Feeling bound by ‘things’ in our lives is a relatively new phenomenon. It was only 1981 when George Carlin first performed his oddly prophetic routine on “Stuff”. Quite comedic at the time, it framed the buying orgies of the 80s and 90s perfectly, but became less funny as Boomers started dealing with things they inherited, as well as their own assortment of things.
30+ years of working with people-in their homes, with their possessions has taught me the best service I can offer clients is to help them think through their choices, and prioritize their decisions. I’ve never seen ‘just because you can’ be a good reason for anything. If you’ve read this far, chances are you’ve stood at those same crossroads too: feeling bound by too much stuff, what to keep, and why? Here’s a few ways to add perspective:
Separate the emotion from the event, and the item. Just as a no-longer fashion choice had no relationship to my choice of life partner (19 years, in April!), being held hostage to an uncomfortable wing chair in your living room is no way to remember your beloved Aunt Claire.
Let go of what something cost you (or someone else) way back when. It’s money that’s already spent, and probably enjoyed many times over. Let it go.
Or what something would cost to buy today. If you didn’t like something to start with, why would you think about this? Will it help you like it any more?
Focus on what will make you happy in the long run: Life is too short, and guilt, or the ‘shoulds’ are a horrible rationale. But if keeping your stuff will make you genuinely happy-do it-just make it work better for your life/space: Convert VHS tapes and photos to discs, scan the report cards and such. Plan to repair or re-upholster that chair, alter that suit, or otherwise refurbish what is not right in it’s current condition so it is whole, usable, and of value. If you have the need-and the funds-think about off-site storage.
Consider working with a professional. If self-improvement was as easy as just knowing what to do, we’d all be slender, healthy and such…we all could use some help sometimes, a few hours with a professional who can stand shoulder to shoulder with you as you edit down together could be money very well-spent.
Explore alternative to just tossing things out. To ease the separation if you decide ‘not’-give or donate to someone who will love or need it, or sell, and donate the proceeds to a good cause. (Click here to read about the ABCs of Selling and Donating).
Yes, ‘the outfit’ was donated to a local thrift store, and I comforted myself by thinking the happy memories would transfer to the new owner. But if time is not on your side, and you just need to clear things out, consider a service like Junkluggers, who go through and donate/recycle for you.