Being a minimalist doesn’t mean living without. It is a common misconception that to embrace this lifestyle you have to get rid of all your stuff, live in an empty home, and become a traveling nomad. But you don’t have to. Empty rooms and bare walls don’t have to be part of your journey.

The point is to only bring things into your life that add value. Many individuals find forming new habits in a consumerist culture are easier by first getting rid of the excess, either permanently or temporarily. Boxing things up and getting them out of sight, out of mind is one way to determine what you actually use and what just takes up space.

But what adds value to your life might not add value to someone else’s. There is no set recipe when it comes to minimalism. Find the ingredients that work best in your own life, and create your own delicious recipe.

Designing a simpler life means determining what you actually want to focus on. What is important to you? The answer to this question is a great starting point.

Determine Your Priorities

Take the time to sit down and think about what really makes you happy. What do you want out of life? What are you searching for? If you could do anything at this moment, what would it be?

Make a list. Do you love painting, but can never find the time? Are you hoping to make a career change, get out of debt, or create more time to spend with family? Minimalism can help with all of these things.

Maybe you want to paint more. If you downsize your life and clean out the garage, you would actually have a space you could devote to your art.

Create a Plan

Once you know what your priorities are, create a plan to tackle the excess in your life. Different people approach things differently. Some people find that boxing up most of their possessions and then only unpacking things as they need them to be the most beneficial. Others prefer to address one room of the house at a time or one area of the house at the time. Create a realistic plan that will work for you and your lifestyle.

If you are a reader and books bring an immense amount of value to your life, then getting rid of all your books will never bring you joy. You can be more intentional about the way you bring books into your life. Maybe consider getting a library card and only purchasing and keeping books you know you will want to read again.

Don’t draw things out too long. Have a goal in mind that relates to your priorities, like organizing the pantry so you can spend less tie searching through the clutter and more time enjoying dinner with your family. When you reach these goals, you get the real-life rewards of minimalism, creating a snowball effect.

Make Space

Stop spending time and money on the things that don’t matter to you. With a house mostly devoid of clutter and excess, you will need to spend less time cleaning. If you stop spending money on cheap clothes and other items simply because they are on sale, you are bored, or you are acting on impulse, you will have more money to spend on the things that really matter.

As you tackle different areas of your home, keep in mind your priorities and goals. With each item, really think about whether it makes you happy or not. If your answer is not a resounding, yes, and the item is not a necessity, consider hiding it away for a length of time and see if you really miss it. Storage units are a great tool for this leg of the process. You might be surprised at how much stuff you can actually live without.

Minimalism is a journey that is very individual. It is about finding space for the things that are actually important in your life. It is not about scarcity, but about the abundance that comes with being more intentional in how to bring things into your life.