We’ve all done it, started cleaning out a closet, garage or attic only to end up keeping way more than we wanted and feeling like we didn’t accomplish what we’d set out to. As you consider each item, you give up a few things freely but hesitate on so many more, ultimately holding on to things not so much because you love or need it but you don’t have enough motivation to let it go.
I’ll use a personal example to demonstrate. A few weeks ago, I was going through the storage room that came with my apartment. Having this room is both a good and bad thing, it is a place for useful things that don’t fit in my apartment and, unfortunately, things I don’t need but can’t seem to get rid of. Among the items I found was a small decorative tin box that I used to keep on my counter. As my taste changed, it got packed away with the other décor that no longer “fit in”. As I looked at it and tried to add it to the items I was donating, I hesitated and almost put it back in a box to spend a few more years in my storage room. I can honestly say that it would never have seen the inside of my apartment again. I ended up donating it later that afternoon.
So … what helped me make the right decision? I used a technique that we utilize with our clients but hadn’t applied to myself before. What did I do?
I selected a charity I wanted to support BEFORE I started cleaning out my storage room. The motivation of knowing that my decisions wouldn’t just affect me impacted my choices. Not all choices, that is. The things that were easy to get rid of were still easy, the things I wanted to keep because I felt a connection to them I still kept. It was the items that fell in between, I probably knew I should let them go but hesitated. Knowing that I was going to help a cause I believed in made it so much easier to let go, I hesitated far less and donated more.
Getting back to my tin box, I’ve considered donating it many times. I used to like it a lot and it was easier to keep it than to decide whether it should stay or go. I think that’s what fills up so many garages, attics and closets. It’s not stuff we necessarily love or need but things we don’t want to make a decision about. It’s simply easier to keep it. You need to give yourself a reason to make the decision. Helping others is a great reason! In my case the local children’s hospital needs support more than I needed to hold onto something I didn’t care about or use anymore. This hospital, CHKD in Norfolk, has a series of thrift stores in our area that generate $2.5 million dollars a year. That’s a sizable amount and a meaningful contribution to their mission.
Finding this motivation isn’t hard, and you only have to do it once. A quick internet search will help you find a charity that you can help. Once you find one, just remind yourself whenever you’re going to start going through something to “clean up”.
Do I miss my tin box? Not in the least!