What happens when you start getting rid of all your clutter? In case you didn’t know, I’m a minimalist. I love minimalism as a form of self-care, self-reflection, and personal growth. When done right the positive effects are limitless. But let me take you on a quick trip through time.
The year was 2016, I was getting ready to move across the country. But look around my large apartment and what did you see? So. Much. Stuff. I had had a rough year – okay maybe a rough 3 years, and I was big on retail therapy. It was my coping skill. It was such a destructive habit and I was so anxious about the clutter, I decided to make some drastic changes. So I decided it was time to start getting rid of my stuff. When all said and done, I got rid of about 75% of my stuff. And I never felt better.
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Cue the minimalism bug. Like I said, we got rid of 75% of our things. 75 freaking percent. That’s a lot of stuff. So with a huge change like that there’s gotta be some feeling about it, right? Here’s the top 4 things I learned from getting rid of all that useless clutter.
Don’t waste your life being held back by something that brings you such little value
The initial purge of ridding my life with the excess had many causes. I was stressed, I was broke, and nothing felt in control. It was tiring even thinking about the stuff that needed to be organized and cleaned up daily and the frustration of trying to find something I had misplaced. And please don’t get me started on my closet. I hated coming home and finding a mess in the kitchen from yesterday’s dinner and tripping over the excess dog toys that littered the living room. I wanted more freedom and we were moving soon. All that junk could not and would not come with us. I was determined. Once I got started, I noticed some very important things.
To be clear, this was not a one-day project. It took me two years and three different apartments until I finally felt I had only what I needed and loved. There were several car loads of things that I bought on impulse like trinkets, books, and cute things that I “loved”. Bags and bags of clothing that didn’t fit quite right, or was falling apart, or that I didn’t even like all had to go. I had boxes upon boxes of books (I really never re-read books, why did I buy them when I could get them from the library!) that I donated to the local library. If I didn’t love it or actually use it, it was gone. It was game-changing and probably one of the most important personal growth experiences of my life.
Obviously, huge changes create space for growth in our lives and I learned a few very, VERY important things from getting rid of the clutter.
It’s a waste
Clutter is a waste, plain and simple. It is a waste of money. Waste of time. Waste of energy. And, of course, a waste of space. Most of us are already broke, overbooked, tired, and stressed. Why do we add this extra stuff that will inevitably make things harder in the long run? Life can be hard and after a long day we don’t need to intentionally add any extra difficulty; especially from something that is so temporary.
It’s too easy to hide behind
I’ll be candid for a minute with you guys. I’m human. *shocking* I have baggage. Plenty of it. Clutter was almost like a security blanket for that baggage. So distracted by the overflow of stuff, my mind could justify ignoring with the things I needed to recognize. I hid behind my clutter to avoid real life problems. Eventually, too much pressure built, and I was a bigger hot mess than I needed to be if I had just dealt with it.
Honestly though, clutter clutters. It creates overwhelm and stress because it forms and easy barrier to hide from life. Sometimes (often) literally. You can blame clutter for your problems. You can use clutter as an excuse. And isn’t it so much easier to blame the clutter than accepting that you created this monster or recognize that you have your problems you need to work through? Yes. Obviously. But you can’t grow like that. Getting rid of all that extra clutter made the things that I was hiding from come to the forefront of my life. I won’t lie, it sucked. But I actually finally dealt with things. And I felt good about it….at least after a while.
The things will never make you happy
The odd thing about clutter is it will burn you out before you even realize what happened. One day you’re buying something to spoil yourself after a bad day, then the next your drowning in excess and feeling miserably weighed down. You only get so long on this earth and you weren’t designed to simply manage things you buy. That temporary happiness from buying something shiny wears off and leaves you with just another thing to take care of.
I found that I was constantly drained by the stuff. True happiness was calling my name, but the chains of my possessions were holding me back. (Ooooo, so poetic). Happiness will never be created by possessions, because they will never truly nourish your soul. And since happiness only can come from within you, I don’t know why we expect things to fill that hole.
How to rediscover your priorities + values
Finally, through getting rid of that clutter, I think we discover that we have been distracted from what is important to us. By looking deeper through those superficial priorities of shallow wants of temporary happiness and shiny things, you’ll find what you really want to care about. Maybe it’s adventuring and traveling more. Or perhaps you just want to spend more time with your dog. Perhaps you want to open your own business or move across the globe and start over. When clutter isn’t holding you back you can more easily decide to act on those values and priorities. Your dreams can become more of your reality.
With less holding you down, your potential is unlimited. I was able to discover what I wanted from my life, decided what I valued and began implementing those. Now I’m working for myself, preparing for a couple international vacations this year, spending more quality time with my animals and fixing my finances. And honestly, I feel great about it even in my more difficult moments.
We live with far more than we need. Most of us don’t even realize that we actually live with far more than we actually want. And the saddest part is that many people never gain the things the desperately dream of because they spent too much time on the stuff and on the physical or mental bullshit that didn’t matter. Ridding my home of clutter may have just been the tip of the iceberg into creating simplicity. But it was the most proactive window of opportunity for me.
We waste so much time, energy, and money on physical excess. If it doesn’t make you happy now, it won’t make you happy in the future. Don’t waste your dreams and goals because of something so arbitrary. Don’t let clutter bury your personal growth and don’t let it hinder discovering more in life.
Now that I spent the time getting rid of all that clutter, I realize that I’m better off with a little extra space in my life. Getting rid of 75% of everything you own can be quite the shock, but at this point, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
A few more notes…
It just takes one step in the right direction to create a little change. Try to remove 5 pieces of clutter from your life today and feel the difference. And as always, subscribe to The Fulfillment Pill and you can learn to create a simpler + better life for yourself.
If you’re looking for more information on starting your decluttering process, check out Francine Jay’s book The Joy of Less. It’s a pretty good read to get you started.