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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« The Freedom of Letting Go of Supposed To | Unusual Letting Go Lesson For You »

What Inspires You to Let Go of Your Clutter?

I just returned from the NAPO conference in Los Angeles. Almost 700 professional organizers convened from around the world to attend sessions about building organizing businesses, discovering relevant products and services, and learning new skills or concepts to help our clients. We took copious notes, conversed, laughed, saw old friends, and made new ones.

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, better known as The Minimalists gave the opening keynote session, “The Art of Letting Go.” Their following is far from minimal with over four million readers. Their story is inspiring.

Without going into great detail, because you can read all about them and their journey on their website, I will share my big takeaway. Their story reinforced what I’ve observed for 20+ years working with my organizing clients. While we might want to let go, reduce clutter, and change our lives, until we’re ready to do that, letting go is challenging. The desire to let go might exist, but the motivation to do so doesn’t.

Sometimes it takes conditioning, slowly exercising those letting go muscles to move forward. Sometimes it takes a major life change like divorce, death of a loved one, new job or a move to shift into re-evaluating life and energize the letting go process.

When we’re able to let go and keep only what’s meaningful, beautiful and useful, we create physical and emotional space for what’s truly important. Defining “important” is unique to each of us. As Josh was evaluating and letting go, he’d ask, “Does this thing add value to my life?”  Particularly with his sentimental objects, he was able to let go of the majority of them when he realized . . .

“Our memories are not in our things. Our memories are inside us.”

Linda Samuels at NAPO 2015 with Josh Fields Millburn and Ryan NicodemusJosh and Ryan’s stories are inspiring because they shared how they shifted from overwhelmed and dissatisfied by their “stuff” to calm, happy, and more fulfilled through the letting go process. They shifted their focus to experiences and relationships instead of things. It was also inspiring how the change in Josh’s attitude and minimalist living style inspired Ryan, his childhood friend, to pursue a similar way of being.

This brings up another interesting point. You never know how many people you’ll inspire in the process of changing and growing.

What have you noticed when someone lets go? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation.






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Reader Comments (8)

I always say that letting go brings freedom! We don't realize the weight of our belongings... on our minds, on our space, on our time. When we release, we open up space to breathe and move around and relax. It's just a terrific feeling:)

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

I agree with Seana, it is freedom to let go of not just belongings but the thought processes that keep you stuck in that place of clutter. Changing the way you "think" about clutter is important, you can't "let go" until you re train your thought processes about what is truly important.

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJill Robson

Freedom and awareness are what's important in life. I enjoyed that talk. What inspires me to part with things is that happiness comes with the memory not the stuff

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNacho Eguiarte

I just spent the weekend with my sister, who is fairly diligent about removing unwanted and unneeded items from her home. She asked me to help her with her shed, laundry room, and another area of the basement, and this excerpt from the email she sent me after I left really answers your question: "I knew the chaos was weighing on me but I only realized how much once we accomplished what we did."

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I too had a similar take away. But for me it was less about physical clutter. That is not very plentiful in my life -- although I do like my shoes. :-) Seriously, for me the takeaway was all about the mental blockages, time robbers, emotional demands, electronic dependency. Anything that is taking up viable space in my head and in my life. Does this add value to my life is a question I am asking again and again.

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterleslie josel

Linda, I wasn't at NAPO Conference this year and am so glad you shared your takeaway from the Minimalist's session. I've played their #MinsGame twice since October and really appreciate how Ryan and Joshua are helping to normalize minimalism. I'm a year or so into my process of letting go of stuff and commitments and what I'm noticing is how letting go is becoming part of who I am and how these days I seem to almost crave releasing. I'm also noticing that the more I let go of, the more I become aware of that can be released. What I'm noticing most is that with each item released I experience greater freedom. Thanks again for taking the time to share and welcome home!

April 21, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Sharb

What a group! You've all inspired me with your wonderful thoughts.

@Seana- Breath, freedom, relaxation, terrific feelings. Look at all the benefits you've reaped by letting go. Beautiful.

@Jill- Ah…the idea of retraining our thoughts is an essential, isn't it? This is especially true when we have strong emotional attachments to our things.

@Nacho- Great that you've identified that you can still hold on to a memory and feel joy or happiness without possessing the physical object. That helps with the letting go.

@Janet- It doesn't get any more direct than that! Wonderful that your sister was able to feel and acknowledge the unburdening in the letting go process.

@Leslie- So true that clutter isn't always physical. There are many types such as the ones you've identified. Coming back to that essential question, "Does this add value to my life?" is a great way to prime the pump and help us let go of the areas that aren't serving us well.

@Andrea- Ahhh. I hadn't made the connection with The Minimalists and #MinsGames until you pointed it out. I'm aware that you've been "playing," but had not realized the source. Two interesting things you said: the more you release the more you crave releasing and…you're associating letting go with freedom. Both powerful statements. Missed seeing you at NAPO and look forward to crossing paths at ICD.

April 22, 2015 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Amazing stuff thanks for sharing.

April 22, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermukesh

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