20141230 – New Year, New Goals?

I don’t know if I can lose 75 pounds, but I do know I can weigh less at the end of the year than I do now. I don’t know if I can exercise 150 minutes a week, but I do know I can exercise more than I do now. I don’t know if I can maintain a paleo diet for the year, but I do know I can eat more wisely this year.  I don’t know if I can close $50,000 in new business this year, but I do know I can close more business than last year. I don’t know if I can sing in the choir for the whole year, but I do know I can sing in the choir now. Those were last year’s goals.

The results? I weigh less, I’m not exercising more, I’m eating more wisely, I didn’t close more business, and I sang the whole year. In addition to the goals I (we) set, I reimagined a hobby for myself, we took the first steps on our retirement plan, and we visited a place we’ve never visited before; Alabama, twice. I’m further along my life’s journey than I was and I’m better than I was. That’s success. I think I’ll keep those goals for 2015. And add a new one: become more of a minimalist than I am today.

What does that last one mean? It means that I will have less clutter in my life than I have today. Less clutter means: Fewer paper files and books collecting dust, less unused stuff packed in boxes in my basement and my garage, and fewer irrelevant activities cluttering my calendar. I will have more time in my life for those I love and the activities I enjoy.

Clutter is a stressor. Even stuff hidden away in boxes still takes up physical space, and is a subtle source of stress. And yet keeping so much of that stuff has been somehow comforting to me, an admitted packrat. I believed that keeping it around was one way I assured myself of not losing the memory of those activities, events, and times. What I didn’t appreciate was just how much that paper clutter was contributing to stress and distracting me from more important things.

I started this post two weeks ago. I’ve already made progress. I now have four fewer file boxes of old documents than I did New Year’s Day. I’m not saying it wasn’t painful. I destroyed over thirty years of tax returns from 1997 back to 1967. I destroyed over thirty years of daily work history and activities. I destroyed collected outdated business references and articles. I destroyed stuff that I have rarely if ever even looked at since I filed it away, stuff that was out of sight and out of mind, but not out of the way, for decades. But I didn’t destroy the memories; and I didn’t destroy the photos, the videos, my writing, presentations, and ideas, the pieces of my body of work that I believe have value and define me. Yes it was painful, yes it was hard. But I preserved the best and got rid of the rest.

So the first steps on my road to less clutter are in the bag so to speak, the bag(s) of shredded paper. It was hard but it was also liberating; mentally and physically. What I must keep in mind is that there are better ways of preserving the memories when my own memory begins to fade. The photos, videos, letters, music, writings, they all are much better repositories than tax returns, activity logs, work records, and training materials. And if even those are lost, my legacy, whatever it may be, will be written in the minds and hearts of my friends and family, and the book my God keeps about me. And just maybe that’s all I really need…Pops

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