by Susan McCarthy
Everyday practice: Vividly imagine your future so you can see where you are going.
When I ask someone why they want to declutter, they often say that they are tired of feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff surrounding them. Of course, it is difficult, in an exhausted, frazzled state, to know where to start.
In a moment, I’m going to ask you to close your eyes. You may need to first move to a space where you won’t be distracted for five or ten minutes. Read through the directions first and when you close your eyes, I want you to picture yourself two or three years in the future.
Imagine that you’ve eliminated your clutter. You no longer spend much time shopping in stores or browsing online. You devote much less time during the week cleaning your home. Your wardrobe is pared down to essentials that you love and wear all the time.
How do you spend your days?
Instead of trying to envision your days and weeks, you can imagine that you are sitting at home or in a coffee shop with a friend or relative whom you haven’t seen much of during the past couple of years. Set this scene by layering sensory details. What do you smell? Is the chair you’re sitting in hard or soft and cushioned? What are you wearing? Are you warm or cool?
These details will help anchor you in your envisioned future. Now, while catching up with your friend or relative, you are talking about the activities that fill your days. Pay attention to what you are saying.
Have you changed jobs? Moved? Taken up a new hobby or have finally found the time for one that you never had time for? Do you volunteer for an organization you’ve long wanted to support? Do you travel more often? While you imagine this conversation, continue to anchor it with those sensory details – the feel of the mug in your hand, the steam caressing your face, the music playing softly in the background.
Why bother with these sensory details when you could just make up a list of ways your life could be different? Because, when you imagine such a detailed scene, you’re telling your brain that you are there. Instead of thinking, “Well, my life could be different in this way or that way,” it’s more like you are tapping into a memory. You make your dream for the future a bit more solid and you create an emotional hook that may be stronger than a goal written on paper.
You can spend five or ten minutes envisioning your future … or longer, if you enjoy creating this scene. When you are ready, you can open your eyes. (Don’t worry if you don’t see images. You can also connect to this scene through smell, touch, or sound.)
Now, when you are debating whether to keep something, you can call up your image of future, clutter-free you and consider if that you will want or need that object. You have envisioned your reason for minimalizing your belongings and discovered what you will do with the time and space you create.
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The Organized Squirrel, Susan, shows you how acorns (small habits) can grow into oak trees (a better life).