4 WAYS TO DESIGN A MINIMALIST MIDLIFE

Midlife is the perfect time to pare down, discard the dross, and focus on what's important. Four areas to focus on. #minimalism #simpleliving

MINIMALISM IN MIDLIFE

I've always had a love for simplicity and living an uncluttered life. The Minimalism Movement has legitimized my preference for "less is more" and made my choices a lot more normal and accepted than they were back in the more indulgent 1990's. 

I read an article recently on simpleminded.life that says there are 13 different types of Minimalists. I could identify with at least three of them, but I think the Mindful Minimalist was the best fit. They define it like this:

For the mindful minimalist, the focus is on removing excess as a way of finding more peace, calm, and living a less stressful life. They seek to devote their time and energy to things, people, and relationships that they value.

Living with less allows them to focus their energy on these things. They are mindful of how they spend their time and money and they practice moderation as a way to feel light, stress-free, and have more time to do the things they love.


For those of us who haven't been minimalists all our lives, Midlife is the perfect time to pare down, discard the dross, and focus on what's important. There's four areas that stand out for me in where to begin a minimalistic Midlife and I thought I'd share them here today.

1. REDUCE THE PHYSICAL CLUTTER

We've always lived a clutter-free life - even when we were in our earlier years with a family, we've never really felt the need to fill our home with unnecessary 'stuff'. I come from a family of "collectors" - my father and then my brothers all felt the need to fill their lives with  material possessions. That's never appealed to me, I like the freedom and serenity (and lack of dusting) that comes from living with less paraphernalia.

What is a minimalist lifestyle? It means living with things you really need. It means removing anything that distracts us from living with intentionality and freedom. https://www.becomingminimalist.com › what-is-minimalism

One thing I've noticed though, is that possessions tend to accumulate over time - you buy little things that appeal, receive gifts, get given items, and before you know it you're the proud owner of 25 coffee cups, 100 ornaments, 3 dinner sets..... and the list goes on. Moving house helps with the culling process, but if you don't move regularly, then you need to look around and thin out the herd. It's easy to shove it on a shelf in the back of the spare cupboard, or put it in the shed, but the smartest move is to sell it off or donate it. Getting rid of clutter frees up physical space and frees up head space. It allows you to enjoy all that you have without drowning in the overflow.

2. CULL YOUR WARDROBE

Clothes have a habit of accumulating too. There's work clothes, fancy clothes, exercise clothes, casual clothes, lounging around the house clothes, Summer clothes, Winter clothes, "special memory" clothes, and more. I've been watching my wardrobe grow over the years, and even have a second wardrobe in the spare room that houses outfits I haven't worn but maybe-I-will-again, or they-hold-sentimental-value. I have lots of work clothes that I thought I might wear elsewhere, but they're just hanging there looking sad and neglected. I'm discovering that a regular cull is a necessity these days.

Minimalist fashion is defined by one major principle: keep it simple! Streamlined shapes, a small selection of colors and even a bare minimum (gasp!) amount of clothing in your closet. Simplicity is the key to pinpointing this style.

I'm not a fashionista, I don't buy the latest styles each season, but I do snap up a bargain now and then, or discover a gem at the local Op Shop. I refuse to deny myself the pleasure of purchasing the occasional pretty outfit, but at the same time I don't tend to wear things out or change dress sizes, so the clothing pile grows. Now I've set up a system where I pack away clothes I haven't worn for a while, they're in a box in the spare room and if they stay in the box for several months, then I donate them. This gives me time for a change of heart (that rarely happens) and then I can move them on without regret. Having a wardrobe or chest of drawers jam packed with clothes that are rarely (or never) worn seems wasteful and unnecessary, it's a good feeling when I drop them off at the charity store where they'll hopefully find a new home.

3. CONTROL YOUR FINANCES

I've written a lot about taking early retirement - not by choice, but through circumstances that led me to decide that I didn't want to work any more. The predominant reason I could choose to stay home earlier than planned was that we'd managed our finances carefully over the years. We'd chosen to not spend extravagantly, we'd saved carefully, we'd used our finances to pay off our mortgage rather than buying expensive items or going on big trips abroad. We chose to be frugal with our funds and the ultimate reward is that we have more choices now we're in Midlife.

Over time we've learned to make financial decisions based on what is going to work for us long term. We choose to buy items that have longevity rather than flash or a passing fancy. We look at the catalogues that come in the mail and sometimes we may buy something on special that we've been planning on purchasing, but the majority of the time we browse and then bin them. It's a great feeling to know that we have enough and don't need to use credit to buy things we don't really need. Living within your means is a joy, there's never the dread of waiting for the credit card bill to arrive, there's no buyer's remorse, there's just a quiet satisfaction that your hard earned money is working well for you, and you can sit back and relax.

4. FOCUS ON WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU

Reducing the noise and clamour around us allows room to drill down to what really matters - it's different for everyone, but we all have fundamental values and beliefs that can be drowned out by the world around us telling us who we should be and what we need to buy to achieve that. Turning away from the noise, refusing to be drawn into competing and comparing, making choices that resonate with who we authentically are - this is where the magic starts and we find room to breathe.

At the heart of every minimalist is a desire to connect with what is most important to them and what they value – to remove excess and/or things that don’t align with those values.

When you discard all the expectations and start focusing on what really matters to you as a person, you discover that it takes very little to truly be happy. I have such a sense of inner peace these days because I've stopped trying to do it all and be everything to everyone. Now I look at what truly matters to me and to those I love, and I make that my first priority - the rest just falls into the background and leaves me with the freedom and space to be "me" - uncluttered, unbothered, unstressed, and surprisingly content.

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Are you pruning your life back to basics? Are you able to give away some of the physical and mental clutter so that you have room for what's important? Are you a fan of the Minimalist movement or do you need to be surrounded by possessions to feel at peace? It's different for all of us and I'd love to hear what you think in the comments.

RELATED POSTS


Midlife is the perfect time to pare down, discard the dross, and focus on what's important. Four areas to focus on. #minimalism #simpleliving
Midlife is the perfect time to pare down, discard the dross, and focus on what's important. Four areas to focus on. #minimalism #simpleliving

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40 comments

  1. Leanne, I am very much a work in progress with minimalism. I do value simplicity and an uncluttered life. Great words “frees up physical space and frees up head space!” Our family is pretty good with clothing and shop in each other’s closets. We also do this with friends. I often use the word “purging.” I like your word “pruning” better. Great post!

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    1. I've always preferred things to be un-cluttered Erica, but it seems so easy for stuff to build up over the years. I keep adding a little thing here and there and before I know it, I've got bits and pieces all over the place. Scooping things up every now and then and donating them is a great feeling - same with the clothes in the wardrobe - and "pruning" always improves a plant, so it must improve our lives too!

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  2. Such great wisdom here, Leanne. Not only is it sage advice for midllife, it is also a lesson that we need to instill into our children and grandchildren.

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    1. You're so right Donna - and I'm also very aware about the fact that my kids are going to have to sort through everything when we die - 99.9% will end up given away or thrown in the bin, so now I only hold onto things that I love for the present moment - and not storing stuff away for posterity.

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  3. Hi Leanne,
    I am also a big votary of minimalism. Both my wife and I are right now in the periodic process of decluttering the house. Trying to assess what is important and what is not.
    Good to see you have included controlling finances. We have realised that only when we save, we have money for what we really need to spend on.

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    1. Pradeep I'm a big fan of periodic culling of unneeded stuff - passing it on to where it can be used and valued makes so much sense. As far as not spending money on things we don't need.....well that speaks for itself in the savings we now have to make this stage of life so much more pleasant.

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  4. Yes, over this past year especially I have been "pruning back". Simple is just better. While I'm working towards reducing physical clutter and organizing my house, my main focus is on eliminating mental clutter. That's why #4 on your list resonates with me the most right now. Recent steps I've taken include not following the news/politics as closely as before (just monitor the weather and headlines about world events), and getting off Facebook because I was letting it gobble up too much of my time and I was seeing too many negative posts. Now I just receive email updates on blog posts that are uplifting and meaningful to me, yours included. :-) Both of these steps have brought me a more peaceful and far less distracted feeling. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!

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    1. Laura thanks for your lovely compliment and you're SO right about filtering the stuff we allow into our lives. When we filter out the physical and mental trash, our lives become so much more pleasant. I steer clear of following negative news and social updates too. I like to have a general knowledge of what's going on in the world, but the constant bombardment that we're subject to these days just drags me down. I never watch the news and only read the newspapers here and there so that I'm not turning into an anxious mess worrying about stuff I have no control over.

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  5. Shared on SM. Have a wonderful week, Leanne.

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    1. Thanks for the share and for popping in Suzanne x

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  6. I’m definitely a fan of minalism Leanne and began this way of life 13 years ago. I love that I’m not constrained by things. I use the same method as you with my wardrobe. Unworn clothes go in a box under the bed. At the end of the season they go to the op shop if they haven’t been worn. Never have I had to put anything back in the wardrobe. I loved reading this #MLSTL Sharing

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I'm finding the same thing with all the clothes I've folded up and put away - I just don't seem to have missed them. It's nice to pass them on and to have a closet you can navigate instead of one jam packed and overflowing. I find the same thing with an un-cluttered house - it gives me a sense of peace and being in control rather than chaos - and I love that.

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  7. I'm working on it...no so good with the clothes - tho I get rid of plenty, there still seems to be more...#MLSTL and books - trying to be ruthless but struggle

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    1. Clothes just tend to keep creeping into my wardrobe too Lydia - the occasional little bargain buy still adds up! As far as books go, I'm too cheap to buy them, so they come from the library and go back there afterwards, my husband on the other hand....

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  8. This post is what I needed right now. We are in the process of moving and I hate taking what I call rubbish to the new place. Living in a house with basically no storage has been hard. As I have just started to pack...we are yet to find another rental. Im trying to declutter...have a boot full of books to take to the op shop. Clothes yes going to be as strict as I can. thank you xx #MLSTL

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    1. Hi Bree - people told me we should have a garage sale when we moved, but I found it much easier to donate or bin the excess. If it was useable by someone else it went into the Op Shop box, if it had reached the end of its usefullness it hit the bin. I haven't missed a single item that we left behind and it's been nice to start afresh.

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  9. I love the idea of regular pruning. I tend to do this with my wardrobe - about every 6 moths or so - and am also doing it with our budget too these days. We absolutely need less. As for books...well, that's my biggest challenge!

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    1. I'm aiming for the 6 month wardrobe prune to Jo - the seasonal clothing swap around lends itself to getting rid of stuff that I'm not wearing. All the work gear that I thought I could repurpose is not turning out to be the case - it's going to give me a lot of pleasure to donate that in the next few months!

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  10. Very good points, Leanne. I've always had a love for simplicity. I've been doing regular pruning of my possessions. My goal is to leave very few things behind. #MLSTL

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    1. That's my goal too Natalie - my kids certainly don't want any of it, and it's such a burden going through the belongings of a loved one, so why not make it as easy as possible for them?

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  11. As you know, these last few years for me have been about decluttering and reducing. One of my favorite clothes tricks is that when the season is over, as I go through my clothes I pick out those things that I didn't wear in the past year and donate them.

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    1. I think that's the way I'll be dealing with my wardrobe from here on too Jennifer - I've been holding on to work clothes and trying to figure out where I can wear them. It's time to just let them go and get them out of my closet and onto someone who might actually wear them.

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  12. We're still trying to declutter after merging two households together 6 yrs ago. Slow process but worth it

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    1. I can't even begin to imagine what a process that would be Christina - but I'm glad you're getting through it with positivity and your relationship still intact!

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  13. I am, at heart, a minimalist too, Leanne, and more and more so as I get older. My one downfall, however, is sentimental value. If one of my children or grands have given it to me, or it's something that was important to my mother and was left in my home after she passed... those things I have trouble parting with. That said, I am learning to repurpose things that I know will have no significant value to my children and grandchildren. I also remind them regularly that I am fine with them donating all my stuff when I go, to not get trapped by the sentimentalism that I struggle with. Great thoughts here, thank you!

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    1. Hi Agnes - I've held onto things too (including a big pile of photo albums). I'm working on the idea that if they bring me pleasure then it's okay, but if I'm just storing them for the kids then it's a waste of space because neither of our adult kids want any of their childhood memorabilia or any of our stuff. So if it's gathering dust it's out the door these days.

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  14. Hi Leanne, my husband has always been a minimalist even before it was 'fashionable'. Having lived with him for 25 years and moved several times, I have learned the art and I enjoy the simplicity. My MIL on the other hand kept everything she had ever owned, every space was filled in her home and after 90 years of collecting/hoarding it certainly was a challenge to find 'homes' for everything when she moved to aged care. I've learned from that experience and apart from feeling claustrophobic with so much 'stuff' around, I don't want my children to have the job of clearing out all of my possessions after I've gone. I think we would enjoy each other's homes - no clutter! Another week of #MLSTL and our BBB co-hosting gig, I'm sharing on SM. xx

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    1. Hi Sue - yes I think we'd both feel "at home" if we visited each other. My MIL has been downsized into a much smaller place and it's packed to the rafters with so much clutter that it does my head in. I have a need for space and clarity and order, so too much "stuff" starts to wear me down. It certainly saves money too because I'm happy to browse the shops and leave it all behind instead of buying it to bring home!

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  15. Yes I love the idea of minimalism and I don't like clutter. In saying that though, it always seems to accumulate and requires a cull now and then. When we moved from our last house to this house that was the biggest cull I've ever done involving a garage sale, a skip bin, and giving lots of things away to charity. I recently cleaned out my linen cupboard and gave loads of stuff to charity along with some clothes. My wardrobes need a good clean out next and then there is that hallway cupboard that is so full of stuff that something falls out everytime I open it. Oh and the bathroom cupboards need a clean out too. I always feel better after a good declutter. It declutters my mind also in the process! :-)

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    1. Moving house is the best de-cluttering tool of all Min (unless you're my in-laws who packed every single thing they owned and took it with them - I've never seen so many packing boxes in my life!!) Now that we're settled and not planning on another move I just keep checking if things are creeping up and donate them if they're in the back of a cupboard or not being used/worn. It helps keep things under control.

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  16. I like the idea of boxing up items and seeing if you miss them before passing them on for someone else to enjoy. I like fewer things, but my husband is more of a collector. It sometimes stresses me out. For example, we have lots of things stuck to our fridge with magnets. I'd prefer a cleaner look. Our curio cabinet is packed with stuff, while I'd prefer to have fewer, more selective items on display. My husband and I are such a perfect match in other ways, I try to let this one go. #MLSTL

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    1. My husband's weak spot is books Christie - he has a couple of floor to ceiling bookcases jam packed and refuses to let any of them go. I figure we're all allowed to have a quirk that drives our partner a little bit crazy!
      I also like the boxing first idea because I always worry I might regret spontaneously chucking something out - having it out of sight for 6 months takes that out of the mix and I can then pass things on with a clear head.

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  17. I know I feel better after a cull of 'stuff' but I can sometimes do this too well and find myself re-purchasing what I thought I wouldn't use again. Mostly in the arts/craft area. With the many moves we did as teachers and again selling our house to rent we did off-load a lot. I still have some boxes of memories including photos and some mementoes of my life. I will not be giving these away or deciding what to do until the DAY we finally get a place to make our own again. Renting is not conducive to settling in but we have now secured another year here. That in it own way is a relief. Denyse #mlstl

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    1. That's the one problem with renting isn't it Denyse - that little bit of uncertainty about how long term your lease will be. Moving is the best excuse to cull and we've moved so rarely that it isn't enough of a motivator. Now I just do a bit of a cruise around our house every year or so and pack up things that have been shoved to the back of a cupboard or that haven't been used and are gathering dust. Coffee cups are another thing that seems to breed at our place!

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  18. We haven't moved for 19 years so have a build up of stuff which we're slowly culling. It's definitely a work in progress to a simpler less cluttered life. Your points are well made and very timely. Thanks so much for sharing your words of wisdom with us and I've shared on SM for #mlstl

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    1. Hi Deb, we were in our last place for 22 years and in this place (so far) for 10 years and the build up of stuff is definitely real. Even though we don't buy a lot, there are still gifts, "bargains", one off purchases, etc etc. Now I just routinely browse around the place and see what's not fitting into our life any more and send it on its way. ATM I seem to be gathering grandbaby toys - they'll be in the cupboard for a few years to come though! (the toys not the grandbabies!!)

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  19. Leanne, I've always been a minimalist. That's why when it came time for us to buy a house, we chose a small house, with a small garage and NO SHED! (Well, there was a shed here, but we promptly removed it!) I follow the One In One Out rule, so our belongings never outgrow our limited storage capacity. I've always done a limited and classic wardrobe, probably since I began choosing my own clothing in kindergarten!

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    1. Sheds are notorious for being repositories of all those things "we might need" but never do - not having a shed is definitely a good de-cluttering move. Our house is largish to allow for family visits, but we're very careful about not filling the spare rooms with overflow - that's such a trap.

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  20. Being an Army brat, I learned to keep things to a minimum, Leanne. However, books are my weakness! I've tried to take care of this by switching to e-books, but there are still some books I prefer to read hard copies of.

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    1. I still love a "real" book Corinne - much more so than an electronic version - I'm a huge fan of our local library who source books for me and that has saved me BIG $$ over the years!

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