One of the biggest question that most people face when decluttering comes at the end of it all. That question is, What do I do when I’m done decluttering? Even though this is the end result most of us are hoping for when we start practicing minimalism or letting go of our things, it’s a question that is rarely (if ever) addressed. That’s why, today, instead of staying stuck in the monologue of endless tips for decluttering, we are going to turn our focus to the light at the end of the tunnel. Life after clutter, and what the hell to do when you get there.
Why do we declutter…really?
If you are neck deep in your decluttering journey, I want you to pause and ask yourself why you started decluttering in the first place? Maybe you had an end goal in mind, like downsizing your house. Holla! Us too! Perhaps you had kids moving out, or kids moving in. Maybe you were like the bajillion of other people around the world and you simply felt overwhelmed with how much stuff you had, so you started getting rid of it.
Whatever your answer might be, I want you to understand that none of us actually declutter for the reasons we think we do. Sure, your declutter journey could have started because you needed to move into a smaller space, or a different space, but why did you want that other space to begin with? Perhaps you were seeking a new location in life that offered a fresh start. It could be that you were hoping for less space to manage so you’d have more time and energy for other things?
Even if you are one of the people who began decluttering for no other reason than to have less crap to manage, I bet there is a deeper reason as to why. Is it because you have a house full of kids, and putting your focus on them, yourself, and the housework was just too much? Probably. If so, be sure you check out The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go. It will help make this so much easier, pinky promise.
Remember, when you find yourself smack dab at the end of decluttering, there was a reason you started in the first place.
Stuff as a distraction
If your house was or is swarming with unwanted clutter, there is a good chance that you originally used that clutter as a distraction. Maybe it was after a hard day of work, you decided to treat yourself to a local thrift store, and convinced yourself you’d totally find a way to decorate the house with 23 used Mason jars.
It could be the guilt that consumed you when your parents had to move out of their house, and wanted you to keep 92.3% of their belongings. How can you say no? You’d feel way too terrible. It’s easier to just say yes rather than have the uncomfortable conversation.
This is something that The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go talks about — becoming aware of the limiting beliefs tied to the things we possess.
While most of us might be willing to admit that clutter came into our house as a form of distraction, most of us don’t want to admit that we are now decluttering or organizing as another form of distraction.
Decluttering as a distraction
Say you’ve gone all gung ho about getting rid of excess clutter, and you are fully committed to living. a minimalist lifestyle. You can see a clutter-free version of your life in the near future and it is beautiful.
After a few major declutter sessions, you are feeling accomplished, you wipe the sweat from your brow, load the donation boxes into the trunk, and sit back with a cup of coffee marveling at your latest victory. PS The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go recommends scheduling your donation day into your calendar, so you don’t end up carting around 4 bags worth of donations for the next month and a half!
Two week later you get word that your grandma passed away, and you are absolutely overcome with grief. You manage to get through your day to day fine, but anytime you find a moment of quiet, you get the urge to move, to run away…so you start decluttering. You can’t control everything in your life, but you sure as hell can control this, so you are going to.
You see, without noticing it, we can use decluttering as a coping mechanism just like we might have done with stuff. This is why, as we start to get to the end of the clutter, we might recognize some not so awesome feelings popping up.
Sitting with your discomfort
One thing you might find yourself face to face when when you are done decluttering is your own discomfort around having nothing left to get rid of. If you had been using decluttering as a tool for distracting yourself, you just might have to go head to head with the things you’ve been running from.
I want to remind you, that this is absolutely OK. More people need to be willing to face the fears of their mind in order to finally come out on top. Maybe this would be a good time to seek counseling.
If you’ve really loved losing yourself in the process of decluttering, there is a good chance that in order to keep running, you will work to accumulate more clutter again. Instead of taking 3 steps back, always work to look toward the future and what is possible there.
Avoiding the minimalism “trend”
Another issue many people run into when it comes to decluttering is that they get swept away with the trend of minimalism and rather than focus on creating a space that is functional for them.
It is so easy to stumble upon a video of a minimalist family living in a tiny house and feel the urge to get rid of more of your stuff, even though, if you’re being honest, you are kind of OK with the amount of stuff you own.
Do I need to have less? Am I being materialistic? Oh my gosh, they have so much less than we do.
Without realizing it, minimalism can become just one more way we compete with those around us. If your urge to keep up bubbles up from time to time, take the time to recognize it and remind yourself that you are living life for you and no one else. Oh, and who said minimalists can’t like stuff?
What do you want that is bigger than stuff?
Now to the question of all questions…what do you want for your life that is bigger than stuff?
This is the goal, after all, is it not? To work on letting go of the stuff that is less important so we can get back to focusing on the stuff that matters more? This is one of the first things discussed in The Gentle Art of Letting Sh*t Go because this is the biggest goal we all need to remember. Our lives are big, and we are meant to take up space!
If you have gone through the process of letting stuff go, there is a good chance that you’ve feed up more than space. You’ve also managed to clear up time and energy whether you are aware of it or not. When we have less stuff to manage, we instantly give ourselves more time. More time creates more energy which gives us the opportunity to slow down — potentially for the first time.
Once you have been given time to slow down and escape survival mode, you just might find that you’ve gifted yourself a clearer picture of who you are and what you want to do with your life.
Be ready to let go again…someday
It’s also important to remember that despite our best efforts, life is ever-changing. Even if we’re feeling content with how much we’ve decluttered up until this point, there is no telling how we’ll feel 10 years from now.
Life is a process of desperately clinging…or…willingly letting go. The choice is up to you.
If you choose to continually let go with the ebbs and flows of life, then it’s safe to say you’re not done decluttering just yet. For now, find peace, show up where you feel called to and remember your life was always meant to be bigger than stuff.