I’ve been on a mission to declutter and simplify/minimalise my life. Not just my household possessions, but also computer files, investments, insurances, businesses; “stuff” and all the “stuff” which we need to support our “stuff”.

It’s been a long and “interesting” process so far, but with each step forward I feel SO much better. And I’ve learned so much and maybe I can share some of this. I’m not saying I’ve done it perfectly, and I am no expert/professional in the field. Just my experiences as someone who is coming at this with no expert help and what I’ve learned so far. I hope it is easy to relate to if you are in the same boat.  I’ll start today and keep adding my experiences as I go.

If you want to change your life, you need to change your “stuff”.

This month has been a big one for getting rid of physical stuff – furniture, clothing, ornaments etc.  My house is pretty darned bare right now. And wow, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster.  I am not a very materialistic person and not a hoarder, but still I’ve found a big heart-pull in watching some items go out the door.  The beautiful handmade wooden cupboards my brother-in-law made for us when my son was born, was a biggie for me.  I hadn’t even consciously recognised that’s where I’d got it until someone wanted to buy it!  And my couch – old, scruffy, but oh-so-comfy & a place where I curled up beside my son to watch a movie, with the running joke between us being that I never actually watched one, I just fell asleep!  And now that he is grown and living on the other side of the world, it’s like my attachment to that beautiful part of my life just got a bit more severed.

And then there’s clothes.  Because I’m not an excessive shopper, my clothes were worn a lot, to all sorts of fun-times, events and functions, which meant some hold meaning for me.  And I am very fortunate that I still fit into a lot of my clothes from 30years ago (sorry, don’t throw eggs at me now), so instead of being able to easily ditch them because they don’t fit anyway, I literally DO hold on, waiting for an opportunity to wear them again. But let’s face it, who really wants to see a 50year old in booty short mini-dresses, even if it does take  me back to my feel-good final year of Uni days. My ego has to accept that there really is NOT an opportunity where I’d feel comfortable to wear them again.

There is one tip I saw years ago, have used before, and have found invaluable now that I am taking much bigger steps forward in this area; now that the cuts feel more severe and I’m digging deeper into the possessions which feel more important to me. If you are considering a change in future, I would recommend starting this NOW:

Go through your clothes, grab anything you know you hardly wear, and put it in a garbage bag/box and hide it in the garage or similar.  If you absolutely need it, you know you can always go and retrieve it. After 6months everything left in that bag/box are things you don’t need. Pick it up without opening it and donate it. If you need the money, ask a friend to list the items on an online site or take it somewhere to sell for you – don’t do it yourself.  As sure as eggs, if you open that bag you will start feeling those emotional attachments to those items again. You will hesitate and start putting them back in your closet.

Then do the same with ornaments and small items of furniture. And why not crockery, cutlery, cooking pots, toiletries, make-up, gym gear, pans and tins and cooking utensils? Yes, I did have about 4 bottle openers when I virtually don’t drink!  How often DO you use your egg separator?

If you have a bit of spare storage space in a shed or garage, do the same with items of furniture like kids’ bedroom furniture (c’mon they left home 10years ago!!), coffee tables, spare dining settings, rumpus couches. Anything you really don’t use.   The only added suggestion I would make with higher valued items is to take a photo & measure them BEFORE storing, and upload the details into a cloud account like dropbox, google, onedrive etc.  So when you are ready to sell, you have everything you need to list it without having to drag it out of the shed….where you may just sit on it one last time for old-times’ sake, curl up and fall asleep watching a DVD and go through the emotional pull of not wanting to part with it.  Sigh!

By disconnecting myself from the object, it helped me actually let it go out the door. But it also let me put more items in the “to go” pile in the first place.  You see, if I’d stacked up things ready to just take to charity today, I would hesitate over each and every choice because it was so “final”.  But knowing it was still in the house for 6months meant I was willing to put extra items in because I knew I could retrieve it if that 80s retro party was called and my invitation said “booty short mini-dresses essential”.  But after 6months, I largely forgot what was in the bag, so I could more easily part with it. And with those I did remember, I was more emotionally disconnected with them. It brought home the reality that I really didn’t use them any more,  my life had not fallen apart without them. In fact my life (and those around me) were really better by NOT seeing me in my 80s booty short mini-dresses!

And that’s just it. My life HAS moved on. And that’s a good thing. In order to welcome in the exciting new I have to clear out the scruffy, comfy old. I need to embrace the wondrous new adventure that the next 50 years will bring.  I can’t do that if there is no space in my world to put that adventure into – space in my living arrangements for the things that will suit my new lifestyle – space in my mind to create new lifestyle ideas. But here’s the really exciting bit – regardless of whatever we get rid of, the memories and emotions that surround them remain. We get to keep these and treasure them forever and use them to add value to the new stage we are working towards.