It is most important to find your REAL reasons for embarking on a decluttering journey. Is it the need for more space? Is it that sense of being overwhelmed with managing all those things? Maybe you need money and want to flog off some of your belongings? Or has someone told you off for having too much stuff?
If your reasoning is of a practical nature, like the need for space, etc., it might be interesting to consider if you are really out to ‘declutter’ (reducing your belongings for your own wellbeing) or to make space for new stuff, to sell something off (to pay for something else). The main problem with these reasons is that your things actually might mean something to you, and by letting them go you deprive yourself of something important in your life. Yes: you may have taken a decision to exchange a (treasured) item for something else, but the choice might come back some day and bite you in the backside.
If your intention is to make life better for yourself (having less stuff, not being limited in your space, stop being overwhelmed by things in your life), then you are better prepared to actually let go of things without remorse. Anything you take out of the mix will be taken out with consideration of your own best interests in mind. By taking that care at that moment, you’ll be able to move on more smoothly.
The second part of the question is about your internal motivation: do YOU want to sort out your stuff and let go of some of it, or are you forced by some external factor, like lack of space, or an impending move to smaller premises, or similar? The real question is this one: “would you have thought of decluttering if this particular pressure hadn’t been there?” Knowing your motivation in that respect is helpful, as it tells you something about the difficulties you’ll have to face when you are digging in properly.
If YOU have taken a decision to give this a go – rather than being pushed to do something – the odds of you getting somewhere and not giving up halfway through the process are much better. This motivation is a key factor in following through, as is the case in most things we start. If YOU are the driving factor, chances are you will push forward where others might give up, and you could book a lot of progress in a much shorter period. You are more likely to consider this decluttering process as an achievement and positive challenge, not so much a requirement and a chore you cannot avoid. A positive attitude also helps with the decision process when it comes to let go of more challenging items or long-held beliefs.
Now, let’s return to the title of this blog “if it ain’t broke…” and how this relates to our homes and the things we accumulate in it! You can probably draw some parallels with the explanations above: if your motivation to declutter is weak or imposed upon you, this means that you don’t really see a reason to declutter at all, and you might be reasonably happy with the way things are. In that case, as long as it doesn’t impact you negatively, there is no good reason to declutter at all, is there? Well…
Something gave you the idea of decluttering in the first place, right? So maybe things are not quite as ‘alright all round’ as you think! Think about your home for a moment to figure out if there is something that bugs you, an area where you keep thinking “I should really sort this out”, a cupboard that overflows each time you open the doors, a drawer that gets stuck because it’s too full,… I’m sure you’ll come up with something. Maybe this is the little thing that made you think about decluttering?
There are, of course, reasons to declutter that are rather more based in practicality: if you can’t move through your house for boxes of stuff, or if your home is infested by pests, etc. there are good reasons to reduce the sheer volume of stuff you have around. If I were to start telling you that “things you cannot get to are of no use to you” or “this is unnecessary” or “this is broken” and you’d likely be telling me to mind my own business. And rightfully so. There is a level of reason, though, that you will have a hard time not to at least acknowledge: your own personal safety comes first, and that involves excluding things that have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing.
You might even agree with me on this one, I hope. And if you do, THAT could just be the internal motivation you need to get started with a little area and experience the joys of having space to grow again.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.