I’ve never been drawn to the need for excessive material wealth, but wouldn’t be considered a minimalist either. I bought things that didn’t bring value to my life, kept things that didn’t bring happiness, and stored things I hadn’t looked at in years. Then last December I threw over half of my belongings away and nine months later I tossed half of what I had left.

I had planned a road trip that didn’t pan out and ended up having almost an entire month off. No work, no vacation, just a month to myself. I started to fixing things around the house and when I was done fixing I started looking at areas that were frustrating me.

I started with the closet, a tiny ten-square-foot where I begin every morning. It had always been more than less organized. My daily wears hung front and center. T-shirts were sorted from black to white, then dark blue into a reverse ROYGBIV color scheme. Tucked away to the left was formal wear and seasonal to the right. But every morning I’d sort through 10 articles of clothing I hadn’t worn in over a year and ask, “Why do I own items that don’t fit well? Why is there a pile of ‘junk’ shirts accumulating that will only become dog beds? Why do I own so many pairs of socks?!” It was time for a change.

I created some simple rules.

  • Every article of clothing I own must fit inside of this closet.
  • It all must fit me correctly.
  • What I wear should make me happy.

With those rules in mind, I began stuffing garbage bags full of clothing. Maybe 40+ old t-shirts were too many. I’ll never get around to hemming those jeans. This sweatshirt is one hole away from being just one giant hole.

When it was all over there were three large heavy-duty trash bags filled sitting in my hallway. The physical embodiment of my stress slumped over my shoulder as I dragged them to the thrift store. Leaving me with a clutter-free closet filled with only my favorite clothing.

After a few days, I was able to pick out an outfit bit easier and every day I became a bit happier. Maybe only a fraction of a percent happier, but it was a start. So I started to tackle all the other problem areas of my home. With each downsizing project, I have been able to better define what brought me happiness and in return, this affected my spending habits and lifestyle.

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