Thrive in Chapter Five, Embrace Your Journey

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I Failed at the Project 333 Minimalist Challenge, But Still Won

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My Project 333 fail is still a win

In October I posted my acceptance to the Project 333: Minimalist Wardrobe Challenge. 

Project 333  is a minimalist wardrobe challenge that invites you to live for three months with only 33 items of clothing and accessories. It was invented by Courtney Carver after she suffered a life-changing illness that prompted her to simplify and make the most of her life. The project was started under the premise that you can remove a significant amount of stress from your life simply by reducing the number of items in your closet.  

The Rules

  • Choose 33 items of clothing, accessories, jewelry, outerwear and shoes.  Box up the remainder, seal it and put it out of sight for three months. (Remember that it should be a wardrobe that you can live, work and play in.  It is not intended for suffering — if items don’t fit or are in poor condition, replace them so the items in your closet are all items you enjoy and feel good about).
  • Exceptions that are not counted as part of the 33 items – wedding ring or another sentimental piece of jewelry that you never take off, underwear, sleep wear, in-home lounge wear,  and workout clothing.

Laundry and over-stuffed closets have always been an issue for me.  A burden that weighed heavily on my shoulders that never seemed to have an end in sight. I welcomed the challenge and spent an afternoon removing items from my closet.  What I placed back into the closet was significantly reduced and felt organized. The open spaces instantly gave me a newfound energy.  I knew I was onto something good.

Sometimes the only way to figure out what is really important is to get rid of everything that isn’t.

Prior to this wardrobe challenge I became a fan of the KonMari method through Marie Kondo’s book  The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up so I have been sorting and organizing for awhile now.  

The KonMari method has increased in popularity since the 2019 Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. 

KonMari asks you to a) commit to tidying up, b) imagine your ideal life, c) finish letting go of what no longer serves you, d) tidy up by category, e) follow a specific order, and f) asking what sparks joy.

People are drawn to KonMari, not just for de-cluttering skills, but as a philosophy for practicing mindfulness and optimism.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” – Marie Kondo

I know that I do not want to live my life cleaning and overwhelmed with the burden of stuff.  In fact, the less I need… the better I feel and the more I actually do.  

The KonMari method in itself can be a game changer but it does not set a limit — only that you keep items that spark joy.  There are also helpful techniques as how to fold and store items to use space more efficiently. This is great and I love looking at my neatly folded t-shirts. But as I looked at them I asked myself if I really needed 10 of very similar shades. 

No, I don’t!

I use the KonMari method and store most of my clothing upright in bins.  But, also incorporated the limited quantity of Project 333.  As such, more space opened up and I realized how much I like the openness. It makes me feel so much lighter. 

Project 333


Often people view minimalism as suffering, but for me it’s not about restricting as much as it is about choosing what matters, what is just a distraction from that, and then making space for what is actually meaningful.

My Project 333 November 1-February 1st Experiment:

The Fail:

#1 – If you include coats, shoes, purses and jewelry — 33 items is really not much!  Living in Michigan with wicked winters, I need a few more items.  First, coats — I need a coat that is dressy, sporty, casual and some of different warmth.  I decided this was still okay.  I also need more boots and shoes. Snow boots and dressy boots — both in black and brown, as well as, casual shoes in black and brown plus dress shoes and running shoes.  I also like to have one brown purse and one black purse depending on outfits.  So, I made those exempt items and didn’t count them.  But, they were limited — one of each.  So, while it was technically a fail — I decided I still felt good about it and it reminded me of being “just right” by finding Lagom, the Swedish concept of having neither too little or too much.

The Wins: 

#1 – The fewer things I own, the fewer things I have to clean. This was huge. Less clothes means less laundry to wash, fold and put away.  Aside from the visual satisfaction of clean closets, the time spent washing and putting away clothes was significantly reduced — freeing me up to explore other experiences I enjoy.  I could do all of my laundry sorted by colors in three loads.  Instead of daily, I moved my laundry day to Sunday afternoon and it took no time at all.  This meant more week night nature walks, time for art, and family games.

#2 – It is so much better having extra time on my hands and money in my pocket than extra stuff in my closet.  When I think about the amount of money that has been spent on all those old items I barely used or wanted, it was an awakening.  More money in my pocket means more vacations I can take and memories to make.  Having less is great, but wanting less is even better.  Memories take up no physical space but fill the heart like no item could.

#3 – I found that since I only kept items that sparked joy I felt good with everything I wore, which actually increased my confidence.  In the past, the laundry would pile up and I’d be stuck wearing my B or C clothing choices.  But, when all items are on the A list, it actually makes me feel more polished and  put together.  

#4 –  I did accumulate a few fleece sweaters as gifts at Christmas, but found that there were several tops I didn’t wear at all.  Those were easily swapped out.  I never opened the sealed box so I decided after the three months it was safe to donate.  


Failing at the technical rules of Project 333 isn’t a total loss.  I have a few extra items but I consider my experiment a win. I have found Lagom  and I’m never going back. 

Could you live with only 33 items? What’s you amount for Lagom?  Are you de-cluttering with KonMari?  Please comment and share below:


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2 Replies to “I Failed at the Project 333 Minimalist Challenge, But Still Won”

  1. Don’t think I can do the 333, but definitely need to pair down. I like the saying “the fewer things I own, the fewer things I have to clean”. So true!


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