Keep Looking Ahead (Challenges Part 7)

As I was decluttering a few duplicates the other day, my husband noticed I had put some of his "teacher" mugs in the discard box.  He receives a few mugs of this sort every year at Christmas and at the end of the school year.  There are many clever variations on the "teacher" mug, but if we kept all that he was given we'd own well over 100 by now.

coffee mugs

We can get attached to anything if we hang on to it long enough.

Jon likes and enjoys his students and appreciates the thoughtfulness behind the gifts and cards they give him.  He can get a little nostalgic about his 35+ years as a teacher, but each successive group of children is unique, surprising, and fun.  Interacting with them today is what keeps him interested and energized.

If we keep items long enough, they sometimes become a focus for memory and sentiment, even if they weren't sentimental to begin with.  We can develop an attachment over time, even if the items don't merit one.  That's why it's hard to put those ticket stubs into the recycle bin – they remind you of every Harry Potter movie premier you saw with your best friend.  And that ragged, misshapen cuddle toy isn't something that's ready to be tossed – it represents the once-upon-a-time little boy who's leaving for college in September.

If we elevate every item from the past, we'll eventually be buried in clutter and disorder.  Our homes will be monuments to our pasts.  

Looking back can be rewarding, but let's not stay focused on what's behind.  We can give our lives hope and a purpose by continuing to look ahead.  

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Thirty-minute Minimalist Challenges #19-21

19.  Declutter the props for who you used to be.

Let go of stuff you collected for a pastime you don't enjoy or practice any more or that you once imagined you'd be good at.  This could be a musical instrument, sports equipment, your professional wardrobe, or something else.  If you took up quilting but never finished a project, or your bad knee forced you to quit backpacking, now's the time to let that stuff go to make room for what interests you now.

Related article: Declutter Your Fantasy Self

20.  Donate dressy clothes.

Dig into the back of your closet for New Year's party clothes, bridesmaid dresses, and other fancy items you thought you'd wear again but never have.  Consign your items, donate to a local charity, or pass them on to a community theater group.  Or you can donate bridal gowns (5 years old and newer) to Brides for a Cause, older gowns to The Angel Gown Program, prom dresses to Becca's Closet, and professional clothing to Dress for Success.

21.  Identify your three to six main priorities in life.

I'm not talking about a bucket list of experiences you might like to have.  I want you to go deeper and consider the relationships, accomplishments, or character qualities you most value.  In a way, this is your eulogy.  What do you want people to remember you for once you're gone?  

I suggest that you list every possibility that occurs to you and then narrow it down.  Write your choices on a notecard or Post-It and place the list where you will see it frequently.  Memorize it, and when you make decisions about how to spend your time, attention, and money, make sure those choices align with your highest priorities.


  1. #19: love that. The props of "who you used to be." Thank you!!!


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