Minimalism is defined differently by various people, but the core idea is living life with as few factors as possible that restrict what you want to do – that keep you from living the life you would love to live. It is the practice of looking carefully at everything in your life and deciding what you truly need and deeply want – and then taking steps to remove whatever is keeping you from having and enjoying those things. It is a way to live as independently and freely as possible within the social constraints of your surroundings – not necessarily as a hermit or in isolation but rather on your own terms, as your own authentic self.

Within the wide range of people who consider minimalism, there are three broad categories:

  • Bring me the trash can now!
  • Sounds good – but I don’t know if I can do it.
  • No thanks. I love ALL my stuff.

If you crave lot of stuff and being so busy with so much stuff and so many obligations that you never stop for breath from the time you wake up to the time you fall asleep, exhausted, stop reading now. This approach to life is not for you –  and that’s ok!

If, however, you feel like you need more control in your life – or that right now, life controls you, keep reading.

Remember, it’s not about filling trash cans; it’s about filling life with the things you value most.

As you begin your journey to minimalism, the following are key questions that can help guide your initial plan and path:

What is your motivation? (“Why?”)  

  • Knowing why you want to do something is important, since it is easier to doing something if you understand your core motivations – and it is easier to explain to others in a way that is likely to end with their understanding and support. Sometimes, we need to reduce stress; sometimes the pursuit of happiness is enough.

How do you define simplicity for your own life? (“What?) 

  • This is about discovering and clearly identifying your most fundamental, basic desires and values. What kind of life do you want? How simple do you want your life to be? What brings you the greatest joy and sense of fulfillment?

How quickly or slowly do you need to move? (“How?)

  • Do you have family or other people to consider as you begin a life change? Where are you in your educational and/or professional journey? What is your financial situation? How can you plan for financial independence and/or security – even if that is only at a minimum level?

How can you start? (“When?”)

  • When would be the best time to begin living a more minimalistic life? What obstacles are there that need to be overcome first?

How can you eliminate difficult barriers of location? (“Where?”)

  • Does your physical location contribute positively or negatively to your minimalism goal? Do you need to consider changing locations in order to reach your goal? Minimalism is not strictly location-dependent, but it can be harder in some areas than in others.

How much help will you need? (“Who?”)

  • Can you tackle this change on your own? Are there other people who need to accept the change – and even be a part of it? Do you need to speak with professionals who can assist you in your planning and implementation processes?

We will talk about finding your own path in the near future, but asking and answering these basic questions is the best way to lay the proper foundation that can sustain your effort and help you find success. There is no perfect way to organize your life. Put simply, examining your own deepest desires and focusing on how to achieve them (in part by eliminating impediments that sometimes seem like necessities) is a liberating endeavor – and it allows you do live life truly to the fullest.

For some people, less really is more.