By JP Chartier
It was 2006 and my life was utterly disorganized and chaotic, I felt I was losing control. Between work-life and home-life I was drowning in a sea of stress every day. I was trying to do too much and make too many people happy, and not paying attention to my health or my own needs. My spending was out of control, and I had a significant amount of credit card debt, which really added to my stress level.
I remember one day going through my mail and opening bill after bill after bill, and more than half of them had late notices attached to them. I threw my hands up in the air and with disgust wondered how my life had spiraled so low.
I had reached my bottom I finally concluded. Something had to be done and now, not tomorrow, not next week, but today! So I devised a plan of action to save not only my sanity but my life.
HOW I MADE THE CHANGE
I came to terms with the fact that I was living far above my means; I had really nice stuff, but that’s all it was – STUFF.
I was disgusted with my entire lifestyle. It became very clear that all this ‘stuff’ was not necessary for my happiness and peace of mind.
So I sketched out a road map to my freedom. Included in this road map were several hard decisions that had to be made and more importantly acted upon, which I ultimately did.
MY ROAD MAP TO FREEDOM
1. I had a huge yard sale where I got rid of most everything of mine that wasn’t truly a ‘NEED.’ If I didn’t absolutely need it, or love it, it went bye-bye.
2. I put my condo and Lexus up for sale. I ended up selling my condo within a month, pocketing a decent profit from the sell. I later traded my Lexus in on a used truck and a 13’ camper.
3. I quit my stressful job.
4. I cut up all my credit cards.
5. I called my creditors and paid them all off with some of the profit from my condo sale. I was now officially debt-free! What a tremendous burden that was lifted from my shoulders, I felt alive once again!
6. I did research on how to go about living my new minimalist lifestyle.
7. I wrote down my goals, both long-term and short-term. This gave me direction.
8. I changed my eating habits and stopped eating out. This greatly improved my health and saved me money.
9. I decided I would travel around the United States in my 13’ camper living off the rest of the money I made from selling my condo. I would pick up jobs in different cities along the way when it became necessary. It would be a journey of discovery. One of the preeminent decisions I’ve made to this day for sure.
10. I took a long hard look at myself, and finally faced some issues that had been plaguing me for years.
11. I made a conscious effort to start living in the moment, no matter how mundane that moment was. I was caught in the trap of always trying to get through the present moment so I could reach the end result. I became acutely aware that a majority of life is spent climbing the mountain and not spent at the summit, and if I don’t enjoy the journey I won’t enjoy 99% of life.
12. Most importantly I decided I would live a life of simplicity from now on.
MINIMALISM TO THE RESCUE
Because of life on the road and living in my 13’ camper, I was only able to take the necessary items with me. There was no room for anything that didn’t serve a profound purpose.
After four years living with very few items I have become a happier and better all-around person.
Below are a few of the ways my life improved by living what I later found out was called a “minimalist” lifestyle.
1. Fewer things meant less stress. I can’t emphasize this enough! My stress level is nearly non-existent now.
2. I was able to move into a much smaller home (my camper), saving tons of money on utilities, mortgage and upkeep costs. Again my stress level fell even further.
3. Was able to get rid of the $60 a month storage bill I had to keep my excess junk.
4. I developed a profound gratitude for the personal items I did keep.
5. Clearing away all but the essential items in my life allowed me to concentrate on what was truly important: inner peace, spirituality, thinking, family, friends and hobbies to name just a few.
6. Cleaning is now a breeze.
7. I became organized. Everything now has its own place.
8. I now have more time on my hands.
9. I now buy quality items. I’m no longer a victim of buying the poor quality that’s rushed out by the ‘hurry up and produce more and more’ machine of capitalism anymore.
10. When I do make a new purchase, I try buying items that serve more than one purpose.
MY LIFE NOW
It’s been almost seven years since that fateful day back in 2006 when I decided to take control of my life, and I can honestly say I’ve never been happier and more content!
When my future looked bleak and my prospects were few I pressed on and made the decision that enough was enough, and I took the necessary steps to change things for the better.
If you find yourself dealing with some of the above mentioned challenges that I had, know that you too can take control of your life and change things for the better.
A good place to start is by simplifying your life.
You can take small steps at first – you don’t have to do a complete overhaul like I opted for. Try starting with just one room in your house. Get rid of all the stuff that you don’t absolutely love or deem necessary. If you want to start even smaller, you could start by cleaning out a drawer in a desk or dresser. But don’t stop there, it’s important to keep the ball rolling once you start. Momentum is your friend; use it to help push you along. This is doable!
To help you along in your journey to minimalism check out these wonderful websites: