Letting go of ‘Might Use”

Today, I went through five boxes of things that I “might use.”  As I was going through the boxes I would put things aside with the justification of, “I actually might use this.”  After a few minutes I would pick them up again and put them back down.  I did this about four times.  When I was throwing out my last trash bag I picked up the “actually might use” items and put them in the trash bag.  I was done debating.

One of my “actually might use” stacks were my songwriting notebooks that I’ve had for about 12 years.  I’ve written a lot of songs in them, but they were just sitting in a box.  What did I need them for?  Nostalgia?

I made a decision that “might use” wasn’t enough for me to hold onto anything.  It wasn’t enough to change my happiness with or without.  Thus, everything was thrown into the trash.  The best part?  I feel great about it and have no regret not keeping anything.

I was able to flatten five boxes and fill up four 30 gallon trash bags for the trash.  I will never have to think about all that stuff again.  It’s gone.  And guess what?  My happiness remains even though I let go of “might use.”

The Want vs. The Purpose


There comes a time when you realize you have the money you never had to buy the thing you’ve always wanted.  That’s certainly how it went for me.  I didn’t grow up being able to buy the things I wanted.  We didn’t have the money for the ‘want’ items.  Even when I had a job the income wasn’t great enough for me to buy random things that I wanted.  Later on when I did have a better income I began to buy things that were on my want list. 

I bought PA system to play music through.  I bought a new guitar.  I bought tools.  I bought a new computer.  I traded up for a new car.  I bought collectable items, wall art, movies, sports equipment.  It seems like the list never ended.  I was never was able to buy the miscellaneous items when I was in college, but now that I have a great career I don’t hesitate to buy pretty much anything I want.  Until recently.

Many of the items that I wanted just because I wanted them are purposeless.  They serve no purpose.  I don’t need them.  I don’t use them.  They take up space and they were actually a waste of money.  I always thought that by buying things I wanted that I would gain some sort of happiness out of them.  In reality it wasn’t the case at all.  I think it was more of a “I can buy this because I never could before” mentality.  It’s a toxic way of thinking.  It cost me money, space, time, and now it’s almost a burden to have things I don’t need sitting around.  Like I’ve mentioned before it’s as if every item sitting around is a stack of money that isn’t being used on anything with value or with purpose.  Every item that I plan on keeping will serve a purpose to my daily ‘operations’ around the house and work.  I say operations in the sense of ‘how and why’ I use things around the house.  

If you’re wanting to become a minimalist think about purpose, the real value(not monetary) that each item provides to you.  Can you live without it?  Do you really need it?  How often will you actually use it?  Will it actually make you happy or does the idea of having it overshadow the reality of not needing it?  

I wish I would have thought about this before buying all the items I have that have served no purpose.  As I continue my path to minimalism, every item will have a purpose to my daily interactions and operation.  Still a ways to go, but the journey continues…

Minimalism: My Process to Less


I began thinking in bed last night on how I’m going to consolidate, remove, donate(or however else you want to call it) my ‘stuff.’  What’s the best way?  As I began to think on what I had and what I see on a daily basis I created somewhat of a checklist.  Since I took a step into minimalism a few months ago I was already on a path.  Now that I’ve taken a step back to look at my house, I believe I have a good plan to reach my goal of being as minimal as possible.  Here is my list in order. 

Clothing:  (I began this stage a few months ago.) Getting rid of clothing items is probably the easiest thing to do since you know what you wear most and don’t wear.  I had a lot of golf t-shirts.  Probably 75% of my shirts were golf shirts, but the crazy thing is I rarely golf anymore.  Those were first to go.  I many other regular t-shirts that I didn’t wear as well.  I had a few more shoes than I should have had.  Not sure how I even accumulated numerous pairs of shoes when I really only wear one…maybe two.  Those went.  Lastly, I took a look at my uniforms that I wear for work.  I got rid of the oldest and kept the newest.  Uniforms are good to have at anytime so I kept what I felt I needed.  I believe I have 3 sets, plus 2 combinations of blues.  I’m in the Air Force so blues is what we call our service uniform.  After I went through my clothes I donated 55 items.  That’s quite a bit.  Some clothes still had the price tag on them.  They’re gone.  What a relief?!

Entertainment:  I have so many DVDs and I rarely pop one in the DVD player.  We now have a lot of movies on digital download on Amazon.  A space saver!  We love movies so I think it’s a good idea to use technology to save space.  Digital downloads are just too simple.  I will keep my books because they do bring value to me.  I do reference them from time to time and I believe they are a part of me.  I could go digital with my books, but I’m old fashioned.  I like being able to hold a book and actually flip pages.  I’ll also get rid of board games and some of my drawing/calligraphy items.  Greatest thing about some of these is that I can sell them and at least get a few dollars out of them.  Including in entertainment are my old journals that I used to write in.  Random lyrics, music chords and ideas on songs.  These are a part of me, but I can let go of them.  I’m sure I’ll reread a few journals, but I’m actually looking forward to getting rid of them.  Sports gear is another set of things I’m including in entertainment.  I have a tennis racket, bowling shoes, a couple fishing poles.  Haven’t used the tennis racket in almost 3 years.  Haven’t used the bowling shoes in about the same.  I will keep a few fishing poles as that is something I do with my wife and daughter. 

Kitchenware:  I have a lot of coffee cups.  Honestly, I use most of them on a regular basis, but I don’t need more than a few.  It will at least make me wash them quick rather than waiting for the dish washer.  This includes water bottles too.  I have a few that I don’t use that often.  I normally grab a bottled water from the office anyway as I head to the gym.  I also have 2 barbecue sets of tongs and flippers.  One of them will have to go even though we use them a few times a week. There are other items that I can’t think of, but kitchenware is on the list.

Bedroom items:  We have a king size bed and two night stands with two lamps.  Not sure that the lamps are really needed, but still have time to decide.  I have a lot of hangers for clothes, but now that I got rid of a lot of clothes I need to get rid of the hangers.  Now that I think of it, our bedroom is pretty bare.  Not much to change there. 

Miscellaneous/Tools:  I believe in keeping lawn equipment such as lawn mower, water hose, weed eater and basic gardening tools.  We like the idea of growing our own herbs or whatever we can, really.  In our first house I had a big garage to work in.  I woodworked, well, I tried, and have quite a bit of tools.  I haven’t used them as much as I used to.  I may have to consider getting rid of them. 

Office:  I have more pens that I could ever need.  I love pens, but I sure don’t use them all.  I have a few other personal desk decorations on my desk that I will consider getting rid of.  Some of them are gifts from my first deployment.  Hard to get rid of something like that.  I have a lot of documents too that I feel I may need in the future, but perhaps I’ll scan them and keep a digital copy.  I will keep my planner and my organizer.  I don’t know what I’d do without them.  

As the process evolves I’ll see what other things I can reduce.  I’m not setting a timeline, but I just want to as time passes enhance my space by being minimal.  There are things that I may keep as I feel add value to my life such as books, but we’ll see how it goes.  So…here I go!

The Start of Less


I was in college and I owned very little.  In fact, I could carry all my possessions in both my hands.  I had two guitar cases and a laptop with a case.  One guitar case had my actual guitar.  The other case had every clothing item I owned.  I lived quite simple.  I didn’t even own a cell at the time.  

12 years later I have a 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house.  I have thousands of items in my house and I couldn’t carry everything I own if I wanted to.  Then again, back then I was living in a dorm and couch to couch.  Today, I have a family and a house.  You tend to accumulate things as you grow and move.  

Our third bedroom is sort of like an office with a walk-in closet…well, it’s suppose to be a walk in closet.  We use it for storage for things we honestly don’t use.  Six months after moving into our house nothing in that room was being used. We’d occasionally go search through a box for something small, but out of thousands of items in that room we really only need less than 1%.

I keep old songwriting notebooks.  High school sports medals.  Trinkets, souvenirs, things that provide no real value to my daily operations around the house.  I won’t even go into what my wife keeps because I honestly have no clue what’s in there.  That shows how often we use anything in the boxes. 

I didn’t know it, but in college, I was a minimalist.  I rarely bought anything and I lived with very little. 

A few months ago, the documentary called MMINIMALISM: A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT THE IMPORTANT THINGS hit Netflix and it has just gone world wide via Netflix.  It’s gaining attention and has become a growing idea.  The whole concept is to look at the big picture of what you actually own.  Sometimes we chase happiness through material items and merchandise, but all the money in the world still wouldn’t make you happy because happiness is not something you own.  You’d have to see the film to get the full scope, but that’s a good summary. 

Two months ago I sorted through all of my clothing items.  I found 55 items I did not need.  Had shoes I never worn.  Had t-shirts and pants with price tags still on them.  I now own 3 pairs of paints and about 6 t-shirts.  I have a few uniforms for work and a few pairs of shoes.  I feel a bit more liberated with knowing that the next time we move I don’t have to pack so much stuff.  In fact, I could pack almost everything in just a few suitcases if I had really had to.  I still own a few things that serve no purpose and I will get to them.  The Minimalists like to say, “One day or day one.”  I believe I started day one two months ago, but I believe minimalism isn’t an overnight transformation.  It will take time and I believe I’m on the right path.  As The Minimalists said, “It’s not a radical lifestyle.  It’s a practical lifestyle.”

There are things that I will keep and things that I will easily get rid of.  I already know when I open my box of notebooks and journals that it will be a bit difficult to get rid of the writing I did 10 years ago, but I know I can do it and I know I will do it.  Besides, if they really mattered I wouldn’t have them in a box.  

My journey to be as minimal as possible is happening.  Stay tuned. 

You can see progress on my instagram page as I post items and such @iampeteblog.