Sharing Your Minimalism Story

by Nov 17, 20215 comments

I’ve learned that minimalism is not about what you own, it`s about why you own it.

Brian Gardner

Excited About Minimalism?

How Can You Share Your Story?

Perhaps reading and hearing about minimalism has you starting to feel excited and convinced that this is the path for you to take. You’re ready to change your world and your life. That is awesome. Taking control of your home and schedule is empowering. If you have thought about your values, set your priorities and defined what minimalism looks like for you, you might be ready to go all-in, confident that this is the best choice for you.  Congratulations on your clarity. I challenge you to implement your plans and do what it takes to live your life with intention. Remember, though, that not everyone will share your enthusiasm. That’s understandable and does not impact you – unless you expect their support or participation. For example, if you do not live alone in your house, you will want to get others on board, at least at some level. If that is the case, you will need to have some conversations about what this life choice means, for you and your family members.  If you are ready to make changes, read on for tips about how to talk with your friends and family about minimalism.

Share Your Why

Let people know why you think this approach makes sense and how it fits with what you want to achieve. You don’t have to go into great detail but a summary of why this is important to you will help them understand why you are going in this direction. This can be especially helpful if you are making drastic changes to your lifestyle. If, for instance, you and your friends spend lots of bonding time shopping and you want to limit your shopping and spending, explaining some of your reasons will help reassure your friends you still want to spend time with them but not at shopping. Let people know that paring down and reducing stuff means more time to focus on things and people that matter most, including your relationship with them. Don’t sell it too hard. It can be counterproductive to be too aggressive with trying to sell your enthusiasm because that can alienate people. Be careful that you aren’t preaching or constantly talking about your journey and your new love of minimalism.

Invite and Involve Family

It can be challenging to implement minimalism in a family home, especially when you are just getting started. It requires a change of mindset and it helps to have buy-in from family members. Communicating about the plans and rationale can help but it still might take some time and some convincing.

Give everyone the chance to have input over how minimalism will look in your home. And make sure everyone has some control over choices in their own spaces. If you are a parent, you might be the one responsible for making the decision and leading change but it can be easier when all family members have some say in the how. Even small children can learn that they have to make some choices. (Individual memory boxes are one strategy that can help people manage their own space Read more in Not Used It In A Year? Let It Go. )

Recognize that it will take some time and family members might be at different levels of enthusiasm or commitment. A set of family rules or reminders reached through consensus or compromise and prominently posted might help. Also, a system of checks, balances and reviews can be important, especially in the early phases of transition Your systems will  need to evolve and there will be ups and downs for sure. Stick with it and trust that advantages will become more apparent as everyone adapts develops new routines, and better understands the goals.

Here are a couple of resources to help you implement minimalism with your family.

Minimalism for Families: The Dos and Don’ts by Courtney Carver

15 Tips for the Everyday Minimalist Family by Rebeca Crespo

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels

Getting Support From Your Friends

Friends might be interested in learning more, especially if you are making dramatic changes to your home and life. This can especially apply if, in addition to reducing your possessions, you want to reduce the number of commitments on your calendar or the time you spend on some activities that you used to do. Your friends might take some of those changes personally and attempt to discourage you from changing your direction. However, if you are open with them about your plans and reasons, they are more likely to be supportive of your decisions. And their understanding can help you maintain your resolve as you approach a new lifestyle. You might even choose to enlist the help of trusted people to support you when you have trouble with some of your purging or on cutting back on buying.

When you talk with your friends, be clear that you are not recruiting people or trying to convince them to make the same choices around minimalism. Be open to answering questions. Being clear on your own priorities and goals will help you to better explain to others as well as to stay on track whether or not others understand or agree with your choices.

Unfortunately, probably not everyone will be supportive. Even after you explain what you are doing, some people in your circle might still not understand or agree with your choices. That is their right.  However, you might decide to reevaluate your relationship with any friend who ridicules or tries to sabotage your choices. Spend more time with people who support and encourage you, regardless of their own feelings on your choices.

Recognize That Everyone Has Their Own Journey

Minimalism is not for everyone.  Some people might already have the amount of stuff that they want in their homes.  Others might not have the luxury of letting go to replace later.  Still others might have their own strategies for decluttering and organizing.  Even people who do choose minimalism might have a very different version than you have chosen.  It is futile, and often unfair, to try and convince them that you are right.  Instead be clear on your objectives, follow your path, and let others find theirs.  And be ready to engage in respectful conversation about what it means to you to live a life of intention.

Take Action

Keep these guidelines in mind when talking to loved ones about minimalism. Be firm in your boundaries and feel free to communicate your needs. And don’t be afraid to ask for their opinions.  You don’t have to make the same choices.  

Challenge Questions for Day 17

Are you implementing minimalism in a shared living space?  How have you and other members of your household chosen to manage different styles and priorities?

Do your friends support your minimalist lifestyle?  Why or Why not?  How has that impacted your choices, if at all?  

Have your friends or family influenced your goals and expectations around minimalism? If so, how have they changed your ideas or plans?

Declutter Challenge for Day 16

Knick Knacks, photos, mementos

Curate your collection of memorabilia.  This can be an emotional experience so do not expect to do it all in one sitting. 

Did you take up yesterday’s challenge to start a memory / treasure box?  If you do have a designated spot, you can put collectibles you do not plan to display directly in the box.   This might be a good time to start a box for each of your family members too.  Make today’s challenge one to do with family members of all ages.

Banner photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Girl with boxes photo by Tatiana Syrikova from Pexels


Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Mary Elizabeth O'Toole

Educator, Artist, Storyteller


  1. Kebba Buckley Button

    Mary Elizabeth, you rock! You are so right in everything you say here. For my story, I do wish I had taken pictures of, for example, the 40″ pile of clothes on the futon couch, which came out of the master closet due to a pipe flood. Almost half were donated. Still sorting and donating and shredding– and loving it!

  2. Minette Riordan

    I am so glad I found your blog and am going to go back to day one to read more. We are getting ready to downsize and move so this topic is top of mind for my hubby and I. We’ve been decluttering on and off all year and have a long way to go. I’m excited to begin a minimalist journey. As an artist, my biggest challenge will be what to let go of in my studio. Knowing why I am keeping something will be super helpful.

    • Mary Elizabeth

      Thanks for your comments, Minette. I am glad that you have found some useful information and hope some of the earlier posts will prove valuable in planning your journey. Moving is such a great motivation for reducing stuff. And I can definitely relate to the challenges of cutting back as an artist! Good luck on your minimalist journey.

  3. Lily Leung

    Both my partner and I are on the same page. All the same we do have alot of stuff even though we don’t do a lot of shopping. My friends know about my minimalist lifestyle. I have one friend who loves knicknacks and giving gifts. I accept and try not to preach and try to give gifts that are useful.

    • Mary Elizabeth

      Thanks for sharing Lily, it definitely helps when you are on the same page with your partner. And I know what you mean about accumulating stuff without doing much shopping. It is amazing how that happens. we have talked with our friends about sharing time instead of exchanging gifts and MOST of them are onboard. Mostly we now exchange gifts for common experiences like a restaurant or some new activity in the area. That has been fun.

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