Purge for the New Year

Purge for the New Year

By Mary T. O’Sullivan, MSOL

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.” ― Marie Kondo

            Nothing reminds you better that you have too much stuff than participating in a home renovation. Whether you hire someone, or do it yourself, everything in the path of the renovation must be moved, packed away or thrown away. If you are on a strict timeline, there may be no point at which to consider what you have accumulated and get rid of it beforehand. So, you end up unpacking a lot of items that you really don’t need. There is a rule of thumb that says, “if you haven’t used it in the last six months, get rid of it.”

            Recently, we had the floors in the main level of the house refinished. Aside from the massive dust clean up, there were over 30 boxes of possessions to unpack, and the task seemed overwhelming. I did not realize I had amassed so much stuff. As I began unpacking the boxes, it struck me that I didn’t need a lot of the items and I didn’t need to store them away. So, I began the brutal process of purging. I made three piles: one to keep, one to donate, and one to throw away. As I considered each item, thoughts of the show “Hoarders” and Marie Kondo’s minimalist book, “The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up” came to mind. I became ruthless, making piles of possessions I no longer had any use for.

            I came across a stack of greeting cards, sent over the years. Countless birthday, Mother’s Day, Anniversary, Easter, and Christmas cards. All but a select few went into the trash. Glass candlestick holders, ceramic planters, napkins, and tablecloths that I had not even laid eyes on in years all went. I began to get angry at the huge number of boxes containing all these useless pieces, but I had to open every box to figure out what to keep. As I began to surveille my “keep” pile, I realized I had little or no room left in the closets, cabinets, and drawers to store these items, and I still have things placed on tables and chairs and other places where they don’t belong.

            The same was true for the desk. I threw out bag upon bag of old papers, bills, and notices, and even found a doctor’s order for blood work that was due months earlier. I found a necklace I sent away for several years ago, still in the mailing envelope. After hours of purging, I needed a break. The pile seemed endless. But it was a relief to see empty spaces where so much clutter had collected.

            I thought of the contemporary mantra, “If it doesn’t serve you, let go of it”. This refrain stuck in my head and has spilled over into my workspace. I attacked my office with the same passion I used at home, throwing out stacks of newspapers, magazines, papers, meeting notices, old mail, and old client reports that had clogged my desk for years. I realized I had created these piles for no reason. So, heaps of paper got dumped in the recycling bin. It was a truly liberating and cleansing feeling.

            Clutter not only takes the form of  physical “stuff”. Cluttering the mind with worry, guilt, stress, and anxiety makes life that much harder. A new year can be the time to purge the people, places and things that make us feel encumbered, that drag us down and make life a struggle. Clutter can be that nasty boss or co-worker, a dysfunctional relative, an unreliable car, a broken step on the front porch, a garage door that won’t shut. Time to clear out those things and aim for a “tidier” life. For whatever you strive for can be achieved with a clear head and heart. As Marie Kondo says, bring joy into your life by “tidying up”.

“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” ― Albert Einstein

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Mary T. O'Sullivan

Mary T. O’Sullivan, Master of Science, Organizational Leadership, Member, International Coaching Federation, Society of Human Resource Management. Candidate, Master’s Certificate in Executive and Professional Career Coaching, University of Texas at Dallas. Member Beta Gamma Sigma, the International Honor Society. Advanced Studies in Education from Montclair University, SUNY Oswego and Syracuse University. Mary is also a certified Six Sigma Specialist, Contract Specialist, IPT Leader and holds a Certificate in Essentials of Human Resource Management from SHRM. Mary O’Sullivan has over 30 years experience in the aerospace and defense industry. In each of her roles, she acted as a change agent, moving teams and individuals from status quo to new ways of thinking, through offering solutions focused on changing behaviors and fostering growth. In additional, Mary holds a permanent teaching certificate in the State of New York for secondary education, and taught high school English for 10 years in the Syracuse, NY area.