How to Let Go of Your Stuff in Just 33 Easy Steps!

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.

Thanks for reading, and by the way, I love comments. Bookmark for more on travel, minimalism, books, public transportation, and hikes. For daily postcards from, well, wherever we are, subscribe to

4 thoughts on “How to Let Go of Your Stuff in Just 33 Easy Steps!”

  1. I love your writing and reading about the beginning of your journey makes it seem plausible and possible. I am deep in life with 3 kids at home but hope to have the courage you have some day to minimize enough to explore the world unencumbered. And, I have been to Cooper’s Rock as a short hike and lunch break on a trip out East – it is beautiful! Good luck on your journey!

    1. Thank you so much, Denise, for reading and commenting and for your kind words! Oh, Cooper’s Rock was just wonderful–I’m glad you saw it, too. My kids are grown now, but I well remember being in the midst of their childhoods, and traveling full time is not something I could even envision. May this stage with littles at home be engrossing for you in the best way, and may the next stage offer opportunities for travel, if that speaks to you. <3

  2. I am usually quite critical of these types of numbered decluttering essays BUT, this was Funny and creative.!! Good luck in your travels. many years ago I was walking through a remote area with large granit boulders with tall grass everywhere. I looked down and saw lots of rattlesnakes, (dozens). I’m guessing it was a den or something I high tailed it out of there very fast.

    1. Oh my word, Christina, if I had seen dozens of rattlesnakes, I would have found out just how fast I could run, lol. Glad you enjoyed this post–it was a fun one to write. Always more steps than we think it might be, right? 🙂

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