When people get the itch to start simplifying their homes and personal lives, they usually just want it done already, so they jump in, get rid of some stuff, and clean! What most people fail to realize is that there is an important first step that must be taken if they want their efforts to succeed in the long run. I’m gonna tell you what that step is.
Most articles out there direct you on how to start decluttering your home first…because stuff tends to be easier than habits. They tell you to start small and maybe they give you a series of questions to ask about each item. These are great steps, but it should be after the one I’m going to share with you.
When collections, piles, clothes, boxes, toys, and paper are built up in your home, it didn’t happen yesterday. It happened over time. And if you start jumping in and throwing things away, donating, and selling out of impulse, you’re going to be back in that cluttered home one day and you possibly be filled with regret. I don’t want that for you. Your efforts should have a purpose. And you understand why you are putting in effort in the first place. I believe this is the most vital piece of the process because I experienced it myself.
I moved to Boston in 2010 with a top to bottom, front to back, left to right loaded 17′ moving truck and towing my car that was filled with more of my stuff. I’m still baffled at how I accumulated that much in my early 20s, because I don’t recall my pockets being loaded…probably because I shopped. Anyway, the house I rented and moved into had two living rooms, a separate dining room, the old school separate wash room off of the kitchen, one bedroom, and the typical must-haves. I furnished the entire house and I lived by myself.
When I moved away three years later, I was pulling an 8′ trailer behind my loaded SUV, and that was it. My journey to declutter and live with less had already begun and I had physical proof that I was closer to success.
One year later, I was even content living in a studio apartment with just the basics of what I felt made for easy living. Then, I met a man and we started a family. Almost 7 years after my journey was becoming so successful, I was failing at it again, because I had missed the first step. See, when I minimized my life in Boston before my move, I sold my stuff so that I didn’t have to pay to move it. I didn’t do it because of what I realize now should have been my reason.
If you want to sell your belongings because you need money, then you’ll buy something else when you have it. If you get rid of clothes because you want to get nicer clothes, then that’s not really decluttering…that’s trading one thing for another. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with upgrading possessions. If they aren’t functioning, are hazardous, or simply too old for your current style, replace it. But decluttering and simplifying your life, is different.
If you think you are ready:
Self-awareness will be important throughout the entire process of simplifying and decluttering. It will keep your decisions in check, especially if it happens over a long period of time. Before you ever start, however, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I going through a major life change right now?
- Am I wanting to declutter just so that I can have space for nicer things?
- Am I harboring resentment for anyone who may be symbolically attached to any of my possessions?
- Am I still not quite sure why this time will be the time I stick with healthier, more tidy habits?
- Am I the only one who knows that I’m venturing into this lifestyle?
- Am I remotely unclear about how this will improve my life?
Did You Answer ‘Yes’ at All?
Then you’re not ready yet. And let me tell you why.
If you’re just wanting to clean out your bathroom drawers to line things up, go for it. But that’s not quite what this is about and it’s probably not why you’re here. It’s a lifestyle that is about having the right amount of stuff in your life so that you don’t have to focus on cleaning, straightening, or aligning it all the time. It’s about focusing on what you enjoy in life and, typically, materialism is a distraction. It all starts with self-awareness.
Did You Answer ‘No’ at All?
Great! Cause that means:
- Your head and internal chemistry is probably in the right place for you to focus on changing your lifestyle.
- You understand that it’s not about replacing stuff but downsizing so that you have quality stuff.
- You have no chance of getting rid of something and regretting it later.
- You are confident with the personal sacrifices and changes you may need to make and want the outcome from that.
- You have someone who inspires you to live simply, perhaps, or least someone to keep you going.
- You know the full, positive impact of simplifying your life, you can envision it, and you can use it as motivation!
The first time, I figured I would sell stuff, paying less to move it, and use the money to replace it later. Only that never happened. I spent the money on the move anyway, all of my quality pieces were gone, and I was left with bachelor-style furnishings and decor. Now, I have to work harder to do this the smart way. I would have answered yes to 1, 2, 4, and 5. This time, I’m settled. I want simple, quality items in my home. There’s nothing in this house attached to anyone I don’t love. I know my reasons, my abilities, and my end goals. And my family supports it. Well…I’m sure if Tidy Toddler found out, she’d be a little upset I was planning on Montessori-ing away her toys. But overall, I’m ready to succeed this time.
If you want to print these questions, then click here for PDF and here for A4, for my planner friends. That way, you can be sure you have completed step 1 of decluttering and simplifying your life! It’s free…
So, are you ready?! Leave me a comment about why simplifying your life is going to work this time! You never know, you may be someone else’s motivation too. Like mine 🙂