We all make mistakes. I don’t claim to be the perfect minimalist; I don’t think anyone is. Here are a few of the minimalist mistakes I have made, in the hopes that it will help you avoid them.
- Buying something I didn’t need. I think we all do this from time to time. In our consumerist culture, it’s almost inevitable. But you would think that, as a minimalist, I would by now be immune to this trap. Well, that is just not the case. I, too, have gone into a store with a list and emerged with something that wasn’t on it. I, too, have caught myself browsing on Amazon when I was supposed to be buying one specific item. When every day we are bombarded with advertisements and messages that we should buy more things to be happy, it’s no wonder that we sometimes fall prey to this misleading advice. Sometimes, I buy things that I think I need at the time. For example, I got a gym membership, so of course I needed a cute bag to take to the gym. Months later, and I have gone to the gym maybe once…perhaps I should have waited on purchasing that bag. One tip that can help curb buying something you don’t need on an impulse is to wait as long as you can before you make the purchase. If, a week (or a month, or a year) later, you are still obsessing over what you saw online or in the store, go ahead and buy it, but make sure you consider giving something else up to compensate for it; if you can’t, maybe it’s not worth having, after all.
- Accepting something just because it was free. I try not to accept freebies. This includes anything with a company logo, pamphlets at shows, free samples, even wedding favors, if they are not something that I think I will love and use. But sometimes your friend is getting rid of the prettiest décor and you just have to have it. Or your mom is cleaning out some of her old treasures and maybe you would someday eventually use some nice glass ice cream bowls at some undisclosed time in the future. I don’t think there is a single time that I HAVEN’T regretted accepting an item like this. If you weren’t looking for it in the first place, you probably don’t need it!
- Replacing an item before it wore out. I freely admit to falling into the trap of wanting to cultivate a beautiful minimalist aesthetic—at the expense of the items I already had. While having an item you love more, and is of better quality, isn’t a bad thing, we still have things like the environment and working wages to consider. A real minimalist mindset takes these things into account before dumping perfectly good objects for something “better” or more attractive. I may be itching to ditch that old sweater or comforter that I’m tired of, but if it’s not totally worn out, isn’t it still serving me?
- Wasting consumables. Consumables are anything that can eventually be used up, such as food, candles, soaps, lotions, etc. I have found myself nonchalantly discarding half-used bottles of shower gel that someone gifted to me, or an unfinished bottle of hair product that didn’t quite work out. I have been on a health kick and purchased a large bag of quinoa, only to find it in the cabinet, expired, a year later. I am trying to improve in this area, but honestly, it’s not easy. If I don’t really like something, I have trouble making myself use it, and I can’t always find someone to take partially-used consumables off my hands.
What minimalist mistakes have you made? Let me know in the comments!