As the middle of January descends upon us, New Year’s Resolutions are in full swing and, for many of us, a perfect time to renew, reset and recharge for a fresh start. Most of us know we own too much stuff, and feel the weight and burden of our clutter. And while many of us desperately want to simplify and have the clean and modern space of a Swedish interior design magazine, we tend to spend way too much time and energy on maintaining our stuff.
Today, we Americans have more stuff than ever, and research shows how detrimental it is to our health and well-being. Not only is owning more items increasingly stressful, but takes a serious toll on our emotional happiness. If you can muster up one New Year’s Resolution for 2019, I recommend purging what you don’t need. Working towards developing a clear space can help you clear your head, save money, and build a peaceful and relaxing home life.
With most of our homes full of clutter and unwanted items, an average of 1 in 11 Americans pays to use self-storage. This is mind-blowing, especially when you think the average storage unit costs $100 a month. Many people utilize storage units not just as a transitional trapeze to get them from one point of life to another, but because they don’t know what else to do with their items. In 2009 alone, there were upwards of 51,000 storage unit facilities across the country – more than seven times the number of Starbucks. Think of how you could allocate $100 of your budget each month if you didn’t have to pay that storage unit bill!
Another aspect of our desire to collect things is simply human behavior. He who owns the most has the highest personal power and prestige, right? And if money is power, than money surely has the power to buy self-respect…right? But too many times most of us think having expensive “stuff” will buy us the respect that we so crave and think we deserve. You know that’s not true, and I know that’s not true. But it’s a behavior so deeply ingrained in our psyches that it’s a hard habit to shake.
So how do you create a balance between not spending all your time cleaning, organizing and maintaining and cultivating a space you love?
Use my friend Sue as an inspiration. Over the many years I have known her, Sue has willingly moved more than 17 times. She and her husband simply enjoy the process of buying houses, living in them for a while, and then selling them and moving on. I marvel how she has done this so many times. She has three simple rules for deciding what to purge:
- Ask yourself if you have used an item in the last 12 months. If not, donate or get rid of it.
- If you rarely use it, or if it is something than can be replaced for less than $25.00, let it go.
- If it is a family item you have inherited, ask yourself if your children really want to deal with it in the event of your passing. Would they really want it? If not, let someone else find joy in it.
So go ahead of start an organizational purge. Ask yourself if you really need it, and if you don’t, give it to charity, sell it, pass it off to a friend, or toss it. Remember that how you choose to tend to your personal space truly shows how you allocate your energy and time, and what is truly important to you. Instead of trying to use things as a way to fill an emotional void or to buy love or happiness, start 2019 by clearing the energy and letting it go.
Mooallem, Jon. “The Self-Storage Self: Storing All the Stuff We Accumulate.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 2 Sept. 2009, www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/magazine/06self-storage-t.html?em&_r=0.