Sunday, May 17, 2009

The 2009 50 Things Challenge

Tip of the Week, May 10, 2009

Drumroll, please: It's that time again--time for this year's Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge!

This annual event was inspired by an article coach Gail Blanke wrote in Real Simple a few years back (now a full-length book) in which she encouraged readers to let go of 50 things that were holding them back in life, whether physical objects, limiting thoughts and beliefs, or activities and events that no longer had purpose and meaning.

The 50 Things Challenge is a structured, time-limited way of reconsidering the stuff you're keeping in your life and making some significant strides toward clearing out what no longer serves you. Here's how it'll work, along with a few twists on the challenge this year.

How It Works
For the next five weeks--from now through June 14--your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to go through your home and/or office carefully to find at least 50 things to which you can bid adieu. As with Gail Blanke's original challenge, these can be actual objects, negative or limiting thoughts (such as, "I've always been disorganized and always will be" or "I'd be a bad daughter to get rid of this bowl my mother gave me, even though I don't really like it"), or activities that are cluttering up your life, including commitments you've said "Yes" to when you really wanted to say "No."

Every item, thought, or event counts as one thing. In order for anything to truly count, though, it must actually leave your life: the physical objects need to be donated, given away, recycled, or trashed (simply gathering them together in a bag and stashing them in the hall closet doesn't make them go away). The thoughts and beliefs need to be those you're truly willing to make the effort to get beyond, whether on your own or with help. And the extraneous activities and events should disappear from your calendar by the end of the Challenge.

Keeping Track
As you work on letting go of things, keep a list on the computer or on paper of what's going. Remember to list each item separately so you can track them accurately. I'm willing to bet that you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to reach 50--and that you'll be willing to keep going once you hit that mark.

Getting Support
Throughout the 50 Things Challenge, my Tips of the Week will focus on supporting you through the process, with pointers on making tough decisions, finding new homes for the things you're parting with, and making sure less unwanted stuff creeps into your life in the future. If you find yourself facing a particularly sticky or difficult situation in the course of the Challenge, post a comment and I'll offer a few encouraging words.

In addition, I'll be taking part in the Challenge myself, so I'll be sharing my own experiences over the next several weeks.

The Incentive
At the end of the Challenge, I'll be asking anyone who participated to send me their list of the 50(+) things they parted with over these five weeks. From the names of all of the successful participants, I'll then choose one at random and will send that person a signed copy of my book, Organizing Your Home, which can help with the next phases of getting and staying organized once the unwanted stuff is out of the way.

I'll also be sharing sections of the lists I receive in the final Tip in this series (anonymously, of course) so that you can see the range of stuff that has been cleared out of your fellow Tip readers' lives.

Remember, only those folks whose lists reach or top 50 things will be eligible to win the copy of the book, so I encourage you to get your own Challenge underway today. You have through Sunday, June 14 to clear your life and your space of whatever is holding you back. Good luck!


Angela said...

I wish I had found your blog sooner! I've been "clearing out" our home since being laid off on April 10. I'm going to create a list of all the items that I can remember getting rid of and see how many there are...I still have this weekend!

Emily said...

It's definitely not too late, Angela! Congratulations on your progress thus far. You've been participating in the 50 Things Challenge without even knowing it.