This is the fourteenth article following The Irony of Quitting My Job to Take a Sabbatical, the first in a series on what I learned and what I’d recommend from quitting my job to take a six-month sabbatical (without another job in sight). Last time, I talked about how the most important aspect of your life is often a lesson we need again and again. Below, I share the role decluttering played in building up Uncoveries and crafting the life I really wanted.
“The first step in crafting the life you want is to get rid of everything you don’t.”
– Joshua Becker
I’d made big progress in quitting a job that wasn’t fitting.
The next contributor was key in how Uncoveries got started and how I embarked on the path I’m on today.
Before I left for Prague, Anthony and I attended a conference on simple living and met a likeminded community of folks who were questioning the pressure around the fast-paced and constant consumerism in mainstream culture. The conference inspired me to barely buy any souvenirs during my trip; the past me likely would’ve bought at least three times more.
Living for a longer period of time with only a suitcase of my belongings, laptop, Kindle and just the basics in my rented apartment also led to the realization of how little I actually needed. It was refreshing to have so little to organize, clean and put away in the little apartment. I found that ideas came more easily to me here than they ever had before.
Prague was where the concept for Uncoveries initially sparked. In reflecting back on my experience, I shared 10 ways to foster more creative ideas.
Yet, there was something else to it. I started to see how decluttering helps you change your life for the better.
I believe the simpler your environment is, the more creative and positive energy you will have at your disposal.
Physical clutter is the easiest and most obvious clue of distraction and disorder in daily life. When surfaces are tidy with plenty of white space, the mind is more at ease. The calmness from the lack of stimulation is beneficial for focusing on your best work. Objects all the over place tend to compete for your attention, and can be a distracting and guilt-inducing reminder of things still on the to-do list.
But that’s just the beginning.
As my travels came to an end and my health improved, I found myself focusing my energy inwards rather than seeking out new experiences and information. Starting from just a spark of an idea, Uncoveries began to turn into something as I worked on the philosophy, framework and website—the foundations of what it is today. I began looking at ways I could better improve and set myself up for success.
I came to realize that the benefit of decluttering applies to all areas of your life.
Any area that is more complicated than it needs to be for comfortable, basic living in alignment with your being is a potential detractor from creative energy. This explains why my husband and I embraced minimalism in our lives, both physically and figuratively. The concepts of minimalism go beyond physical belongings, to resources, to-do items, relationships with others, and even thoughts in your head.
The thought of building up Uncoveries from nothing to something, and the unknowns involved in creating a life that didn’t depend on a soul-crushing corporate job, were intimidating barriers. With limited energy and resources in a day, I knew my goal of living a meaningful life would be easier if I stripped out everything that wasn’t a necessary part of the life I wanted. In getting rid of the physical and abstract clutter, I knew I’d be able to more clearly evaluate and spend my energy intentionally.
How might decluttering help you change your life?
Up next, I’ll share my experience in decluttering 9 areas of my life as part of my journey in designing a life of meaningful progress. The process of decluttering these many aspects took a long time. It started in late 2014 and went throughout last year. In some areas, it is still going on today.