Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
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About Stuff.

Last month, my dear friend Jayne abruptly quit her job and hired a company to catalog, price and sell everything she owns at an estate sale so she can move across country to be with her daughter and grandchildren. It was an “Everything Must Go” moment, because what did not sell was going straight to Goodwill. Everything.

The day before the sale, I walked through her home and was amazed that everything from lamps to old school notebooks to knives and forks had a pricetag. When it was over, all of her “stuff” was worth $1,700, of which she kept $1,100. All that stuff. Eleven hundred dollars. Right now, work crews are painting and recarpeting her townhouse, and she is going to unload that, too, instead of holding out until the market rebounds. Note here that a house is also part of your “stuff.”

I have watched this woman work in one of the most stress-filled work-environments I have ever seen. Her accounting job demanded workaholism. When we’d talk on the phone, she was exhausted and gasping for breath because of too many cigarettes and not enough sleep. I have long thought that job would kill her.

But, the moment came when she realized she was here in Florida and the people she loved and needed to be near were all in California. Her daughter’s home has a spare apartment in the back. She’s wanted there.

Her things were here. Isn’t it interesting to see how hard we work to have a place to put our things?

Jayne’s “Great Unloading” stands as one of the most empowering acts I have ever witnessed because she let go of the “things” she was supposed to have in order to live a comfortable life and suddenly, she was free. “Stuff” anchored her to her rut. It anchors all of us.

The notion of leaving my stuff behind hit me when I was in my early 20s and moving out of my first apartment. Everything I owned was boxed up and I looked at the tower of cardboard cartons and thought, “I could walk away from all of this stuff and never miss any of it.” Instead of learning from that revelation, I kept amassing more stuff. I scan the room around me now and see so much stuff that I don’t need.  I need this house just so that my stuff has a home.

So many people are so frantic about having the money to hang onto what they have. Maybe the lesson from Jayne is that we are hanging onto the wrong things. If we let go of our belongings and grab onto what really matters in life, we can have so much more while needing so much less. If you suddenly don’t need the big house, its contents, the big electric bill, the big water bill for the big yard… what do you need? Not much.

It’s only stuff.

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