Clutter is holding you back and it comes in many forms. Clutter isn’t just the extra coffee cups and photos you never look at or clothes that don’t fit and shoes that hurt your feet. Clutter can appear on your calendar, in your relationships and even in your heart and mind. We overwhelm ourselves by letting too much in but it’s not late to simplify and let go of some of the things that are holding you back from a full and present life.
Say goodbye to any of these not so little things that may be holding you back. Then say hello to joy.
9 (not so little things) That Are Holding You Back + How to Say Goodbye
1. Guilt is holding us back.
Letting go of things as you simplify your life can stir up some guilty feelings. You might feel guilt for letting things build up, for not paying attention to what really matters, or for overspending at some point. Now that you are ready to take action, it’s time to let the guilt go with the stuff.
How to say goodbye: You’ve paid enough. You paid with your money, time and attention. And now you are paying with your heart and guilty feelings. Simplify for more joy. You can let go now. This three-step process will help.
2. We are apologizing too much.
We can be kind and loving without being sorry. Apologizing for things we don’t need to be sorry for is exhausting and often a quiet reminder that we aren’t good enough. Women especially are conditioned to constantly apologize even when they haven’t done something wrong. A heart felt apology can be very meaningful but we have to drop saying, “sorry” when we aren’t sorry.
How to say goodbye: Start here.
3. Getting caught up in drama holds us back.
Much of the worry, stress, overreacting, gossiping, and complaining we add to our day is unnecessary drama and it’s holding you back from enjoying your life. When you struggle to let go of inserting yourself into things beyond your control, remember this.
How to say goodbye: Don’t engage. Simply smile and walk away.
4. It’s time to end the endless game of catching up.
The illusion of catching up goes something like this: If I take a full day/weekend/week and abandon all the things I enjoy doing, I can get everything done that I feel guilty about not doing before. Then I will feel better, everyone will love me and all will be right with the world. The reality is that catching up never ends. There will always be more.
How to say goodbye: Be present. If you are paying attention to what didn’t get done yesterday, you can’t pay attention to what’s happening right now. How can you be your most creative, most interested, and do your best work, when you have anxiety about the undone? To practice presence, set a timer for 5 minutes and agree to set your worry aside for that short amount of time while you engage in the here and now.
5. Your plate is too full (not that plate).
If you are completely depleted by the end of the day, chances are your plate is too full. Full plates are holding you back from engaging in what matters most to you. We can only take so much doing before our brains and bodies say, “enough” and we break down. The break down might not be obvious or dramatic but we lose focus, feel exhausted and struggle to be inspired or feel motivated. And then we think that we are supposed to feel like this because there is so much to do and feel and be.
As the saying goes, we are human beings not human doings yet we feel guilty and frustrated when we decide to do nothing. As we relax into nothingness, our brains are in constant search for more to-do’s. It scans your inbox, your text messages and all of the lists. Instead of enjoying doing nothing, you stress about everything.
How to say goodbye: Slowing down and doing nothing is a chance to find rest, delight and the way back to you. When your plate is full, you have three choices.
6. Too much screen time is holding us back.
The time we spend on our phones is getting in the way of creativity, connection, focus, sleep and more. When I hosted the Less Phone, More Life Challenge a couple of years ago, I asked people to track the time they spent online. They reported spending 3-5 hours a day on average. If we work with the lower number of 3 hours a day, that’s 21 hours a week, which is 1092 hours a year or 45 days.
How to say goodbye: Use some of these little tricks to cut your screen time by 25% in a couple of weeks. If we don’t stop now, there will be a day where we regret the relationships we didn’t pay attention to, the projects we didn’t pursue, the world we never saw and our general inability to pay attention to anything for very long.
7. The discomfort of an empty space holds us back.
Freeing up space and time in your life can feel uncomfortable. You may feel compelled to fill the emptiness of a decluttered room in your home with more stuff, or an empty calendar with appointments and commitments to avoid the discomfort.
How to say goodbye: Fill your newfound time and space with things that really matter to you. If you don’t know what that is yet, wait. There’s no rush. Fill your time and space with curiosity, self-reflection, and love.
8. We have to stop schedule shaming.
Schedule shaming happens when we tell ourselves …
- I should be more organized.
- I should have more check marks on my to-do list.
- I didn’t do as much as everyone else.
- I am lazy and unaccomplished.
- I let people down.
- I didn’t do enough.
- I am not good enough.
How to say goodbye: Let’s stop measuring who we are by what we accomplish. We need to measure less by what we cross off our to-do list, and more by what’s on our heart, by how we feel, and by how we treat people.
9. Even physical clutter holds us back.
All of the things above are cluttering our lives along with physical clutter. Removing clutter from your home, your calendar and your mind has great potential to increase your happiness. By slowing down, removing distraction and calming your mind you make space and time for what makes you feel happy and to enjoy the feeling of being happy instead of rushing through it to get to the next thing. If you aren’t sure where to start, remove these 52 things or declutter your mind for less stress and more peace and ease.
The little things do count. Every tiny step does. Use the momentum, inspiration and confidence you get from taking the tiny steps to tackle the big ones. Goodbye stress, shame, and overwhelm. Hello joy.