8 Ways to Let Go of Your Stuff
- Tear down the museum. In my youth, I forged strong friendships and created a history for myself that seemed worth remembering. So I held on to every trinket from my past but in doing so, I didn’t have any room for the present. I wanted to throw parties and have friends to visit in a home where they could actually sit down. So I photographed those hold things, then cleared them out to make space for the next chapters of my life.
- Assess true value. A hefty chuck of what I moved into our home was obsolete computer equipment. When I looked at it, I saw dollar signs. Then my economist friend, Stephen, reminded me of the fallacy of sunk costs. I was sizing up those old computers based on what I had spent rather than their present value: close to zero. I sold the lot to a used-electronics store for $60 (not bad, considering) and got a much needed haircut with the cash.
- Know thyself. I liked to think of myself as someone who exercised every day by running on a giant motorized treadmill, read all the literary classics, and baked cookies for every special occasion. The reality? I am not a runner, I like to read pop fiction, and cookies aren’t really my thing. The treadmill, the boxes of books, and some kitchen gadgets all found new homes.
- Trust me: You won’t fix it. Many of us store t broken things, convinced we would someday have them repaired. Two key questions to ask: “If you saw these items in a store today, would you buy them and how much would you pay?” Often this leads to the realization that broken items are not worth fixing.
- Do look a gift horse in the mouth. I had hoarded many unattractive presents because I thought that was the decent thing to do. I also wasn’t sure what I would say if someone noticed his gift missing and asked why. Well, you know what? No one has.
- Just admit that you don’t like it. As I sorted through my stuff, I became aware of the fact that I didn’t even want some of it. There were things I didn’t exactly like but didn’t exactly hate―and so lived with them out of pure apathy. This was the easiest clutter to set free.
- Let go of the guilt. When my grandparents passed away, I inherited a collection of 27 rusty knives and a warped cookie sheet. I kept all these items for more than a decade. Eventually I realized that if my grandparents were alive, they would have replaced the cookie sheet and knife set (and been mortified that my aunts had passed on such dangerous accoutrements).
- Face it: “One day” almost never comes. I justified keeping half my wardrobe on the basis that I would use it one day. I hate throwing out potentially useful things. But, finally getting rid of it gave me much needed space for the things that fit and that I like to wear.
Written by reformed hoarder Erin Rooney Doland.