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If you are anything like I was before starting this adventure, you have way more things than you can fit into any single vehicle. How do you minimize your possessions to fit into a mobile life?
Almost everyone has something they collect. For some people, they collect shoes, stamps, or books. For me, it’s always been art supplies. Whenever I had that urge to buy something, I would buy a new art brush or a new sketchbook.
Before long, I had a mountain of sad, unused supplies, some of which never got to see the light of day because they were stowed away.
After taking the plunge into getting a van to travel and live out of, I soon realized that my things were holding me back. The only way I could fit everything in there was if I didn’t want to sleep laying down or have room to walk.
So I began to purge my possessions. I followed the following steps that helped me minimize my things and maximize my space.
1. Ask yourself, “do I want to bring this with me into the future?”
This is the most important question to ask yourself. You may have bought something a long time ago that served you well during it’s lifetime. But if doesn’t have a place in your future, don’t keep holding onto it.
For me, I kept lots of old watercolor papers that I used when I was getting back into painting. They were papers made from “student grade” materials. Eventually I started to buy and use “professional grade” materials and stopped using the old ones. I held onto the old ones because they still had use to them. But after asking myself if I wanted to bring them into the future with me, the answer was a “no.” So I donated the unused materials.
2. Get rid of duplicates.
This may come as a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many items you own that are multiples. It happens because we aren’t fully conscious of having and appreciating the first one. It can be pots and pans, hairbrushes, shoes.
I noticed this issue fully when I delved into my colored pencil collection. Somehow, I convinced myself into buying two sets of professional Prismacolor colored pencils over the years. I definitely don’t remember buying both sets. Where was my brain? Was I just happy to buy? I felt like I betrayed my first set by buying the second. I decided to donate the second set and to fully covet my first set.
Have you found any duplicates?
3. Ask yourself, “do I have emotional ties to this object?”
No matter who you are, you will have strong emotions to some things you own. Where does it bring you in your memories? If it’s not a happy place, it has no place in your future. If it is a happy place, how strong are those emotions? Are you upset at the thought of getting rid of an item? Keep it for now.
When I was a kid, my grandmother gifted me a beautiful quilt for Christmas one year. I spent countless nights snuggled under it. My grandmother went through so much time to pick out the fabric, sew it, quilt it, and wrap it with me in mind, that there is no way I’m giving it up. It’s an item I will always treasure.
What are you uncompromising about? Why?
4. Say to yourself, “it’s served it’s purpose.”
It can be especially difficult to let go of items that have never been used. The way I like to look at it, is that just by having the item around to give you good vibes, it has already served it’s purpose.
As tidying expert Marie Kondo suggests, showing gratitude for the time you had an object allows you to be thankful for what it meant to you.
You may have felt a euphoric rush after finding and buying it. Or it may have motivated you in some way. These are all valid. But if it doesn’t serve you anymore, then it’s time for someone else to get use from it.
5. Don’t be afraid to minimize everything all at once.
It may be exhausting, but it’s best to go through all your things in one go. It could take days or weeks. As you go through each item, separate them into 3 piles of keep, donate, and recycle/trash.
When you are finally done with each section of your home, what you are left with are items that serve a purpose and things you want to bring with you into the future. I
f you skip a region of your things such as clothing or kitchen supplies, it will just be harder the next time you attempt a cleaning.
6. Minimize in phases over time.
If you are wanting to simplify to the point of fitting everything into a mobile life, you may have to do it in phases.
For me, I did 3 phases of purging. The first time was the hardest. I went through every item but still managed to convince myself I needed most of it.
A month later, I went through everything again. I became more realistic of what I needed and what use I could have with everything.
By the third time another month later, I became the most honest with myself and what I knew I would be most appreciative of keeping around. I no longer found use in old school papers or art supplies I didn’t like using.
After each phase, I learned more about myself and what I truly cared about.
Are you ready? I think so. Don’t worry, it gets easier with time.