1.     Know your “Why.”

A good rule of thumb for maintaining the motivation to complete any unpleasant task is to keep in mind your reason for doing it in the first place.

“The two easiest things in the world to quit are working out and cleaning,” laughs Paxton. That’s where your “Why” comes in.

“Your ‘Why’ is what keeps you from quitting,” explains Paxton. “The ‘Why’ is personal, and it’s emotional.”

For some, your “Why” might be having a less-cluttered home that’s safer to navigate, or moving to a brand-new home closer to your children and grandchildren. Whatever your reason for wanting to declutter or downsize is, it should be something personally meaningful and motivational to you. While your motivation may waver, your reason why will stand firm.

“You have to hold yourself accountable,” says Paxton. “You can’t just close the guest bedroom [door] and say, ‘Eh, I’ll do it tomorrow,’ because if you do, you’ll never come back to it. That’s why the ‘Why’ is so important.”

2.     Start small.

Decluttering decades’ worth of sentimental stuff might seem like a monumental task. But don’t worry — you don’t have to tackle it all at once.

“The best way to start is 10 minutes,” recommends Paxton. “Don’t do more, don’t do less. Just 10 minutes a night, every night, five nights a week.”

If you doubt the effect 10 minutes of decluttering can have on the state of your home, you probably aren’t alone — but you may benefit from a change in perspective.

“It’s not about what you get done — it’s that you did something,” says Paxton. “It’s about proving to yourself that you can start, and that you can accomplish.”

3.     Focus on your legacy.

“We’re all going to die at some point — and you only live on if people are telling stories about you,” says Paxton. “The legacy is the power of the story.”

Consider the act of decluttering your chance to curate your legacy and to decide how you will be remembered. As you downsize, keep an eye out for objects that have a good story attached. Next, tell the story — and toss the item.

“In order to let go, you have to document and tell these stories. Sharing the actual story separates the emotion from the item,” says Paxton.

Don’t know where to start? Don’t stress. When considering each item, just start with what you remember:

A.    What is it?

B.    How did you get it?

C.     What do you remember about that day?

D.    Who gave it to you?

E.     What makes this item and that person special?

If you can’t recall the details all at once, that’s OK. That’s the best thing about taking a walk down memory lane, according to Paxton: “Memories start more memories.” Once you start talking, you may remember moments you haven’t thought about in years.

4.     Tell your story.

Next comes the best part of the process: telling your story.

Call your grandchildren, phone a friend, or get the whole gang together on a Zoom call. Or, if you’re more of a writer than an orator, get some stationery and start writing it all down. Whatever method you choose, all that matters is that the stories are told — and that the legacy lives on.

To learn more about decluttering and downsizing, watch the full webinar featuring Matt Paxton

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