I’m writing this nearly half way through my six month declutter project. It’s crazy to think how quickly the time has flown. I have been super busy recently and neglected to write about the project but I’ve been keeping up making small incremental changes.
It’s easy to fall off the bandwagon when things get busy and I am tired. I have less mental energy to focus on my goals and it’s tempting to fall back into old ways but the pull of clearing out and making space is getting under my skin and I find myself coming back to decluttering whenever I have free time.
My capsule wardrobe challenge has been particularly hard, not least because of living in the UK. I started the challenge during a cold spell, the likes of which are getting rarer as our winters warm up. I had cosy jumpers and long sleeve tops handy for wrapping up against the elements. And then the weather changed suddenly as it is prone to do here and it was 13 degrees Celsius- far too warm for my thick winter jumpers. How’s a girl supposed to stick to a few items of clothing when the weather is so unpredictable here? So, after keeping to the 33 items during February which I had committed to, in March I added the spring wardrobe to my available clothes. I’m happy with this as I still have a much smaller wardrobe and I am more prepared for the changeable temperatures of British seasons.
I feel that it’s a good time to reflect on the declutter project so far and revisit my goals as I come towards the end of my third month and the half way stage of the project. I have found it so rewarding to hear from friends who have been inspired to declutter too. This makes it all the more worthwhile to share my experiences. I always find a big clear out rewarding but the tricky part comes with the stuff I’m just not sure I can let go of. So, here are some tips for the tricky middle section, when you’ve gotten rid of the easy stuff but you’re not quite a minimalist yet.
If you’re not sure whether to get rid of something, hide it. Once you experience life without it you’ll probably realise you didn’t need it all along.
If you really like something and it’s hard to get rid off, give it to someone. Gifts make you feel good and knowing one of your treasured possessions has a good home helps ease the letting go process.
Don’t check up on items you’ve gotten rid of. Once they’ve gone, they’ve gone and you need to stop thinking about them. This is not something I generally struggle with but I know people who do. Once it has left your possession then you have to appreciate that it is no longer your responsibility and might never mean to someone else what it meant to you.
Tell other people that you are decluttering and minimising the ‘stuff’ in your life. This accountability will mean that when you are struggling to do it for you, you might just do it for no other reason than to not look silly in front of your friends.
Do charitable things. Donate items that are more use to others than to you. Repair or pay for a repair of a good quality item so that you can donate it to a good cause. For example, my warm winter coat has a broken zip, the £22 it costs to repair the zip seems like a lot but it means I can donate the coat to a refugee who needs it. Everyone’s a winner!
Possessions don’t replace people or memories. The hardest things to let go of are usually associated with powerful and meaningful memories such as a relationship, a deceased person or an amazing experience. If I know this is what stops me letting go then I ask myself ‘if I lost my memory, what would this item mean to me?’. If it has no use and perhaps isn’t even very nice to look at then I would probably think it was junk. Memories are contained within ourselves not external possessions and while the odd memento can be a helpful reminder of times past over attachment to objects for sentimental reasons is unhelpful and may be indicative of unaddressed emotional issues. This is probably the hardest nut to crack but once you let go of sentimental items you realise that they may not have been as important as you thought they were.
You are not your possessions. Your identity is not contained in the things you own. I find this particular challenging when it comes to clothes and jewellery. Society judges us on our possessions so this can be difficult to ignore however other people’s opinions don’t matter- if you don’t feel you are complete without your Nike trainers then perhaps you need to reassess you sense of self.
Ultimately, you don’t have to let go. Remember the mantra ‘does this add value?’. If something is really so hard to get rid of then maybe it adds more value to your life than would be gained from getting rid of it. It’s okay to keep it! This is a journey not a destination and further down the line you may feel better equipped to let go, but for now, just keep it!
If you are decluttering I hope this has been useful for you. If you are already there when it comes to living your minimalist life, congratulations! The goals of having a life free of unnecessary clutter and living intentionally are still pulling me on through this journey and knowing other people have found contentment through this process helps me to keep focused on the main goal- to be content just being me and to value what is meaningful over what is material.