We’ve all been there. We enjoy an experience such as a trial sports lesson, craft workshop or cooking presentation. Suddenly, our ‘fantasy self’ embraces this new experience without stopping to think. The next thing we know, we have a whole set of golf clubs, a new sewing machine or a new-fangled gadget that we bring into our homes.
Your fantasy wardrobe
With clothes, in particular, our fantasy self has a field day acquiring accessories we’ll never use (remember that expensive silk square?) or shoes that you couldn’t possibly wear for more than 5 minutes (I call these ‘sitting down shoes’).
What really adds value to your life
It’s only when you take a step back and make a conscious decision to unclutter – to de-couple from the fantasy self – that you can see more clearly what adds value in your life; what’s worth holding onto; what’s important. You become the person you really are, rather than the person you’ve been imagining in your head.
How to let go
But what what to do with the items that you’ve been holding onto all this time? You might feel reluctant to let go, especially if you’ve invested significant sums of money on this stuff. Remember, though, that you’ve already paid with not just your cash; you’ve paid with your time and your attention as well. To coin a well-known Disney song, let it go!! You know the channels you can use: sell, gift, donate, whatever. Just let it go. You might get some cash back; you might not.
Let your authentic self shine through
Whatever happens, you’ll have freed up not just your physical space but will also have created mental space where your authentic self will thrive. So, say goodbye to your fantasy self. I promise, you won’t regret it.
We all experience times when we can’t see the wood for the trees. We commit to something – maybe a hobby or an activity like volunteering – then find ourselves spinning on a metaphorical hamster wheel, as we try to keep everything going.
When we have paid employment, home-making or childcare commitments (or all of these!) these compelling pastimes, on top of our day-to-day lives, can often provide a foil to the stresses of daily routine. However, what happens if that extra commitment becomes too much?
Ali Davies (@ali_davies) tweeted,’Being constantly busy is to life what junk food is to health.’ How does this feel to you? Do you recognise yourself in this? You may be doing something wonderful but if it detracts from other areas of your life, in the way that junk food has a negative impact on the body, you may want to rethink.
It wouldn’t be right to be able to walk away from everything on a whim. Sometimes, though, the desire to simplify can bring a moment of clarity. For me, a week without obligations brought new insights into an area of my life to which I had hitherto committed many years of my life. I returned having made a decision to give up a hobby that had been a a big part of my life. But I was clear that this is what I needed to do. Stepping down from a group to which I had belonged for many years (a ladies chorus) was sad, but it was the right thing to do.
If a commitment in your life is something than no longer adds value or that makes you feel obligated, you have a choice. You can decide. It doesn’t have to be forever, but it can be the right thing – right now. Walking away is a brave decision but it may be just what you need.
Postscript: 24 July 2016
When I chanced upon an article by India Knight in ‘The Times’ whilst waiting for a cup of coffee today, I knew I’d done the right thing. Its title was How to leave: the importance of a good exit. As I read the piece, a song began to play. It was ‘Dream a little Dream’, the song that had been my favourite as a member of the chorus and one of the very first I had heard the group perform almost 15 years before. Maybe it was a coincidence; maybe not. I had made my exit; I hope it was a good one.
The modern minimalist movement offers an insight into living a full and meaningful life with less. It’s not about white, empty spaces (although it can be, if that’s your thing). Rather, it’s about removing the things in your life (belongings, clutter. ‘stuff’ or unwanted distractions) to enable your attention to be focussed on the things that really matter to you.
James Wallman’s book, ‘Stuffocation’ was the catalyst for my minimalism journey. A thought-provoking essay, it considers the path from consumerism to minimalism and ends with experientialism. That is, focussing your attention on the items you need to enjoy meaningful experiences.
There are some wonderful and well-respected proponents of minimalism. Check them out, see what you make of their approach, try it for size and experiment a little. For example, visit: http://www.theminimalists.com, http://www.becomingminimalist.com or http://www.bemorewithless – all are inspiring, with their own unique take on what is fast becoming a real trend.
So, here I’ll write about minimalism from my Midlands mid-life perspective. I’m interested in minimalist money; decluttering; the use of technology; family life; and food! Thanks for reading!