Will that new coffee table you're thinking of buying really add value to your life? What about the leather coat in the closet you haven't worn in three years, or that box of books in the spare bedroom? What about the spare bedroom itself?
These are the sort of questions Montana-based writing partners Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, known as The Minimalists, commonly ask their readers to ask themselves.
In 2010, the lifelong friends abandoned the bulk of their possessions (and later, their six-figure corporate gigs) and founded TheMinimalists.com, where they blog about the philosophy that paring down opens up a clearer path to more time, more financial stability and a more “intentional” existence. Readership on the site ballooned to more than 2 million visitors over the past year.
They will kick off their 100-city book tour for their new memoir, “Everything That Remains,” with a free appearance Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Mojo Books and Music in Tampa.
“On the surface I was very successful. I was the youngest director in my company's history, I was making a lot of money and I had a basement and a three-bedroom house with all this stuff in it,” Millburn recalled of his pre-minimalism life where he, ironically, oversaw hundreds of retail stores. “I was completely unhappy, but I kept accumulating stuff thinking some day I'd cross that finish line and be happy.”
Millburn hit a particularly low point four years ago when his mother passed away and his marriage ended in the same month. Shortly after, he says, is when he stumbled upon the philosophy of minimalism online. Intrigued, he decided to try it.
Millburn estimates he got rid of 95 percent of his possessions over the following months, bringing him a clarity he'd never experienced. He eventually left his job to pursue writing, lost 80 pounds and says he could finally see the things that were most important.
When Nicodemus noticed his friend's newfound happiness he decided to try it, too, taking it a step further.
“I helped him pack up everything in his three-bedroom condo as if he was moving,” Millburn said. “He spent the next three weeks unpacking only the items he needed, and at the end, 80 percent of his stuff was still in boxes stacked to the ceiling, unaccessed.”
He immediately went to work selling or donating all of it.
“Two months later his whole perspective had changed, and he said, 'we should find a way to tell other people about this,' “ Millburn said.
Millburn says that Friday's event will be a fun, welcoming atmosphere for anyone who attends. Nicodemus will tell their personal story and Millburn will read from the new book, followed by a long-form question-and-answer session.
“We don't ask anyone to buy anything — that would be against our message I think, but if you think the book adds value to your life, we'll have it there to buy. When you're done with it, minimize it, give it away to someone,” Millburn said.
The hugs that Millburn and Nicodemus share with fans after their talk will, as always, be free, Millburn said.