The always principle

Not just sometimes

If you’re going to become a swimmer, you don’t dip your toe in the pool, take weeks off, or spend most of your time practicing underwater handstands. You take lessons, get coaching and (most importantly) dive in and practice the strokes! You build up your stamina and perfect your technique each time you swim. The moment which you can say “I am a swimmer” is not when you decide to become a swimmer, but when you begin actually swimming. And you will maintain your swimmer status only if you continue to swim.

You can say the same thing about being a stylish minimalist. Doing a little decluttering here, a little wardrobe update there, does not a stylish minimalist  make. Take some lessons, get coaching and (again, most importantly) take the plunge and practice being a stylish minimalist! Consistently practicing will make you a stylish minimalist. Like swimming, it will become easier and you will hone your style.

Unlike swimming, location is unimportant for stylish minimalism. In fact, you can practice this lifestyle everywhere, in every area of life. Throughout your day, make decisions, do actions and think thoughts that line up with your definition of stylish minimalist. The more you practice, the more defined and personal your style will be.

This is called the always principle because a stylish minimalist is (or tries to be) stylish and minimalist always: all day, every day.

How to always be a stylish minimalist

Being stylish and minimalist all the time is a habit. Use the following techniques to get started.

  1. Get ready every morning. Make it part of your routine to set your style at the beginning of every day. Even on days off and when you don’t expect to see anyone, be your stylish self! If it takes too long to get ready, simplify your style.
  2. Plan your daily activities. Think about what you do regularly. How can you make these activities more stylish and minimalist? For example, plan your style for transportation and how you will be minimalist in the meals you eat.
  3. Declutter. When you have less things, you have less to always keep in your style. Use the time and energy you would have spent maintaining these things to customise your style and do things that take you closer to the stylish, minimalist life you want.
  4. Minimise your words. Use the time instead to prepare what you’ll say with your style. Practice a vocabulary and tone that is “you” every time you speak or write.
  5. Pare down your actions and commitments. You’ll have more energy to put into your unique style. The less you do, the easier it’ll be to be stylish, always.
  6. Use reminders to reset yourself. Set an alarm on your portable phone to go off each hour or tie a string around your finger. Remember why you’re doing this and what your final destination looks like.
  7. Get inspired. Talk to and read other minimalists to get ideas for your life. Socialise with similarly-minded people. Hire a coach for brainstorming and support. Finding your definition of stylish minimalist will make it easier for you to become stylish and minimalist.

The easy way to be stylish

The disconnect between style and minimalism

Stylishness and minimalism don’t usually go hand in hand. A minimalist has few things and simple routines. A stylish person often has many things and complicated or time-consuming routines. There is a point somewhere between the two where the stylish minimalist lives. That point is different for everyone. Finding it is key to consistency.

The easiest style is natural

Using your nature will help you to pare down while keeping your unique style. Natural styles are attractive and they stand the test of time. They are easy to create and maintain on a regular basis. Because a natural style uses fewer resources than an unnatural one, it costs less and is easier on the environment. Most importantly, natural style is authentic. It showcases the real you.

I’m not talking about uncut hair and bare feet (unless that is your style). It’s about going with the flow rather than pushing against it. So instead of straightening and colouring your hair, let your curls out and skip the dye job. You’ll get a healthy shine and the colour will flatter your skin tone. If you enjoy hip hop dancing, quit the ballroom dancing course and spend your time doing the dance you love. If you live in the Arctic circle, trade your backyard palm trees for evergreens or move south if you can’t live without them.

How to find yours

Before you can have a more natural style, you need to know what that nature is. It comes back to knowing yourself – your personality, your preferences, your body. The fastest way to develop your natural style is to go with the activities, people and things you’re naturally drawn to. There will be less resistance to your improvement than if you force things in an unnatural and awkward direction.

If you find yourself using a lot of time, energy, money or products to get something done on a regular basis, it’s likely that you’re fighting your nature. If you are on autopilot in any area of your life, take a step back to analyse what’s actually useful and what you’re just doing out of habit. Here are some questions to get you thinking and using a more natural style. Apply this process to every area of your life for a consistent style. Remember to think about career, environment, finance, health, looks, personal growth, recreation, relationships.

  • What steps in your routines can you drop that won’t compromise your style?
  • What tools do you use?
  • What would happen if you stopped using them?
  • Can you become comfortable with the more natural result?
  • Is there an easier way to tweak that result to fit your real style?
  • Which result is more “you”?

Have fun!

How to be motivated

The importance of good motivation

Motive is a reason to do something. If you have a good enough reason to do what you’re doing, excuses melt away. Think about someone who has survived a heart attack. After recovery, health is the priority and old temptations don’t have the same hold. When you know your motive for becoming a stylish minimalist, it’s easier to do the work and keep going when you’re making tough decisions.

There are different levels of motivation. “I want to look great” is a weak motive. It relies on others’ opinions, which will always fail because it’s impossible to get 100% approval from 100% of everyone.”I want to survive” is a strong motive that helps a recovering heart attack sufferer make healthy choices. There’s almost nothing more important than living. The stylish minimalist has a motive tied to deep needs.

Your motivation is what you need to thrive. Being a stylish minimalist may fulfill your need perfectly. Or it may be only part of the answer. Or it may not be what you’re looking for at all. Ask yourself what else you could do to meet this need. You might find a solution you never dreamed of that fits your life even better than stylish minimalism.

What motivates you

The answer is as individual as you are. Why are you reading this blog? Why do you want to be a stylish minimalist? That’s your motive. But don’t stop there. Go deeper to find the need that’s driving your desires. Then you’ll have a motive that trumps all excuses.

It can be tricky to ask objective questions then search for an honest answer. Take your time or get a trusted someone to help. Ask yourself: Why? What would that give me? What’s behind that? What do I want instead? Keep going until you find what you need to thrive. Here’s an example.

  • I want to be a stylish minimalist.
  • Why? I want a minimalist home and personal look.
  • Why? The clutter stresses me out but I don’t want to be blank.
  • What would a clutter-free environment give me? An easy life.
  • How so? I would have free time to relax in a clear environment.
  • What would that give me? Peace of mind.
  • What would it mean to have a clear environment that is not blank? Some style, some very “me” objects and activities.
  • What would that give me? Happiness. Joy.
  • I need peace and joy to thrive. They are my motives for being a stylish minimalist.

Minimalism brings me peace and expressing my style gives me joy.

Getting motivated

Hold on to your motive. Make it your mission. Take it into consideration when you make decisions. Throughout your day, consider if what you’re doing is consistent with your needs. When you are tired and uninspired, a good motive will get you moving.

The absolutely critical first step in becoming a stylish minimalist

The first step: Know your style

Just as you need to know your destination before beginning a successful journey, you need to know your personal style before you start making style choices. This is the single most important step in any strategy. Knowing your style will keep you focused and guide your decisions so you don’t end up with a mass of souvenirs in various styles. Detours may be interesting but they don’t always contribute to your end goal. When the end is clear, it will be easier to make goals, as well as to say no to anything that doesn’t fit.

Doing it minimalist

When defining your style, remember the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid. There’s no need for a colour-coded filing system, fancy spreadsheets or a stack of new books and magazines (electronic copies count too!). Exercise your little grey cells and use what you have. Borrow if you need to. This is about discovery and analysis. The wise minimalist invests time and energy on thinking.

How to start

Like most good things, there is no one way. It depends on your learning style… which is a bit Catch-22, I know. Just start with whatever seems easiest. You could read a book, take a quiz, hire a coach, join a forum or make a collage. The process depends on you. The main idea is to analyse what lights you up and simplify it down to the bare minimum that still does it for you. Your style expresses the real you to the world.

Here are a few points to get your thinking started.

  • What’s your definition of minimalism?  What would your ideal minimalist life look like?
  • Who do you admire? What do you admire about them?
  • Picture your ideal life. Consider your career, physical environment, finances, health, looks, personal growth & development, fun & recreation and relationships.
  • What are you drawn to? Consider music, art, films, colours, textures, people, places and books.

Bon voyage!