Too Much Stuff!

hoarder

This is NOT the home of a hoarder. At least not the kind you find on A&E and grab your spouse to show them you’re not that bad. No, sadly this is my garage today.

I have an excuse, though!!!! We’re selling our house and the realtor and stager both told us we needed to ‘de-clutter’ so that potential buyers could see themselves in our home, not all of our junk. So we spent all of last weekend boxing and bagging, and eventually just tossing all of our overage into the garage. The house looks fantastic.

This morning, however, as I stepped out to the garage for a moment and saw this, it really got me thinking: Do we really need all of this stuff? Its been over a week since we put it out in the garage and we’ve been out to retrieve one thing – the binder with all of our favorite recipes so we could make Spicy Salmon.

I’d say there is a very good chance that we’ll pack all of this stuff up into a moving van and lug it to the new house without having the need to retrieve a single thing for weeks or maybe even months. We’ll unload many of these things on the other end at our new house and open boxes with a series of exclamations: “oh, I forgot all about that!” And THAT is where I’m going to break this cycle. I’m not going to sift through this mess in my garage right now, but I vow on the other end to NOT put things back into my new house that I both did without and completely forgot about for the weeks that it sat in my garage. I’m going to break ties with useless stuff in my life.

Sure, there will be pictures from the past that are important and we’ll hang on to; I’m sure there is some of the kids’ artwork that we’ve stashed in there for posterity. There are likely several dozen books that are important to us that will find a home on a bookshelf in the new house. I’m not suggesting flushing our memories.

But there are certainly pots and pans that we never use, or a few dozen beer glasses I’ve collected over the years. I’m certain there is 10 year old wrapping paper in that pile and there is bound to be a box of Franklin Planners from before 2000. My guess is that at least one of those boxes contains t-shirts I just can’t give up or toys the kids say they still “love.” These things all need to pass on to their next life. If they’re that important, they need to be used, repurposed, or displayed. If not, they are not going to add to the clutter of life anymore.

I’ll encourage you to look at your stuff today (before you have to box it up to move) and ask yourself if it is really adding value to your life? I think for most of us, me included, we too often equate stuff with quality of life. That is really backwards. What leads to quality of life is relationships, experiences, and learning. All the stuff does is block our view of the great relationships we have, hold us in place to avoid new experiences, and drag us into the past to hinder learning new things. So box some stuff up that is getting in the way this week and donate it to Goodwill or just throw it out. Let’s see how much space it frees up for people and other good things in our life. And if you see me between now and the time we move, remind me not to give in to the this pile of stuff!

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Your Plate

Some mornings, I sit down at my desk to this:

empty-plate

An empty plate is not a bad thing. I can attest to the fact that starting a day or a week with an empty plate can be both invigorating and challenging (particularly for goal oriented people like me). It can be fun to have to really WORK to make things happen in your business and get things moving. On a personal level, having an empty plate for me usually means things are clicking along with my family, our finances, and friendships without much conflict or stress.

Empty plates can also cause me anxiety if they stay empty too long. Here’s where the danger comes for me – when I sit in front of an empty plate too long, I start to put things on it; often without considering if they go together or not. Pretty soon, I end up with this:

fullplate

As I start my week today, my plate looks a lot more like this mis-matched pile of goodness. Lots of great stuff on there to work through. For me today, I’ve got both personal and professional opportunity on my plate. I’ve got big potential changes for our family. I’ve got two huge projects wrapping up at work in the next month and two great opportunities to pitch this week. On top of that, I’ve piled on some extra work by teaching a college class this semester and we’re in the final planning stages of this year’s Jay Bilas Skills Camp. My gravy is dripping off the side!

A full plate can often be overwhelming. I’ve had nights where I wake up at 3am just thinking about everything that needs to be done. I’ve looked at “to do” lists on Monday that seem never-ending and just wanted to procrastinate it away. I have felt the stress of family and financial pressure pushing in all at the same time as the “gravy” of life spills over.

And this is what I’ve learned: The only way to clear the plate is one bite at a time. Furthermore, it is important to enjoy and savor every delicious bite. This week, as I sit here today staring at my plate, I’m going to slowly work through this full plate of responsibility, opportunity, fear, and possibility until it is cleared and I am satisfied that I’ve tasted each task or challenge to the fullest. And I’ll take my roll and wipe up every last drip of gravy that life has poured on top.