I discovered minimalism by accident when I figured out that traveling is tons more fun with just a backpack. Then my husband and I realized the same principle applies to our “regular” life as well, so when we moved recently, we brought less than half of our stuff. One of our guiding lights in this process has been Joshua Becker.
We were fortunate enough to meet Joshua at SXSW this year and visit again on our recent trip to Portland. I’ve been inspired by how he’s united his family in escaping the typical consumer treadmill. But I was astounded to learn that he’s built his platform and written a best-selling book – all while serving his community as a full-time pastor. Today, I’m thrilled to share his powerful insights and wisdom.
How do you define success?
For me, I define success in terms of contribution. In my parenting, I am most successful when I intentionally invest myself and contribute to the development and maturity of my children. In my marriage, I am most successful when I live selflessly for the benefit and well-being of my wife. In my spirituality, I am most successful when I live my life for others.
In my work, I try to define success as the same. If I can offer contribution and value to others, I am successful. I find this definition of success to be far more motivating than selfish pursuits.
Was there a time when you had a different definition? What changed that?
Tough question. I would like to argue “no.” I would like to argue that I have always lived for the sake of others. But in reality, that’s probably not true… and probably isn’t even as true today as I’d like it to be.
Five years ago, we embraced living a minimalist lifestyle. While not as minimalist as some, the decision certainly opened the door for us to remove ourselves from our previous lives of excessive consumption—not that we lived in extravagance by any measure, but we still lived as consumers in our middle-class lifestyle.
The process of removing our unneeded possessions and consumerism brought newfound opportunity and intentionality to our lives. It forced us to recognize some of the mistruths and selfish motivations behind the use of our money and time. As a result, it helped us redefine our truest goals and values. And it certainly helped shape our definition of success as well.
Can you describe a typical day in your life?
Sure. I usually wake up between 5:30-6:00 and try to write before doing anything else. Deadlines are helpful, but so is the discipline of just sitting yourself down.
At 7:00, my kids get up and we all get ready for the day. I get ready for work. They get ready for school. I currently work at Journey Church in Peoria, Arizona, and spend 50 hours/week pastoring. I work in the office Monday-Thursday and church on Sunday mornings. I am “off” (not in the office) on Fridays and Saturdays.
I tend to get home around 4:30 each afternoon to relax, play with my kids, or help with their homework. I also cook dinner twice a week. Then, we eat as a family and clean the kitchen afterwards. Late evenings are spent relaxing or at a few evening commitments (small groups, athletic practices). My kids go to bed at 9pm.
Late evenings are spent with my wife or working on writing/blogging projects if deadlines are looming.
Peppered throughout the day is interaction with social networking and e-mail related to Becoming Minimalist. My work is very flexible and understanding in that regard.
Do you have any particular habits or systems that you feel are essential to your success?
I value routine. Waking up at the same time, social media at the same time, even getting to bed at the same time is helpful. I’m not inflexible with these things, I just find them helpful.
I have learned to appreciate the patterns of my day and when I am at my best. I know that I am more creative in the morning and tend to leave busy-work activities for the afternoons. I am pretty stringent about this—it’s probably the most essential of my habits.
And I like drinking coffee while I write if that counts.
Are there any habits you’re working to develop next?
My discipline of running is one that is fairly inconsistent. My life works more efficient and more joyful when I run 3-4 times a week. I am also far more productive. But for some reason, it is a habit that seems to come and go… I’d blame my current downturn on the Phoenix weather, but that’s just making excuses. It is something that I need to constantly keep a priority in my life.
I have also been tinkering/testing out the idea of a far-more intentional diet. We eat healthy as a family. But I’d like to try some more intentional experiments. For example, I’d really like to remove dairy, gluten, and/or processed sugar from my diet for a long enough period of time to really test out its benefits and/or drawbacks on my physical body. That’s something I’d really like to develop in the near future.
Joshua Becker and his family are on a mission to help people live more by owning less. Click here to read their story at Becoming Minimalist. If you’d like to hear more about Joshua’s journey, listen in to his recent interview on the Entrepreneur on Fire Podcast.