It’s so easy to acquire stuff. You buy it, make it, salvage it, receive it as gifts. And once you have it, it’s easier to just keep it around than figure out how to get it out of your life. I know this. I am a stuff-acquiring pro. I’d like to become more proficient at letting go.
There are lots of excuses we use to avoid clearing clutter. Do any of these sound familiar?
Excuse #1: I’ll get around to it eventually.
I collect potential hobbies. I buy how-to books and supplies to learn something new…and then keep right on doing what I’ve always done. Those shiny new toys just take up space and collect dust.
The result? Detritus that constantly reminds me of all the things I intended, at one point or another, to do.
My fleeting flirtation with wine. A brief interest in reviving my high school German. The objects I acquired to pursue these potential hobbies are just nagging reminders that make me feel guilty.
Also in this category: things I’ve been meaning to fix, research, learn to use. I have cookbooks I’ve never cooked from. A beloved pair of boots with a broken zipper that will cost more to fix than replace.
If “eventually” hasn’t happened yet, it probably isn’t going to. Do you still want to take up that hobby, learn that skill, or fix that object? If not — let it go. Make room in your life for fresh, current things that will bring you satisfaction, not guilt.
Excuse #2: I paid good money for this.
This excuse is closely linked to #1 above. If I bought something, paid for it with my hard-earned cash, it’s very difficult for me to let it go. I still have my first iPod, a shelf of books I no longer want to read, cosmetics I never use. I still have those German books and that pair of broken boots.
But does the value I perceive in these useless items offset the drag on my life they create? Probably not.
Put the cost of the useless items you’re keeping into perspective. I’ll talk more about that next time. (Hint: you’re still paying for them.)
Excuse #3: I might need it someday.
This excuse comes up most strongly for me with clothing. I hate shopping because I struggle to find things that fit the way I want. So, I have an entire “business casual” wardrobe for a kind of job I haven’t worked in years in a size that doesn’t fit me anyway. Just in case, you know, I someday have one of those jobs again…and gain back the weight I lost.
Honestly? At this point, if that highly unlikely alignment of circumstances does occur, there’s no way the things I’ve been hoarding will still reflect my personal style!
You know what? There will always be stores. If you haven’t needed the item for a while and can’t see a concrete, definite need for it on the visible horizon, release it. You can always get another should the need arise. (Most likely it won’t.)
So, what’s a girl to do?
Clearly, some of this clingy stuff has got to go. High-volume purges are hard for me, because I get unreasonably attached to objects and letting go of lots of stuff at one time is very noticeable. Instead, I’m focusing on finding one thing a day. By going small, I will force myself to evaluate my environment on a daily basis, making me more conscious about the things I allow into my life as well as what I permit to stay.
And so I proudly unveil my first official Remade By Hand undertaking: Project 365 x 2. It was my husband’s idea. He wanted to get rid of one thing every day for a whole year, for a grand total of 365 things. We decided to undertake the project together to raise the total number to 730. We set some ground rules and will be posting our progress on Tumblr and Facebook. Follow along — or perhaps you’d like to join us?
Over the next few days, I’ll be revisiting this idea of clearing out stuff as I contemplate this new project. I’ll talk about the real cost of non-useful stuff, look at how to stop the influx of unnecessary things, and share the simple test I use to decide what to let go.
In the meantime:
What are your biggest impediments to letting go of stuff? Or, if you don’t struggle with it, what’s your secret?