Women entrepreneurs wear a ton of different hats. If you are a Mother, Wife or Homeowner I can guarantee you that one of the hats you wear is "Chief Stuff-Keeper". You'd be surprised if I told you how many of my client's difficulties can be traced back to the hardships of this role (financial issues, housekeeping issues, organizational issues, time management issues, etc…).
Now I admit that my family is perhaps unique in our approach to stuff. We brought one carry-on each with us on our year long Europe adventure and we could travel that way tomorrow if we needed to. But, I believe that attachment to stuff is nothing but a massive energy sucker, a convenient excuse for fear and lethargy and a huge financial diversion right on to the highway to Hell.
If you've ever uttered anything similar to the phrases below I am afraid you may have already taken that exit.
"But I couldn't do that I am still paying off the TV" "But I must borrow $20,000 for that closet renovation I have no room for my stuff" "I have to rent an office I don't have room in my house"
Stuff is a money grabbing, soul sucker.
Now I am not saying that you shouldn't have nice things. I fully plan on furnishing my dream home (piece by delicious piece) some day when we finish wandering. Just don't have "stuff".
Here's an example...
As part of our preparations for leaving The Bahamas two years ago we decided to have a yard sale to clear some more stuff. Interestingly enough, we had a huge yard sale in Virginia before we left the US so that we would bring only things that we absolutely needed for our new life in The Bahamas. How is it that only 4 years later we have more stuff to sell?
It's the same stuff.
Yep. We unpacked boxes that hadn't been opened since we arrived, spread the contents on the front patio and it went like hotcakes. So what is wrong with this picture?
I sold five (yes you read that correctly...5) comforter sets for $10 each. Now, putting aside the fact that we brought comforter sets with us to a tropical climate (don't ask, I have no idea), what about the financial losses incurred in that sale? Not only did we have a bunch of comforter sets that we purchased and barely used, we also PAID for them to be shipped to us in The Bahamas and PAID customs duty on them as well. Why? Because it is hard to let go of stuff, until you do... but more on that later.
That yard sale was painful. And I'm not talking about the fact that people lined up outside an hour before it opened (yes they did), or the fact that when I opened the gate I was nearly trampled like a scene from Black Friday at Walmart. No, it was painful because every time I accepted payment for an item, I couldn't enjoy the money I was earning. All I could think about how much money we had lost. Every item we sold was one that we never should have shipped there in the first place. How much money had we wasted?
Lesson learned. Let go. Let go for the reasons above (it's expensive when you don't) but also let go because of how good it feels. In the months prior to leaving, after we had purged and staged the house for weekly rentals life was easier, calmer and cleaner. There was a place for everything and everything was in its place. We didn't have closets filled with clutter like unresolved arguments, and we had empty shelves encouraging inspiration like blank white pages.
It was, and is, liberating.
Be honest... do you have stuff you haven't touched in 5 years? Boxes still sealed from the last time you moved? Closets that you are afraid to open?
So here is a tough love exercise for those of you that have convinced yourselves that absolutely everything in your house is necessary and you couldn't live without it or your life would be empty and sad.
Step #1 - Pick a closet or drawer in your home. It can be any room, any drawer, just start somewhere. Step #2 - Get some empty boxes Step #3 - Empty the entire drawer or closet in to those boxes. I mean leave nothing… not a thing behind Step #4 - Give that drawer or closet a good clean - have you ever cleaned it before? Answer honestly! Step #5 - Take those boxes and put them in another room. If you are really brave seal them up and put them in the attic. Step #6 - Every time you NEED something that was in that drawer or closet take it out of the boxes and put it back in the clean space. Step #7 - If you are really "stuff-fi-fied" you can wait for 6 months before you Craiglist/Yard Sale/eBay those boxes - but seriously, you do it after two months. Step #8 - Repeat with another closet or drawer.
It is super important that while you are conducting this exercise you don't BUY anything to put in that closet or drawer. How did it go? Tell me in the comments below.
*Photo by Jessica Hume