Now that I have helped sell my parents’ house, have started the process of getting them out of their home and have learned some valuable life lessons, I still need to help them sort out the downsize of space. What to do with the extra stuff they have accumulated?
They have been contacting antique dealers, booksellers, Goodwill, and a host of other charities to try to deal with clutter. It has been difficult for them and I give them credit for successfully ridding themselves of the excess. It is harder for me to watch this painfully slow process, as I am a purger rather than a hoarder.
My wife and I have moved 13 times in 21 years of marriage and I’m not even including getting our kids off to school every year. We have moved cross-country 4 times, internationally 3 times, and the rest “locally.” If you give us a month from giving us the nod, we can pack, move, unpack and be settled in a new place. You might think us crazy but we are quite good at it.
Why are we good at moving? Catharsis. Author of Transitions, William Bridges, talks about a way to move from the “ending” is to hold a celebratory ending event, such as a wake or a paper purging party. For my wife and me, Catharsis is backing a dumpster into the driveway. We throw caution to the wind and just “Chuck it!” We brutally examine everything:
- When was the last time I used this? When will I use it again?
- Is it valuable to me or anyone in the family?
- Can it be reused, recycled, repurposed?
We have three piles: keep, sell/donate, or CHUCK IT! You might be able to guess which pile is bigger with a dumpster in the driveway. Catharsis is the top of the list for the move.
The advantage is we have minimal clutter in our life and are able to care for the things we do keep – mementos from travelling the world, 1000’s of pictures, artifacts and antiques, etc. The valuable and sentimental are not lost in clutter. Another advantage is when we have to make a change, like moving, we don’t have to linger in the neutral zone. We get going, get settled and start enjoying the New Beginning.
In business, it is sometimes better to jettison the past and get on with something new. It is not easy as stakeholders – customers, employees, shareholders, etc. – usually have vested interest in the past. However, when catharsis can occur with everyone involved, the ensuing growth and excitement is beneficial to all parties.
To motivate forward movement, Cortez burned the boats – we just CHUCK IT!