In Part I, I suggested that each time we move, we have another opportunity to do some shedding—to “let go and lighten up.” And I promised I would share some of the ways I’ve been able to make changes in my mind that have allowed me to make decisions more easily about what to let go of and what to keep. (Note: If you have no plans to move in the near future, pretend you are moving and ask, “Would I take this with me when I move?”)
How Do We Let Go of Papers, Photos and Memorabilia?
As I reflect back on all the boxes I’ve gone through in the last several months, here’s the criteria I used in order to reduce this “stuff.” Perhaps it will help you and others.
1. Get Clear on What’s Important Now and in the Future
Being healthy, aging gracefully and living life fully and well are very important to me, as is connecting and being with loved ones. Sharing my wisdom and inspiring others to feel better about themselves and their surroundings is also important, and so is bringing order and peace of mind to as many people as possible. From this place, I am making decisions that support what is important now and in the next five years.
2. Pick a Few Words or Qualities that Capture What You Truly Want
I choose a word or two each year to help me move forward. Right now I am focused on Clarity and Simplicity. In the past, I’ve chosen words like Compassion, Balance, Harmony and Completion. With what words or qualities would you like to align?
3. Accept Where You Are Right Now
Regardless of how much stuff we have—papers and otherwise—have it be okay that, in this moment, this is the way it is—it is what it is. It can take practice to stop beating ourselves up, but what good does that do? Yes, I’m a Professional Organizer. AND, I have stashed papers and magazines away that were not the highest priority. Oh well! (I like the practice of Oh-Wellness!)
4. Take Responsibility for What Has Accumulated
I’m the one who chose to keep the variety of things I stored, sometimes over many decades. I’m the one who chose not to do anything about them until now. Frankly, up until now, it hasn’t been the “right timing.” I had other priorities.
5. Recognize that: Once, Everything Was Important
At the time I placed things in boxes, they were “very important” to me and I wanted to keep them.
6. Acknowledge Your Challenges AND Your Gifts
One of my greatest challenges is that I can “see the possibilities” in just about anything—an image, a word, an idea, a recipe, an article. And one of my greatest gifts is that I can “see the possibilities” in just about anything, including creating order out of chaos and helping those who have lots of stuff. My creativity is fed from many of the things I have collected over the years. Does any of this sound familiar? Have it all be okay!
7. Decide How Much Space You Want Something to Take Up
I decided I only wanted enough photos for three large photo albums—one about me and my life, one about my children and grandchildren, and one about my ancestors (so those I leave behind have a sense of their family history). And I only want to keep the paper that will fit in my file cabinets (I have 3).
8. Find Some Key Questions to Move You Along
There are lots of Key Questions suggested in my book. My favorites to use during this process have been:
• Is this still important?
• Can I find it somewhere else?
• Does it support my intentions of Clarity and Simplicity and Living Well?
• Is it “the best of the best?” (This helped a LOT with Photos!)
9. Watch For and Keep the “Gems and Jewels” and Let Go of the Rest
My tastes have changed over the years, so out go the old recipes and house ideas that once looked “fabulous.” My interests and priorities have changed, so out go many books, audio and VCR’s tapes and most of the self-improvement, self-help and parenting articles, as well as the former client files and how-to-grow-your-business advice.
10. Take Time to Acknowledge What You Have Done
Every time I went through and emptied another box, I took time to say, “Yay me!” When the contents was more of a challenge, I broke it down and cheered after I finished going through a file folder or envelope or smaller stack of stuff. What we focus on gets energized, and I want to focus on Clarity and Simplicity, and celebrate each step of the way.
I am choosing to let go of that which no longer serves me. It makes me feel really good to be surrounded only with that which supports how I want to “be” and what I want to do in my life. I’m hoping some of these ideas will help you let go and lighten up too! And so it is!
Happy End of Summer/Beginning of Fall!