This is a guest post by Stefanie Williams. Stefanie and her husband have 6 children, and enjoy soccer and music. Stefanie has been cutting out the things that just don’t matter, and simplifying the things that do.
One day, a few years ago, my husband and I were outside working. It was probably a couple months into ‘our’ minimalist journey.
I say ‘our,’ because my husband has graciously come along for the ride, although it was not without a few bumps along the way.
I don’t remember what we were doing. Maybe we were finishing up yard work we were struggling to maintain; maybe we had just finished our annual yard sale and were packing the unsold stuff back into the garage (for next year’s sale, of course-Insert sarcasm).
While I don’t remember what we were doing, I remember exactly how I was feeling: completely overwhelmed! By our home. By our stuff. By our life.
A defining moment
I looked over, and I saw our neighbor sweeping out his empty garage.
I will always remember that moment. I looked over at my husband and said, ‘That’s the dream right there. Sweeping out an empty garage.’ Someday, a garage full of nothing.
While we’ve made incredible strides in most of our house, the garage has been, for the most part, untouched.
I think most of us have it. That ‘final frontier.’ That one space (or two), where we just get stuck; that decluttering becomes very difficult.
For whatever reason, we shut the door and move on; we save it for another day. Instead of arriving at that peaceful minimalistic ‘utopia’ we are seeking, if we’re not careful, we can end up heading in reverse, with stuff trickling back in.
Heading in Reverse
I’m finding myself going backwards lately, headed back toward a place of overwhelm; it’s a place I don’t want to return.
It dawned on me the other day, if it was really my dream to having an empty garage, it could be accomplished by the end of the day. All it would take is setting the good stuff on the curb for free, and hauling the rest to the dump.
What on earth is holding me back?
If you find yourself at stuck like this, it’s time to put yourself in neutral. It’s time to evaluate and make a plan.
There are two questions I’ve been asking myself lately whenever I feel overwhelmed by anything in life. These questions can help you plow through any decluttering obstacle, including those ‘final frontiers.’
#1 What’s my obstacle?
When I ask myself this question, I usually find that I am the obstacle.
Sometimes I need to challenge my thinking, or adjust my attitude. Sometimes I need to improve my ability to communicate with others, or see things from their point of view. Sometimes I need to quit avoiding and deal with the facts that are staring me in the face.
Sometimes, I need to make a decision and a deadline.
For me, the garage involves other people’s stuff, specifically my husband’s; therefore, my first ‘obstacle’ is opening up the communication line with him. I’ve learned to respect his opinions in our decluttering efforts. If something is of value to him, we’ll make a plan to organize it in a way that we both agree upon.
Lack of time, indecision, and flawed thinking (might need it someday, it has resale value, etc.) are three other obstacles I’ve identified that we’re facing in the garage.
Once you identify the obstacle(s), only then can you ask yourself the next question:
#2 How am I going to overcome it?
First, the garage is a case of ‘our’ stuff, not my stuff. That always makes it more complicated.
I plan to overcome the obstacles in the garage by:
- Removing the ‘no-brainer’ items first
- Communicating with my husband to find out his thoughts on the remaining items, one at a time
Separating the stuff out my husband is willing to let go
- Creating a plan for action with deadlines for those items
- Spending the money necessary to organize the remaining items (I am super frugal-it is hard for me to spend money)
I’ve given myself a deadline, and I’m writing it down. By August of 2017, our garage will be empty enough to sweep out and park a car. It will be a functional and simple space, with only things that are used and appreciated by my husband. Sadly, for me, it will probably not be completely empty, but it will no longer be a dumping ground, or a ‘final frontier.’
What areas in your home have you stuck? Do you have an area you consider the ‘final frontier?’
Identify your obstacles and make a plan to overcome. Share it here for accountability if you are willing!
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