I know how hard it can be to make the decision to give up material possessions.
There is always this little voice in the back of your head saying ‘I might need this someday!’
I had to give up a couple of things, when I was reducing the stuff I owned to less than 100 things when I moved to Portland earlier this year.
That little voice has a point, everything ‘could’ be useful someday. However, I’ve known people with rooms filled with stuff that they ‘could use someday’, but they never do.
Do you have rooms like this? Most of us have a closet like this, some of us have a box like this.
The problem with this mentality is that when you save everything ‘just in case’ these objects end up gradually taking more and more time away from you.
When you continue to gather stuff that you’re not using in this moment, you end up spending time cleaning, sorting, and organizing. I’ve known people who spend every free hour of their life, when they’re not eating or working, sorting through stuff they ‘might use someday.’
If you are living like this I really believe you should take action to change your life situation around now.
Some people can even convince themselves that this daily organizational duty is not a burden. I can understand that view, possessions can have a powerful control over the mind. You’ve invested your money these things, you’ve invested your time in creating a wonderful world for your things to live in. It’s only natural for a feeling of obligation to your things to spring up in your mind.
You have to fight it that sense of obligation to your things. Don’t be a prisoner to your possessions.
The time to make a change and overcome your slavery to the material world is now.
Here are a few simple methods that I’ve developed for people to learn to say goodbye to the objects that they love, but don’t use anymore.
- Create an outbox. The simplest and easiest way to start a healthy habit towards your stuff is to create an outbox. Find a cardboard box and place it near a junk problem area. Just place one object after another into the box. Let the box sit for a month (or a week, but sometimes that can be painful.) Did you need to go back for any of the objects? Well, you probably don’t really need them. You can apply this outbox philosophy to any of the methods below.
- Get a second opinion. Sometimes it can help to get a friend to give a second opinion. Make sure this is someone who can impartial, someone who is not family or a significant other. Ask them to give you an honest opinion as you are sorting through your stuff. Ask them questions like ‘do you think this object is useful to me?’ and ‘do you think I will use this object in the next year?’ or ‘Do you think this old ratty lamp I’ve been saving since 1979 looks cool?’ This impartial person will give you an honest opinion, and this can give you the perspective you need to make the decision to free yourself of your belongings.
- Observe how much time you spend with your possessions. Start a notebook and record every interaction you have maintaining your stuff for one week. Do this with everything, even when you take an overflowing bag of old knitting supplies you haven’t used since second grade off of a chair and place it on the floor. That counts. After a week tally up the result. If this result is 10 hours, that’s 520 hours you will spend this year organizing your crap. That’s 5,200 hours over the next 10 years. Think about how much money you could earn in 5,200 hours of not sorting your stuff, or how much time you could spend at the beach.
- Have someone get rid of them for you. Sometimes it might be easier just to not have to watch. Hire an impartial person (this is no job that should go unpaid…) to go through your stuff and make a series of boxes which contain your stuff. Place these boxes in a closet for one month. During that month make a list of things you think are in the boxes, and need for whatever reason. At the end of the month you are allowed to retrieve the items that you knew were in there, the rest have to go. You’ll be surprised just how much stuff you forgot was in the boxes, and hopefully this will help to break your bond with them.
- Declare bankruptcy in the material world. Sometimes it’s all just too much. Pack a bag of 100 things, and just leave. Go to Costa Rica and sit on a beach for a month, it will do you some good. While you’re gone, arrange for someone to have an estate sale for you — give them a percentage of the sale. The rest of the proceeds can go towards your trip to Costa Rica.
- Give them to someone who can use them. It can help, both you and other people, if you give your stuff to a place that will use them to help people in need. In some cities you can arrange for the Salvation Army or other object-oriented charity to drop by your house with a truck and load up all of your stuff for you.
- Spend a significant amount of time away. Make yourself so busy for a month that you don’t have time to sort your stuff. You will see just how much attention they take from you. Your bedroom or house will fall into disrepair in this month. It’ll be really gross, people will think you’re insane. But by the end of the month you’ll recognize just how of your life your stuff is taking from you.
- Set a goal that you can’t achieve without being free. You probably have some dream that you want to achieve that is being made inconceivably expensive by your stuff. Say you wanted to study aboard in France for the summer? If you have lots of stuff, you’ll have to keep paying for your apartment, and an apartment in France. This makes studying impossible, because you’ll not be able to earn money to pay for your apartment full of stuff while you’re studying. Set a goal that’s impossible to achieve without get rid of your stuff. This will give you the incentive to become free.
Your stuff is probably a prison, and in many cases it’s not your friend.
It’s keeping you from achieving real change in your life, and the time to take action is now.
Don’t wait, now is the time to make a change in your life. You canachieve minimalist freedom. You can live with 100 things.
This future is possible, but only you can make it a reality.
“The things you own end up owning you.” – Tyler Durden
If you enjoyed this story, share it with someone you know who it could help. Thank you!
Consider following me on Twitter.