As I’m grinding through my clutter, I’m tempted to hold onto things and sell them. I know my trash can be someone else’s treasure, but this urge is often just a stalling tactic to protect my hoard. Yet every now and then it works.
Like when I got up on a stepladder to inspect the beams in our ceiling. Turns out they were not rough-hewn hardwood as they appeared. They were fake molded styrofoam. They’d fooled us for years, but the minute my wife found out they weren’t real, they had to go. Stat.
So we removed the beams and scraped the “popcorn” texture ourselves, to save money before hiring a painter to re-do our ceilings. It turned out to be a tough, messy job.
But I ended up with over a dozen of these cool fake beams. I was mesmerized with the possibilities. They looked genuine but weighed next to nothing, and you could cut them with a putty knife. I could build a fort, a cool 4th of July float, or sell them for gobs of cash.
Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed (my wife’s) and we went about disposing of them. But I couldn’t let go – they were too valuable.
To my wife they were just garbage junking up the place. But my boundless imagination wouldn’t let them go without cashing in. No way in hell was I going to pay someone to haul them off.
What would you do in this situation?
That’s right, you’d pick up the phone, call every nearby community theater, and see who wanted some realistic-looking fake beams to build a village scene on a stage. Then get them to write an IRS- worthy letter stating their value at $2500. Plus get two free tickets to any upcoming production.
Yes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The problem is, for every score I’ve made on used junk, there are a dozen other things I’ve been hoarding. Yes, it’s great to get someone’s treasure for your trash. But unless you’re in the business, it takes more time than it’s usually worth. And in the meantime there’s a bunch of crap underfoot.
It seems my hoarder tendencies are keeping me from freedom. My desire to score before I let go of stuff slows down the process of shedding the crap of my past.
I’m “stuffocating” in my junk, as my friend Nicole would say. Too often I’ve fallen victim to the Sunk Cost Bias, holding onto things I don’t use because I’ve paid for them. I see their value and don’t want to be wasteful. But hoarded, unused treasure eventually turns to trash.
A Change In Mindset
I now realize I don’t need company tchotchke from three jobs ago. Yes, they are cool little trinkets, but they won’t help me in my new work. They must go, along with the VHS tapes, the collectible Simpsons plushies, the cds I’ve already transferred to the hard drive, and the vintage Daniel Boone Wild Turkey Decanter.
Now I see the value in just moving it all out, as quickly as possible. My time is way more valuable than the paltry treasure from my little scores. So I’m packing up all the useful things that aren’t being useful here, and donating them to those who can put them to good use elsewhere.
To be honest, it’s not easy for me. I have to force myself to let go of things. I’m still wrestling with emotional resistance that causes me to hold onto things well past their sell-by date.
Your Time Is The Real Treasure
So if you’re struggling with this issue, I am your comrade in arms. I feel your pain with every box of crap I manage to cart off. It’s hard to let go of things that have perceived value. But after a while, perceived value must give way to freedom. Freedom from clutter, freedom to invite people over without embarrassment, and freedom from tripping over the crap that is holding you back.
But mostly freedom of time. The less stuff you have, the less time you have to waste dealing with it. The more time you’ll have to create, to publish, to improve your skills, to watch Rockford Files reruns, or just have fun.
But if you’re low on crap in your home and have an empty pickup truck, stop on by. I’ll help you turn my trash into your treasure…