Sunday, May 31, 2009

Live Your Dreams:Get Rid of the Clutter in Your Life

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

You can live your dream. One powerful way to make your dream a reality is to get rid of the clutter in your life. At first, this seems a daunting task, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll find that eliminating the clutter around you frees your mind, your space and your energy. It can even save you money.

Sometimes it seems as though we spend all our time and energy getting ready to live, but we forget...living is a present state, not the future and not the past. We tend to overlook the moment of now. We're constantly rearranging our belongings to fit our current situation, dragging along things from previous lifestyles. We spend precious time and space on "things" that no longer have meaning to us. Basements, garages, drawers, closets and mini storages are filled with clutter, stuff we'll probably never need or use again. Is that accumulation of stuff valuable enough to put up with the clutter, and even expense, of hanging on to it?

Several years ago my husband and I purchased a 40-foot sailboat and realized our dream of sailing throughout the South Pacific. When we returned from our fourteen-month cruise, we sold the boat. Some of our friends were aghast. "How can you bear to sell that boat?" Because we no longer needed it.

Marinas are full of boats that never go anywhere, year after year. Because the boats at one time were important, people can't bear to part with them and as a result they use precious time and pay expensive marina fees and upkeep on something that's become a burden. We did what we set out to do and it was time to go on to other pursuits.

With some of the money from the sale of the boat, we bought a camper and for the last several years have thoroughly enjoyed overland travel. Over time we’ve upgraded our camper, getting a larger one to accommodate our needs. As long as we're using the camper, we'll maintain it, pay the license fee, and enjoy it.

It has been our experience that after the fervor of thoroughly enjoying an interest, such as scuba diving, which we did for several years, we move on to other activities and rarely return to that particular hobby.

The idea that we'll get back to that scuba gear or that old ham radio equipment encourages us to hang on to this stuff. But the reality is that if we should want to return to that particular hobby, we're going to find our equipment archaic. With technology as it is today, yesterday's state-of-the-art is almost antique now. When I see scuba divers enter the water today, I marvel at the difference between the equipment they carry and what we used a few years ago.

Here are a few tips on freeing your life of clutter:

-- Learn to let go. Give magazines you’ve already read to schools or convalescence centers. Give all but your really special books to book drives that collect them for a cause. Give clothes to thrift shops or to shelters. Dig deep–you’ll be surprised when you discover you don’t even miss those things.

-- Start with one room and clear out all the stuff you don’t need. Make five piles:
1) Throw away
2) Give away
3) Sell
4) May need to keep
5) Need to keep

Ask yourself these questions as you sort through these items: Do I still need this? How long as it been since I used it last? As you toughen up, you’ll find more and more items fit in the first three piles. Go from room to room–you’ll be amazed at the wonderful sense of freedom this will give you.

-- Selling items can be rewarding in more ways than building your income. Don’t use the money to buy more "stuff" unless it’s something that will add significantly to your life. Tuck the money away to help make your dreams come true. Sell items through:
1) Garage sales – either your own or jointly with neighbors or community groups
2) Place ads in the local paper or a classified ads paper
3) On-line through a website such as Craig’s List

-- Curtail your spending. Sooner than you think, the items you feel you must have today are tomorrow’s clutter. Before you buy, give yourself at least a one day "cooling off period." More often than not, you’ll reconsider making that purchase.

Clutter, the accumulation of old stuff, holds us back. It dictates where we live, what we do with our time. It gobbles up our money in storage fees, or even in housing requirements--we could live in smaller, compact homes if we didn't have so much stuff. Or, we could enjoy the luxury of larger more spacious feeling without a lot of clutter. Just imagine--without all that clutter, you could park your car in the garage! What a concept.

Cut through the clutter of your life. It takes a little determination, but the rewards are great. You'll find it tremendously freeing. With a critical eye, check your home, look around your storage areas, and see what can be eliminated. The newly created space, the freedom from clutter, will be its own treasure.

Now that you have less clutter in your lives, can’t you see your way more clearly to realizing your dream?

4 comments:

unwriter said...

I agree with you. I've gotten into the habit if we haven't used it in two weeks, we no longer need it. As for shopping, my motto is to find something then go to another store to compare. But, the trip to the other store isn't made.

Granted there are some 'things' that are a must, like more memory for a computer or more storage boxes.

Riding Hood: Rise of the Wolf said...

Wonderful article! I did a bunch of clutter-cleaning, myself, this past spring, and it made a big difference :-D

Joyce4books said...

Well done, Mary. Your philosophy makes sense when applied to de-cluttering. It helps to have the idea of "moving on" to give momentum to the process. -- Joyce

Eunice Boeve said...

Hi Mary,

I never have been able to abide clutter. In fact sometimes I get rid of things and then wish I had them back again. Fortunately for me I have husband who hates to throw things away and so between us we create a balance. We're kind of like Jack Spratt and his wife who between lick the platter clean. My vision will take in the whole of something and so I get overwhelmed and miss the details. For instance in a household of a person who shall remain nameless,there is such a clutter that once wanting to use the phone, I couldn't find it. It wasn't hidden, it was just that there was too much clutter around it and my eyes simply couldn't see past the mess. In another home (also no name given)I couldn't see a computer. Have you ever seen that test where a group of people are dancing a jitterbug or something and a gorilla moves among them for a few seconds. My husband saw the gorilla. I did not.