Today’s story, breaking down how to organize and purge our things, was written by Merry Lynch Pavlak. She’s even created a handy dandy downloadable workbook! Enjoy, darlings!
Whenever I speak about “taking or leaving” things, people begin to twitch. It brings up thoughts of scarcity, lack, confusion, and maybe some embarrassment. When really, it’s about clearing our lives to bring about the feeling of abundance that comes when we make a commitment to ourselves. I’ve been researching this topic a lot lately, especially after my recent visit to the US. What stuff are you carrying around that keeps you stuck?
I found all kinds of interesting things about the different aspects of stuff. Since moving to Europe almost nine years ago my relationship with stuff has dramatically changed. But the stuff I am referring to is not just physical like a couch or a chair but the emotional side of mind clutter and the physical relationships we have with people.
What Do I Mean by ‘Take It or Leave It?’
Take it or Leave It is about looking at what you are holding on to (tangible or intangible), where you are spending your money, what or who you are spending your energy on, how do your habits or life on auto-pilot effect your life? It’s about energy, it’s about looking at who the energy vampires are in your life? How do you save money, energy, time? Do you feel abundant and proud or fearful and lack self-worth? And can you tell the difference in each of these areas?
Some of you may have heard me tell this story before, but when I was living in Arizona and working for Keller Williams as a productivity coach, one of the title reps came to me and said, “I need some help. I feel scattered. I’m not following through with my clients. I have too many balls up in the air and don’t know where to turn to first.”
Have you ever felt this way?
I asked her “Where can you show me confusion? Where can you show me the mess?” I wanted her to focus on something tangible to begin with. She answered immediately and like so many of us, it was her closet. It was the perfect visual. Start where you are. What’s your visual?
I told her that her job over the next week until we meet again was to clean out her closet. And look at every single item, physically touch it. And anything that she didn’t love, that didn’t make her feel hot, sexy, sassy, gorgeous, and comfortable, was going in the donation pile. No second thoughts allowed. No criticism, no judgment. And everything that makes her feel like “I don’t have a feeling one way or the other,” goes in the neutral pile for now.
Start With One Bite at a Time
If you are feeling stuck, confused, full of fear or doubt look to the clutter and start there. Practice first with the visual clutter, like your closet or spice drawer. That will give your brain something visual to grab onto. Then you can slowly take on one other aspect of your life at a time.
Manifesting will then get easier. Once you start unpacking the clutter in your life the confusion, fear and doubt will dissipate. Piece by piece everything will begin to make sense again.
Don’t tackle the whole thing at once. One bite at a time. There are so many studies about the psychological aspect of stuff and what it does or doesn’t do for us.
It might be time for you to take a look at what stuff, relationships, emotions, or old stories you are holding onto that could go into the Leave It pile. So where is it? Where’s your clutter? The visual, the intangible, the people clutter? How are you going to organize all of that?
Dig In to Dig Yourself Out
I had a great experience, working with a designer at IKEA. I needed help after moving to Europe into a 450-square-foot apartment. It was such a lesson in decluttering that I will always be grateful for. I didn’t know how to live in such a small space without somebody getting hurt … namely … my husband.
The designer began by asking me a series of questions. How many pair of underwear do I have? How many bras? How many pair socks? How many long skirts? How many short skirts? I had to go through this process of building the space for exactly what I had and needed, with leaving a little bit extra room for heavy winter stuff. It wasn’t fun, trust me. I was frustrated and it took me a couple of weeks to really dive into my stuff and what was important to me.
In the end, she designed exactly what we needed. And I had space left over for other things. And so if you take a look, a really hard look at the stuff…all of it…tangible, intangible, emotions, relationships and put them in a pile of Take It, Leave It, Neutral, you’ll free up the space in your life for joy, passion, and purpose.
Take It, Leave It, or Neutral
To that end, I have created a workbook to help you come to clarity in placing things in different categories so you can stay out of judgment and criticism and onto commitment and joy. It’s called Take it or Leave it and it is a simple worksheet that can sometimes freak you out because of the things, people and thoughts that you might need to release. Think of it as putting stuff into three different piles. Download the workbook, here!
What things about your life do you love or enjoy right now? Everything about your life, the clothes that you wear, the people that you have in your life, if you have a business or a job or a career, what about that? The dream you have for yourself? What about your life? Right now? What’s in your life, right now that you want to keep?
The next thing is to go down to leave it because these two extremes are the easiest to deal with. So you drop down to leave it and look at everything in your life that you dislike. Everything. Same thing. Clothes, people, career, job. Your dream. Maybe you realized that your dream really isn’t yours but what someone else thinks you should be doing? Take a hard look at that.
For instance, when I sold my first business. I remember explicitly my sister saying to me, “Who are you without Papier Gourmet,” my luxury paper store? So, who are you? You get to decide. Be careful not to take on someone else’s expectations. What is it that you need to leave behind? List everything that you dislike about your current life.
And then, everything in between goes into the section titled, neutral. The stuff that you really don’t care about, you don’t think about you, you know, like you haven’t touched it in six months. A relationship where you know that person’s nice to go out for a drink with but it’s not somebody that’s a really close friend, for instance, that would be neutral. And after you do this, and take your time with this, this isn’t something that you need to rush through.
But the final part of this worksheet is then the C word, which is what we don’t like. It’s the commitment we need to make to ourselves even when no one is looking.
What commitment are you willing to make to leave those things behind? What commitment are you willing to make in your daily life to be more authentic to you?
5 Questions to Work Your Way Through
Take a little deeper dive and ask yourself these questions:
Question number one
Looking at your list – Take it, Leave it, Neutral: What stands out for you?
So, when I did my first list, what stood out for me was that I hadn’t set any boundaries. I was doing anything with anyone never being true to my wants or desires. I wanted everyone to like me so I just went along with whatever. That brought about stress, unhappiness, and health issues. So, where are you self-sabotaging your life? After all, it’s just a notice. But until we notice we have no chance to change things.
Question number two
In the leave it section, choose one person, place or thing, that if you left behind would make the biggest change in your life? That’s not an easy question, I know that. It can tear at your heartstrings, maybe bring some anxiety or guilt. If you are struggling with this answer I am going to suggest that you do know. As women we find ourselves stuffing down our feelings to make others feel good. Set that aside. Name one person, place or thing to leave behind.
Question number three
What commitment are you willing to make to your daily life that will better align with everything in your take it section? What is that one small change that you can take to better get into alignment with what lights you up?
Question number four
What is missing in your life? Who is the person, place or thing that you want to call forth into your life? Tangible or intangible? Where is the void?
Question number five
What about your life are you most satisfied with right now? It could be a relationship. It could be the clothes in your closet, it could be your business, or your career? What does that represent? What does it mean to you to be satisfied?
The more things that you like about your life, the more abundant you will feel. Take It or Leave It…you get to choose.
Hi! I’m Merry and I specialize in igniting human potential.
We all have dreams, and it’s my professional passion to help you achieve the life you’re dreaming of. Through vision boarding, 1:1 coaching, or my unique in-depth life envisioning courses, we’ll get you started on your brave new second act in life. Find me at BravingMidlife.com