I have been reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, for my book club. It’s really fabulous. I have attempted to not write about it before our book club discussion at the end of the month, but I found the last chapter I read to be extremely helpful for me and thought there might be a few of you out there that think similarly.
In my mind, I refer to this weakness of mine as The Post-It Note Syndrome.
It started out as a stationary syndrome. Someone would give me a beautiful set of stationery and I would a) never use it; always saving it for a “better situation” or I would b) use it all but the last piece. As a result, I ended up with piles of yellowed pieces of paper or cute notepads that were never used because I didn’t want to let go of that final piece in fear that “the more perfect situation” would come along for which I could feel justified in using it.
Husband. Children. Anyone in my household would start to jot something down and then hesitate and ask me, “Is this paper that I can write on?”
Rubin bemoans my same ridiculous tendencies –
I wanted to stop hoarding, to trust in abundance, so that I could use things up, give things away, throw things away. Not only that – I wanted to stop worrying so much about keeping score and profit and loss. I wanted to spend out.
“But what if…” seems to be my primary driving force when it comes to stuff.
I’ve been hanging on to these craft supplies and would love to have the freed space by giving them away, but what if…
I don’t really need these extra sets of sheets, but I remember how much I paid for them so I don’t really want to give them away for free because, what if…
I could potentially make some money by selling these things rather than boxing them up and giving them away…
This is a cute color of Post-It notes.
This is a cute design on a Post-It notes.
These are the super strong kind of Post-It notes.
At this point in life, I would be willing to wager that I own more Post-It notes than the Office Depot down the street does. It’s ridiculous!
When I need to make a quick note about something and pick up a regular sized pad of Post-It notes, I fold them in half and tear them in two…I don’t need to use the whole Post-It note, that will make them disappear faster, I think to myself, and what if I need them later and am out?… on and on and on it goes. It’s like I went through the Great Post-It Note Depression of ’22.
Rubin writes: My goal wasn’t limited to my treatment of my possessions; it also involved my ideas. For example, when I thought of a great subject for a blog post, I often found myself thinking “That’s a good idea, save it for another day.” Why? Why delay? I needed to trust that there would be more, that I would have great ideas in the future and so should use my best stuff now. Pouring out ideas is better for creativity than doling them out by the teaspoon.
Know what accentuates this for me? Websites like Pinterest. I save and I save, like a hungry, yet artsy, chipmunk preparing for winter. My pinboard entitled ‘Stuff I Want to Make’ is filled with ideas that someday I will use for just the perfect situation.
I hoard ideas.
Rubin challenges her reader, as well as herself, to spend out. To not affix a scorecard to your usage (ie: If I use this, the person will think it’s fabulous. Or, I will do this for you, if you’ll do this for me.) But to merely use up what you have when you need it. Period.
Like many women, I have clothes that I don’t want to let go of, usually due to one of two reasons: 1) It doesn’t fit me anymore, but someday I might be able to wear it again and would hate it if I didn’t have this perfect blue dress, or 2) I paid a lot for this purse and even though it’s out of style right now, I hate to just give it away for free and not get something back from my initial investment.
(Lord, I sound like an awful person. Please tell me there are others of you out there…)
I have had a come-to-jesus meeting with myself and realized I buy things because I think I need the variety. In reality, I tend to gravitate to the same things. But maybe I need to add this splash of color or this type of skirt to my wardrobe to mix things up a bit.
At 46-almost-47-years-old, I am beginning to say, “Know what? I LIKE that same old style. I’m comfortable in it and don’t really want to deviate much from it.”
So shouldn’t my jammed-up closet reflect such a mental realization?
That’s my goal this month: Clear out clothes that I don’t wear. The item might be cute. It might have been purchased at full price. But it’s not ‘me’. It’s taking up my precious little space, so I need to give it (GIVE it) to someone who would prefer it more.
Rubin states a study showing that people think they like variety more than they do. When asked to pick a menu of snacks for the upcoming month, they picked a variety, but if they chose week to week what to eat, they picked their favorite snack over and over.
I like shirts with collars and buttons.
Not swoop-necks. Not collarless. Not light colors.
I like shirts with collars and buttons.
Why do I have these others, then?
This purse has a lot of sentimental value to me.
Take a picture of it, scrapbook it, then…
These shoes are SO cute and would be perfect for going out.
But what if my children would want this? (that’s always a killer thought for us, right?)
Well, they DON’T.
If I think they will want record of it – take a picture of it, then…
There’s not a craft item I have that couldn’t be re-purchased if the right project came along.
I will also…(gulp)…make simple, quick notes on Post-It notes and will not buy anymore until I have run out of what I have.
Furthermore, if a pad has lost it’s stick-together-ness, I will…(oh my)…throw it away.
Do you need to do some space-clearing decision-making?
Yeah, me too.
And that’s not even going into the idea of Spending Out with regards to relationships.
I guess that’s a whole different month of improvement.
For now, I’m looking this red leather bag in the eye and sincerely wishing it well in its new home…