Sunday, July 17, 2011

50 Things Challenge: Wrap-Up & Celebration

Tip of the Week, July 3 and 10, 2011

We've reached the end of the 2011 Get Rid of 50 Things Challenge. If you successfully completed the challenge and cleared out 50 (or more) unwanted, unneeded things from your life, congratulations! Even if you didn't quite get to 50, you deserve a pat on the back for making the effort to become more aware of what truly deserves space in your life, and to part with the stuff, beliefs, and limitations that don't.

As I mentioned when I introduced the Challenge this year, I, too, participated, both because I like to practice what I preach and because it was time to reconsider some of the stuff that had been lurking around my house for the past year. All told, I managed to part with 182 things, from catalogs to old cds, from excess office supplies to worn-out shoes. Here's some of what went, along with insights I gained as I weeded out.
  • Several small kitchen gadgets. Why was I still holding onto that 2-part mini citrus juicer, even though it never really worked well and didn't fit anything larger than a medium-sized lime? And when was the last time I pressed garlic, scooped ice cream with anything other than a soup spoon, or found myself in need of a bowl scraper? Everything in my kitchen drawers had to pass muster as being tools I actually use; those that didn't were destined for the give-away box.
  • File folders, report covers, business card stock, and other office supplies. Over the years, I've accumulated lots of office supplies (which I admit are my weakness!), and they've lingered because they all could potentially be useful. But I challenged myself to admit that I only use one kind of file folder, and that I'm unlikely to ever print my own business cards, and that there are only so many pens I need.
  • Orphaned socks, old sneakers, and miscellaneous other bits of clothing and shoes. Because my closets and dresser aren't overflowing with clothes, and I don't usually struggle to find or put things away, I tend to let the contents of those spaces go unchecked. But why was I saving single socks whose mates I hadn't seen in months, or that shirt that was so lovingly worn as to have sprouted holes along the seams? It was time to make some conscious decisions about what got to hang around.
  • Miscellaneous books, catalogs, and magazines. A close look through my bookshelves revealed several volumes I'd already read and was unlikely to go back to, along with a good handful that, if I were honest with myself, I wasn't likely to dive into at any point in the near future. I'd rather get these into the hands of people who will read them, so off they went. As for the catalogs and magazines, I held onto a few that felt like actual current, useful references and recycled those that didn't.
  • Several but-I-might-need-it! bits and pieces. Ball jars whose lids were a bit worse for the wear? Sure, potentially useful in a pinch, but I have others in better condition (and am happy to pay 50¢ a pop or so for new jars if ever I need them). How many shipping boxes did I need to make storage space for in my basement? Not nearly as many as I'd been keeping around. Old travel toiletry bottles? Those with mystery substances inside, or with lids that never quite stayed shut, hit the recycling bin.
I sometimes found it difficult to make decisions on the stuff I came across, especially those things that still seemed potentially useful (which, really, meant pretty much everything). What spurred me on, though, was the sense of accomplishment I felt as the list of stuff I was parting with grew, and as a few previously cluttered spots throughout the house started to open up. That, for me, is one of the greatest things about the 50 Things Challenge: it spurs me on to really reconsider what deserves space in my life and my home in a way that I don't always consider throughout the rest of the year.

Share Your Successes
Now I'd love to hear your successes with the Challenge. If you participated, leave a comment with a list of the things you parted with--and, if you'd like, let me know what realizations you came to as you weeded, or what you learned as you went through the Challenge.

I hope you enjoyed this year's 50 Things Challenge, and that it'll inspire you year-round to make room in your life for the things that matter most.

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