People can very easily get caught up in “stuff”. Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, we all have times where our “stuff” gets in the way of what we really want or need to do. Unfortunately, this often leads to feeling guilty, frustrated, or anxious about the things left undone, which just adds more emotional clutter to your mind! Devoting time in the short-term to get your physical and mental space decluttered will pay huge dividends of saved time and stress in the future.
When I first started pursuing minimalism, I focused solely on the physical clutter. It wasn’t until about a year into my decluttering process that I started to realize how much mental clutter and baggage I had to clean out as well. When I was in the thick of culling stuff from my life, I would often get tired and overwhelmed, losing sight of why I was doing this in the first place. It helped me tremendously to take a step back and envision the big picture.
What do I want my life to look like in 10 years? 1 year? 4 months from now?
What steps can I take today to get closer to that place?
While imagining my most ideal future life, it became very clear to me what things I was holding on to in the present, both physically and mentally, that were keeping me from reaching that place. Doing this little exercise would give me renewed energy and sense of direction in pursuing minimalism, just as I was questioning whether my efforts would ever pay off. It was after moments like this that I would make big leaps of progress, when I had felt like I was stuck at a plateau.
If you are struggling with decluttering and need a little motivation and direction, try this exercise: Take 10 minutes today to make a list of your top 5 priorities in life. I know that sounds heavy, like really important and substantial, but just brainstorm what things, actions, hobbies, and people mean the most to you. From there, decide which would make up the core of your happiest life. Try not to get bogged down by what other people say your priorities should be and just listen to yourself.
You can have a few more if you feel you need to, but be sure that you aren’t having a hard time narrowing them down because you are spreading yourself too thin or are afraid to let go of obligations that don’t enrich your life. Remember, this is about what will make you happy.
I found that my list was actually shorter than expected once I really got picky about how I would love to spend my time. It turned out that several of the things that I wrote down were related under a broader “umbrella priority” that I hadn’t recognized before. It helped to think about what connects the more specific priorities to get to the heart of a main, “big 5” life priority.
Now that I’m no longer actively decluttering stuff from my life, just the odd item here and there, I have shifted my focus toward mental decluttering. It can be disheartening when I realize just how much negativity I’ve let into my life and held onto, but it’s just as rewarding as doing a physical clean-out, maybe even more so. It’s a new type of challenge for me, and it seems to require more “big 5” life priority reminders to keep me going. Without fail, though, every time I reflect on my list of what is most important to me, I feel renewed and motivated all over again.
What would be on your life priorities list? Would you like me to discuss mine in another post? Let me know in the comments!
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