Intentional Living vs Minimalism: How Are They Different?

What’s the difference between intentional living vs minimalism? Believe it or not, these two lifestyles aren’t one in the same.

Minimalism and intentionality are two different philosophies that go hand in hand, especially when it comes to living a simple life. But there are a few key ideas that set them apart.

To better understand the difference between intentional living vs minimalism, let’s take a closer look at what each lifestyle involves.

What is a minimalist lifestyle?

Minimalism is the act of reclaiming your life by getting rid of the things you don’t value.

Those things aren’t limited to the physical stuff, either. They could also be responsibilities, commitments, or even relationships.

While there’s a strong focus on systematic decluttering and tidiness, the end goal isn’t to have a spotless home–it’s to free yourself from the things that don’t bring you contentment.

Additionally, minimalism exists on a spectrum.

Some people feel the only way for them to live minimally is to own a tiny house and a few dozen possessions. Others may live in a large home of carefully curated, functional items.

RELATED: Minimalism for Beginners: 10 Tips for Success


What is an intentional lifestyle?

Living intentionally is when you make deliberate choices that lead to a specific result in the future.

When you’re being intentional, it means your actions–both big and small–are working to carry you towards an outcome you desire.

That outcome could be anything from retiring early to getting eight hours of sleep a night. It also includes non-tangible outcomes like reducing daily anxiety or strengthening relationships with loved ones.

Essentially, it’s a three step process:

  • Visualize the future you want
  • Understand why you want that future
  • Plan and act in a purposeful way to make that future happen 

Some types of intentional living include low impact living, veganism, and van life.

However, you can be intentional without committing to a specific lifestyle.

Pink room with pink chair and green plant.

What’s the difference between intentional living vs minimalism?

Intentional living is about making purposeful choices that help you achieve your future goals. However, minimalism is about intentionally living with less.

In other words, minimalism is a type of intentional living.

You can live intentionally without practicing minimalism, but you can’t achieve a minimalist lifestyle without being intentional.

For example, let’s say your goal is to retire at 45. One way to achieve it is to live minimally, cut your monthly expenses, and therefore need less money to live in retirement.

But you could also go a different route–make a plan to earn more money and save it in a retirement account.

You could do this by changing careers, taking a higher-paying job, etc. And it doesn’t require you to live with less.

Either way, if you’re taking meaningful action to reach your goal each day, it’s still a way of being intentional.

RELATED: Slow Living vs Simple Living: What’s the Difference?

How are intentional living and minimalism similar?

I like to think of minimalism as a tool for helping you live intentionally.

The act of living with less means less maintenance, fewer expenses, and easier choices. And each of these savings empowers you to reach your goals.

Minimalism requires daily commitment to keep your home, time, and mind clutter-free. Without being intentional about where you live, what you buy, and how you spend your free time, you’d slide back into comfortable old habits.

In fact, people who live intentionally follow many of the same lifestyle tips for minimalists.

Which lifestyle is right for me?

There’s no reason you have to choose between intentional living vs minimalism.

Personally, I practice minimalism in certain areas of my life (like work) and not in others (like my overly-full bookshelves).

As I mentioned earlier, minimalism is just one path to being intentional. If you feel that your cluttered home is stopping you from living intentionally, give minimalism a try.

There’s no one optimal way to live your life. The important thing is that it’s a life worth living.

For more simple lifestyle tips, check out these posts:

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