Right now I am in the midst of “The Great Purge“, lol. My husband and I are getting ready to move into our new home, so in preparation, we’ve started trying to get rid of everything possible! Every week we’ve selected certain areas of our house to start sorting through, making piles for trash/recycle, donate, and keep. So far we are making a ton of progress and it feels great!
As if that wasn’t enough, my parents are doing the exact same thing, cleaning out our childhood home to move to a smaller place. On top of that, the women in my current coaching group have just entered into my Design Pillar #1: Declutter and Organize module, so I’m coaching them through this process with a room of their homes. Everywhere I look, it’s “The Great Purge”, which has inspired me to write this blog today.
~ The struggle is real ~
Trust me, I am far from being some “sell all your belongings, backpack around Asia in a tent, all you need is a camera and a journal” type of girl. FAR from that. I do like having nice things. However, I’m even farther from being a hoarder. When that show came on tv, I seriously couldn’t even watch it because it gave me such yucky feelings inside. To each their own, but it is so hard to believe that those homes are bringing joy to anyone.
I like stuff, but I like all of my stuff to have a place. I like to be able to have quick easy access to my things and to know where everything “lives”. I like the stuff I have to actually serve a purpose in my life. If it doesn’t serve a functional purpose or make me happy and “spark joy” as Marie Kondo would say, it becomes pretty easy for me to get rid of it. This is certainly a skill that does NOT come naturally to all humans, especially when it comes to items deemed sentimental.
I want to share some of my tips on how I go through the purging or decluttering process in hopes that it will help you on your adventure to get rid of some “stuff”. I have 3 questions you can ask yourself in order to determine if it’s something you should keep or let go of.
~ Change your mindset ~
First things first. For so long, you’ve probably been building a mindset that “more is more”. The more things we have, the more important, successful, powerful, rich, admired and accomplished we are perceived. We are taught from a young age that the rich people in the big mansions are something to strive after and the poor person in the shack with no possessions are something to work hard to avoid. We are somehow “better people” who are more respected and looked up to when we can provide lots of things to ourselves and our families. Think about almost every holiday you celebrated growing up. It is all about getting “stuff” – Easter baskets of candy and toys, Birthday gifts out the wazoo, and don’t even get me started with Christmas! We’ve been shown that celebration is synonymous with getting stuff. For so long we’ve conditioned our brains to believe that “more is more” and that, by nature, makes it very difficult to part ways with our things.
If you are able to change your thinking to “I can still be important, successful, powerful, rich, admired and accomplished without being surrounded by tons of “stuff” and that “less doesn’t mean lesser” you will be taking one step towards easing your brain into the process of getting rid of your things.
Question 1: Does it serve a functional purpose in your home or in your daily life?
Walk into any room of your house and pick out any single item. The first question you can ask is: Does it serve a functional purpose? So, let’s say you are in your bedroom. Your bed serves a functional purpose because you sleep on it every night. Therefore, it should stay – I think that’s a pretty obvious example. But what about that collection of magazines you have on your nightstand? Would your daily life or home be impacted in a negative way if you recycled all those magazines? Realistically, no, you would continue to live a functional life, so then you could continue on to question 2.
Question 2: Do I need this?
We’ve determined that yes, you need your bed because it meets the fundamental functional test. But do you NEED the magazines? Maybe your job is in fashion sourcing for a retail store and the stack of Vogues is essential for research for your career. So in that case, keep! However, I’ve for some reason been getting a series of fashion-type magazines mysteriously delivered to me for almost a year now. I’ve been stacking them up thinking, sure, maybe I’ll look through those someday….no. I’m not, they are going straight to recycle. Nothing about me or my life is Gucci, Dior, or Versace, I’m not interested in any of that, why are these taking up space in my home!?!?!
Alternatively, you might have a piece of art hanging on the wall. Your house wouldn’t fall down if it was removed, so it isn’t really functional, and let’s say it’s not any special artwork that really lights you up, it just makes the room look nice and complete. You could say you need this for now until maybe you find a new piece of art that really excites you, but for now, it stays because it creates an overall atmosphere in the space that you enjoy.
Question 3: Does this bring me joy?
Marie Kondo has brought this concept mainstream recently, but it’s so helpful in determining whether to keep or purge your things! The items you possess and keep in your home should be things that excite you and make you smile! If they don’t do that, and they don’t serve some sort of purpose, what are they doing in your home!?!?!
This is where all of the items we deem sentimental will also fall. You might have a necklace that was once your great-grandmother’s. You don’t ever wear it so it serves no functional purpose, you have plenty of other jewelry so you don’t need it, but it brings you joy and happiness because of the memories it connotes, then great – keep it if you desire.
But what about holding on to sentimental items you don’t even like or truly want? These can be the toughest things to let go of because we make it mean that by getting rid of family heirlooms, we are dishonoring or disrespecting that family member or we are saying they aren’t worth keeping or holding on to – they are garbage because the heirloom is garbage. But again, this is putting value on things, and not the people, the experience, or the memories. If you can change your thinking to “I can still have/show love, respect, reverence, and honor for this family member for who they are and the memories I have of them – I don’t need to tie their value to a physical object”, it might make it easier for you to let go of that item if it’s something you don’t truly desire to keep.
~ Last tips ~
I like to do one initial purge, let things sit for a couple weeks and then revisit. That dress you thought you really needed, or that photograph that you thought brought you a ton of delight might suddenly feel a little less important in a few days. When we are getting rid of our “stuff” we often meet resistance when we feel like “man, I’ve gotten rid of a lot!” We start reverting back to that “more is more” mindset that has been ingrained in our minds for so long that suddenly we start to panic that we are getting rid of too much. Give it some time and revisit after the shock of the initial purge. Things you were on the fence about will suddenly feel easy to get rid of.
Ask yourself, “would I want to move this?” Lol! This is the best motivator ever, in my experience. Would you take the time and effort of packing this item up and relocating it to a new place? Is it that worthy? This will weed out lot!
Try to get out of scarcity mentality. We also tend to worry about letting go of things because, “I just know in a couple of months I’ll be needing this exact thing and what if I don’t have it anymore!” For me, that is scraps of wood/construction materials from our home renovation projects – my dad taught me this unfortunate habit. In reality, if I need another piece of baseboard molding, could I just go to the store and buy another one? Absolutely. You likely have the resources to regain anything that you let go of if you really needed it. This may seem wasteful, but be real – how often have you kept something with that scarcity mentality and the actually needed it down the line? Maybe 5% of the time. 95% chance you hung onto that item and never used it again.
Ask yourself, “could someone else benefit from this more than I am currently?” I use this a lot when donating clothes, jackets, shoes, etc. I know there are people who would use this coat every day whereas it has sat in my closet doing nothing for years. Donating and helping others is a great motivator and it feels great!
~ A Decluttered Home = A Decluttered Mind + Life ~
In the end, I am a HUGE believer that a decluttered home = a decluttered mind and live – and vice versa! Having tons of stuff may seem fulfilling at first – trust me, I’ve been there plenty of times – but it can also create a lot of overwhelm, stress and anxiety in your home and in your life that you might not even be truly aware of. I’m sending you away with the thought, “letting it go will result in me feeling free and happy in the end.” Good luck friend – purge away!