By Ashleigh Hardy
There I was, halfway through the year; The weather was beautiful, the sun was out, and I should’ve been on my patio soaking up some Vitamin D and reading a good book. Instead, I was looking at boxes still unopened from my move a year ago, a closet that was stuffed to the brim with clothes I hadn’t worn in months. There were items in drawers that have survived four moves over ten years that have not been touched since college. That’s when it hit me. Here I am helping others to get their entire lives as a coach, and I am not practicing what I preach. It was time for a change. Was I ready to become a Minimalist and completely change my lifestyle? Ehhh, no! That was a bit extreme for me, but I appreciate and value the fundamental practices of the minimalist lifestyle.
Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things individuals most value and the removal of everything that distracts them from it. Simply put, it is a life practice that forces intentionality. You know I was all for that, and I wanted to incorporate that perspective into every area of my life - finances, eating habits, experiences, lifestyle, etc. It was time for me to get rid of the frivolous and start appreciating more of what was significant in my life. Well, if you’re reading this and you’re ready to make the last half of your year even better, try out these tips to begin the process of purging the clutter from your life so that you can be free to live it more intentionally.
Tip #1: Try to become more aware of choice support cognitive bias and how it affects your everyday life. Bare with me while I speak Licensed Professional Counselor to you very briefly. This phenomenon is when we tend to make decisions and ignore information that does not support our interests, wants, or desires. A perfect example would be these pair of jeans sitting in my closet right now. I bought the jeans several years ago because, at the time, I thought they were super cute. They were on sale for $10, and that sealed the deal for me! The fact that they didn’t quite fit over my hips wasn’t a deal-breaker, a few months in the gym and I’d be good-to-go. Those jeans are sitting in my closet with the tags still on them.
I ignored the pertinent information that said the jeans just didn’t fit. I wanted them, so I purchased them. Let’s look at example numero dos - the cutest pair of pink and green Puma shoes that you ever did see. I’ve had these shoes for almost 12 years, and ask me how many times I’ve worn them…not once! SHAME is right. I can’t bring myself to put them on. I love them too much, and I tell myself I can’t give them away because I’ll wear them one day. I’m just waiting for an opportunity to wear them someplace where there’s no chance they will get dirty… and that’s an impossible task, I know! How many of you can relate? You bought something you told yourself you could fit into one day because it was a deal you couldn’t pass up. You're either going to buy something that matches, or you love it so much you won't wear it because you don’t want to ruin it. It’s alright to raise your hand. When you know better, you do better. Hi, my name is Ashleigh, and I have a small habit of purchasing fantasy and not purchasing reality.
Tip #2: Buy the reality! If it doesn’t fit at the store, don’t buy it. If you already have enough mirrors and pillows in your living room, don’t more. I know, I know, you’re about to go hard in the paint the rest of this summer so you can fit it, and you’re changing your decor so that the lamp will go perfectly with your new color scheme. Here is the thing, you should go hard in the paint at the gym so you can feel good and look good. Do that interior design project you’ve been pinning for months. However, let’s be honest with ourselves, once you reach your goal weight, you’ll be shopping for something new to wear, and you’ll forget all about that blouse you bought four months ago.
Once you finally paint your walls that new teal color, you will find the perfect gold lamps at a target to make the room pop. Buy what you can put to use right now. There’s nothing wrong with goals and wanting to work your way down into something! If you have one article of clothing that is your way of measuring if you’ve reached those goals, then that’s great. Leave it to the one article of clothing and don’t purchase a wardrobe that will end up collecting dust in your closet.
Tip #3: Follow the 14-day rule. If you buy something and it doesn’t get used within 14 days, return it. This may be one of the hardest things to do. If you’re like me, you buy a dress for a wedding that is five months away. If you know you will wear that outfit for a particular event, then commit to that. However, if you haven’t used a product or worn a pair of shoes within 14 days of you purchasing it, there’s an even larger chance that another 14 days will go by, then another and next thing you know, you have yet another thing in your house chilling with the dust bunnies. Be honest with yourself. If you love it, you’re going to utilize it sooner than later. Return it and save your money, or put it to good use.
Tip #4: Double the pleasure isn’t always double the fun. Have you ever really evaluated how many duplicates you have in your home? You’d be surprised if you did a thorough inventory of your things. I have 3 of the same hair pomade. What can I say? I like my edges laid. Just kidding! What really happened was that couldn’t find the first jar I bought. It got lost in one of my many hair product bins, so I bought another. I forgot that I packed the second jar on my last trip and forgot to unpack it, and ended up buying the third jar. Waste of money! Have you done something similar? To avoid duplicates, you should go through your home and put all of your duplicates into a box. Put the box somewhere you won’t see frequently. If in 30 days you don’t use anything in that box, then donate those items to someone who could use them.
Tip #5: Try the 12-12-12 Challenge. On my quest to declutter my room, a friend of mine suggested I try this challenge. Not only, do I love a good challenge, but this one seemed like something I could easily incorporate into my life in a fun way. This challenge requires you to find 12 things in your home that you will donate, 12 things that you will throw away, and 12 things that to put back in their proper place. This seems super simple, but it’s so effective. In 30 minutes I had my laundry room cleaned up and cleared out. I realized doing small things like this has helped me from accumulating things over time.
Tip #6: Create a space! I am a pretty crafty person, so this was something I was energized to do. I found space on my walls to add hooks, and finally hung up pictures and mirrors that had been sitting next to my couch for months. I bought a few large stackable bins so I could rotate my wardrobe according to the season, instead of having it all squished up in my closet. I cleaned out my pantry and fridge and got rid of anything that was expired or that I knew I wasn’t going to eat. I even got rid of makeup. I admit that one was a bit painful, but there were some products I had never used. Some were free because I was a Sephora VIP member. Some things I used a few times and never used them again. I had to ask myself, would I eat expired food? Then why would I put something on my face that’s two years old? It was time to let it go, let it flow.
These are just a few initial steps you can take to begin living a more organized and less cluttered life. I've been slowly implementing these tips, and I’m still working on it. I encourage you to do a pre and post reflection. Briefly write a few sentences down. Describe how you feel before using these techniques. Do you need this? Why do you own this? If your environment were a reflection of what goes on in your head and your life, what would your current living space say about you? Hopefully, after trying out a few of these exercises, you will not only feel better, but you will also have inspiration to self-actualize and dream big in other areas of your life. Now is the time to be more intentional about what you consume in every area of your life. It is possible to clear the clutter and live a more fulfilling life by owning less.