“The cost of a thing is the amount of what I call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.”
-Henry David Thoreau
Material belongings have brought us so much grief that there are F-ing movements built around letting go of them. Minimalism, the tiny house trend, the KonMari method that some people treat as a religion – they all address a common issue: stuff. More specifically, unnecessary stuff.
I’m not going to sit here and preach about the “emotional weight” our belongings hold, or how much better you’ll “feel” if you get rid of the things you don’t need.
As psychiatrist Michael Bennett says, F*ck Feelings.
Let’s talk about the things we can measure: money and time.
If you have a chair in your living room that is rarely used, doesn’t quite fit the space, and you have to move it every time you clean your floor, why keep it? Let’s say that’s 30 seconds per week. Twenty-one minutes per year. Add that to the 5 minutes you spend vacuuming the upholstery every couple months. Fifty-one minutes a year.
It doesn’t seem like a lot of time – but say that chair cost $500. How many hours did you put in at work to generate that income? If you make $60,000/year, that’s another 17 hours.
What about the space you’re buying to hold the chair? Median list price per square foot in the US is $140. If the chair is 3’x3′, that’s $1,260. That’s another 44 hours of your time – a week at work – to pay for the space that this chair occupies.
The total? 62 hours, plus an extra hour of upkeep each year.
You can’t ever have those hours back.
Time is a 100% non-renewable resource. If you’re spending time unintentionally, you are failing.
So what can you do about it?
CUT. IT. OUT.
The best time to stop is yesterday. The second best time is right now.
Start from where you are, but START. You have no excuse. Take a hard look at where you’ve gotten yourself. If you’re in an unnecessarily large home, think about downsizing. First, get rid of as many things as you possibly can – then take a realistic assessment of how much space you actually need, and move forward from there. If you’re up to your ears in physical objects and can’t enjoy the space you have, start getting rid of things.
This is where the touchy-feely bullshit comes in, because we are human, after all.
Many of us have internalized a poor-people mindset – this idea that there isn’t enough in the world, so we should hang on to whatever we get.
Fucking stop it.
This is going to take some courage, but I’m not here to convince you to trust the process. Instead, DO the process, take the steps, and the trust will come.
I recommend the KonMari method as an initial solution. Marie Kondo believes a person should only keep possessions that “spark joy.” I agree – if certain things make you happy, keep them. Utility is a source of happiness for me. Aesthetic appeal is in there, too. Convenience is another. “Need” isn’t as realistically applicable to our first-world lifestyle.
Kondo’s method also addresses the emotional weight items can hold and provides a way to address that and move forward.
Reach out! I’m more than happy to answer questions and provide more resources. Because knowledge does not equal action, PLEASE: take the first step!
If you find you need a kick in the pants to get started (or finished), solicit the help of a friend. Employ social pressure. Or, contact me for 1-on-1 coaching.
Now. Go take the first step. You have no excuse.