Minimalism & Should VS. Want

I used to feel more overwhelmed by life.

So many to-dos and responsibilities. Not enough joy. I'm better now at finding joy in most things, but not perfect. 

I realized many of my to-dos and responsibilities were either related to physical objects I owned or things I thought I should do, not things I wanted to do. 

This post focuses on "decluttering" my actions and obligations.


I didn’t have the time or energy to do the things I wanted to do. Actually, I’m not sure I even knew what I wanted to do because I didn’t have (make) the time to really think about it. 

I thought I should do:

  1. Do well in high school
  2. Get into college for something I had an interest in (started in Music Industry, switched to Elementary Ed. freshman year)
  3. Do well in college
  4. Do some internships and get some jobs here and there related or not related to my major
  5. Get a job that pays well and has benefits

I don’t regret doing the jobs and internships. I did learn a lot. I didn’t really enjoy them though and I thought I had to do them to show people I was a hard worker and that I was good at it. I was afraid to ask questions most of the time and that sometimes lead to making mistakes. I didn’t take a look at what my alternatives were to doing these types of jobs. I didn’t even really think about what it meant that I didn’t like them. I just thought that I needed to do a good job so that I could learn a lot and get a better job after I graduated. I thought I would eventually enjoy it enough and that would be life.

Had I reflected on my experiences, my thoughts, my feelings, my values, I might have come up with a more suitable plan. 

I was just going through the motions of life as I thought I should because:

  1. I’m lucky to have a pretty comfortable and safe life  
  2. I was lucky enough to get to go to college 
  3. I picked a major I thought I wanted to pursue because it would pay enough, I would be making a difference, and it was socially accepted
  4. People I looked up to said to get a good job that takes care of you and you’ll have summers off and you can do what you want then and you can travel and marry another teacher and you can be home with your kids in the summer!

All of these things about teaching can be true, of course. However, people who give advice like this don’t necessarily know what’s best for YOU. For example, 1.) I don’t know if getting married is for me. 2.) I’m 75% sure having kids isn’t for me. 3.) I appreciate education but this system we have is wrong and I’m not really up to fixing it when there is other work to be done that I’m more excited about. 

There’s some kind of saying that I can't recall about how you can tell the people who are doing what they’re doing for others by the disgruntled look on their faces. I think this means that if you’re doing something solely for someone else, and it doesn’t serve you, you’re not going to be happy. 

I don't think a world full of martyrs would be a better, happier, healthier world. To emit a positive energy in this world, it’s important to take care of yourself. The healthier and happier you are, the better you can serve others. It’s doing it because you want to do it rather than because you have to or think you should. 

Some of these people giving me advice were stuck in a fear and/or scarcity mentality rather than living from a perspective of limitless opportunities and abundance. Get the education so you can get the money and be safe. There’s plenty of room for everyone to be their authentic selves. This doesn’t mean everyone is going to make a living off of what they love doing most. As Elizabeth Gilbert (Big Magic & Eat, Pray, Love) advocates, it’s not fair to put such pressure on what you love to pay the bills. Do what you love while paying the bills in another way and eventually, maybe, one day it will sustain you. But maybe not, and that has to be ok. The key is finding other things you enjoy that you can do to pay the bills. 

I don’t regret the way things have worked out because I’m here now, living with more intention and serving myself while serving others. I’m learning every day more about the world and more about myself. 

Part of minimalism, for me, is cutting out the things that I don’t want to do. This has applied mostly to employment, but it also applies to social invitations. It allows me more time to learn about life, about myself, and more time to focus on building the life I'm aiming for while working at a job I enjoy. 

Here is a video I made about my experience walking away from a more typical 9 to 5 type job. 

I’ll have another post soon about how physical things relate to minimalism process. 

What things have you done because you thought you should despite not wanting to?