Minimalism: How to Travel the World Four Hour Work Week Style
New York, March 2012
I'd just returned from my first solo trip abroad. After two weeks in the Icelandic mountains, super-jeeping to the top of volcanoes and ice climbing on glaciers that were literally melting in front of my eyes, it was back to the grind…
My rent just got raised to $3500/month on my 39th floor Wall Street apartment.
Enough was enough…
The fast paced, stressful, unhealthy life of New York city was too much - life revolved around bars, the ego-filled NYC startup scene, and all my friends were caught up chasing women or the dollar.
Could I really have another empty conversation over a $14 Tribeca cocktail? Do I care to listen to my friend’s schemes to buy a Rolex or what celebrity attended last night’s party?
I couldn’t go on like this.
How was I supposed to go back to society’s petty bullshit?
I had my middle finger up to society and decided to set out to travel the world.
Minimalism: Welcome to My Life
I invite you to think about everything around you as noise.
Yes, that’s right - mental stimulation, if not watched carefully, will distract you from what’s really important in life.
Look around. Unless you are sitting in nature right now, everything around you is probably man made with the intention of profit. Companies are fighting for your attention and your wallets. Instead of thinking about and spending money on what really matters, we are constantly distracted.
You could start that side hustle or save money for your next trip, but instead you just bought another pair of shoes.
Do you even like the people you are trying to impress with those shoes?
It’s time to purge!
It might hurt at first, but throwing stuff out feels good. You know the expression “cleaning out your closets”? It’s true, you will feel mentally and physically lighter when you are done with your first exercise in minimalism.
Don’t believe me? Go find that old sweatshirt that reminds you of a past relationship and see what happens when you finally part with it.
Yes, it’s okay to cry.
If you read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, you’ll even hear how her clients are often physically sick after purging their personal items.
Talk about detox!
All of your material possessions are stored in your subconscious.
Your brain physically categorizes everything like files in a computer. How do you think it knows where that sweater you’ve been saving since 10th grade is?
That information needs to be held somewhere. Just like a computer, when you delete information, you free up space on your hard drive, aka free up mental energy.
With a cleaner workspace you’ll be able to do more focused work because you literally are removing the distractions from your environment.
Want a look into someone’s subconscious? Look at their bedroom.
Messy room = messy mind.
Once you get used to the feeling of a decluttered work space or living space, you’ll never want to go back. Just wait until you see how much better you sleep in a clean bedroom.
But, I can't...
Throw it out! I know it hurts to let things go…but maybe you are ready for Marie Kondo’s second book: Spark Joy. The basic premise - only posses things that spark joy in your life.
I’ve been using this principle for years when shopping; if I don’t absolutely love it, then why would I spend my hard earned money on it?
This simple rule has allowed me to create a small wardrobe of only things I love.
I even fondly remember loading my mattress in New York into the freight elevator and telling the doorman to leave it on the curb…I was about to embark on the greatest adventure of my life.
Now, do I expect you to throw out all your stuff and move to Buenos Aires as Tim Ferriss romanticizes about in The Four Hour Work Week? Of course not.
During this series you’ll see that I will provide radical ideas, but it is up to you on how radically to take them. Wherever you are on your journey towards minimalism is fine with me.
You don’t have to live out of a backpack for the next five years like I did, but what I do ask is that you keep an open mind.
Free up physical and mental space to invite new things into your life.
These new things should be the ones you consciously decide to let into your life and they don’t necessarily have to be material possessions. Why not clear up space on your calendar and only do the things you love?
This practice can make room for new hobbies, new relationships, and new adventures!
Time and money are our two most precious assets; use them wisely.
Check out the full episode here:
Want more on minimalism?
Read how I took minimalism too far in “Why Minimalism Doesn’t Work and What to Do About It”.
Listen to my interview with professional minimalist Colin Wright of Exile Lifestyle in my podcast What’s The Point of Money? Lifestyle and Minimalism Explained.
Check out Under30Experiences Team Member and Live Different Podcast Producer Eric Aguirre’s ebook on Minimalism.
My Minimalism Mentors:
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus