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A guide to help the average man... look less average

The minimalism challenge

Mark Kwak

I think I've mentioned this before, but I actually take New Year's Resolutions fairly seriously. Unlike a lot of folks who say they're going to go to the gym more, end up going a couple times in January then never go again, I make sure to keep at my goals consistently, and make them measurable in the case that I find myself slacking at any given time of the year.

For example, in 2011, though my resolution was incredibly superficial and ridiculous, I decided I wanted a six pack for the first time in my life. Yes, six pack abs, I know it's stupid. Either way, around mid October that year, I found that I wasn't any closer to my goal than I was in January.

I realized that it was because I was working out, but not really changing my diet, which is ultimately the most important part of it all. As a result, I stopped drinking alcohol completely for a month. Somehow lost 8 lbs. Yeah, no joke, and I don't even drink all that much on a normal basis.

Then in November and December, every time I ate out, I packed home 1/3 of it to go. Didn't matter how hungry I was, 1/3 of the plate was going to be boxed up. Helped me lose another 6-7 lbs. Sadly, I still didn't end up getting a fully visible six pack at the end of the year, but I was happy to be keeping up with my goal for the full 12 months.

In 2012, it was all about drinking at least 8 cups of a water a day. I think I ended up going to the bathroom more than all my coworkers combined that year, but I succeeded for the most part, and still to this day have kept up the habit of drinking water as much as possible throughout the day.

This year, the #1 resolution I have is to become more of a minimalist. A secondary goal is to write this blog more often, but let's focus on the main goal today.

Why minimalism? Well, I've found that the money I earn needs to be going towards experiences and not things. I hardly ever regret spending money on experiences, but oftentimes find myself regretting purchases of clothing, furniture, gadgets, or whatever. I also need to feel like I own my things, and not the other way around. Hopefully going minimalist should help in that effort.

I've laid out a couple rules for myself during this time, and if you're brave enough, you should join me. Check 'em out:

1. Get rid of one thing everyday for the entire year: This is to just shed as much of my unneeded belongings as possible. It will be hard, especially towards the latter part of the year when I've gotten rid of so much, but I think it will be a healthy way to own only the essentials. Also, it will feel great to give my possessions to people who would actually use them. Everyone wins.

2. Do not buy anything unless it's absolutely needed, or replacing something else: Impulse purchases, or sale-based purchases have dominated me for several years. As a result, I am trying not to buy anything unless it is absolutely needed, or replacing something that has worn down so much that it has become unusable. For example, I'm working on replacing a watch, since the other one broke down, so I consider that okay.

3. Experiences, not things. The money I spend on things should instead be going directly to experiences. A nice dining experience, travel, adventure. I know it'll be worth it in the end, so why not? This also takes a bit of a mental change. Instead of thinking, "oh man I could have bought a puffer jacket for the price of this meal," I need to look at a puffer jacket and think, "oh man, I could have such a nice meal for the price of this jacket."

It'll be hard, especially with having this blog, but I intend to do it. Keep me accountable, and let me know if you guys have had any thoughts of becoming more minimalistic yourself. Honestly, I think it's healthy, and something that can help free the mind to do more than just care about stuff.