When I started as a Professional Organizer over 10 years ago, I freely admit that I was a Pack Rat. To say “an organized Pack Rat” may be redundant. As defined in the Urban Dictionary, a pack rat is “A person who can not throw away anything that, in their mind has value of any kind, and so begin meticulously filing away, in the style of the pack rat found in nature.” The actual pack rat, found in nature, “builds complex houses or dens made of twigs, cactus joints, and other materials. These contain several nest chambers, food caches, and debris piles. …They use plant material such as branches, twigs, sticks, and other available debris. …They are particularly fond of shiny objects.”
I wouldn’t say shiny objects have any particular appeal, but, I did place too much value on too many possessions, all similarly well organized and labeled in my closets, cabinets and garage. In my self-diagnosis, I surmise that this rooting away of stuff derived from my early days living in a large family where we had limited space, inevitable clutter, lots of hand-me-downs and not much new.
Most of us Organizers have a logical brain, strong spatial skills and a capacity to organize that makes it easy, even fun, for us. Yet decluttering always involves letting go. The more I organized, the more I would come home from a client motivated to let go in my own space, While my past helps me to understand the connections and emotions my clients attach to their stuff, working with them helps me identify my own attachments and let go. I’m certainly not a minimalist now, but I have eliminated over 50% of my possessions, am wildly more mobile and have significantly downsized my living space. That will continue. I used to take pleasure in acquiring and putting away. I now take pleasure in eliminating and letting go.
Here’s the real secret: Letting go is key!
That means coming from a place of abundance. It means getting arrogant about myself and who I am. I’m too busy and too fabulous to have things that “I might need someday” and to optimistic to worry about “what if”. As I tell my clients, I get brutal about my stuff to be kind to myself. This ensures I keep only what serves me, what I love, and what I need now. Nothing else is in the way of my brilliant life flow. Like Marie Kondo says in her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing (2011), simply ask “does it spark joy”. And no worries – Ms. Kondo and I both agree – it gets easier.
Get started. Ask if it serves you, if it sparks joy. Pack rat be gone!
Have you started yet? Is it getting easier?