The Key To Letting Go Of Your Stuff

My First Watch

Have you ever tried to “downsize”?

Have you attempted to adopt a minimalist lifestyle only to go through a couple of boxes and have just a handful of items to get rid of?

That was us the last few weeks. Just the other day I had an epiphany and found the secret to being able to get rid of stuff without any stress or anxiety.

The Reason Getting Rid Of Stuff Is So Hard

A few days ago I read a great post on Married With Luggage by Sherry Ott about her experiences in trying to get rid of stuff. In that post she described how she and her brother were going through boxes of old stuff in their parent’s garage and getting rid of all of the things that no longer made any sense to hang on to.

Sherry mentions that they were getting rid of the stuff they had been storing in their parents garage as well as trying to convince her parents that they didn’t need to keep all of the boxes of their old stuff either.

In her story, Sherry mentions that they had to negotiate with their father for every box of old stuff they wanted to get rid of, and that he was agitated the whole day.

On reading her story I found myself recalling the same issues in myself as I was trying to go through old boxes in my own garage.

Why was it so difficult to get rid of boxes of junk? I mean, literally, boxes that held the detritus from old “junk drawers” that we had been carting around for over 10 years now!

Why was I so reluctant to let go of the stuff that is weighing us down and keeping us from beginning the grand adventure that our family desires so strongly?

You can’t look back and look ahead at the same time. Choose where you want to live your life.   Click to tweet

How Make Letting Go Of Stuff Painless

In Sherry’s case there is one big difference between Sherry and her Father. That difference is what those items represent.

To Sherry’s Father, the items in the garage represented the past. They were things that signified memories of the family. Small tokens of the life they shared together.

For Sherry living out of her suitcase for over a year now has shown her that those items no longer held any real value in comparison to the new memories she is making in her current life as a world traveler.

For me the key difference came because of external stimulus. As we are ramping up our Year To Freedom project, the things that represent the memories in our lives are beginning to lose their luster.

I’ve been having a hard time letting go of the first watch that I remember my parents giving to me. That watch had been with me for over 30 years now. It is special in its own way. However, it just isn’t the watch that I want to take on our next big adventure.

As I look forward to paring down my stuff in preparation for starting our travels, the old watch doesn’t seem quite as important. I will always have the memories of that watch even if I choose to let go of the watch itself.

We have been dreaming of becoming world travelers for over a decade. Now that we have committed to fulfilling that dream in the next year, the little things that held so much value suddenly seem much less significant. Just yesterday I was able to sell the watch and be happy that it was going to someone that was excited to get it.

The key to making it painless to let go of stuff is to make your future so exciting that it outshines the sparkle of those things that represent past memories.

You will always have the memories you associate with your things. If you feel like you need to keep the “things” to help you remember, then take pictures of those things.

Digital images are easier to pack, share and display than the things themselves. You can even create digital scrapbooks that have stories wrapped around the images too if that helps.

Live An Epic Life

Corbett Barr suggest that if you want to build traffic for your blog, or increase your business then you need to write (or create) epic shit. The key to creating epic shit is that it always comes from living an epic life. You will not inspire others to action simply by wishing you were doing something exciting or worthwhile.

Now you don’t have to be the best, most awesome guru at what you do either. You just need to be making progress towards a worthwhile goal. Learn, try, succeed, fail. Live a life worth reading about. Find the courage to follow your heart!

Then be willing to share that life with others in an honest way. Dr. Brene Brown shows us how when we are vulnerable, we make connections with others. By showing both our successes and our failures, we give others hope that they too can live an epic life.

So, if you have had trouble letting go of stuff, no matter how hard you try, it may be because you are focused on the stuff. Change your focus to living an epic life, building excitement for your future, and the stuff just won’t matter as much.

In fact, if you are like us, you will find that the change can be dramatic. We are now excited by seeing how much stuff we can get rid of each weekend. We now understand that the stuff is one of the big things that is standing between us and the start of our family’s “world tour”!

We donate or sell what we can and toss what is left while taking pictures when appropriate. Each box gone is one box closer to our escape!

What is your vision for an epic life? What is standing between that life and the life you live right now?

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2 Responses to The Key To Letting Go Of Your Stuff

  1. Mike Stankavich August 5, 2012 at 7:51 pm #

    I found that when the stuff is out of sight and unavailable I didn’t miss it at all. When my family and I moved from Oregon to Manila a couple years ago we got rid of about 75% of our stuff ahead of time. Everything beyond our suitcases that we kept was shipped by sea, which took two months. The funny thing was that after 2 months, I didn’t even care about about 80% of the things I had specifically decided to keep.

    My wife, 2 daughters and I are very close to being able to pack everything we own and hop on a plane to move anywhere. It’s a wonderful feeling of freedom. And that’s exactly what we plan to do next July when we leave Malaysia.

    • Mike Routen August 5, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

      Mike,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      It looks like we are now less than a year away from following in your footsteps!

      I’m still amazed at how easy it has become to let go of stuff that I would have previously fought tooth-and-nail to keep. Our goal is to be able to grab our four backpacks, head to the airport, leave the dreary Pacific Northwest and land in a tropical island.

      The ability to have that kind of freedom means so much more than any of the stuff that sits around our house.

      Have a great day!