Fitting My Life into a Suitcase
How I changed my thinking about material possessions to focus on what brings me productivity and joy.
I’ve never been one to fill an empty silence with superfluous words nor do I consider myself a materialistic person. If given the option, I always choose experiences over things; valuing travel over another pair of shoes or the latest fashion trend drenching my eyeballs at every turn.
I thought I was good at keeping things simple, knowing my priorities and not letting hordes of material possessions clutter my world and my mind. That was until I decided to move overseas.
Reviewing a lot of the items I have collected, particularly my clothes, I realized that while I may have refrained from spending on especially frivolous or expensive clothing, it came at the expense of quality.
There was a cycle that kept recurring every few months when I went to get dressed. I decided I had nothing to wear, that I hated my wardrobe and that I struggle to convey a cohesive sense of style in my dressing—something I’ve been wanting to achieve for a long time now. For too long I had valued quantity over quality in my wardrobe and nothing seemed to fit together—quite a challenge when you’re planning to pack 25 years of living into a hard case and carry-on bag.
When I started minimizing my belongings, my rejected clothes probably hadn’t been collected from the donation bin before I was already tapping the URLs of shopping sites into my browser on the hunt for new items.
Why was I researching how to achieve cohesive style by shopping from images that have fabric steamed to within an inch of its life draping off the slender frame of a body I may have had in years past?
I decided to take a step back and change my focus. I focused on identifying what the issue was and what I wanted to achieve. The issue: I kept arriving at the same style rut every few months with clothes and other belongings that didn’t carry the quality I feel we all deserve. What I wanted to achieve: a well curated collection of things that will add value to my life now and fit in a suitcase and carry-on bag for the overseas move.
Identifying what would add value to my life was made clear by writing down how and where I spend my time and if I would like this to change. Without a second thought I gathered my business suits, endless tailored business dresses and skirts that sucked the life out me and took them out of my wardrobe.
If I wore something or looked at an item that made me forget why I bought it in the first place, I let it go so it could give value to someone else. Once I knew what I was looking to achieve and the lifestyle I’m working towards, I found it much easier to let go of what wasn’t serving me anymore.
I started playing a version of the Minimalism Game with myself removing a few items from my wardrobes and other storage cupboards each day. There was no set number of items to purge each day, I just needed everything I owned to be my favorite things. The more I minimized, the easier it was to let go. Asking myself the following questions each time I considered an item gave me the ability to let go and see material possessions for what they are; stuff.
As Marie Kondo would say, ‘does this bring joy?’
Have I used this item in the last 6 months?
As The Minimalists would say, ‘is it a just-in-case item?’
Does this item fit with my everyday lifestyle?
After endless refinements and constantly asking myself the questions above, I narrowed down my belongings into a travel wardrobe, productive technology and a notebook for my thoughts. I know I want to own less and travel more and that’s what my belongings now reflect.
When you can effectively reflect and understand the vision for your daily life, momentum to let things go develops quickly while increasing your inner calm.