Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Completion of the Purge

I previously wrote about my quest to minimize my life by purging a lot of my material goods and I have realized that in the summer I just barely scraped the surface. I'm moving to a new city this weekend for a great job opportunity and a move is a great way to force yourself to purge. So I have finally completed the great purge of 2013 that I first embarked on in the summer. Here's the breakdown:

Here is some visual evidence of what I was up against in the context of all the stuff I had stored in my parent's basement:

As you can see, it was a mismatch of boxes, furniture and bags. It was quite the task: that's for sure! I started by making notes that read 'donate', 'garage sale/sell', 'keep/store', 'keep/move' and 'garbage/recycle'. I then just began going through everything and matching it to the corresponding note and sorting everything into piles. I consolidated a lot of the stuff I wanted to keep to either move or store in a few plastic boxes instead of having all sorts of random bags and whatnot hanging around. It took me a few days and a little help from my friends but I did it! 

What I learned in doing this purge:
- Sometimes it's hard to part with material possessions because of the perceived value and/or emotional attachment associated with these items;
- It definitely helps to have an unbiased second or third party to ground you in reality when trying to decide whether to part with certain items;
- In the end it's just stuff and it ultimately doesn't make me a more happy person nor defines who I am as a person or my worth to society;
- It feels really great to purge myself of a lot of the stuff that has been weighing me down physically and emotionally for many years.
- I've spent a lot of money over in the years in accumulating all this stuff and sometimes spending money I didn't have;
- There are many areas in my life that I can look to for becoming more minimalist;
- Now that I've purged the best way to continue in my minimalism quest is prevention;
- The best form of minimalism is to appreciate and use all the possessions I already have as well as loving and taking care of them.

Here is my 'after' picture of all my stuff:

The top left picture is the stuff to move, the top right picture is stuff in storage in my parent's basement, the bottom left picture is a couple pieces of furniture to move and the bottom right picture is the stuff to sell, donate or throughout. As you can see, it's a lot more manageable and organized.

I'm personally feeling much lighter after doing this purge and I hope it inspires others to do the same. It took a move to motivate me to get my butt in gear for my purge but you don't need an excuse: you can purge at any time. If you're thinking about doing a purge in the near future here is a handy chart, that my sister found and sent me, that may help you sort through the chaos:

Good luck with your purge and please share what worked, what didn't work and what/who helped you in your journey to minimizing your life. As always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

November Resolutions

It is now November and with it comes the winter weather. As much as I love the snow and winter sports, I do not; however, look forward to the cold weather and I would prefer to hibernate throughout winter or else live somewhere warmer. November also signals that we're nearing the end of the year with only 2 months left in the year! Wow, that doesn't seem like a lot but it is more than enough time to start some new things and ingrain some new habits and patterns into my life. So instead of waiting until January and the beginning of a new year to make some resolutions, I've decided to make some November resolutions and start working on them now so that come the new year I have some new habits and patterns already ingrained so that it becomes much easier to continue in 2014.


First of all, the most important change I want to make to my life is to become a more positive person. I'm not talking about the kind that leads to denial and helplessness, I'm talking about the kind that doesn't allow the external world to dictate my internal state. I'm talking about decreasing my own suffering by taking responsibility for my life. This includes decreasing complaining, excuse making and blaming the external world for my troubles. Instead I want to work on always looking for a silver lining in every situation. This may seem like a somewhat simple task, however it is not; it will take much practice and patience to unlearn old habits and patterns of thinking and seeing the world and learn a completely new way.

We are socialized to be negative and realistic but it is not our nature, just think of children: they are the most positive, wide-eyed optimists I have ever met! Then we teach them that it's not realistic and life is hard and blah, blah, blah. All those limiting and false beliefs that keep us supposedly safe and in our comfort zones. For example, back in the summer I was experiencing a bunch of external circumstances that at the time I thought were making me happy, but even when I had these things in my life and especially when they were gone I found out that I wasn't truly happy internally. I'm realizing that in order to live a happy and fulfilled life I need to be happy with myself in the here and now regardless of my external circumstances. Sometimes this is hard to do, especially when going through particularly difficult times or situations.

Next I need to start being accountable to myself about where my time and energy goes. In the past I have just gone with my whimsy and let others take control of my time. In that sense I let friendships and relationships and family members control my time and energy and let them create distractions for me. Then I would get sad and depressed that I felt like my life wasn't my own and I would never get done the things I actually wanted to do and wanted to put my time and energy towards. The solution to this, I have realized, is to tightly schedule and regulate my time and fiercely protect this schedule from outside intrusion. This is going to be a hard one for me but I have taken a cue from S.A. Wilson and her unwavering dedication to her craft and you can too.

Another important part of my journey for the end of this year is to let go of my attachment to expectations and outcomes. For example, I seem to always be planning 10 steps in the future and thinking about what will become of me if this and that happens or doesn't happen instead of enjoying the present moment. In this sense I seem to sabotage potentially good things by getting angry, upset and frustrated when situations, things and people don't live up to my expectations. I intend to focus on enjoying the present while planning for the future and letting go of the outcome. This means doing what I can to plan and schedule my life and do things that will get me to the life I want and deserve but at the same time enjoy where I am now and enjoy the process and the journey and also have faith in the universe and the fact that everything is happening FOR me and exactly how it is supposed to.

Wow, that's a lot to tackle and I know it will take a lot of diligence and work in the same way that being positive will, but I am fully prepared for the hard work. I want to work and I've been looking for meaningful and fulfilling work my whole life and I realize now I will never find it in the external world in the form of a job, career or occupation; I have found it in the form of personal development and work on myself.

I used to dread the future and 'growing up' because I couldn't see a clear path towards it but now that I've let go of that 'vision' for my future I'm more excited and I am actually looking forward to it. I can see that my future holds so many possibilities and that is exhilarating. I now look forward to living those moments because that is all we really have: the present. Instead of living in my head I am going to live in the here and now. I am looking forward to an amazing and wonderful life in my future but I will live it and enjoy it when I get there, for now I will enjoy where I am because I will never be here again and I will never have this moment back. Why skip over the now in order to have some illusion of a beautiful future? The future will come no matter what but in the meantime I am going to work hard, have fun and enjoy the process! As always here's to your uncommonly wealthy life! :)