I have a LONG way to go. I think I am working on the tip of the iceberg.
I still have a LOT of stuff. Even though I got rid of some extras, the amount of stuff I have is 10 times that. I am going to continue my journey to pare down my belongings. It is my current goal. I once read a post from a person on a minimalist web site who was trying to live a minimalist lifestyle, and he said that when his Grandmother had past away, all her personal possessions (not furniture) could fit in the trunk of a car. That is, her clothing and special trinkets and mementos. To some people, that may sound pitiful. But if you look at it realistically, she couldn't take it with her. How much stuff does a person really need? And what is the purpose - to leave it for your loved ones? Do they want it?
It is all about making a decision. Sometimes the clutter is there because I just can't make a decision. Facing the messy stack of clutter is depressing. It isn't overwhelming to clean, as much as it is overwhelming to make a decision with what to do with it. Sometimes it helped to literally say out loud "It has to go somewhere, where should it go….file, store, or let it go?"
It gets easier. At first it was slightly painful and difficult to lose my tight grasp on my items. But as the month went on and I was getting used to making tough choices, it did get a bit easier.
I had to go with my momentum - but give myself some slack. I gave myself certain goals each day. But some days, I felt an emotional block. I just couldn't move forward with that goal. I thought about it and was open to other ideas, and I found that there was another task equally as important, and I could throw myself into. In retrospect, the reason I couldn't move forward with some tasks was that I hadn't been emotionally ready to face them. For instance, the bottom of my closet had personal mementos that I had to make a decision about. I had a mental challenge that I had to be in a particular frame of mind to tackle. I put it off a couple of times before I could face the task. When I was ready, making the choices was easier and cathartic. It helped to be gentle with myself and understanding in the process.
Enjoy my progress. Every little bit of decluttering helps. I have to encourage my progress and remind myself to enjoy the accomplishments, no matter how small. Feeling the rush of excitement when I walk into a room and see a decluttered spot, gives me incentive to do more. I need to recognize the achievement and GO WITH THAT momentum.
It helps to have a lifestyle vision. It helps me face all my possessions and to be discerning by having a vision of what I want my home to be. There are a few minimalist sites I like to visit online, and it is so refreshing to see each of them operate with less 'stuff'. Their homes are easy to clean with less stuff to clutter. They don't spend time and money worrying about what to wear because they have a few pieces that work well together. If they need to move or go on vacation, they just pack their few possessions and go. It seems wonderful to me. When I imagine my home that way, I hold that vision in my mind, and as I pick up each item I ask myself "Does this fit in that vision?" And usually the answer is NO, and I can live with that - so out it goes.
It doesn't help to remove clutter, if there is still more stuff coming in. This is a relatively new way of looking at things for me. This is my new approach to keep from bring in more stuff:
Have a plan. I am a collector by nature. If I see something pretty, interesting, or useful, then I want it. I can talk myself into and justify almost anything. I've learned that I need to give myself boundaries. My boundaries are my vision and my list. Before I take something into my home and life, I have to see if it is in my plan or on my 'necessary' list. If it isn't, then I have talk myself out of wanting it and bypass it.
Have a buying list. This goes along with my plan. As I go through my day, if there is something I really need, I write it on a list. Or if I see a gap in my home routine or wardrobe, or an item that will make my life easier and fit into my vision, then I write in on a list. Then, I only allow myself to buy what is on my list. As I surf the internet, it is easy to be tempted by hundred of items that pass by me. Let's say a beautiful teal cardigan goes on sale, or a fabulous new mop (one that I am convinced would will make my life easier), then I feel compelled to get it. Right? So what I have to do is to consult my list. Is it on the list? Nope. I have to let it pass.
That's it! So, overall I am really happy with this experience. I thank you for going along with me and for your support and encouragement. I can't believe that a whole month has flown by. My goal was 465 items. I actually eliminated 859! I feel lighter and freer. Ahhhhh. I'm going to keep at it. (Don't worry, I won't be posting my progress every single day.) I have to admit, that it is getting easier to part with junk…I mean possessions. My husband and son are even eliminating some stuff. It took years to accumulate, so I imagine it'll take some time to let it go. We'll see where we are a year from now.
I'll keep working on it!
If you want to read my daily comments about my 30-day decluttering challenge, and see my progress through pictures, you can click on this link.