30 Day Fresh Start Effect - Minimalism Challenge and What I Learned

Just shy of the entrance in to 2015, I decided it was time to slow down.  Something had to give.  I felt like I was being suffocated by my surroundings and everything in me was reaching out in desperation for clarity and calm.  Recently, I was talking with a friend about living a more purposeful, simple life, and what I had learned from taking 30 days to reboot my soul.  I recalled this post that poured out of me.  

If 2014 taught our family anything, it was that we have been consumed by things. Unimportant, unnecessary, wasteful, things. Post Christmas clutter has dampened our home with a feeling of anxiety and a severe headache. I couldn’t wait to get the tree out of the house and box up the remaining ornaments that we managed to salvage from PearlGrey tree toppling escapades. While parading through our home today trying to determine where another new toy would be stored, I was overcome with a desire to minimize and declutter. I looked at Scott and said “2015 will be about minimizing things and maximizing experiences”. He looked at me and gave me a big nod in agreement and I immediately felt a burden lifted. Our treasures are in Heaven! Here on earth is where we make the best of the life He has provided, not with what we buy. we have been trained to live like BIGGER is BETTER. But what does it bring us? In most cases it brings financial breakage, distress and feelings of failure when we cannot keep up. “Instead of figuring out how to make ends meet, work on having less ends.” There is value in teaching our children that we do not need much to be happy, that life is made rich by the experiences we have and the people we surround ourselves with, and that there is BEAUTY in SIMPLICITY.
December 28, 2014

December 28, 2014

I knew it was time to seek out some help, so I began doing what any of us would do.  I jumped in to the black hole that is Pinterest and searched for the words "minimalism" and "simplify".  Up jumped the 30-day minimalism challenge below from this blog.  I immediately made a pact with myself to see this through.  What I didn't expect was how much it truly was going to change me and our family's lifestyle.  

courtesy of https://anuschkarees.com/blog/2015/01/01/30-day-minimalism-challenge

courtesy of https://anuschkarees.com/blog/2015/01/01/30-day-minimalism-challenge

I originally saw this as another cheesy social media challenge where all my followers would most likely get annoyed with my over posts.  After I gave it a second thought, I realized that it could be much more.  It could be an opportunity to not only detox my soul and my surroundings, but to also encourage or motivate others who I KNEW needed it.  Instead of turning off your phone notifications for just a period of time, how about turning them off COMPLETELY!  Practice gratitude?  But of course we should practice gratitude more than once in 30 days.  I encourage you to incorporate many of these items in to your every day.  Form new habits, create new norms.  Encourage your kids to participate and use it as a teaching opportunity!  

WHAT happened when we went on this journey.....

  1.  By single-tasking, shutting out/off the noise that surrounds, and being more mindful, my high driven anxiety subsided greatly.
  2.  I found myself saying NO more often because I realized how truly valuable time is, and where it is best spent (with my family of course!).  I stopped obsessing over my calendar.... feeling satisfied when it was empty, rather than when it was full to the brim!  
  3.  I created new habits!  I began cleaning my closet every quarter and following a rule of "If I haven't worn it in 3-4 months (in-season), I probably will not wear it, therefore it should GO!  And I picked up books and magazines rather than my phone when I had down time (ha!  what is that?). 
  4.  From a financial standpoint, which is probably one of the biggest beneficiaries of this process, I began to not feel urged to shop online and impulse buy.  I took steps to identify whether each purchase was truly worth my hard earned $$$ going in to someone else's pocket.  
  5.  No one is making memories by staring at a screen.  Shutting down and going outside was so rejuvenating.  
  6.  Our girls learned about gratitude, giving back, and things do not define us as a family.  
  7.  My husband and I enjoyed talking more, working out together, and finding more ways to pitch the unnecessary around the house!
  8.  You can absolutely accomplish a goal!  Having it loud and proud and somewhere you see each day will help keep it top of mind and eventually accomplished!  HELLO, Financial Freedom!  
  9.  The community of friends and family cheering me on along the way was so encouraging.  I wasn't alone in seeking this lifestyle adjustment, and I witnessed others jump on board, which motivated me even more.  It's okay to share, so others will be inspired.  
  10.  I learned that we don't necessarily need things, we just plain WANT them.  Looking thru a lens of need vs. want each time we have to make a choice with our time and money is crucial for the success of our family.  

Will you accept this challenge?  Could you use a refresh, a detox, a reboot, a spring cleaning?  There's no exact order, the schedule is merely a guide to inspire you and help you move through with intention.     

Join the Honest Chatter community and #HC30DayFreshStartEffect - on Instagram, beginning April 1

Instagram photos of my journey through the #30DayFreshStartEffect in 2015