I looked at the shirt and I had a pang of regret. It was one of my favorite shirts that I never wear anymore. The memories came flooding back. The time I jumped off the 30-foot cliff. The time I went on my second date with my wife.
It had a few holes in it and I just didn’t wear it anymore. I didn’t enjoy sleeping in it, so it sat in my drawer.
I was holding on to it because of these memories. It felt like I was letting go of the memories if I got rid of the shirt.
Marie Kondo suggests that we hold up the shirt and if loving feelings happen then maybe it’s worth keeping. This isn’t a bad idea, but it was also causing me pain. I wanted to wear the shirt that was unwearable.
This is why we procrastinate on our important decisions. We see the potential wins and pitfalls and don’t know the best choice to make.
That’s why you should use the 80/20 rule. It’s an old concept. That 20% of our work creates 80% of our results. This is true of most things. Think about an important project that you worked on that you enjoyed. I bet it gave you the best results. This works in sales and in decision making.
You don’t need to be 100% sure that you need to get rid of something. You only need to be 80% sure.
You’ll be much happier if you know you don’t have to make the perfect decision. That’s how I started creating the minimalist mindset.
I got rid of my shirt and started getting rid of so much more.
Far from Perfect
I still fall back into old habits, but I try not to get too tough on myself. Creating a minimalist mindset takes time. Joshua, Author of Minimalist Home, didn’t do this overnight. He started with his garage and began to work on other parts of his house and life.
Keeping a gratitude journal can help support you on your path to minimalism. You have to be grateful for where you are on your minimalism journey. You might not have completely cleared counters or a small wardrobe, but that’s okay.
It takes time to strengthen the minimalist neurons in your brain. The best way to do that is through gratitude.
When you are grateful, you are able to build stronger impulse control. Not through willpower, but through waypower.
Waypower is giving yourself hope. The hope that you’ll get back on track when you buy a nice pair of shoes that you didn’t really need. You remember to be grateful because it strengthens you instead of weakens you.
Focus on Microhabits
You can forgive yourself for buying another pair of shoes and get back on track.
How far have you come on this journey?
Think about all the stuff you haven’t bought. Look at how much you donated to charity, friends, family, etc.
The hard part is remembering to do this. This is where microhabits are so important. You need to stack a current habit on another one to help you get your mindset in the right place. You can slowly build your positive habit. Try starting small. Every time you brush your teeth think about how grateful you are when you don’t make a purchase. Then feel this feeling. This is important because this is the small celebration that will help you get your habits on track.
Then if you have the motivation write down why you are grateful for these choices. Remind yourself that you are the sum of your choices not just the last choice you made.
Gratitude helps build self control because it helps you create a pause. It helps you tie your small celebration together. Next time you feel like your home is feeling cluttered or when you are feeling like you are losing faith in yourself, write choices you have made over the past month that you are grateful for:
- I’m grateful that I spent time with a friend (lunch and a visit to her favorite store) and I didn’t have the urge to buy anything.
- I’m grateful that I donated 10 shirts and two pants to the homeless shelter last weekend.
- I’m grateful that I unsubscribed from Nordstrom email updates so I don’t just go to browse. I only look when I really need something.
This will help remind you how far you’ve come. This is an ongoing battle. Companies want you to keep upgrading clothes, furniture, cars, etc. so they can continue to make money.
It’s up to you to strengthen these neurons by being grateful for how far you’ve come and encourage yourself to stay on track.
If you are interested, join our free 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge running May 1st thru 30th. It’ll help strengthen your mindset. Come join us and you’ll get email updates and a private Facebook group. If you have any questions, I’ll be available 7 days a week during this time. My goal is to get the smartest and most caring people together to create an amazing community, so we can help each other learn from our mistakes and build a life that we love.
About the Author: Karl Staib is the author of Bring Gratitude and the Creator of the 30-Day Bring Gratitude Challenge.