Decluttering is one of those things that most of us know we should do, but many of us never get around to. Aside from a brief two-day purge when it really gets too much, we live our lives surrounded by piles of things we don’t need and don’t use. Finding the motivation to declutter is the key to making sustainable changes. There are two parts to acquiring this motivation and maintaining it, so let’s look at each of them in turn.
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1. What’s Your Big Dream?
It might seem odd to be asking about your big dream (or dreams), but there is a fundamental connection between how much stuff you have in your life and your ability to achieve your goals. Or to make that clearer, how much stuff you personally have to manage, and your ability to achieve your goals. If you own a ten bedroom mansion and employ five house staff that take care of things for you then you can have far more stuff than the average person simply because someone else is managing it for you (hint: this doesn’t mean that you should).
If you own a three bedroom house that’s full of huge amounts of things and you are the only person that manages those things, and the upkeep of your space at home, then all those thing are going to be getting in the way of you achieving what you want to achieve.
So, back to the original question: what IS your big dream?
What is something you’ve always had in your mind that you were going to do one day? It could be something as simple as finally lose the weight you’ve been carrying around for the last two decades. Or to qualify professionally and change career. Or maybe to write a book or become a foster mother. Whatever it is that sits at the back of your mind and has done for years is your big why.
Your Big Why – And Your Clutter
Now think about about the life you would be living if your big why were true. Sit down and take some time over this. Think about your daily routine, how you feel, what you spend your time on, and how your big dream fits into your life.
Once you can see all that, take a look at the house you are living in and be honest with yourself: does the current situation at home support your dream goal?
The busy-ness of daily life and all the things that need doing each day take up so much free time. With what little time you have left, are you going to use all of the things around your house? Do you want to spend your free time looking after them? Organising them? Worrying about theft, breakage or loss?
A big part of finding a true, longstanding motivation to declutter is to connect the dots between all of the clutter you own, and the life you really want to lead. Clutter affects our health, our focus, our productivity and our stress levels. And by clutter, I don’t mean rubbish. Clutter can be the £1,500 treadmill in the spare room that you bought but never use. Clutter can be the functional and lovely spare set of china that you have (in case why? In case you go on a crazed rampage and smash every other plate in your house?).
Clutter is stuff we think we need. But we don’t need it.
It suffocates our day, and keeps our dreams firmly in our heads.
2. What Does Clutter Do To The Planet?
The other part of finding your motivation to declutter is to educate yourself on what clutter does to the planet. Our endless desire to consume ever more stuff is killing the only home we have. From excess food consumption and waste, to industrial processes that rip landscapes apart in the drive to find more resources that can be made into things to sell, we have lost all sense of what is enough.
It is not always easy to learn about the ways in which we are destroying the planet. However, I would suggest the following resources to provide a solid backdrop to your decluttering motivation. Something that will attack the source of the problem – over-consumption. If you can begin to change your shopping habits, you can prevent clutter from becoming a problem again. You can start to see excess in our homes for what it really is: waste.
A great 20 minute video that is a fantastic place to begin. It looks at how much we are consuming and what it is doing to the planet.
A book that looks at how advertising companies brainwash us into buying more in order to obtain the life we want, and how our primitive brains get caught up in the constant need for more. Practical strategies to make life better – with less.
A book that talks about changing what you value in life. About switching from stuff to experiences, from things to people. It’s a great read that opens your eyes to the many ways in which we are over-complicating and over-filling our homes, our lives and the planet, with things we do not need.
Motivation To Declutter Needs To Be Maintained
It’s very easy to declutter and then slip right back into old habits. Feeling pleased with yourself for having an emptier home, you can then find yourself out shopping for new things, buying in the same way as before, which is exactly what led you to need to sort your home out in the first place.
Don’t let decluttering become something you spend your life doing. Do it once, do it properly, and don’t allow your home to turn into a storage area (instead of a living area) ever again.
Find your motivation to declutter
Know what your own big goals are, and how clutter sucks up your free time and stops you from making progress on those goals. When you are looking at things at home, ask if they support the life you want to lead. If not, let them go.
Educate yourself on what excess consumption is doing to people and to the planet.
Revisit both of these when you feel old habits creeping back. We live in a world where clutter is normal. It’s not. Don’t fall for it. As Gandhi says, be the change you want to see in the world. It’s never too late to clear out the old and make space for a new life.