17 Stages Of Minimalism

17 Stages Of Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle that focuses on reducing physical and mental clutter so you can make space for what truly matters. This guide will walk through the 17 key stages to successfully transition to minimalism. Embracing simplicity helps reduce stress, improve focus, foster gratitude, and bring purposeful meaning to life.

What is Minimalism?

Minimalism is a deliberate approach to living with less for greater joy, purpose, and fulfillment. It removes the non-essential so you can focus on what matters most to you. The origins stem from various cultural and artistic movements concentrated on simplicity, but today, minimalism extends beyond art and design into a lifestyle.

There are four core principles of minimalism:

  • Simplicity: Removing clutter and excess to make space for what adds value. I am living simply with purposeful intent.
  • Intentionality: Being deliberate and focused regarding possessions, activities, commitments, and priorities.
  • Decluttering: Getting rid of physical and mental clutter so you can thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what remains.
  • Prioritization: Focusing time, energy, and resources on what aligns with your values and goals.

The benefits of minimalism are reduced stress and anxiety, improved mental clarity and focus, control of your possessions and time, increased gratitude for what you have, positive environmental impact, and achieving more fulfillment.

The 17 Stages of Living as a Minimalist

Transitioning fully to minimalism happens gradually through these 17 key stages:

Stage 1: Acknowledgment

The first step is acknowledging the areas in your life causing stress and lack of fulfillment due to clutter and excess. Be honest with any internal resistance or external criticism you may face. Accepting the need for change is the gateway to transformation.

Example: Anna felt her cluttered closets, packed schedule, and credit card debt meant she needed a change. Admitting this struggle was difficult but gave her clarity.

Stage 2: Education

Learn all about minimalism – its fundamental principles, benefits, and how to implement it. Resources like books, podcasts, YouTube videos, blogs, and online groups allow you to educate yourself continuously.

Example: Sam read “The Minimalist Home” and listened to minimalist podcasts to understand simple living concepts.

Stage 3: Inspiration

Connect with minimalist role models for motivation. Seeing others successfully embrace simplicity sparks inspiration during challenges.

Example: Mary followed minimalist leaders on Instagram for inspiration when decluttering felt overwhelming.

Stage 4: Setting Goals

Define your objectives for health, relationships, personal growth, career, and other areas to guide your minimalist journey. Outline measurable goals to stay on track.

Example: “I will declutter one room per month over the next year.”

Embracing Minimalism in Life Areas

The following stages put minimalism into practice in all aspects of life:

Stage 5: Decluttering

Simplify your living space by sorting through physical possessions, room-by-room. Evaluate each item based on necessity, utility, and sentimental value.

Example: Nick decluttered his home office supplies using the 20/20 rule – if he hadn’t used something in the past 20 months and didn’t plan to in the next 20 months, he got rid of it.

Stage 6: Digital Declutter

Evaluate digital files and accounts for usefulness. Save what sparks joy and enhances your goals. Unsubscribe from non-essential emails, delete unused apps and files and organize tools.

Example: Lea did a digital cleanse every Sunday evening, unsubscribing from retailers and clearing old computer files.

Stage 7: Mindful Consumption

Break impulsive spending habits by questioning each potential purchase. Avoid buying too much stuff, which leads to clutter. Savor and care for belongings.

For example, Lily asked herself, “Do I need this?” before spending. She bought less but higher quality items.

Stage 8: Essentialism

Distinguish essential priorities from nice-to-haves so you can focus time and energy on what’s most important. Say no to some questions about your time.

Example: Ryan asked, “If I could only do one thing today, what would it be?” to choose where to spend his limited time.

Stage 9: Time Management

Audit how you currently spend hours in your day or week. Reclaim wasted time through productive planning, such as blocking time for essential activities.

Example: Emma schedules weekly blocks of deep work time for her priority project.

Stage 10: Letting Go of Guilt

Minimize self-blame, shame, and dwelling on the past, which weighs you down. Practice self-forgiveness and move forward in positive new directions.

Example: When James felt guilty about former spending tendencies, his therapist helped reframe this as progress motivation.

Evolving Perspectives Through Minimalism

The following stages spur internal mindset shifts for new outlooks on life:

Stage 11: Gratitude

Express daily appreciation for belongings and experiences instead of taking things for granted. This heightens satisfaction from non-material aspects of life.

Example: Adele kept a gratitude journal listing things like hugging her kids and hearing birds chirp she might typically overlook.

Stage 12: Sustainability

Consider the environmental impact of all consumption choices. Incorporate eco-friendly products, reduce waste, and fully utilize what you own.

For example, Troy switched to bamboo toothbrushes and metal straws for plastic waste reduction.

Stage 13: Minimalist Design

Simplify home or workspace decor with clean lines, ample blank space, multipurpose furniture, and neutral colors for a clutter-free environment.

Example: Willa adopted the Japandi style with natural wood and green accents for a balanced energy flow.

Ongoing Evolution Through Minimalism

The final stages guide ongoing improvement through deeper dimensions of minimalism over months and years:

Stage 14: Minimalist Wardrobe

Cultivate a functional, versatile capsule wardrobe of high-quality multipurpose essentials over trendy statement pieces.

Example: Carrie adopted a neutral color palette for mix-and-match outfits.

Stage 15: Minimalist Finances

Reduce expenses, pay off debt, save automatically each month, and spend on needs first, so money clutter causes less stress.

Example: Mike created an essential expenses budget, cutting out unused subscriptions and credit cards.

Stage 16: Minimalist Relationships

Foster a small circle of close, supportive contacts instead of superficial friendships. Invest in family connections.

Example: Leah devoted Friday nights to quality time with each immediate family member.

Stage 17: Ongoing Growth

Re-evaluate belongings and habits annually for continuing improvement. Set new targets as previous minimalist goals are met.

Example: Each New Year’s Day, Eric reflects on newly unnecessary items from his intentional purchasing.

Overcoming Obstacles Along Your Minimalism Journey

While rewarding, a minimalist mind-shift also comes with challenges. You may frequently question if items spark joy. Sentimentality about certain belongings causes tough decisions. Criticism from friends or family not understanding this lifestyle may test your resolve.

When facing obstacles, recall your underlying motivations, connect with a minimalist support community, start small by tackling just one clutter category at a time, take breaks when overwhelmed, consider if compromises accommodate your needs, and focus on all the progress made so far. With consistent commitment through ongoing minimalism stages, adopting simpler living is genuinely life-changing.

Case Study: A Minimalism Success Story

Mark utilized all 17 stages to embrace simplicity, from his early days of admission through continuing evolution. He first recognized his home office and crowded calendar caused frequent stress. Reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and following minimalist leaders like Joshua Fields Millburn sparked Mark’s journey.

He set initial goals like decluttering his closet and unsubscribing from retailers’ emails during the first month. Over the next year, Mark tackled decluttering, mindful consumption, time management, letting go of guilt from past spending, expressing gratitude in a daily journal, and establishing an essential expense budget. Mark adopted a versatile capsule wardrobe, enjoyed closer family ties with tech-free nights, and now re-evaluates lifestyle areas yearly for continuous improvement as a minimalist.

Mark testifies to reduced anxiety, heightened focus, strengthened family bonds, and greater overall contentment through shedding the non-essential. Since embracing minimalism holistically, ’ he’s never felt more in control and purposeful in life.

Key Takeaways

  • Admit the areas of excess stress and clutter in your life.
  • Educate yourself thoroughly on minimalist principles and tactics.
  • Connect with minimalist role models for inspiration when challenges arise.
  • Outline detailed goals for focus as you transition to each life area.
  • Sort through physical spaces and belongings to remove non-essentials.
  • Digital declutter files, accounts and emails for efficiency.
  • Adopt mindful analysis before any purchases.
  • Distinguish essential priorities for your time and energy.
  • Audit your schedule and reclaim wasted time with productive planning.
  • Release self-blame and guilt by focusing your vision forward.


What clutter could you remove from rooms, commitments, or thoughts today for reduced stress? What brings you joy, purpose, and meaning beyond stuff? The minimalism journey guides the way to insight.

Progress through all 17 phases can feel intimidating. But moving toward simplicity, even one small step at a time, lets invaluable light shine through. Decluttering the external makes space to rediscover your inner wisdom. Essentialism focuses energy on what matters most. Gratitude illuminates beauty that is freely available to appreciate right now.

At its heart, minimalism removes superficial excess so your most authentic self can flourish. Fulfillment awaits. The first step is acknowledging what holds you back. From there, each stage smoothly builds off previous milestones toward clarity and intentional living. Focus on one phase at a time without becoming overwhelmed by the road ahead.