If you’re new to the idea of minimalism or stumbled upon this site while searching for a method for deciding what shoes to keep (1. you have to be able to walk one mile in them and 2. you have to have worn them in the last year) you probably haven’t read the wave of minimalist writers and bloggers that appeared in 2008 to 2010.
These were the people I was inspired by. They gave most of their possessions away and built small paperless online businesses that they ran from a beach in a developing nation. Their income was derived from sharing one secret: how they built a passive income business so they could live on the cheap and out of a backpack without a care in the world or a house plant to water.
Everyone wanted in.
I wanted in.
How could I do this? How could we, Chris and Henry and I, live in a hut on a beach in Thailand with just an Ergo baby carrier, a few cloth diapers and our swim suits? How could we do it and get out of debt and all our obligations?
We could read books all day, study Muay-Thai fighting and write novels. We’d eat nothing but fish, rice and local fruit and be super lean to go along with our awesome tans. Our passive income would grow and we’d pay off all our debt and wouldn’t have a care in the world.
We’d be thinner, richer and smarter.
It sounded really good.
Then I started reading more from these writers and bloggers. I even bought a few of their e-books and read those too.
Something didn’t add up. All of them had a passive income low-cost location independent lifestyle based around selling the same idea: selling books about creating your own passive income lifestyle by writing books. A vision of an Ouroboros, a snake eating its own tail, came to mind.
As Katy and I decluttered like mad in the fall of 2010 I stopped reading the bloggers who were touting passive income and location independence, and their e-books that showed you how to do it. I realized I didn’t want to live on a beach. I liked my life. I liked it even better without all the clutter.
After purging my home, ending the spending and cutting bills I realized there was no magic bullet for the modern ailments of stress, debt and that extra 20 pounds.
You don’t have to take a course or buy a product. You just have to change your mind. – Steven Pressfield, Turning Pro
No book or class or person can do it for you. You can buy the Nutri-System package or hire someone to organize your garage but YOU have to do the work. There might be a catalyst or inspiration but it’s up to you to make the change.
Simplifying has given me a lot but I can’t say it’s made me richer, thinner or smarter. Simplifying has been a trigger for change but I still had to do the work.
I still HAVE to do the work.
I have to debate purchases instead of impulsively opening my wallet for the latest shiny gadget that’s caught my eye.
I have to resist that slice of homemade cake. Or not.
I have to put away my laptop in the evening and not watch another episode of Damages on Netflix (so good!) to read a few more pages of Shantaram, a novel I have been doling out pages to myself from for over a year (beautiful writing).
If there is a magic bullet it won’t come in the form of a book or a course or anything that arrives with a receipt or money back guarantee. It’s not a blog post or a slogan on a t-shirt.
If there is a magic bullet you already have it. It’s waiting patiently for you. It’s always been there for you even if you buried it under years of shopping to feel good or using the guest bedroom to store all the stuff you never use but are afraid to let go of.
You’re the magic bullet.