“Things don’t change; we change.”
-HENRY DAVID THOREAU
Building off of last week’s post, this almost seems like a contradiction.
Except it’s not.
Last week we talked about how life and circumstances are constantly evolving.
And that we have a little control over how things actually unfold.
THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF THINGS
This week we’re focusing more on things.
‘Things’ in this context could mean situations, objects or tasks, so let’s start with objects.
In some ways, “stuff” or physical objects, is the simplest place to begin looking for change.
I’m all for tidying up.
You probably have too much stuff.
And stuff, as a kind of material in your life, will not change.
Individual things may break, decay or get lost but overall, stuff will remain stuff.
You can move it from the kitchen counter to a closet or the garage or offsite storage but it will still be there, weighing on you, even out of sight.
CLUTTER ISN’T YOUR PROBLEM
The bigger and more meaningful shift begins when you see that, rather than focusing on physical objects, paying attention to yourself and HOW you relate to stuff will deliver the kind of lasting change you’re seeking.
This is a primary distinction between me and many of my colleagues.
Many of them seem quite interested in stuff.
They want to play house with stuff—dress it up, make pretty labels for it and continue the worship and fetishization of stuff.
So let me burst that bubble and remind you…
It’s just stuff.
Put the focus back on yourself and not the stuff, and you’ll finally see the results you’re looking for. Click To Tweet
Change yourself and the stuff will (almost) take care of itself.
How do you want to spend your time? What matters to you?
Answer those questions and clearing the clutter will happen quickly. And stay cleared.
It’s great that we’re talking more about decluttering these days.
But Marie Kondo and her Kon-Mari method or The Home Edit are just more band-aids for a symptom that leaves the illness untreated.
I doubt your toilet brush brings you “joy.” I’m guessing it brings you satisfaction when it’s used as intended.
I wouldn’t get rid of it because it’s low on the joy quotient. I’d use it when needed and ignore it when it’s not needed. End of story.
YOU ARE THE PROBLEM
Or more specifically, what you choose to focus on and how you spend your time is your problem.
You’ve probably said you’re busy more than once in the last 30 days.
So really, how much time do you want to spend rearranging the contents of your pantry, making labels and decorating a room that you’re in and out of in less than two minutes anytime you’re in it?
I’m all for aesthetics, but I’m more interested in the quality of your life than the wow factor of a food closet.
When you pick up an expensive cashmere sweater that now has moth holes in it, you probably have conflicting feelings.
You may have fond memories of how you acquired it and the times you wore it and now not so fond memories each time you reach for it and rediscover the moth holes.
And then you get upset.
Upset at the moth larvae that ate your sweater.
Upset at yourself for not taking better care of your things.
Upset at yourself that you haven’t taken it to be repaired.
Upset that it was expensive and you can’t wear it any longer, upset at the unfairness of it all, upset that when you think about it, it’s probably more money than you want to spend to repair it.
And upset that you can’t bring yourself to let it go. Even though you no longer wear it.
That’s a whole lot of story. And a whole lot of upset. For one sweater.
No wonder stuff lays right where you left it.
If I had to navigate that much story to get anything done, I’d have piles of things laying around my home and office, too.
THE BOTTOM LINE
What I’ve discovered is that the story doesn’t matter. The story is about you, not the sweater.
The fact is you own a sweater you no longer wear because it’s too damaged or costly to repair.
What are you going to do next?
And suddenly the sweater will be easy to let go of.
How long do you want to look at the sweater, move the sweater and think about the sweater?
Every minute you spend with a sweater you don’t wear is a minute you could be spending doing something you love. Being with someone you love.
The choice seems simple from here.
The solution to your clutter problem is an inside job.
Change how you view the objects that surround you and more importantly, change how you view your mortality and the time you have left on this planet and I promise you, physical stuff will not be the issue for very long.
Are you tired of the story of “too much to do and not enough time?” Would you love to get an extra hour or more back into your week without any gimmicks AND for free? Check out this cheatsheet I put together for you—it’s my gift and a great way to jump start your decluttering.