365 Things Lighter: Last Year’s New Year’s Resolution Results

Last year, I made a single New Year’s resolution, which made it easy to remember: get rid of one thing per day in my life. This is not some noble ‘I want to be less of a consumer’ (that is partially true though) or like I’m some crazy hoarder. I just wanted to see psychologically how I’d do letting things go.

Now like you, I’ve read these blog posts about people living with extremely few possessions (The 100 Thing Challenge for example) and if you’ve ever been to my house (or my office for that matter), you know I will never be that person. I love those people, I admire those people but I won’t be one. I was moved into my house for a week and people thought I’d been living there for years because I settle in quite quickly: my art on the walls, my dishes in the cabinet, my shower curtain in the bathroom. I smile at seeing these things, and having them makes me feel kind of like a dog marking its territory… though much less gross.

But the idea was for me to spend the year looking at my stuff. Each item I picked up, I wondered, does it have a purpose? Does it make me happy when I use it? And I thought if by the end of the year I was 365 things lighter, that wouldn’t be a bad thing. I had a few rules for myself:

1) If something got replaced, it didn’t count. Like when my DVD player kicked it and I got another one that was a net zero stuff change.
2) Every item counted as one item. No extra points for big stuff or expensive stuff: whether it was a pair of earrings or a moped, it counted as one.
3) To keep my honest, I’d take a picture of each item with my cell phone. At the end of the year, I should have 365 pictures in the folder.

A few of my own patterns I noticed this year:

1) The first two months were easy. It’s almost like I was looking for an excuse to get rid of some of this stuff.

2) It was most easy to get rid of things in parts of my life where I felt really secure. Clothes for example. Now I’m no fashion model but over the last few years, I’ve had the revelation that I’m healthy and happy and have accepted what I look like. I’m ok with never being a size four again so seeing those clothes that will never fit go was quite a nice feeling. Areas in my life I was less secure in (electronics/technical stuff for example) was harder since I stupidly seem to feel like having every possible cord invented by man may make me more technologically capable. It won’t of course but it was interesting to see what areas were easy to clean out and which weren’t as a way to see which areas I had a lot of internal (versus external) validation.

3) Getting rid of my father’s moped was not nearly as hard as I expected. It’s kind of a weight off actually. I sold it to a nice local guy who has already got it running. I’m glad it has a good home (which I know sounds like a puppy you give away to go live on a farm). But even if he junked the moped tomorrow, I know it had a good run and that my father’s memory is not attached to any item.

I wasn’t as good at photographing everything as I thought I had been so I still have to do a ‘surge purge’ still for about 50 items (this won’t be hard, I can already think of things I didn’t see in the photos I thought I had already gotten rid of!). But all in all, I look back at these photos and seriously don’t miss any of it. I even had to click on some of the thumbnails because I wasn’t sure what the thing was. How can I miss it if I can’t identify it? :^)

Anyway, it was a good resolution because it wasn’t centered in something negative (I should lose weight, I should floss daily) but in something sort of neutral. It also was a good psychological exercise for me. And whenever I’ve told people about it, they seemed to like the idea so I thought I’d write a post about it.

Now if only I could figure out what to do for next year…

Nicole Ouellette
Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she's not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

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