Table of Contents
What is minimalism?
If you are new to minimalism, here is the elevator pitch: Minimalism is owning fewer possessions.
These sticky notes have been featured heavily on our original whiteboard. They were also among the first of our short-term goals Andrew and I tackled. We gave it a good go by taking the activity one room at a time in August 2018 and again in October 2019. In the process, I offloaded a lot of clothes, bags and shoes as well as underutilized kitchen items. Cherished items went to friends, and the rest went to charity.
Time to Take It Up a Notch
In retrospect, we took a somewhat incremental approach to reducing our possessions. The effect was… meh. In large part, we were missing a strong why to underpin the activity. We now have that: sailing around the world.
Because we want to make this transformative lifestyle change, it demands a pretty extreme definition of minimalism. We have furniture, personal items and household supplies that fill a 3-bedroom house along with a sizable 2-car garage and extensive outdoor furniture. Taking an incremental approach will utterly end in failure to get off the dock, so to speak. Taking a transformative approach much like countless examples in Living Big in a Tiny House is what it takes.
Learning from the experience of other live-aboard cruisers, we decided we are not going to rent storage space while we sail around the world. If we sail for 5-10 years, so many variables can change and it doesn’t add up:
- why pay for storage for years (e.g., $100/mo for 10 years = $12,000)
- we may not use furniture, clothes or items from our distant past
- our needs inevitably will change
Thus, we will not be hanging on to anything that does not serve a purpose onboard a sailboat. A critical eye will be cast on every article of clothing, every kitchen item, and every tool on the workbench. As other cruisers have indicated, even what they brought was way too much. So, when it comes to purging, we are going to be ruthless.
At the end of the purge, we will be left with a handful of suitcases and ready to go sailing, whether we start from Florida, Germany or British Columbia.
Thankfully we have a little bit of time to purge our belongings. Accomplishing this transition while keeping our sanity at the same time is one of the driving reasons for taking our time with this.
I have read some examples of breakneck speeds at which folks who are excited to start cruising quit their jobs, buy a boat, sell their possessions and move aboard within a few months time. Neither Andrew nor I are interested in replacing a frenetic schedule with another frenetic schedule.
One of the hardest things to do in this transition is deliberately slow down. I remind myself to go with the flow. Finding stillness in the day for introspection and self-discovery. I am giving myself the gift of time to define what gives me joy and purpose in this lifetime.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” ~ Jimmy Dugan
Does it help me fulfill a greater purpose with my life?
In our efforts to de-clutter, we are going beyond the simple question, “Does it spark joy?” Rather than attach happiness to the items we decide to keep, we are filtering the items to evaluate whether it will serve us in the future. With that lens, we can categorize the items into three buckets:
- Yes - These are the items that will be used daily when we are on our sailing adventures.
- Maybe - These items will be set aside for a few months. If we don’t retrieve them during that time, we don’t need them.
- No - These items will not have a home in our future. They’re too big, too worn-out or simply not a good fit for our new lifestyle.
30 Days to Minimalism
We decided not to take the same room-by-room or drawer-by-drawer approach as we did in 2018 and 2019. This time, we are going to take things on by category of items.
I love Sadia’s youtube channel not just for her recipes but also for lifestyle tips. The categories were laid out based on her video 30 days to minimalism. Rather than do things in 30 days, we will attempt to do things in 30 weeks or somewhere in between. This way we have time for other activities.
Here is how we fared in this effort over the summer of 2020.
- Week 3 - how to tackle sentimental items
- Week 6 - what clothes should you bring for a cruising lifestyle and how many & what type of linens will we need on board
- Week 7 - does a foodie need to sacrifice all her kitchen gadgets and what do we need for the rest of the space?
- Week 12 - once you’ve narrowed down what you want to take, here are some strategies to upcycle your stuff
- Week 15 - don’t forget to deal with your digital assets
- Week 20 - all the furniture can’t come with us aboard, so 80% of the large items moved out over Labor Day weekend
- Week 22 - inventory s/v Rachel J Slocum and determine what we will keep
- Week 25 - after the survey and sea trial, edit some more
- Week 26 - moving out and moving aboard s/v Rachel J Slocum
For those visually inclined, here are the highlights of how we became minimalists in less than 30 weeks. All it takes to become a minimalist: a bullet journal, tenacity and a willing partner in life.
Thanks for reading!
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