I'm totally going to check out this book I just (depressingly) moved back home to chillax with my parents while I save money to move somewhere cooler. To save myself from even greater depression at being in my childhood room, I threw almost everything out. Furniture, clothes, shoes, CDs. Shit I've been piling up since I was 10. Not only do I feel much better now because my space feels different, but I've started to look at “stuff” way differently. Thank God cuz a few months years and I wouldn't fit in my room at all!

  21. Nothing to be ashamed of with moving back home – pretty sure we've all been there – one of the biggest obstacles I had to overcome personally was being willing to accept that I can't always do everything on my own. When I moved to Chicago last summer I had nothing lined up and spent three months in my to-be-inlaws basement. Not ideal (even though there was a full bar and pool table down there) but something I will forever be grateful for.

    To your point RE: “stuff” – good for you in getting rid of most of it. It's a pretty freeing thing – I've been going through the apartment this weekend clearing out a ton of stuff (mostly to make room for all of the new stuff we got from our wedding shower)…

    Ahh…it's a never-ending cycle. One of these days I'll actually walk the walk with this whole minimalist thing :)

  22. Very inspiring, Matt ~ I don't know why we feel compelled to hang on to things. This reminded me of 2008 when I lost everything… and until you mentioned that, I look back and remember how focused I was 1.) not just that I had a clean slate, but 2.) I had to work even harder to get back to where I was (in terms of stability)
    Either way, this is a good reminder for me to forget about all the things that seem to just be creating a web rather than making things happen.