A little over a year ago I decided it was time to start getting rid of some of my and my sisters extra possessions. We had been limiting the amount of new items for a while but there were several rooms full of things that I hadn’t even looked at since we moved 11 years ago. Just, hadn’t looked at. Actually, it was more like — hadn’t dealt with. A lot of this stuff had belonged to my mother before she passed away, or were ‘useful’ things from her herb shop like books and essential oils. We also had stuff from our childhood, from our grandmother, and tons of old books the family had collected.
I started going through every room and soon my cry was, ‘Why didn’t I do this years ago?’ Now, there are tons of good articles on ways to reduce clutter, but I just want to share with you a few of the things I did and why they changed my life forever. I can’t imagine going back to the way I lived before — and I’m so excited about where I’m headed next.
8 Things I Learned While Halving What I Own
- We don’t KNOW what we own. Weird but true. If you have ‘mystery boxes’ you aren’t really owning and using those things — they’re just taking up space. I had two boxes full of my grandmother’s photos but I’d never looked at them. I didn’t know about those pictures in any sense of the word. But looking through them taught me a lot about my grandmother’s life, and then I was able to keep some favorites and send the rest on to my uncle and his family — allowing others to know more too.
- We only interact with a tiny portion of what we own. Imagine for a moment that you have electric blue, glowing dust on your fingers — how many things do you touch in your home on a daily, weekly, or even monthly basis? Now imagine that gazing upon something also lights it up with blue dust — what things in your house would glow — how many pictures? And how many rooms would have nothing at all touched or seen over the course of a month? I learned that ‘storage’ (except for winter/summer clothes) doesn’t actually seem to have a point. Why are we keep up with this stuff?
- It’s much easier to let go of things in rounds. Last spring I made a list (always make lists!) of every room that I wanted to go through. Then this spring I did it again. The goal here is to let go of what you can, and then happily keep all other things till the next round. Maybe you’ll use it by then, or maybe you’ll realize that it’s not important to hold on to. The point is, the more times you return to a place, the easier it is to get rid of stuff.
- It’s fun to gift your things away. One of the downsides of hoarding/collecting/acquiring is that you can feel possessive and fearful — ‘These are MY things, and someday I’ll use them.’ When you let go of things, the opposite is true — you feel generous and trusting. The universe and you have got this and you’re not imaging that somehow a broken Nikon camera from eight years ago is all that — one day — will stand between you and starvation. So give books to your friends, give tools to your neighbors, and give everything to Good Will/charity etc. Selling off things is so much harder than giving them away — trust yourself and let it go!
- The equation ‘MORE STUFF = BETTER LIFE’ is false. I wasn’t raised to be materialistic, but we also never got rid of anything. If you were tired of having something on a shelf, it went to the closet. Cleaning the closet? Move it to the pantry. Then the garage. Our life wasn’t ‘richer’ for having more things, and we didn’t have more fun by having every room crowded by junk either.
- Making it a joyful process is a key to success. Don’t think ‘I must get rid stuff to make my life better’ . Instead, just see what you’re excited to get rid of. Everything in life works better if you happy and excited.
- Trick your mind by taking everything off the shelf/out of the closet and only putting back what you want. My sister taught me this one. For years, every square inch of her bedroom walls were covered in art — from tiny cards to giant posters. And occasionally she’d take a couple of old ones off and put a few new ones up. But it was only this year that she transformed her room into something awesome. She did the work and took every single picture off her wall. So now it was harder to put the things back on than just get rid of them. This changed her way of thinking and she threw away a lot of pictures that no longer inspired her, and re-sorted the other stuff so that similar works could be together.
- You become richer by having less. When I started getting rid of my ‘to-be-read’ books last year, it felt like a betrayal of who I was — I’m a writer, a reader. But that very first day also taught me a lesson: down on a bottom shelf, un-examined for years, was ‘Roots’. I was about to get rid of it but then I read the first pages and it ended up being one of the greatest reading experiences of my life. I realized then that I only really enjoyed the things that I saw and interacted with — I ‘got’ a book that day instead of losing the 20 I gave away. And over and over again I’ve found more peace, more rest, and more joy as I’ve given away excess items.
A year later, I look around and I can’t imagine why I had all that stuff. I didn’t use it, I didn’t need it, and the emotional weight I was attaching to old family items didn’t increase my love for the family members who had owned them.
Now I feel like I have breathing room. And with each carload I take to Good Will, I feel closer to being able to travel the world, to move cities if I wish, and to live the life of my dreams. But even if I wanted to stay right here for the next 50 years, I’d be glad to do it without sharing the space with that old, broken Nikon camera.
Try it for yourself. But be warned: you might just jump-start a revolution that reverberates throughout your entire existence. Today the pantry, tomorrow — the world!
Found on salsalabs.com
This has been a crazy time for me. I work retail and I basically just become an eating, sleeping, and retailing machine for the six weeks before Christmas. Then life gets back to normal. I’m not proud to have fallen off on my exercise and writing goals BUT I am proud of how excited I am to get back to them in the new year. I’m gonna be all right — in fact, in 2016 I plan to be spectacular.
And I’d like you to be spectacular too. You can do it. Whatever your dream is you can make a big step forward this year. It’s not easy. If it were easy you’d already have done it. But it SO possible, that’s why you’re smiling a little now, why you’re getting excited somewhere deep within your soul. The truth as I know it is that there’s a thin line, a sliver of possibility between the mediocre everyday and impossibly extraordinary — a path you can walk and — to quote Henry David Thoreau — “Meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
Found on startupvitamins.com
But if you want to change your life in a significant way, as I did last year when I went from a size 18 to a size 12 and as I hope to next year with my writing — you have to understand that you only have so much energy — mental and physical — and it’s precious. As far as I can tell, your regular life takes up 80% of your energy (work, relationships, day-to-day chores) so your success depends on guarding and focusing the other 20% on your goal.
Succeed and you’ll feel like you’re tied to a rocket blasting into the stratosphere. For these suggestions, I’m gonna to assume you already have a goal (click here if you need some planning inspiration) and just are looking for ways to move your dream into reality.
So here’s my five tips to actually freakin’ make your dreams a reality in 2016:
- See yourself as amazing. Just recently I gave a friend the wonderful book, Now, Discover Your Strengths , which encourages people to worry less about their weaknesses and instead see the greatness in their innate abilities . I know I’m awesome, but seeing myself as someone with strengths in Inclusion, Intellection, Input, Positivity, and Responsibility helps me focus on the things that set me apart and come easily to me. I know you can do great things, and you just have to believe it too. Look at your whole life, what you’ve done, what you’ve withstood, the kindness you’ve given others. Part of the book’s power is that it points out the special talents that come easily for you are the first things you overlook while saying ‘Everyone thinks that way,’ or ‘It’s nothing special.’ But you are special, and you can absolutely nail this — just go read some inspiring quotes and believe in your potential.
Found on fitgirlsdiary.com
- Don’t spend your energy on negative relationships. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I RUN, I don’t walk, I run from negative relationships. It doesn’t matter if the person meant to hurt me with their words, or absence, or choices — if I feel bad after talking or thinking about them — I move on. I’m not callous, and I don’t judge. But I don’t believe I can ‘fix’ anyone who isn’t personally asking for help (or looking for it on my blog 😉 ) or change anyone’s personality. And I’m almost sure you can’t swim to the island of your dreams with the 500lb yoke of a negative realationship around your neck. Stop trying. Step away. Give up. And remember —
Found on fbcdn-sphotos-c-a.akamaihd.net
- Realize that this is not a time for ‘normal’. From now till whenever you achieve your goal, recognize that you may be giving up a lot of free time, limiting outings with friends, working extra hard etc. And that’s okay — no one’s asking you to give up the things you enjoy forever. I gave up sugar for five months so I could be the size I’d wanted to be for 15 years — and so I could be the healthiest possible going forward. Five months is nothing in the scheme of things.
Found on etsy.com
- Hard work is a form of magic. By now I’ve come to see that gladly working hard is a rarity. I’m not sure why. Maybe parents punished you with work early on, maybe school made it boring and dumb and soul-sucking. Maybe your peers taught you that only suckers go the extra mile. Or maybe you think you’re smarter than the rest and are gonna find the ‘shortcut’ to success. I really don’t know. But man, you have got to work hard. I wish I could wave a magic ward and make you love putting in the effort, because then you’d be so far ahead of the crowd. Now, it’s never easy — and it’s only sometimes fun, but you get such amazing returns. If you like working hard, that’s great — now just make sure you aim yourself toward things that matter (I’m still working on this myself). If you don’t like work, try to work harder anyway — move faster, stay later, do the thing you’d rather not. Because your dreams are possible but they are also on the other side of a lot of dedicated practice. And as my sister Sarah, an artist, says, ‘I don’t think dreams ever come true with half-assed effort.’
Found on quotesqr.com
- A good plan + hard work + time = success. There’s really no secret to getting where you want. You already know how to do this —
- Set aside a couple of hours (hopefully somewhere alone and quiet) and write out your big goal. Then break your goal into smaller monthly goals, then weekly goals. If your goal requires several points (i.e. go to Ireland requires money, passports, time off etc) make sure each of these sub-goals gets broken down too. Note: Actually writing them out is essential (don’t just think about them).
- Work hard. Push yourself to do a bit more than you feel comfortable doing (i.e. 12 sit ups instead of 10). Do something every day toward your goal. Imagine you’re already world-class — how would you exercise, write, talk, dress, etc if you’d already achieved your goal? Note: Doing a crummy job, I’ve learned, is just about as pointless as doing nothing. Be all in.
- Give it time. Once you’re working hard at a good plan, stop second-guessing yourself! You can refine a little from week to week, but for the most part just say to yourself, ‘I’ll see where I am in six months,’ because all good things take time. Note: If you’re doing it right, your plan probably feel like it’s ruining your life almost immediately — for a time, things will get harder. When this happens don’t change your plan — you are probably going full-steam in the right direction. Give it six months. 😉
- Prepare for success. Dreams do come true. And there’s no feeling like committing yourself to a big dream and then starting to reap the rewards. For months last fall, everywhere I went friends commented on my great appearance and health — and I had the satisfaction of seeing a long-term dream come galloping — full-glory — into reality.
Let’s do it together in 2016.