Simplifying Life to Multiply Happiness Part 1: Buying and Letting Go

My life is anything but simple. I suppose it’s always been that way since I have a knack for taking my already full plate and piling a few more things on. That’s probably why the universe saw it fit to bestow me with twins. I’m just the sort of person who thrives on a crazy challenge.

If I could boil who I am down into a quick bulleted list, it would look something like this:

  • Loving mother to two wonderfully intelligent but very active 3 year olds
  • Passionate creative leader with a career that I love
  • Runner who still has lofty goal in spite of limited training time
  • A woman with more interests than she has time to tackle
  • Someone who is always trying to keep all the plates spinning (with varying degrees of success) including keeping the house clean, managing our finances, being a wife occasionally, being there for family, and so many other thing.

One of my major goals for this year has been to try to simplify my life to multiply my happiness. The seeds of this really started to sprout around the start of the new year as the Marie Kondo “Konmari” method really spiked in popularity. I bought her book a few years ago but it was one of many items in my clutter pile. Her show on Netflix made the concepts a bit more accessible and I started to dive in.

While I can’t claim to be anywhere close to done, I have started to pair down the “stuff” in my life and realized that her basic principles can apply to so much more that just decluttering your space. I think we are conditioned for most of our lives to think more is better. What Marie really advocates (that I believe is so true) is that the more meaningless things we amass, the less we enjoy the things that truly “spark joy.”

I am far from perfect but I wanted to share a few small changes I am making in different areas of my life that I feel are starting to make an impact. My posts always end up being too long so I’m going to go ahead and break this topic down into a short series of posts. First, the process of owning my things instead of letting them own me.

Buying and Letting Go

As much as I try to put up a good front, I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder. Even as a child, I liked to save everything and it has only gotten worse with age. After some soul searching, I think it boils down to two things for me. I hate discarding or giving away things that I spent my hard earned money on and I’m more emotionally attached to stuff than I should be.

Although I have gotten a little bit better at reducing the things I add to my “collection,” over the last few years, I have now begun the process of chipping away at things I need to let go. I was able to sell some of my beautiful, barely worn maternity clothes (ahem…my kids are 3 so I’ve clearly had trouble letting go). It was silly; we are not currently planning on having any more children yet I had a whole maternity wardrobe taking up a section of my closet. While I’m not done going through my regular clothes yet, I have already purged more than a person should probably ever own in the first place, just by going through a few categories of items.

When I first started working, I put a lot of energy into projecting a professional image at work. I’ve been working in my department for almost 10 years now and complacency combined with an increasingly relaxed dress code left me feeling subconsciously defeated by the lack of energy I was putting into my appearance. Don’t get me wrong, I still put myself together and generally liked the clothes I was wearing. They just didn’t amount to the professional image I wanted to project.

So I started browsing Pinterest, creating a board that really summarized the aesthetic I want to project. Planning want I wanted to wear instead of just wearing what I have gave me some psychological freedom to start purging some times in my wardrobe that I simply don’t love. I hope to do a post soon about how I’m rebuilding a work wardrobe that I really love on an extremely tight budget.

The guidelines I have set for myself are basically this – create a collection of neutral, repeatable pieces that can be mixed and matched to create a variety of looks. I’ve always felt guilt about repeating outfits and pieces but by having a work wardrobe full of mostly staples, you always look put together but individual pieces and pairings are less obviously recognized. That’s my strategy anyway and I’ve gotten a lot of comments and compliments so far.

Now that I’ve started to curate what I want to wear, I need to really start purging some of the items that just never make the cut. It’s the category of clothes I find the hardest to get rid of but I know it will be freeing when I do. Sure, I can probably sell some pieces here and there but liberating myself from the weight of overwhelming amounts of “stuff” will outweigh any perceived loss of value financial that the items represent. It may not be the be all end all, but it’s working for me and I’m actually excited about getting dressed every day.

In the next installment, I’ll talk about time management both at work and at home.

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