Starting over. When we were kids, we’d call it a “do-over”. Golfers sometimes use the phrase “a mulligan.” In any case, they amount to the same thing: what came before does not count. What happens next is all that matters.
How many times do we truly start over? Oh, if you are trying to lose weight, it is common to succeed for a while, then regain all that weight and begin losing weight again. Or if you are creating a project, you might decide in the middle that everything is wrong and start a new project. Those are types of “do-overs.”
But when was the last time you made a major change to your life?
I bring this up because I my wife and I decided it was time to make a change. To start over. And we can’t wait! And maybe this will help you decide it is time to change, too.
Let me give you the backstory. We’ve been married for over 29 years, and will celebrate our 30th anniversary this September. We’ve only ever lived in Wisconsin for our entire marriage (and that won’t change) but have lived in four different—and very distinct—towns, with a total of nine different addresses. We’ve lived in Green Bay for most of our marriage, since 1991. We started renting a single bedroom apartment, then a 2 bedroom duplex. We bought our first home in 1993, our second in 2001, and our current home in 2006. Each home was bigger than the last. Our current home has 2700 feet of living area, plus 750 ft of storage space in the basement, plus a three and a half car garage for storage.
And for each home, we gathered more “things”. Holiday decorations. Furniture. Tools. Appliances. Books. Household do-dads and widgets. That basement storage area of about 750 sq ft (about 70 sq meters) and it is full, floor to ceiling with “stuff”. Oh, it is very well-organized, in labeled boxes, but it is full.
As is the rented storage unit (300 sq ft, or 28 sq m). Our garage is full of furniture and equipment filling one and half stalls. Just writing that makes me queasy with all that. My life is full of “stuff”. That isn’t an accomplishment, it is more of a sign of a cluttered mind.
That is the backstory.
The rest of the story is that my wife and I want to move. We want to find “the perfect home”, and we realize that may mean building it. And it may mean buying a new home before we can sell our current home (which can be expensive if the home doesn’t sell) because the type of home we want is popular and tend to sell fast!
We’ve been looking at homes. So far, none have been satisfactory.
Last night, we did something different. We looked at an apartment. It is a one bedroom place, with a small den. It has 1000 sq ft (93sq m), no basement, and only a single stall garage (plus outdoor parking.)
It is small, but very nicely designed. It is part of a large complex of buildings, with over 200 apartments in total.
And we loved it.
We have already completed our applications, and are hoping for an August 1 move in date.
That is scary!
We are going to pare our lives down to a basic level, a level that we have not experienced since our first apartment in 1985 after we married.
We need to sell—or give away—lots of stuff. And to be honest, writing that gives me a feeling of apprehension combined with a giddy sense of freedom!
We are going to truly downsize! That means giving up many activities that were time-consuming, but not all were bad. I will not need to mow or fertilize the lawn, but those were actually relaxing activities. No vegetable gardens, other than what I can grow in containers. No more shoveling the snow, or running my brand new snow blower, purchased last December and used for a total of five snowfalls last winter. That will be nice! But it also means giving up a large part of my home brewing hobby. I will not be able to bring my four keg kegerator, and since I don’t like bottling beer, I might just quit brewing beer.
We are going to reduce our belongings down to a bedroom set, a few pieces in the living room, a small dining room set and a desk in the den for school work and this podcast. The den will also become the library for all of our books.
We will need to keep our storage locker, because it contains many vintage items that are destined to fill our “perfect home”, but in the new apartment, it will be sparse—in comparison to our current home.
What is the purpose of this story?
My wife and I have almost 30 years’ worth of belongings. We have 30 years of life habits, collecting, buying, showing and storing things. And we are selling or giving almost all of it away. We are going back to the way we lived as newlyweds. Just the two of us, in our apartment (but now we have Ozzy our pug.)
But more than the physical act of purging belongings, this is a mental paradigm shift and THAT is what I want you to take from this. We are looking at life completely differently. We are changing our definition of satisfaction. We are taking strong and definite steps to reduce items and workload from our lives. Instead of spending hours every week simply doing routine cleaning, and many more hours doing simple yard work, we will have that time together to work toward our future.
When was the last time you changed your entire life’s viewpoint?
When was the last time you decided to change your life in a way that others can see?
I know my friends Meron Bareket and Julie Sheranosher did exactly that a few years ago. (I featured their stories when I interviewed them in episode three and fourteen. (You can find those episodes at MYST/Meron and MYST/Julie.) They moved to a different country, while are merely moving across town, but the concept is the same. Strip down to what you need. Just that. And then find out what you can do with all the extra physical and mental space you find.
What can you get rid of? What are you doing, every day, or every week, that is doing nothing but stealing time and energy—and money—from you? What would you be able to do with those hours?
We all only have twenty-four hours in a day, seven days in a week. That is it. How we spend those hours are under our control. I’ve decided that mowing the lawn simply does not add enough benefit to balance the time I spend doing it.
Making a change like this is not easy. As excited as we are right now, when we actually begin the process of eliminating almost everything, the excitement will be replaced by other feelings. Possibly feelings of loss, possibly sadness, possibly fear of what the future will bring.
If you let those feelings control you, you will never become the person you are destined to be.
Take action. Now. Not Someday.
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Music composed and performed by Jason Shaw, courtesy of Audionautix.com
Voiceover courtesy of Matt Young. Matt is a professional voiceover artist. If you have any need of voiceover work, for your podcast, radio spot, or whatever, you can reach Matt by a variety of methods. He is on LinkedIn. On Twitter. And Google+. And you can read his really nice, contemplative blog. Matt was also my guest on MYST 54. Give his story a listen!