There’s something magical about entering a New Year that inspires us to start over. It’s an “official” chance to begin again. To recalculate. A reboot of sorts! We are ready to release what doesn’t work for us and we are eager to embrace what will support our dreams.
Decluttering is one of the top resolutions these days, as the minimalism movement continues to gain support. But just like any other lifestyle goal, it’s not as easy to incorporate into our daily lives as we might think. So before you get started, take time to understand what may slow you down along the way.
Consider these four decluttering truths which are universal show stoppers for anyone planning to streamline their space.
Decluttering truths: #1 Many say they want to declutter; Few take action
My generation of 50-something Baby Boomers often bemoan all the stuff in their homes that they don’t need or use any more. It’s a variety of stuff, ranging from adult children’s belongings in the attic and no-longer worn attire in the closet, to dusty exercise equipment and half-completed projects in the basement. Our things represent a full life lived, without a doubt. But when our lives enters a new season…when the kids move out, when our corporate careers wind down or when our interests change…are we actively clearing things out? Or putting the task off for some other day? Why is taking action so hard?
Two reasons we delay
Firstly, we need to come to grips with the fact that one era has ended and another one has begun. Regardless of whether our memories are predominantly pleasant or not, it’s what we experienced and we don’t want to change. And as creatures of habit, making a change does not always come readily. We often resist taking the first step. After all, it’s an acknowledgement that we are heading in a new direction…something unfamiliar. If we just put it off, maybe we can delay that (or so we think).
Secondly, it takes courage and resolve to move ahead into the unknown. Our identity was wrapped up in parenthood , our career or our hobbies. When that morphs over time, we need to sit back and reflect on where we want to head now. Such self-introspection does not come naturally to all. It’s like figuring out all over again what we want to be when we grow up!
Decluttering truths: #2 The more space we have, the more things we keep
The average American home hovers around 2500 square feet, as compared to around 1600 square feet in 1973. Imagine how much more we can squirrel away in an extra 1000 square feet! I remember how my parents would be unable to throw anything away. This behavior is a hallmark of the Silent Generation, who grew up during a time of scarcity and the Great Depression. Avoiding waste and retaining anything useful for repurposing another day was ingrained in them.
More space, more stuff
Now, it follows that we learned to hang on to things from our parents’ example. With the significantly larger homes that we occupy, imagine how much more we have stashed in our own households. The very thought of where to start can be exhausting! If we can continue to function reasonably with the status quo, why dig in now?
“Let’s do it later”, we tell ourselves. But let me say this: it’s even harder to sort through when we are forced to downsize unexpectedly. When we can no longer live independently, there is a short timeline to make the space clearing decisions. Folks feel under duress to make multiple sorting decisions quickly. No one enjoys that scenario!
Decluttering truths: #3 Things from someone we love are doubly hard to release
Sentiment is one of the key factors which impedes letting go of excess belongings. How can we possibly not keep each and every thing that was passed down or gifted to us from our loved ones? I know, this is a really tough category to corral! We have transferred our emotions to these things and then we struggle with what truly makes sense to release. Yet it’s remarkable how so many of our inherited items are not even on display. They are stashed away in drawers, closets, boxes and shelves. How does that make sense?
Who are you saving things for?
On the one hand, we may grapple with fear of dishonoring our relatives or the memories imbued with those items handed down. But is that what our relatives had in mind for us? Would you want to burden your children with preserving every personal possession you leave behind? Or would you rather they retain only what defined you, such as your love for cooking or your sense of humor? In other words, what legacy should you honor for your elders?
On the other hand, we may entertain notions that our children will want these things. But have you asked them? Most young adults are focused on living with less. They can be sentimental about some things, but not everything! On average, they live in a smaller space so they are required to make more spartan choices of how they fill it. Now would be the time to have “the conversation” so you know for sure what to pass along and what to give away.
Decluttering truths: #4 We tend to have too much”some day” or “just in case” stuff
Somehow we have developed a stockpiling approach with our household items. Hey, I get that not everyone relishes running to the store every time they run out of something! But how much is enough and how much is too much, when it comes to what we hang onto? Do you really need a dozen floral vases? Or a place setting for 16? Are the things you keep reflective of what you need and use now?
What makes sense to store?
Obviously, we all have varying home sizes and capacity to store things. What we need to consider is how much do we need to have on hand. In fact, how often have you bought something, only to come across three of those same items in your home, later on? If you don’t know what you all have or do not have ready access to see what you have, perhaps that’s a sign to regroup.
And when it comes to off-site storage, what exactly is being saved? It’s not uncommon that folks forget what they have in storage. There are shows devoted to auctioning off abandoned storage units! Now don’t get me wrong: there are valid uses for storage units, such as temporary housing when you’re in transition from one home to the next. Or perhaps during a remodeling project. But once again, if the items are just housed there indefinitely, what’s the point? As previously mentioned, if it’s for items you want to pass on to your children, be sure to ask them directly if this is what they want!
For more on this topic, refer back to this post: https://downsize365.com/mindset-reboot-when-stuck/
Listen to this 3.5 minute video for additional motivation to reset your mind chatter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGFl9sEXvas
Are you planning to declutter in 2019? What decluttering truths pose the biggest challenge for you? What areas iin your home need the most attention?
Share your thoughts with us below…and thanks for stopping by!