It's like that moment, you look around your home only to realize you've filled every nook and cranny with some object that you may or may not care for, and you suddenly come to understand that what you want, what you truly crave is to see some empty space for once! There's a certain beauty in creating empty space in our lives: an empty spot on the wall or floor, a free afternoon, a dollar not already committed to something? Do you know why that empty space is so valuable? It represents an opportunity. Each empty space represents a new choice to be made with our time, our space, our money, our lives...
Every so often, I go on a bit of a decluttering mission... Quite frankly, I think I might be a minimalist stuck in the body of a recovering packrat. Where possessions are concerned, I no longer bring much into my life, but I am also admittedly slow in letting go of things. I tend to be afraid I will regret the choice. Unfortunately, this tendency extends far beyond my possessions. But when we hold on too tight to things that are no longer serving us, we don't allow ourselves the opportunity presented in the blank space we fail to create. As a culture, I think we suffer a bit from that as a whole, and while many have come around to the idea that we might need to Marie Kondo our homes, we may not have yet considered that we should also Marie Kondo our lives.
Marie Kondo has become a bit of a household name. This queen of systematically tidying spaces has inspired people worldwide to really stop and consider what among their possessions truly "sparks joy." The rest, according to the expert, should be discarded. Now, what if we applied this across the various areas of our lives? Could it work just as well, and could it really be that simple?
As a teacher, I find myself reorganizing many aspects of life during the summer. So, perhaps this year it will take a new twist. This might just be the year to Marie Kondo my life. Does anyone care to join me? So, how exactly might one Marie Kondo their life? I might suggest starting with a list of the various areas of life: work, possessions, relationships, finances, past time activities, living or housing situation, and location (neighborhood or city). Any area of life is fair game! Once each area of life is listed, it makes sense to identify some subcategories. For example, under work, I might list each separate job. Under finances, I might identify debt load, investments, retirement, savings, current salary, current budget, rent or mortgage as subcategories. Within each subcategory, we must then hold up various components and ask ourselves "Does this spark joy?"
Interestingly, in asking ourselves "what sparks joy?" we are also able to identify contrast, that which is unpleasant and does not work in our lives. Perhaps your boss and co-workers do not spark joy but various job functions really do. Then you might recognize that you are doing the right thing in the wrong place and decide you should look for a similar job elsewhere.
Now, what might this look like in our financial lives? Most people are probably thinking "It's pretty obvious that my debt does not spark joy!" But what I would challenge you to consider is whether or not you feel great about the amount you are paying it down each month?" If the answer is yes, then your debt repayment plan is working for you! If not, you might have just had a bout of honesty with yourself and recognized that you really desire to kick it in high gear with debt repayment.
I know, for a money blogger, I sure do spent a ton of time talking about things that don't appear to be about money, don't I? What we must realize is that the entire purpose in accumulating wealth, eliminating debt, and building savings is so that we can live our best lives, not just so that we can have wheelbarrows full of money! So, along the way, we must curate the lives we actually want to be living. Otherwise, we have buckets of money with no real purpose, and nothing to show for it.
So, what do you want your life to be like? How can you declutter your time, money, relationships, and possessions to make more room for that which you love? If you feel as though your life could use an overhaul, perhaps you should join me this summer and Marie Kondo your life!