With the change of season around the corner, Spring is a great time to get organized, clear out the old, and make way for the new.
A few months ago, I created a post around Marie Kondo’s book, The Art of Tiding Up. I had an amazing response to the post and it resonated with a lot of people. The feedback I received was that people felt a weight lifted by purging the things that no longer brought them joy and re-discovering items that did bring them joy.
I felt those same feelings of relief, but sometimes the thing that isn’t spoken about is how to manage once the old has been removed and how not to re-purchased items and again fill up our homes and spaces with “stuff”.
The physical clearing of items has a profound impact on our lives, but something that needs to also be recognized is the emotional and mental clearing that happens in parallel.
Often, the most profound changes in our lives are the clearing of old patterns of thinking, ways we view ourselves, and even of relationships that hold us back. Those relationships can be personal or even our jobs themselves. But it’s really hard to see them for what they are and take action. It takes courage and strength to release things that no longer serve us, but I can honestly tell you that the most unexpected and positive things begin to happen when you clear out that energy and make space for something new.
Old though patterns, negative people, things that no longer bring us joy were a huge part of our journey and what we needed to learn from. When you have learned your lessons, it means that your contract with those things has now ended and it is time to upgrade!
When we are experiencing an upgrade, it can sometimes feel frustrating and painful. You may experience symptoms of grief and loss. These are all really important feelings and truly are a sign that something bigger and better is on its way for you.
To ensure you aren’t falling back into old patterns or immediately going out and purchasing more things to replace the things you purged, here are 5 questions to ask yourself to keep you on track:
1. Are you optimizing your time?
Time is precious, and the last thing most of us want to spend it on is cleaning or decluttering.
That’s why our stuff accumulates so quickly. We often don’t take the time to consider the things we own and the value (or lack thereof) they bring to our lives.
Clutter amounts to postponed decisions. Whether it means not taking the time to go through your closet, put your clothes away, leave a stack of mail for tomorrow or dishes in the sink.
Instead of waiting until you have an entire weekend to sort through your stuff, make small decisions as they come up. Designate one bin for trash and one for items to donate (there are many shelters and non-profits that take gently used items). Then toss things in right when you realize you no longer need them.
Take the extra minute to put something away properly so over time you do not become overwhelmed by the number of things you have to do or the amount of stuff you have.
2. Are you adding or replacing?
By going through your things and taking an inventory of what you have, you may rediscover things you didn’t even know you had! Before going out and purchasing something, make sure to ask yourself if it is something you are currently using. If you currently own a similar item, take time to think about why you need to buy another one.
3. Can you repair it?
In our world today, so many people feel when something has broke, they need to purchase a new item. One thing we forget about in creating a sustainable future is, if something is broken, are you able to fix it?
If you are not able to fix it, can you buy a previously owned one?
4. Is it a need or a want?
Some people have a hard time discerning the difference between a need and a want. The difference between a need and a want is pretty simple—until you set yourself loose in a store. Chocolate chip ice cream? It's considered a food, so clearly, it’s a need. That designer T-shirt that fits you perfectly? Well, you need more shirts, so why shouldn’t it count as a need, too? We sometimes make excuses and it's easy to mix up wants and needs and lose sight of your goal of owning less things.
In actuality, you only need four things to survive:
A roof over your head
Enough food and water to maintain your health
Basic health care and hygiene products
Clothing (just what you need to remain comfortable and appropriately dressed)
Everything that goes beyond this—a big house, name-brand clothes, fancy foods and drinks, and a new car—is a want.
Does that mean that you should only buy the things that you need? Not at all. Life is meant to be lived, not survived. It is however, important to think about why you are purchasing it and if it is going to go to waste in the future.
If you are still confused about whether or not you need something, then I recommend going home and thinking about the purchase for at least a day. If it's a really big purchase, then perhaps wait at least a week.
Doing this will allow you time to research the item and if you will actually miss not having it.
In most cases, you'll probably forget about the item and end up not purchasing it.
5. Is it something sustainable?
Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand on natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability. It could mean paying more for a quality product that is going to last you, changing how you choose to do things, being active in taking initiatives to help your local community and even consuming products that support sustainable practices
Sustainability doesn’t just include benefiting the earth! It can also contribute to your spending, goals you may have and ultimately your happiness!
I love using these questions to check in with myself and make sure I am in alignment with how I want to live and what I want to be doing. If I question something for too long, I know that I most likely don’t need it in my life. This allows me to bring in more of what I love, less stress, and brings me so much joy! I have also been able to save more too by living more consciously and in alignment.
If you are interested in learning ways that you can live more sustainable, check out this article from Conserve Energy Future on 15 ways to practice sustainable living.
If you have ways you like to live sustainably, please comment them below!