Voluntary Simplicity: Where Do I Begin?

If you have decided that you want to begin on the path of voluntary simplicity, but you aren’t sure exactly how to start, let me offer a few tips. Remember that traveling the early portion of this path is not easy. Getting on the path in the first place is usually not “simple” either — but the long-term benefits can not be overstated.

A wise man once said (paraphrased) that, In life, we push our belongings in front of us. If you are tired of pushing, if your arms are weary, if your stamina is dipping… it may be time to lighten your load.

If you need help as you begin to simplify, get it.

You may be able to call on a family member or a friend – but be sure they are good at the art of “stuff-reduction” before asking for help. If in doubt, hire a professional organizer. A good organizer should listen to your goals, review your current living situation and (if possible) tour your new dwelling (if you are moving to a smaller location) before beginning the work.

If you are considering living in a tiny house you should remember that scaling down does NOT mean living in a smaller space and storing your “stuff” elsewhere. It means living with the only the stuff you need and eliminating the rest.

How Do I Eliminate Excess Stuff From My Life?

Divide your possessions into four categories:

1. Can’t live without (must be beautiful as well as useful)
2. Don’t want to live without (brings me joy for some reason)
3. Something I may need someday soon (or be able to wear again someday soon)
4. Don’t know why I have it (but I’ve had it forever and it’s MINE!)

Keep those things in the first two categories and donate, gift or discard those things in the second two categories — without exception.

Review the first two categories again with your professional organizer or blunt family member or friend. Discard anything that is a duplicate, is not special, or has not been used in the past six months.

If you literally can’t bear to part with something, stick it in a box, seal it up, label it with a date 6 months from today and store it. If, when that date arrives, you have not had to open that box in search of any particular essential item — take it to the nearest donation center and leave it — UNOPENED — with the nice people there. Let me reiterate… DO NOT OPEN the box.

If you haven’t missed it, needed it or looked for it in six months, it’s probably not essential.

Tomorrow I’ll give you a few tips on how to tackle organizing, simplifying and learning to love your closet!

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