This is a guest post.
Face it. Most of us have something lying around the home, car, closet, or at work for “just in case.” Just in case it rains. Just in case a guest stops by for an impromptu stay. Just in case I decide to go mountain climbing. It never ends!
The downside of this just-in-case blues is that the more we think we “might” need it, the more we’ll accumulate, and soon, we don’t even know why we have the item here in the first place!
The upside of all this? Not much. Unless you really do have impromptu guests crashing at your place often. Or you have spur-of-the-moment mountain climbing excursions. But these things rarely happen and you know it.
The fact is we carry around most of the stuff for “just in case” due to fear. Fear of emergencies happening around each corner. Fear of the “what if’s.” Fear of the unknown.
But guess what? Life is unknown. There are absolute uncertainties around each corner; that is for sure. Allowing ourselves to be afraid and live in fear is simply not worth our finite time and effort.
Accumulating so much stuff for just in case allows us to bank on the idea of failure when living in the moment is sometimes all we can, and should, do.
So how do we alleviate these just-in-case blues that plague the best of us?
Here are 4 simple strategies to get rid of the just-in-case blues:
We can eliminate so much of our items we travel with if we just didn’t bring it along.
We over pack, justifying to ourselves that we may encounter some sort of crisis while out and about that warrants us having to carry a first aid kit, extra pair of pants, socks, hand sanitizer, extra napkins, a mini flashlight, extra batteries, and the like. It’s become ridiculous. A life and death crisis most likely will not happen and if it does, so be it! That’s how life is intended. You can’t plan everything out nor can you prevent anything from happening that is supposed to happen. Learn to let go.
This ties in with learning to let go and shush our inner control freak. As much as you might plan, things you didn’t expect to happen will happen as they invariably do. Adapt to it, go with the flow, and make the best of it. Sometimes, a change of events actually turns out to be better than the original plan.
For example, spring break 2005, I went to Hawaii with one of my girlfriends. As we were at Chicago O’Hare International Airport waiting to board our plane, we were so immersed in our conversation that we completely missed the announcement over the intercom that our gate had changed! We just sat there, wondering why we hadn’t been called to board our flight yet. Once we realized something was wrong, we had to scramble to get onto the next flight to Hawaii. It turned out that the next flight to Hawaii was a direct flight, unlike the original one which had a layover in California, thereby having us get to Hawaii earlier than planned, giving us more time to enjoy our vacation!
Sometimes the unexpected is just as fun, if not better, than the original plan of events. Learn to go with it.
By continually putting things off to the side and labeling them as just in case items will only put you deeper into your clutter and mess. The more stuff you own, the harder it is to find what you actually need, when you need it. Have only the essentials; get rid of the rest. And by essentials, I’m talking about life essentials. Not things that don’t add any value to your life but rather, things that help you sustain life and enjoy it as best as possible.
Three umbrellas, really? A dozen pairs of jeans (or more!)? Thirty shirts that all kind of look the same? What’s the point?
Duplicate items also include photos and multiple versions of the same document. Not only does this take up space and memory but it’s much harder to sort through when you have 10 photos of the same exact people all in slightly different angles to show their best sides to the camera.
If there’s no need to have multiple versions of the same thing, then get rid of it. Tell me, how often do you ever go back to your second or third version of your resume when you’re on version twelve right now?
How often do you wear each pair of jeans you currently own? You most likely wear one or two, and those would be your favorite ones. Why have the rest around then?
Don’t keep things that are duplicate items for the sake of keeping them. Keep what is in better condition or better quality, and get rid of the rest.
Less stuff means less hassle and less worries. Truly, our possessions take away our energy due to having to maintain it, fix it, insure it, watch over it, store it, clean it, and so forth.
Ultimately, eliminating your items by minimizing your life and living simply will help curb your just-in-case blues and also help you move forward with your life, instead of continually looking backwards. You’ll no longer need to keep something for the sake of having it just in case and mainly due to fear. You’ll be keeping something because you’ll actually need it. Realizing this difference can make all the difference.
My name is Nina Yau and I’m a writer, artist, and martial artist. I’m also a minimalist who owns less than 100 things. I blog about changing the way we think and view the world through minimalism at Castles in the Air.
Article photo by Kevin