At the beginning of the year we are usually urged to define our objectives, an action meant to define our direction for the new year. And usually our objectives are defined based especially on the things that we don’t have yet or we have but they need a bit of tweaking: skills, certain projects, goods, fame, success, love, etc. It’s mostly about something we desire and that is currently missing and about filling that gap by adding more. We tend to think that more is better and adding something to what we already have could bring us more happiness and wellbeing.
And what if, instead of adding more, we could ask ourselves what could we remove/stop/ pause/ get rid off before moving further towards acquiring that new thing?
Let’s take the example of decluttering and parting with some items. How many times did you tell yourself that you really should get rid of a certain object, throw it, sell it or donate it, and then suddenly change your mind? Although you made a mental note so many times to get rid of that object, thoughts like « maybe I’ll need it some day » occur. After all, it’s in a good condition and it would be a pity to throw it. As for selling it, this would require too much time and energy to follow up with all the messages received on social media.
I did the same so many times until recently.
About a decade ago I bought from a fabric shop two fairly big bags of synthetic padding (rembourrage in French). I had this plan of making my own chair cushions from scratch and beside the cushion cover I was planning to make the actual cushion as well, which I would fill with this padding. My plan seemed easy in my mind, until I started to use the sewing machine and the thread kept breaking or tangling, taking more time than I envisaged and demotivating me. After trying once or twice, I lost interest. Besides, there were so many other interesting and rewarding activities that I could do instead. So I did not really pursue this sewing project. However I kept these two bags of padding that not only were taking storage space at home but were also reminding me about that unfinished project that kept lingering.
For years I kept getting this thought of getting rid of these bags, to immediately have a second thought that would convince me to keep them, so one day I’d finish that sewing project. Meanwhile I got some chair cushions from IKEA (easy fix, not requiring much time and energy invested and with an immediate satisfaction return). However the padding bags were still in my house, initially under the bed, then between the wall and the side of the wardrobe. They were still there, taking space and mental space.
Then a baby chose me as a mother and suddenly the house got filled with lots of baby related items, that were taking even more space. And although I had performed several ‘Maria Kondo’ inspired tidying up sessions, every time I would get to these two bags, I would convince myself that despite they were not bringing me joy in the present, at some undertermined point in the future the completion of the sewing project would in the end bring me joy. Having a baby and almost no available time for myself, made the probability of this project even more dim. But the pattern continued. Thought no. 1: « I should really get rid of them », followed by thought no.2 « Let’s keep it. Perhaps I’ll do it some time in the future ».
Until the day when I said stop.
That day I was strolling with my baby and whilst he was enjoying his sleep in the fresh air, I was reflecting on my thoughts. I became conscious of my pattern related to those two bags and I asked myself a coaching question: «Knowing this, what will you do now?». I admitted to myself that as shameful as it was, I was not going to complete that sewing project any time in the nearest future. I had too many other priorities. On top of that I needed free space.
So right then and right there, accompanied by the trees and the green grass, whilst walking and breathing fresh air, I took the decision to get rid of those two bags that were taking space. Later that day, before taking them to the bin, I also checked quickly my drawers and selected a few items of clothing that I was no longer using and I donated them.
As I was exiting my home holding those bags with things to remove, I felt a huge relief. I was finally freeing some space that had been cluttered for years. I felt excited about that free space, about the possibility of breathing peacefully, about the prospect of never again setting my eyes upon those bags. I also felt lighter, as if that space had been made free not only in the place I lived, but also on my soul.
So at the beginning of this year, whether or not you set already some goals for yourself, I urge you also to consider:
⁃ What is holding you back?
⁃ What do you keep holding on that is no longer necessary?
⁃ How could you make more free space /time for yourself?
⁃ What do you need to remove/stop/ pause/ get rid off, so you could better move on in the direction you set?
Need to reflect, but going around in circles?
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