Move it or lose it.

junk_drawersTell me if this sounds familiar: You moved a month or two ago. You packed all your belongings, rented a truck, asked friends for help and spent a day or more transplanting your belongings from one place to another. Now, months later, you still have more than a few packed boxes lying around your new abode. How many of them have labels like “Random” or “Misc.” or even “Junk Drawer?” If you haven’t needed anything in them for this long, why not save yourself the trouble of unpacking and take the boxes straight to a thrift store? I know it sounds drastic, maybe even a little crazy.

Do you know what else is crazy? Boxing up a junk drawer, letting it sit for months, then in a new drawer for years, only to repeat the process when the next move occurs. Why not break the cycle? Lose the junk.

Move it or lose it.

That sinking feeling.

I have never been a hoarder, but I definitely have the potential to be one.

Every item has a story. Every new thing has a purpose. Every piece of junk has a situation in which it could be useful, if only the correct scenario would appear. These are the things we tell ourselves to justify maintaining closets full of clothes we never wear, boxes stuffed with decorations we never look at (let alone display) and shelves lined with books we have never read or will never read again. “I might wear/use/read it one day.” It is a mantra we know well, and it has the potential to drown each of us in an ocean of unneeded crap.

Shutting the consumer floodgates is difficult. Advertisers have spent decades tapping into our instinct to acquire, to fatten ourselves up during plentiful times so we might survive the approaching winter. In this case, winter is not coming. We can empty our closets and take comfort in knowing that tomorrow the Sun will rise and the stores will open. The sandwich press you haven’t used in a year can be replaced. For now the only purpose it serves is to make your life a little more crowded. That “amazing” new “life changing” piece of technology the sales rep says you need will only be new and amazing until later this year when the next version comes out and the same person is telling you the “old” model is obsolete.

We know that sinking feeling all too well. The moment of joy accompanying a new acquisition is brief and quickly supplanted by a knot in the gut. In contrast, donating a box of dusty ornaments or a bag of clothing results in a strong and lasting feeling of relief. Consider the consequences before an impulse buy. Not just the consequences today, but tomorrow, next week, and next month as well. Will this thing improve your life in a long-lasting way or will it be a reminder of money and time better spent with friends. Make conscious choices, not snap decisions. Purging the daily purchase is not just about limiting acquisitions, it’s also about decreasing how much you want to acquire.

That sinking feeling.