Cleaning the Clutter: A Self-Analysis

Published on August 20, 2021
by Todd Houston

Todd @ 3C

This summer, my wife and I decided to sell our house and purchase a smaller townhouse. We’ve discussed downsizing for quite a long time. While our current home isn’t huge, it is more than we need.


You see, our children are adults now, and while our one son lives with us as he finishes his undergraduate degree, we don’t want to spend our time doing the upkeep on the house.


Once we decided to sell, we flew into a four-week daze of cleaning and organizing the things we no longer needed. I must confess that I’m a bit of a hoarder – I blame my mother for as she lived through the Great Depression. My mother would hold onto things far longer than necessary because – as she would put it, “you never know when you might need it.”


I’ve held onto course notebooks from graduate courses I took over twenty years ago, endless office supplies, and old clothes that are no longer in style or fit properly. But most of all, I’ve amassed several hundred books.


Consequently, I’ve forced myself to keep only the books that I genuinely need, which means saying goodbye to stories and advice I’ve cherished over the years.


I find decluttering and organizing space is quite cathartic; now, I get the mass appeal of Marie Kondo. The process forces you to separate your wants and needs.


There’s constant pressure to buy the latest and greatest version of every product in this materialistic world. We buy things we don’t need; we want them because we believe our lives will be better.


We want our lives to be like those in the ad on T.V. Isn’t that the purpose of good advertising – to get us to buy things we don’t need? The cycle never ends. Consumerism has run amuck.


Often, I find our physical space reflects our internal state. For myself, I find this to be true.


My home office becomes very messy when working on a significant project, and my stress levels are high. Files or books are spread around my desk and on the floor. For the uninitiated, the scene may resemble organized chaos. However, that’s when the act of purging unwanted or unneeded items can be transformative.


Removing those things that are no longer relevant helps us to focus on what is essential. Our distractions are reduced.


I like to call this the “windshield wiper” approach. We’ve all driven in a rainstorm and need our windshield wipers to clear the rain from the windshield so that we can see where we’re going.


We learn to let go. But, unfortunately, I often think that we hold on to things because deep down, we believe we’ll need those items for some future outcome that isn’t guaranteed.


When we get rid of those items, we might internalize that we no longer want to achieve those dreams. So throwing away those materials may signal that you are throwing away your hopes and dreams. That can be scary.


Although priorities change, we can change our dreams. We even adapt them, expand them, or change how we view ourselves. Most importantly, we can change what we believe to be possible for ourselves. New dreams can be formed, making us free to redefine our lives.


Cleaning the clutter – within our physical environment and ourselves – can foster a greater sense of renewal, a new beginning. As Maria and I finalize our house for sale, we embark on a new stage of our lives together. I feel renewed and ready to focus on a new set of life goals. Are you?

Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate.  That is the 3C way!


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