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Why decluttering is so hard and how to kickstart a mental shift.
As a professional organizer, I’m often asked why decluttering is so difficult. There are certainly many reasons that come into play, but many underlying challenges arise because of one thing. Lack of motivation.
It’s utterly simple, and yet so complex. Change only happens when it has to. Either by life circumstances (think disasters, illness, births, deaths, etc.), or by motivation (a desire or reason to do things differently). And of course, motivation can have both inner and outer influences as well.
When you want something badly enough, you work towards it. You sacrifice. You make hard decisions. You change.
In a similar fashion, you can’t just declutter your house for no reason. There needs to be a deep motivation behind it. It also goes to say that you can’t force someone else to declutter if they aren’t ready because they will have no motivation to do so!
So why does this matter? How can you kickstart motivation to make huge decluttering progress?
Mind Over Matter
Some circumstances make motivation happen. If you are moving in a month (or less), the fire is already lit underneath you to get rid of stuff fast. But maybe you’re like most of us and life is just going along like normal. Yet you really want to do a major declutter.
In this case, you’ll have to light your own fire. (Not literally please!)
Ask yourself “If I were moving, what would I take (and what would I leave)?”
This question has spurred me through my 100 Box Challenge. Someday I want to move, and I have no desire to pack up our whole house when we do. So it’s extremely useful to pick up an item and ask if I love and use it enough to move it, especially in the case of downsizing. Is it really worth that much to me?
Very often, the answer is “no”.
Of course, I do come across items that I still use here and there and though I wouldn’t choose to move them, I still keep them for now. That’s fine because those items will be minimal compared to the number of things you’ll find that you don’t use, don’t love, and ultimately, don’t need.
Give Yourself a Challenge
Success often comes when we challenge ourselves. This won’t work for really laid-back personalities, but if you like to feel accomplished and check off boxes, jump in. Here are a few options to consider:
Having a challenge forces you to be more open to parting with items for the sake of accomplishing your goal. Donating 25 boxes of items a month was incredibly challenging to me, but it worked so well because I was determined to meet the goal.
Get Motivated = Change
We change because we have to. Getting sick and tired of being sick and tired leads your brain to desire something different and be willing to sacrifice to do it.
When faced with a dirty, cluttered house, or living in a noisy, crowded neighborhood, the stimuli is enough to start pushing our minds to desire something better. The dream of a clean home or a little piece of land to call our own will light that passion to load up some boxes and make it happen.
The motivation may not magically make the process easier, but it will give you reason to ask yourself the hard questions, and hopefully part with more items.