You do not have to be a minimalist to enjoy the perks of minimalism.


In fact, minimalism is a pretty scary journey.

According to The Business Times Singapore, Singapore ranks fourth worldwide for the number of times the word “minimalism” is searched on Google. No, this piece is not about the benefits of minimalism, but three takeaways as to what you can expect as you walk down the path less traveled.

I am the founder of Minimalism in Singapore and the recent influx of members made me reflect on why I started my journey and more importantly, why did all these people choose to join this community?

This is question number three of our group entry survey – “Why do you want to join our group?”

Most of the answers were one liners of, “I want to live a simpler and happier life.”

Having practised minimalism for four years and counting, these are my lessons in finding happiness.

Takeaway 1: Minimalism will bring you chaos.

When I forayed into the depths of minimalism, I had the preconceived idea of having less clutter would naturally transform me into a happier person with less worry. Nope. Clearing out my clutter was easy, living with the so-called clutter of another is a different story. Most of us in Singapore live with family or friends, and usually not alone.

Clearing your clutter poses space for another to occupy it. This is true in cases where others do not share the same outlook as you. You are unable to declutter their items and frustration sets in.

In other circumstances, social gatherings, dating and living with your partner poses problems when you do not wish to receive gifts, eat certain food to keep within budget or you simply cannot agree on a new purchase.

The chaos of social relationships will make you face what would make you happy and what would make others happy. Choose wisely.

Takeaway 2: Minimalism brought me identity.

I loathe labels. Similarly, most minimalist themed shops portray a similar idea. Muji is a prime example of a label that chooses to be “label free”. Another would be Brandless, an online store where everything is $3.

Minimalism is an abstract lifestyle where there are no hard and fast rules except for two.

  1. Keep things simple.
  2. Love people, use things. (Because the opposite never works.)

Being label free also means that you are free to create who you are. The basis of minimalism is to “cut the bullsh*t”. Be clear and defined towards where you are heading for the next 5 to 10 years. You would need a set of values to form your foundation. Mine are: Practicality, Wisdom and Love.

I do not associate myself to those labels, but I associate my thoughts to those three value pillars.

When you have defined your values, the lessons that will come forth will be painful yet so valuable. Why painful? Because you will need to know when to say no and saying no is a brave word in society.

I would recommend starting a blog where at least a few others can read to keep accountability as well as to track your system of following your values. The power of accountability and setting a system to lead you to where you want to be can be a very strong tool that would put your life in fast forward.

“Losers have goals and winners have systems.” – Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert comics.

Takeaway 3: Plan for your legacy.

Minimalism is about the freedom of choice.

“Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect.”, Eleanor Roosevelt

Most Singaporeans are cocooned in our nanny state of security and convenience. It is so easy to point the finger to anyone but yourself when you fail in life. However, after the age of 25, where you are now is the consequence of the choices you have made.

If you are struggling to find happiness and you hope that minimalism will cure that pain – you’re in for a rude awakening.

Minimalism will put you on track with more choices, a clearer path towards personal growth and the type of life you want to live. However, to stay on this path will bring you challenges.

Minimalism will hone your strength to have internal validation and the wisdom to ignore social pressures.

Minimalism will also bring you tons of self discipline when you follow your own set of rules. You will find growth in rules you have set for yourself, and learn more when you fall off the band wagon.

To quote Lao Tzu, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

If you are looking for happiness and freedom, start taking responsibility. See previous takeaway on knowing how to start curating choices in life.

My promise: It is one step closer to self actualisation.

Maybe minimalism is not for you.

Maybe you are seeking happiness, and it could lie in another lifestyle choice.

However, I urge any curious souls to try out a 30 day minimalism challenge, and I promise that you will be able to gain more insight about yourself.

My first challenge to you is to make your bed in the morning for 21 days.

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Singaporeans are incapable of sharing, just like anyone else.

bike roses.jpg

I recently shared a Straits Times article in my group, Minimalism In Singapore, with the headline “Shared services being abused: Why can’t we just share?”.

As someone leading the minimalist lifestyle movement in Singapore, the community understands and embrace the perks of being “asset light”. This also means that we wish to worry less about ownership of stuff and to enjoy the experience as we use it. This idea is not esoteric to minimalists, but a commercialized concept that has shifted the product economy into a relationship economy. Products are now seen as services, service is now doubling as relationship creation.

The lifestyle economy is booming and we want the full experience without the commitment.

The article starts off with “Some Singaporeans just cannot share things, it seems.” And continues with a barrage of examples of how Singaporeans are abusing items within the shared economy. However, is it just a problem based in Singapore or is it a global phenomenon?

These are some of the comments made by the members of the minimalism community.

“While traveling in Hualien, Taiwan, I saw shop owners kick oBikes into deep drains. Locals told us that there are people who were vindictive of China-owned businesses.”

“Tragedy of the commons. More prevalent in some culture than in others. My simple guess is that in Japan, the mass already have this civic mindset. Whereas in Singapore and many other countries, the mass do not have (or a lesser degree) this civic consciousness. My guess is education from young and a 360 deg education, not just on 1 aspect. 360 deg e.g. Caring for our elderly instead of expecting others to do it, caring for our shared environment, shared resource etc. 1 possible explanation why Japan can do it is possibly because of homogeneous society whereas ours is a society with different races, religion, different culture.”

“Last week I walked downstairs and unlock a Mobike only to find out that someone has chained it into another bike…”

“Also it depends on which culture you compare Singapore to. Japan has very strong civic education from a young age — 3 year old kids learn to wash their dirty plates, clean classroom, take care of their classmates, etc. But if you compare with countries like Vietnam (where I’m from) then Singapore is actually a very civic minded society. In Vietnam I can’t even put a garbage bin outside the door without it being stolen.”

It is very easy to point the finger at fellow Singaporeans and foreigners living in our city state and accuse them of uncouth behaviour and the lack of moral and civic education. Then, continue to push the blame upon the upbringing and culture of the country.

The same blame can be placed upon any country and you will find a handful of people who behave similarly.

The root of the problem? People can’t be trusted.

The ideology of the shared economy stems from outsourcing business aspects. Quoting the Financial Times, “Many companies shifted to an asset-light model years ago — supermarkets and professional services firms sold and leased back their stores and offices, airlines started leasing rather than buying aircraft, and big tech groups such as Apple hired other companies, most notably Foxconn, to make iPhones.”

It is logical, efficient and overall effective when companies go asset light. This means that they have more room and speed to grow and scale their business with short term rentals and not worry about asset depreciation.

As quoted above, supermarkets have gone the ecommerce and drop shipping route. Big tech firms outsource tech support to emerging markets. However, can the same be done for the mass consumer market? The abuse of shared items shadows the lack of vision put into human behaviour. We forgot to anticipate the implications when it comes to consumer behaviour.

As consumers go asset light, they disregard the product as a physical asset and view it as a service. They are paying for the service the company provides, not the value the item creates.

This can be reflected in the ongoing war of promo codes given out by Grab and Uber as well as the tons of influencers hawking products all over social media. The shared bicycle economy is also facing a similar price war. In conclusion, the lowest priced commodity ends up the winner, the start up and venture capitalists, the loser. Branding has no play here expect to wave a flag as the lowest priced brand, as ownership is no longer in the equation.

From the lack of an ownership perspective, we put price points and time usage over quality and safety. This can be seen from the lack of care of public goods, from washing machines to bicycles. In fact, we also bring our personal biases towards certain countries or companies towards the items. We stopped caring about the real value an object brings and we care about how much mileage we can get out of a shared good in a condensed time period.

What can be done?

Personally, I feel that moving towards a shared economy would negatively impact society as it creates apathy and lack of responsibility in individuals. However, a larger ticket items should be promoted within the shared economy, especially luxury items. The movement towards the lifestyle economy, the affordable luxury and using imagery for branding would increase experiential usage of luxury items for a permitted loan time. Consumers today are smart and they want less commitment, luxury and prestige would need to integrate with the concept of sharing to be able to touch more bases if they wish to reach more users and buyers.

The shared economy has its value, but we need to stick to the core belief that once an item is deemed a public good, no one can be trusted to treat it with as much respect as an owned commodity.



An Interview with Singapore’s Marie Kondo.

As millennials, we have adopted a drastically different mindset of our parents. As minimalist millennials, we are probably the most ungrateful bunch of humans. We decided to walk away.

We walked away from the hoarding, the keeping of sentimential items, the lack of storage spaces. Instead, we store everything in something intangible – the Cloud.

Just last month, while my dad was driving, he mentioned that I should purchase a really expensive external hard drive for my documents instead of relying on this “cloud” thing that does not really exist. Or does it? Perhaps that is why us minimalist millennials tend to be more emotionally detached to items. Out of sight, out of mind.

One stark difference between Baby Boomers and Millennials is definitely our mindset.

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers grew up in an environment of scarcity. Between 1964 to 1984, the world was still recovering from The Great Depression, World War 2 and various crises that came in waves. Not to mention, such major disruptions lead to the disruptions of basic needs such as necessities and education. Life was hard, you never know when your next toy, food or book were to come by.

That bred the instinct of hoarding. The imaginary frugality is acceptable when fast fashion was not as fast as Amazon drones. However, when we can shop with just a few clicks and a credit card, the heap of “stuff” adds up to something else.

This week, I have interviewed a young professional millennial, Kris Tan of The Declutter Professionals. A financial consultant by trade and a professional “declutter-er” by passion.

This “Declutter Entrepreneur” helps the average Singaporean family to declutter their home when sentiments stand in the way.

An Interview With Singapore's Marie Kondo

According to The Vulcan Post, you share the same philosophy as Marie Kondo where “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life”. Would that be accurate?

I would prefer to put it across as “the clutter we bring into our lives affects our mind and reflects on how we go through life”. I find our physical clutter also negatively affects how we process tasks. Having an uncluttered home promotes well being and allows an organized mind to decrease decision fatigue.

Besides television shows and Marie Kondo’s recent book phenomenon, are there any other personal factors that got you interested in decluttering?

I was born with a sensitive nose and skin allergy. A lifetime of constant exposure to dust made my life debilitating. The accumulated dirt affected the quality of my work and play whenever my nose and skin starts to act up.

My frustration led me to realize that if I have less stuff, it made life easier when I have to clean my room and living spaces on a daily basis. The clean spaces motivates me to keep them clean so that my house work load is decreased.

Do you draw on any blogs, website and mentors for help and inspiration?

I was a fan of Clean house, an American reality show.

What was the greatest problem you saw in the market that inspired you to start this business?

I realised many people around me struggled with getting rid of items and organizing stuff, even when it is bringing them more stress than joy. It’s a shame when you move into a house that has been beautifully renovated and it suffocates in clutter after sometime. 

How many hours on average do you usually spend decluttering your customer’s homes?

An average session would last around 4-5 hours.

Who were your first clients?

Expats. They welcomed the idea and was used to the services. There was no need to convince them to part with their items. They just needed help to declutter together and be a source of motivation.

From your experience from decluttering homes, what is the most memorable client story and why? Has this spurred you on to continue this business?

My most memorable almost-client was a lady wanted to declutter her home but her family fiercely objected to her decision. Although she did not engage my services, I was her pillar of emotional support during the time she was fighting hard to win the battle of decluttering, against the will of her family members.

Due to the resistance from her loved ones, we were not able to proceed with the project. However, we kept in touch and I continued to give her advice and a listening ear. 

This incident has spurred me on as the beacon and driving force for my prospects and clients.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve experienced while decluttering someone’s home?

The greatest challenge would be in the resistance of letting go of items, sentimental or not. We all give meaning to the items we buy in hopes that they will fulfill a promise. The project may be compromised when certain things are not purged. Thus, I encourage my clients to come to a compromise when sorting out items into their respective categories.

Would you declutter someone’s home, knowing that the prospect is one who is hiring you is doing so on behalf of another who does know that their home will be decluttered?

There will be resistance and drama if this happens thus I will decline projects if the actual owner is unaware that the place will be decluttered. 

10.  At the end of each cleaning session, do you recommend any next steps for them to continue their simplifying journey? If so, what are a few tips you usually share with them?

Yes. I would usually suggest or highlight their habits that brought them to that state of hoarding. I will also advice on the next steps to be taken to minimize the occurrence of another hoarding or disorganized incident from happening.

For instance, I usually advice clients to not leave coins in the paper bag or plastic carrier after a purchase. It is as good as throwing money away if they are stashed away in a dusty corner.

What is your take on the Minimalism lifestyle trend in Singapore?

I think it takes time but we are slowly getting there. With self storage on the rise, we can make use of such facilities to create a balance between our homes and owned items.

What are 3 tips that you would recommend to anyone who wants to start decluttering today?

A. Start training your mindset. You need to be able to let go of your attachment to stuff.

B. Start getting support from family. It will be an uphill task if you face resistance, thus explaining why such a move is beneficial.

C. Get professional help for a start. It can be overwhelming and that’s why The Declutter Professionals is here to help you with your first hurdle.

Are there any other rates and charges (besides being at $50/h)?

I provide virtual consultation, maintenance package, proposal assessment, corporate talks and personal coaching as well. Prices are available upon request.

Where can my readers reach you? 

You may drop me an email or contact me at 98003189. Alternatively, drop me a message at my Facebook Page, Declutter sg.

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The Grass Won’t Be Greener On Either Side.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

That is the voice of reason that has been a splinter in the back of our minds, constantly shoved aside in our pursuit of better.

Our pursuit of better, better known as that endless treadmill towards your next high.

“The only time you look in your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure that they have enough.” – C.K Louis

To think that minimalism cures you of that is glaringly wrong. Minimalism constantly pushes you to declutter, repurpose and minimize your spending. Even if you try to escape the dogma of minimalist gurus, you will still come face to face with their content.

Minimalism pushes you to find your next challenge, but challenges always mean peering over that unspoken fence to hit another goal. Goals are great, but not when you think life will be greener on the other side. Goals should push you into your depths of finding your abilities and talents, not spiral you into chasing unrequited happiness. The grass on your lawn won’t be greener to you, no matter how you tend to it. Why? Because you are numb to the micro growth you invest in yourself daily. You only notice green grass when you’ve not seen it over a long period of time. That pretty lawn tour neighbour has was not grown in a day, nor does it look green to him.

We are trained to see the bullshit under our work and the fruits of labour of others.

So why chase comparisons? It’s pointless trying to beat your own subconscious.

Compare and you cease to water your lawn.

Compare and you cease to want to grow for you.

Compare and you will never get off that treadmill.


Focus, and head towards your goals.

Focus, and use your purpose to re evaluate your actions.Focus, and let your values align.

Focus, and do less.

Focus, and be yourself.

Focus, because green is not the only shade healthy grass comes in.

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Become A Minimalist Strategist in 60 seconds.

minimalist strat post

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time” – Fight Club

The scene of another human being flicking through smart screens as we impatiently wait for our coffee pods to be done is rehearsed on a daily basis. We no longer live in a world of cultivating focus, but living with an addictive focus for more.

We are in the age of excess information.

We are consuming information like a glut, while stuffing our cheeks with the latest rainbow cakes, raindrop jellies and artisan coffees to sound cool, to look cool and to die cool.

We are also in the age of social currency.

Did you know that Miss Parisian Chic is a fake illusion sold to masses? She still inspires you and me to purchase a shabby apartment in Paris, only to be extremely disappointed with that idealistic daydream when you visit Paris. The scarcity is no longer tangible. The scarcity is now in the cool factor of you. YOU and YOU.

Cliques everywhere!

What has this got to do with being a minimalist?

Information + Social Currency = You Need Roots.

Your early life model tends to look like this:

Ages 0–20: You live for school and parents

Ages 20–30: Reality hits. You realize you need to do shit with your life.

How do you do shit with your life? Understand that all you can EVER leave behind is not a million bucks, but your reputation.

After 20 years of living, whatever experiences have you gone through will shape you. The shittier the experiences, the more you all grow. After all, more shit, better plants.

From those experiences, answer these questions:

  1. What does my future self look like?
  2. What skill sets do they have?
  3. Who are these people in the world who have already achieved it?
  4. How did they get that way?
  5. From that ideal version of myself, what am I good at now?
  6. What am I bad at now?
  7. What career options do I want to explore?
  8. What skills do I have to help me get there?
  9. What are the values I hold true to?
  10. What are the things in life I value?
  11. What are the things in life I hate/dislike?
  12. Who are the people that matter to me?
  13. How can I show that I appreciate them?
  14. How can I do things that they can see that I appreciate them?
  15. How can I destress?
  16. What do I enjoy when I destress?
  17. If they are bad habits – how can I change them into good ones?
  18. Do I have friends who would support me to be a better version of myself?
  19. Do I understand why I want to be that version of myself?
  20. How can I keep on getting support to reach my goals?

These are 20 important questions to get you started to planning your next level in life.

I do this on a bi-monthly basis. I cannot promise you a photocopied version of your millionaire status self. But, I can promise you that you will understand what it means to live on your own terms.

People are constantly on the search of a happiness in others, in things, in all kinds of illusions. It is okay to search for these illusions if they serve a purpose to build you up as a person while giving out more value to the rest of your tribe.

But if you have been living a day to day life…..learn to be the strategist of your life.

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Minimalism Isn’t About Sipping Tea and Writing Blogs


The Minimalist Lifestyle has been repeatedly marketed and sold as the life where you sit by a calm body of water, sipping on your favourite hot, locally sourced beverage and writing stuff on your laptop. Oh, don’t forget the locally crafted cheap guitar to keep both your creative juices and the product cycle of your neighbourhood guitar shop alive.

Unfortunately, it is none of all that and it bought us into the micro-gig industry. The micro-gig industry was then romanticized as the laptop lifestyle. Work from anywhere with a WIFI connection and get money banked into your bank account. Sounds cool, but in reality, it’s not.

Here’s what a minimalist career looks like:

  1. An Office Location
  2. MNC hires you
  3. You sit at your desk
  4. Collect your paycheck monthly

Hey, wait a minute. That was what the minimalist lifestyle SHUNNED.

Heck yes, it shunned corporate jobs and greed and all the other negative associations of our capitalistic world. Unfortunately, it is the most minimalist career because you had one role to play – your job. You did not have to find leads, do the marketing, do ads and report insights all on your own. You just did your role.

Okay, so you feel slightly scammed. You wanted a better career, a more relaxed lifestyle and time. Loads of time.

Time is great, but so is something to fill your time with. If you are stuck in limbo – choosing between going back to a job or continue with your freelancing lifestyle. I’d say – do both.

“But……isn’t both even LESS minimalist of you and I’d have less time?”

In this day and age, everyone needs something called a personal brand. A personal brand is the minimum anyone should do and built for themselves. Get a job or a few leads, generate income and keep on building your personal brand.

A personal brand will destroy your old self through and through. But it will bring you rebirth. If you feel that you are stuck at a dead end, ashamed of attending family and social gatherings and feel like a complete failure. Read on. I was in your shoes just about 2.5 years ago.

Why you need to brand yourself and this is how things will uplift your life (according to me, experimenting on me):

  1. Stop writing CVs that do not work.
  2. Your brand anchors down your values
  3. Your values define your self worth
  4. Your self worth defines your relationships
  5. Your relationships bring you self love
  6. Self love brings you self confidence
  7. You start to build up your strengths (your niche)
  8. You attract people who can cover your weaknesses
  9. You get both job offers and start up partnerships

If you told me, 2 years ago, that I would be someone who was leading a Facebook Group of Minimalist Enthusiasts that grew organically through owned and earned media to 600++ and counting, I’d call you mad.

If you told me that my blog would be getting read and responses within a day of posting my articles, I’d blush.

Minimalism is not about sipping tea, blogging and playing a guitar. Minimalism is about paring down to the “good stuff” inside yourself, promoting it and attracting people to you. That’s true authenticity. That’s what most people seek to find and promote. However, without discarding the excess, the “good stuff” can’t emerge.

Minimalism is not about sipping locally sourced hipster coffee. Minimalism is however, about sipping from the very depths of your soul.

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I turned my goals into habits and it brought me more leads than ever.


Working at a start up is hard. Working with partners in a start up is harder. Working on your own start up is the hardest.

The number one reason why I stopped going the “self employed” route because it becomes your own sweat shop. Being self employed usually means…

You are not special because you’re scared to be.

You are cheap because you need to feed yourself.

You can’t compete because you are chronically depressed.

You can’t sell because you have no idea what the fuck you are selling.

The number two reason why I stopped going the “self employed” route because it shows that…

You refuse to put down your ego to ask someone for work.

You refuse to put down your ego to look for a mentor.

Your life is a mess.

You run your life like you run your business – no processes involved.

“If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t.” – Fight Club

So, the most frequently asked question by almost everyone in any topic is “How do I ensure I hit my goals in *insert section in life*?”

The more pertinent question is, “Have you set your sights on really achieving those goals?”

It’s not so much that we want to know how to achieve those goals. It’s usually the sense of listening to someone telling us how to makes us feel that we have somewhat worked on those goals. Even flipping through a fitness magazine or purchasing a yoga mat stimulates our basal ganglia to get us excited – but nothing ever happens after that high.

Thus, if you want to achieve your goals – make them into daily habits.

Not weekly or weekend or monthly habits. Daily. That is the only way you can get closer towards your goals.

  • Want to run a marathon by the end of the year? Exercise 15 minutes a day.
  • Want a happier relationship so that your home isn’t a minefield? Chat to your significant other every day about ideas and creating things together.
  • Want better or more business leads? Talk to 2-3 people daily about what you do or connect with new prospects and form relationships or work on your personal brand on different platforms.
  • Want to save money? Bring your own lunch and snacks to work.
  • Need to find your passion? Start something on the platform that your hobby is suited for.
  • Want more friends? Look at Eventbrite, Peatix and for events to go to.

This year, I have worked on:

  1. Career: Got laser focused on my strengths and weaknesses. Blending it down to something tactical for people to swallow and pitch my skills.
  2. Spiritual: I love being a minimalist and that seems pretty trivial. However, building a support community and talking to other daily have increase my personal branding (and self confidence) which has opened more doors to other areas of life.
  3. Family: Building better relationships with my parents have helped them let go of the helicopter parenting complex most Asian parents have.
  4. Health: Intermittent fasting daily for 15-17 hours a day + 15 minutes of intense body circuits help me make sure my blood circulation is awesome enough to keep me confident to face the day.
  5. Finances: Being creative in social outings and food choices have helped me save more than expected per month.
  6. Social: Working on communicating with friends daily and watching my interpersonal skills have brought in more friendships than I ever had in the last 5 years.

Your passion needs to drive your inner motivation to get your goals. Your goals are inherently habits to cultivate a better version of yourself.

Fake it until you make it? No.

Your daily habits aren’t fake, but they are driving you towards the better version of yourself. Are you really faking being the better version of yourself? No. Because if you turn your goals into habits, you already are a better version of yourself, every single day.


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