Most of us know we have too much stuff, but for one reason or another, we refuse to let go of the heaviness that comes with having too many items in our homes. We do our best to avoid cleaning or organizing and somehow convince ourselves that one day we’ll deal with the clutter in our garage, wardrobes, drawers, and closets. We shove items into cabinets and stash them behind closed doors or in that spare bedroom no one uses, and we forget about them until company comes to town.
Today, there is sufficient data to prove we have too much stuff, and it’s robbing us of life. Statistics show that the average American throws away over 68 pounds of clothing yearly. Self-storage has grown to tremendous popularity as renters and homeowners have too much stuff to fit into their homes. Not only do we have too much stuff, but most of us are attached to objects that hold little or no value in our daily lives, meanwhile we continue to pay storage fees to retain them. Much of our stuff does not help us and, in fact, hinders us from becoming who we are meant to be.
We talked to Professional Organizer and Decluttering Coach Jen Heard to learn more about letting go of our stuff, understanding the value of simplicity, and having the essentials.
Stuff has strings
Jen Heard is the founder of Clean Sweep Consulting, Inc. She has decades of experience working with busy, intelligent people and their families to set goals, prioritize, redesign, downsize, and improve their lives. When it comes to stuff, she says that when you buy an item, it has five or more strings attached to it because of the work to manage it, recycle its packaging, find space for it, dust and clean it, maintain it, and ultimately dispose of it. For those who are conscious stewards of their wealth, you also have to find someplace of value for it to go once you’re done with it.
Jen challenges people to close their eyes and imagine that they’re holding a ball of string. Next, tie five strings to every object in your room –everything. Then tie those strings and things to your waist, wrists, and ankles. What do you imagine this to feel like? How would this make you feel? Overwhelmed, ashamed, or distracted? How would you handle leaving for work or preparing the kids in the morning when you have all those strings attached? Is this tangled mess the vision you had for your home? If every item in your home has strings attached and those strings are tied to you, can you see why cutting some of the lines may be helpful?
Letting go of stuff
To Jen, letting go of the stuff in your home is like a weight loss routine. This act will make you more accessible and more focused on your vision for your home and your life. Jen works with people by helping them create a structure and a strategy that will support the vision they have for their life. She helps clients mindfully cut strings to the stuff that no longer serves them and envision the life they want. Next, she helps clients realize what they truly value so they can intentionally give those less fortunate the stuff they no longer need.
Jen says that letting go of stuff, or cutting the strings to what no longer serves you, is essential for self-care. This process requires you to understand the value and simplicity of having essentials. Most people would prefer to cling to their stuff, including the non-essentials. However, once you give away the stuff you no longer need to charity, you open yourself to experience life without so many strings attached. What if now that you don’t have to live in such a large house to hold all of your stuff, you move into a small condo or apartment and spend your days traveling to places in the world you always wanted to see? What if you visit people you love and have been missing? Without all that extra stuff to take care of, you are free to move about the country, and even the world, unfettered.
A journey towards a better you
Having essentials only in your home can significantly impact every area of your life. It releases you from the burden that comes with maintaining possessions and opens you up to experience life in a rich and self-fulfilling way. Embracing simplicity and having essentials also leaves room for self-care as the relentless pursuit of stuff no longer consumes you. So far, Jen has helped hundreds of people and families experience the value and simplicity of returning to what is essential.
Click here for more information on the Love Bigger movement and to access our app that helps you achieve the simplicity of owning the essentials while helping others.