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When was the last time you let something go? Think about it, you accumulate new experiences, habits, responsibilities, relationships and beliefs every day of your life, but do you ever take time curate what you already have?
This has been on my mind since reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKewon, a must read for anyone aspiring to live with more focus and attention. He talks about the importance of only focusing on what’s truly important, and that list shouldn’t have more than 5 things on it.
Go on a Quit or Ditch Spree
Warning – this will feel REALLY good.
- Quit Commitments: Weekly or monthly meetings that occur just because they do. Are they necessary? I recently moved a weekly meeting to bi-weekly and reduced it from an hour to 30 minutes. We still cover everything that needs to get done. Same goes for social commitments that occur on repeat. If you’re still enjoying them, great! If there’s something else you’d rather do with that time, bow out.
- Ditch clothes and office things: This is where I’m focusing right now. Every month I like to buy a few new things to add to my wardrobe, but rarely do I remove anything from my closet until I find it overwhelming. Same goes for books, papers, collectibles etc. So much stuff gets accumulated throughout the course of a week, but rarely do we make a conscious effort to constantly edit and reduce.
- Quit Facebook people you don’t really know: I find that Facebook is the new breeding ground for loose social connections. It may feel good to see a high volume of friends on your page, but what value does it bring? Facebook’s algorithms are ever changing and it seems you rarely see updates from the people you’re interested in following. Be vigilant with your social connections, particularly on this platform. The less noise, the more enjoyable it is.
- Ditch junk drawer stuff: Does anyone actually buy something with the idea that it would be the perfect accessory for their junk drawer? Is it just me, or do junk drawers expand on their own? Crazy!
- Quit overstocking fridges and pantries. Again, I’m embarrassed by the food that stockpiles up in my pantry only to be found 3 years later. I have the best intentions of finding a food bank, but I lack in follow-through.
- Ditch books and photos: This is a really hard one for me, but as I go through my Minimalist Challenge I’m forced to ask myself if I really ever want to read the books that are just taking up room on my shelf. Photos capture memories of many people who aren’t in my life anymore, but they’re not adding value by sitting in a box, unadmired for years at a time. Memories reside in the heart. Not in a photo. Ideas belong in your head, not on a bookshelf. If you’re unable to let go of some photos, consider scanning them, or just taking a photo of the photo with your iPhone, so you always have it with you.
- Quit friendships that don’t make you feel good: More broadly, it’s a good practice to look at your social group and make sure you’re surrounded by people you truly want in your life. Very often we have friends in our social circles that don’t make us feel good, but the idea of editing your friends seems cold and heartless. Guess what – it’s not! It’s a-okay not to want to spend time with your friend from 20 years ago even though you’ve completely grown apart. The best thing is that you don’t need to intentionally break up with them. Just be less available and time will eventually move the two of you apart. If you have people in your life that drain you, that’s on you, not them.
- Quit outdated beliefs: If you live in the US, there’s a strong possibility that you have some pretty hard line beliefs around politics and social issues. You probably have opinions about cultures, foods, habits and behaviors, too. But are they still relevant? Were they based on a past experience that perhaps isn’t true or accurate? Beliefs are hard to let go of, but when they go unchecked, they can limit and control you.
- Quit Social Media: I’m a sucker for social platforms. I love seeing what’s out there and how people are using them, particularly for business purposes. But it’s easy to overdo it with social and I’m guilty as charged. That said, by being incredibly selective about who I follow on Twitter, I have to say, I actually love the platform now!! It’s like creating your own cocktail party where you invite only those people you want to socialize with (even if you don’t know them). It’s when you start following anyone and everyone that ruins the experience. I find the same is true for Instagram. Less is truly more on these platforms.
Tackling all these at once might be too overwhelming, but it’s the kind of things that you want to think about if you’re focused on minimizing, simplifying and optimizing. I find that these are key areas where we tend to hold on to “stuff” that holds us back. So if you’re ever wondering how to tangibly “make your life better or simpler”, this is a super place to start.