Hello! I’m Laura Hardwicke– connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter!
What I’m Watching: Titans vs. Bills
What I’m Reading: Right of Way: Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America by Angie Schmitt
What I’m listening to: Fleetwood Mac because emotions
I’d like to thank past-me for two crucial decisions that have had a major return on investment during this pandemic: purchasing a digital antenna, and committing to a life inspired by minimalism. Yes I’m a walking contradiction.
About three years ago, I read Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki. Inspired to rely less on material items, I wanted to focus on living more simply. What started as a neat approach to declutter my apartment has morphed into a guiding principle for my professional and emotional outlook on life. Though the lack of clutter has definitely alleviated the ennui of being bored in the house, and in the house bored.
I often refer to this cheat sheet of the book’s 21 tips when I need to reduce some physical or mental baggage. I’m so grateful this practice was ingrained in me as it’s allowed me to face the pandemic and major life changes with more resilience– including a new job and out of state move.
With just over a week left in my current role, I’m in the thick of trimming down and organizing files so my colleagues can find what they need after I leave. I suspect the sheer thought of this might make some of you sweat. However, for years I’ve had a fairly visceral metaphor in mind illustrating organizing is not minimizing. If clutter is the pest, storage is the nest. I’m not sweating packing up home or office cause I’ve focused on the root of the problem. And you can too!
Take some time to donate– go through cupboards for canned food that might actually be used by someone else. Clothes you don’t wear or like anymore can find a home with someone who will enjoy them more. Then enjoy a little serotonin boost for giving back as well as getting it out of your way.
Sasaki declares that there are limits to the capacity of your brain, your energy, and your time. I saw this concept echoed in my recent career coaching program. That amazing Nicole Lance challenged us to answer: “What are you taking care of that can be taken over?” I immediately applied it to chores. While I still question the technique, the bottom line is that my spouse is completely capable of loading the dishwasher and I don’t have to do it every time.
Now as I transition my work responsibilities to other folks on our team (sorry guys!) I realize some of this could have been done sooner. I was hanging onto a few tasks because I was afraid of what it would look like for someone else to complete it. What is sapping your limited capacity that you can be rid of?
Are you holding onto a task or belonging because you’re clinging to an image of yourself in the past? I was, and realizing this helped me get rid of all but a handful of my books. Now, before you @ me, remember how much we love libraries?! They’ve got everything I had and more. Which brings me to the most profound part of starting a journey of minimalism:
Say goodbye to who you used to be, “If you’re the least bit interested in changing anything about yourself, I suggest you be brave and start letting things go. Leave only the items that you need moving forward from this very moment.”
A minimalist approach will look different for everyone. Mine has surely evolved over the past few years. I give myself a free pass to collect two things: friends and records. Okay, friends aren’t things. But, reducing the clutter in my work and personal life has allowed room for me to focus on what really matters to me during this bittersweet transition. I have time to reflect and cherish the folks who have become my my chosen family after nearly a decade in this town, and my colleagues/role models who inspired me throughout my local gov career here.
Oh, and a few great records to put on while I tape up the boxes and close out this chapter of my story.