1. Create a motivation and a deadline. Sell or rent your house, buy a non-refundable one-way airline ticket to Bulgaria, etc. Do not skip this step!
2. Clear some time on your schedule. More time that you think.
3. Pull out some boxes. Those boxes. The ones that have been untouched for a decade or two.
4. Open the box and peer in. Gasp a little at the first thing that reveals itself, because you had forgotten you still had that thing.
5. Spend twenty minutes awash in unscheduled reminiscence.
6. Sigh deeply. Remind yourself of your motivation and your deadline (see step 1).
7. Shudder at the thought of what else you’ll find in the box.
8. Gaze out the window as you eat a handful of nuts.
9. Pull up a video of a decluttering guru. Let it play in the background. Square your shoulders. Go back in.
10. Pull out the box’s contents and lay them around on the floor. Wonder what lunacy, what madness, what hypnotic nostalgia ever possessed you to keep all this stuff for all these years.
11. Feel the memories they evoke as sharply as a tart fruit hits the hinge of your jaw.
12. Get a drink of water.
13. Look at the scattered stuff from different angles.
14. Think, this is not so bad.
15. Say out loud, “This is not so bad!”
16. Feel utterly unable to deal with this stuff, to even touch it let alone sort it out.
17. Gaze out the window as you eat a handful of nuts.
18. Wonder how many calories are in a handful of nuts.
19. Google, “How many calories are in a handful of nuts?” Slam the laptop shut.
20. Give up and walk the dog. If you do not have a dog, borrow one.
21. Return to the box and be startled anew by all this stuff on the floor.
22. Note the subtle transformation that has taken place: they are no longer precious keepsakes with a hold on you, but clutter all over the floor. If this transformation has not yet taken place, repeat steps 20 and 21 until it does.
23. Go through the stuff surprisingly quickly, making three piles: Charity/Sell, Trash/Recycle, and Keep, with just three things in the Keep pile.
24. Feel a sudden, vertiginous wave of doubt. Wonder if you can really give those things away.
25. Glance at the boxes yet to go and feel drained.
26. Think of ascetics living in caves with a single bowl to their names.
27. Remind yourself of your motivation/deadline from step 1.
28. Picture the box, all the boxes, empty.
29. Gesture grandly over the clutter on the floor and say loudly, “Does this stuff support the life I’m trying to create?” Repeat as needed.
30. Scrutinize your Keep pile of three things. Reduce it to two. Then one.
31. Hold up that one truly meaningful thing that evokes positive memories and emotions. Take a photo of it and then let it go, too. Possibly keep one really amazing thing, the best of the best, from 10 boxes.
32. Repeat with the next box, and the next and the next. Then the shelves, the cabinets, the closets, the attic, and the shed. With each thing you remove from your life, feel lighter.
33. Repeat until your stuff is gone and you are free.
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