So last year I took on a 30 day decluttering challenge. After carefully setting an intention for this practice, my mindset was not to “get rid of things” but to create space for a more peaceful and organized living environment.
The challenge I chose had easy to follow rules. On day one declutter one thing, on day two declutter 2 things and so on. I started off strong, with a lot of fire and motivation. I set aside a specific time each day to tackle the decluttering; 3pm after school pick up, when my mind was already in a state of transition from work-from-home mode to working-mom mode. I also made sure to include my family in the process, so we were all on the same wave.
Setting the Intention
At first, it was all good. The process of building up the momentum really made it easy to get in the groove. I will say that on the lower numbered days I was inspired to donate more than say 3 or 4 items. On those days I would declutter a category, like reusable shopping bags, or those bra inserts things.
I felt a sense of accomplishment as I filled up multiple bags and boxes of items to donate or recycle. My home felt more spacious and open, and it was much easier to find the things I needed.
The Emotional Journey
But then, after about two weeks, the challenge started to become a little too much for me. I found myself becoming increasingly exhausted by the constant need to declutter so many items. 15 items one day and then 16 items the next day is a lot. Ultimately I made it to day 21. I noticed that I was beginning to feel guilty for keeping certain items, even if they brought me joy or had sentimental value.
One of the categories that had me feeling some type of way was old greeting cards. I had hundreds of them, dating back to my marriage almost 15 years ago and it felt like a lot to go through. It took me three whole days to go through each and everyone, reading the messages and deciding which ones to keep and which ones to let go of
Letting Go of Guilt
It was an emotional process, as each card held a memory or a special moment in my life. But as I went through them, I realized that while the sentiment behind the card was important, I didn’t need to hold onto every single one. I ended up keeping a select few that held a special place in my heart, and let go of the rest.
So, I decided to take a step back and reassess my approach. I realized that the goal of decluttering shouldn’t be to get rid of as much as possible, but rather to create a home that feels good and functional for me and my family.
What did I learn from this challenge? First and foremost, decluttering is a process and not a one-time event. It’s important to be realistic about the time and energy it takes to declutter. It’s also important to find a balance between getting rid of unnecessary items and keeping those that bring us joy and make our homes feel like our own.
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the challenge, but remember that decluttering is a time-consuming and sometimes emotional process. It’s okay to take a break when you need it, and to remind yourself that progress, not perfection is what matters.
Stepping Back and Reassessing
Finally, I learned that it’s okay to step back and reassess, even if it means not completing a challenge in the way it was intended. The most important thing is to find a decluttering approach that works for me, and to continue making small changes and improvements over time. It’s about listening to my own needs and feelings, rather than following strict rules or guidelines. Decluttering should be a positive and empowering experience, not a source of stress or guilt.
In conclusion, the 30 day decluttering challenge taught me a lot about myself and my relationship with my possessions. While it was beneficial in the short term, it ultimately became unsustainable for me. But that’s all good. The most important thing is to find a decluttering approach that works for you and your lifestyle. Don’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out perfectly.