Having completed the 31 day minimalism game (www.theminimalists.com) I felt a great sense of achievement and pride at the amount of pointless possessions I was able to remove from my home, and my life. Of course I also felt a significant amount of disbelief, guilt, and shame that I had brought all of this stuff in to the house!
I’m over here feeling super proud, slapping myself on the back, high fiving my husband because he did it too (meaning between us we removed 992 items from the house in one month, not counting all of the donations the children made, and piles of other things that we minimised over and above our daily quotas). And yet I look around the house and see….stuff…..everywhere!
If someone had said I could remove over 1,000 items from my house in a month and I would barely notice, I would not have believed them. Yet here I am, walking around the house, MISSINGthe daily challenge of the minimalism game and the associated daily sense of achievement.
I was telling my husband about this feeling of dissatisfaction and frustration in myself when he pointed out how much tidier the house is, how much quicker and easier cleaning up after the kids is and how many empty shelves and drawers we have (I didn’t know that shelves and drawers could BE empty). He helped me realise I was not only being hard on myself but may be looking at the house and our stuff through a distorted lens.
And this is where the need to reframe my measure of success became apparent.
When undertaking a challenging journey, the closer we get to success the more insurmountable the things you still have to do can seem. Just like those last few steps to the top of a mountain may seem impossible when you are exhausted. As past successes lose their gravitas and as our objectivity flies out the window, so can our motivation and feelings of achievement.
And this is when it is most important to stop, take a breath, and look back down the mountain to truly appreciate how far you have already come! Recognise every trip and stumble along the way and realise that the true success has been in my ability to keep going, neither resting on the laurels of small wins nor quitting when the journey got hard.
So now, I am reminding myself of just how far I have come. I have personally removed almost 500 items from my home. I am much better at not bringing things into the house. I have been able to re-evaluate my relationship with some (not all!) sentimental items. Yes I still have more shoes than there are days in a month, even a long one, and I’m not ready to cut my handbag collection down any further….yet, but I am revitalised by acknowledging my successes, and I am prepared to take those last few steps to reach the summit.