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The 5 Phases of Minimalism

Jul 16, 2023

Read time: 6.5 minutes

Everyone’s growth in life comes in phases.

That’s pretty obvious when you consider the typical stepping stones of life:

  • Infancy
  • Early Childhood
  • School Age
  • Transition to Adulthood
  • Adulthood
  • Aging

Of course, life develops in phases.

But growth phases can be harder to consider when we narrow our focus to one specific area, such as minimalism.

It’s too easy to get lost in the expectations of living with less, trying to “eliminate everything non-essential.”

And before you know it, you’re addicted to chasing less, decluttering more than necessary for the phase your journey is in.

But to benefit from minimalism, it’s important to spend your time and energy on the appropriate task for your phase.

And if you can do that, you exponentially increase your chances of success.

The 5 Phases of Minimalism

There are 5 phases or “stages” of minimalism.

And each phase comes with its own unique challenges and requirements.

Today, I want you to understand the different phases so you can zoom out, recognize where you are, and take the appropriate action.

Phase 1: Curiosity

Discovering the lifestyle of minimalism and the community behind it fosters excitement and curiosity.

You’re the new kid on the block, and you’re immersing yourself in the benefits minimalism can have on your life.

This means you’re watching videos and reading books about decluttering.

You are deeply thinking about aspects of your own life you want to change.

And taking mental notes on the best practices you hear about.

This first phase is where you experience the most noticeable change in your mindset and perspective toward what is important in life—piquing your curiosity even more.

Phase 2: Declutter

When you get pumped up with excitement (i.e., your curiosity meter is maxed out), you enter phase two, where you start decluttering.

It’s nerve-wracking as heck, but your excitement carries you over the initial hurdle of getting started.

You learn so much about yourself and your consumption habits at this stage.

And I’d argue this phase is where 95% of people give up and quit.

Why? Massive overwhelm and lack of clarity.

So here are three simple tips for surviving:

  • Identify your core values: When you understand what you value, focusing on what matters to you becomes easier. This means you know with all certainty who you are and what’s important to you. This gives you a filter and framework to run your decluttering decisions through.
  • Ignore the aesthetics: Social media is a free resource for minimalism and decluttering advice, but at the same time, the “minimalist aesthetic” plastered everywhere can be intimidating. So please ignore it. Use the version of minimalism you see online as inspiration, not the template.
  • Develop structure and systems: The one thing you don’t want to do is dive into your decluttering journey head first without a structure or action plan to help you navigate your clutter. Regardless of how eager and excited you are to start letting go, doing this will result in more overwhelm than necessary and likely lead to quitting.

Phase 3: Build Systems

Think of systems as processes that you can follow to produce results while minimizing overwhelm.

Here’s where the action plan for your minimalism journey begins to form.

Document your systems: Every item you find yourself decluttering can be linked to a system.

Start by highlighting your decluttering projects and tasks in a document.

When it’s time to take action (or collaborate with others) on those to-dos, you’ll have a clear roadmap to follow. No more feeling overwhelmed with what to do or when.

My decluttering system: For example, I have a system for identifying decluttering projects and linking them to values-based goals while simultaneously breaking them down into individual tasks. I’ll never feel overwhelmed when decluttering because it’s documented in my clarity action plan.

Phase 4: Work Focused

Once you have systems in place, it’s much easier to maintain a clutter-free life and environment long-term and elevate the priority of other key aspects of life.

My next recommendation is to start focusing on your work. By this point, you should have less clutter and more clarity physically, mentally, and financially (with consistent maintenance).

If you’ve been contemplating the role of work in your life, it could be a great time to explore your options.

Learn a new skill that could make you more valuable to a company or help you start a side project and build your own business.

I’m currently in phase four, and here are some examples of how I’m shifting the role of work in my life right now:

  • Building a minimalist business: I’m applying the principles I learned from minimalism to the process of solopreneurship. I want my business and my work to be a blessing and not a burden.
  • Implementing a values-first strategy: I’ve committed to not allowing a come-up to come before my character. Sometimes that means growth is slower, but it’s much more rewarding when growth happens.
  • Community building: Since social media is crowded and noisy, I’m creating a community of like-minded people striving toward the same vision—The Clarity Club.

Instead of relying so heavily on other sources for my livelihood, I’m creating a life where I have more control and say so by actively investing in meaningful work.

Phase 5: Generational Wealth

The last phase is all about building wealth and doing things that change your family’s tree for generations to come.

I haven’t fully reached this phase yet, so I can’t speak on it as intelligently as the first four phases. But here’s how I might think about it.

There are four ways to view generational wealth:

Time Wealth: If your life is clutter-free, you’re prioritizing your values, and you’re doing meaningful work on your terms, you have a wealth of time.

Every human on this planet is given 24 hours a day to spend. On average, 7-8 of those hours are spent sleeping. That means time is the most valuable asset we have.

Spending your available time doing things that matter, with the people who matter, makes a difference.

Experience Wealth: More available time to spend on what matters equals more experiences gained.

Take your partner on that dream vacation, or treat them to a brunch date, every Tuesday just because.

Be present. Build more memories with your kids rather than defaulting to them remembering how much you worked.

Experiences add so much value to your life. And the more experiences you gain, the wealthier you become.

Monetary Wealth: With the right vision, tools, and action plan, your work can be the first stepping stone to creating multiple streams of income.

Here’s a new perspective for you to think about:

If you can talk about any topic for 30 minutes, you can productize yourself.

Leverage the knowledge and skills you already have to build additional streams of income. Live off one and use the others to invest and build monetary wealth for your family.

Knowledge Wealth: My ultimate goal is to pass on the knowledge I’ve acquired in life and business—through the lens of minimalism—to my son. So that he can continue to build upon what I’ve created and pass his knowledge on to his family and so on.

By pushing the first domino, I want to create a chain reaction—a wealth of knowledge that can be passed on and added to for generations.

Ultimately, I’ll learn more about this phase when I get there someday. And, of course, you’ll hear about it when I get there too.

In Summary

I think about my minimalism journey in terms of years instead of days decluttering.

Keep in mind that each of these phases takes time.

Yes, my journey has moved faster than I anticipated. But that doesn’t mean yours will (or should). And that’s okay.

Run your race at your own pace.

Exercise patience, make wise decisions, and put in the effort daily.

And the biggest differentiator?

Clarity. A willingness and determination to prioritize the vision you have for your life.

And not get distracted by what everyone else is doing.

Remember, the ultimate goal is less clutter and more clarity.

Are you ready to go all the way?

I hope you are.

⇨ This week’s action step: Read back through this issue and figure out where you’re at. Find the relevant suggestions I laid out and choose just one to move forward with this week.

Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help you:

If you’re looking for clarity and traction on your journey, I’d recommend starting with an affordable course:

⇨ The Decluttering Starter Kit: Skip the overwhelm and jumpstart your decluttering journey. This comprehensive course will teach and guide you through the system I used to transform my life from clutter to clarity. Get access here.



Whenever you’re ready, here’s how I can help:

1. The Declutter Kit: The most straightforward way to approach decluttering. I share 8+ years of expertise, proven methods, and actionable strategies. This course will help you save time, conquer your clutter, and prioritize your values.

2. Get my Core Values Worksheet: Step-by-step guide to help you identify your values (free).

Want to talk about collaborating? Have a question or feedback?

Get in touch

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