Minimalist Mantras for the New Year

Hello and welcome to the first blog post of 2021! Today is my first day back to a regular routine after a very long and enjoyable holiday break. A couple of weeks of rest and recuperation were definitely in order after that absolute hell of a year (in the literal sense). But while things are finally starting to look up, we’re not out of the woods quite yet. In an attempt to start this year off on a positive and productive note, I’ve spent the last few days setting up my new agenda, planning lots of content, and setting some goals for the year ahead.

Among my goals for this year is a returning focus on minimalism. I find myself continuously thinking about why I started this blog; I had envisioned it a place for inspiration surrounding living a more simplistic, self-sufficient, and slow lifestyle. That general focus slowly shifted to mainly hone in on slow fashion. I still really enjoy that intersection between simplicity and style, and have really loved being a part of this space for the last couple of years. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with sustainable and ethical brands and support them to try and help make the fashion industry a greener, better place.

However, I’m still struggling to strike a good balance between that work and personally consuming less, practicing minimalism, and having fewer things overall – in other words, practicing what I’m preaching. Especially throughout the pandemic, when uncertainty and anxieties were at an all-time high, shopping was an easy pick-me-up. So a renewed focus on minimalism and just less overall is something I really want to go back to this year.

I’ve been mulling this over for a while and ended up scribbling down a few phrases related to minimalism that came to mind in the notes on my phone. I decided I’d share them with you in today’s article as a way to ring in the New Year in case you’re also looking for more of that energy in 2021. So, here are some minimalist mantras to hold on to and remember for this year and years to come.

Own things, don’t let them own you.

Do you ever get the feeling that our desire to have specific things can sometimes dictate how we choose to live our lives? I used to feel like I needed to work hard and make a certain amount of money so that I could have things like a house, nice clothing, vacations, etc. But I want to try and turn that thinking on its head and instead focus first on how I want to live my life, and only allow what I buy and own to be a product of that, not the other way around.

Too often these days the lines between the pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of ‘more’ become blurred. We can’t take any of it with us when we go, and while we’re here, having too much can actually restrict us with what we’re able to do, or how well we can focus. This year, I am refusing to let stuff own me so I can take back control of my own life.

Appreciate, don’t accumulate.

This is one that I constantly need to remind myself of. It’s so hard not to compare myself with others, or look at something that they have and think I need it, too. Especially when it comes to fashion; I really love seeing different styles and ways to wear clothing. But at the same time, just because I like how something looks on someone else or how they’ve put an outfit together, it doesn’t mean that I also need to have that thing.

You can enjoy and appreciate things without actually having to own or collect them yourself. That is how stuff accumulates and we end up with more than we know what to do with. Instead, it’s important to focus only on having what we truly need and love, and be mindful of our intentions when bringing something new into our lives, making sure it comes from within ourselves instead of from external comparison, expectations of others, or societal pressures.

Consume less, create more.

My most creative times are when my brain is ‘bored’ and not tuned in to something like my phone or Netflix (which let’s face it, is pretty rare these days). This usually happens when I’m showering, out for a run, or lying in bed at night. It’s those times when I come up with ideas and my creativity sparks. Constant consumption provides relaxation and a distraction, but it also reduces innovation.

For me, it’s important to balance finding inspiration and enjoying the work of others with giving my own creativity room to grow and exploring new ideas. Creating and putting something out there adds so much more fulfillment to my life than just mindlessly consuming all the time. It’s important to take some space away from all of those distractions so we can find balance, grow, and express ourselves in turn.

Buy less, choose well.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned to consider my purchases much more carefully than I did at one point in time. My biggest focus is always on quality over quantity. Whatever I’m buying, I want it to last and to be able make use of it for a long time. That encompasses everything from how well-made and durable it is, to how timeless is its style.

It’s important to always carefully consider what you bring into your life, such whether you really need it, how you’ll use it and make it last. It’s also good to consider where you’re buying it from, and the ethics behind the brands and businesses you’re supporting.

Related Reading: How to Shop Like a Minimalist

An uncluttered space is an uncluttered mind.

I am someone who can’t work until my space is clean and all of my tasks are done. I have to cross smaller things off my to-do list before I’m able to focus on larger priorities. My physical environment is an important aspect of how well I’m able to focus and be productive, and I find that the less clutter there is around me, the less distractions there are calling my attention away. Keeping a clean, tidy, and minimalistic space this year will hopefully help me to be more productive and creative.

This also applies to my mental state. In 2020 I started doing an exercise called morning pages, and I will carry that process into this year as well. All you need to do is write three pages of your stream of consciousness in a journal first thing in the morning. Don’t think too much, just write whatever comes to mind. This helps to sweep all of the cobwebs and mental clutter out of my mind to allow space for mindfulness, focus, and creativity.

You need less than you think.

As someone who is interested in fashion and enjoys expressing myself through style, I can say with some certainty that I have more than I really need in my closet. When it all boils down, we need much less than we think we do (or than we are led to believe by society and capitalism). And most of the time, what we truly need is immaterial, whether that’s a sense of creative fulfillment, close relationships with others, etc.

There is power in realizing that you are enough as you are and can get by on much less than what’s expected or considered to be ‘normal’. This year I want to be clearer about what I want or think I need, and focus more on surrounding myself with only what I truly need and love.

Spend less, save more.

Finally, the true cost of something isn’t just the dollar amount – it’s how much life we have to exchange for it, whether that’s measured as time or work involved in actually attaining it, or effort involved in keeping and maintaining it. And often times, the things we spend our money on aren’t really worth it. In choosing to spend less, we really are saving so much more than just money.

“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”

Henry David Thoreau

If 2020 taught me anything, it’s that this world is unexpected and at times chaotic, and it’s never been a more important time to be careful with my spending. It also reminded me of how grateful I am for what I already have. This year I’m planning to have a low-buy year, live more frugally, and save more money. I’m also going to try and support more local businesses and small brands that need it when I do make purchases.

Have you set any goals or resolutions for 2021? How do you practice minimalism in your day-to-day life? I’d love to know – please feel free to share in the comments below. Until next time, and as always, thank you for reading.

Emily Lightly

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Featured photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash

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