There is a sad reality show somewhere on cable that features people who hoard junk in their home. Each episode features a new hoarder, one had thousands of newspapers stacked floor to ceiling in every room of his home, another episode featured a woman whose dirty dishes sat for months in her sink, with rodents and insects running all over her home. The worst cases are the animal hoarders who keep adopting animals until the county agents come in and shut them down.
Hoarders are an extreme example of what happens when we fill our lives with useless stuff, hanging onto things we don’t need, in some cases not even realizing why we do it. People without hope sometimes try to fill that void with things they purchase, in some cases racking up needless debt buying things that only make them worse.
At one point in my journey as an entrepreneur I had a fancy office with desks and chairs and a huge conference table, along with 2 staffers, a fish tank and a storage room filled with $20,000 in balloon inventory. I also owned a rental property in Tampa with an endless revolving door of deadbeat tenants. At home I had a motorcycle in my garage and a 120 gallon fish tank in my living room.
My life was chock-full of stuff, stuff that was costing me money and time to maintain it, feed it, pay it, fix it, etc. I also carried too much debt, all that STUFF in my life was an expensive distraction from my goals and objectives.
So I got rid of it. I called my landlord and got out of my lease early. I took digital pictures of all my office furniture and sold it on Craigslist. I sold the fish tanks, the old motorcycle, even the rental property. When my two employees eventually moved on I did not replace them, I used technology to do their jobs in the most efficient way possible, instantly removing $4,000 in costs from my balance sheet each month.
I cleaned up my home office and installed a bookshelf, then went through my garage and began getting rid of all the stuff I no longer needed, either in the trash, to Goodwill or sold online. My home office today it is clean, uncluttered and organized. My bookshelf contains my personal library of books on success, faith, finances, history, and many biographies of people who have done amazing things, from Churchill to Gandhi.
The next part in my journey towards simplicity was my Facebook account. I had started it in 2006, with connections to almost 2,000 people I barely knew. Instead of working on my next book I was wasting time scrolling through a newsfeed containing information that was never going to help me reach my goals. Social networking had become social NOT working.
I hit the delete button, and suddenly I had vast blocks of time back. My smartphone once again became a simple device for calls, texts, and GPS. My phone was no longer an addictive screen that I would stare at for hours just to see pictures of an entrée that my schoolmate from college was eating for lunch somewhere in Cleveland.
Once you identify exactly WHO you want to be and WHERE you want to go it makes sense to get rid of all the things in your life that are standing in your way of reaching your goals and objectives. That old motorcycle rusting in my garage was not going to help me pay off debt, complete my next book, or grow my business. I sold it because later on I can buy a much better (and newer) motorcycle, with cash.
Writing my next book was more important to me than scrolling through a pointless newsfeed, cleaning a fish tank, or fixing my rental property every time a tenant moved out and trashed the place.
Writing a book was a part of my dreams and goals, my fish tank was not!
New technology can help you embrace simplicity, you can take a roomful of vinyl records and upload them to a tiny device, or download a book and eliminate the need to cut down trees for paper, but technology can also bring unwelcome complexity into your life.
If you spend more time on social media then you do interacting with your spouse this is a problem. Technology can serve to connect people, but this is not always a good thing for society, especially when those connections are negative, illegal or downright deviant in nature.
Look at your goals, figure out where you want to go, and chuck out anything in your life that is not helping you get there!
Benjamin T. Alexander
January 4, 2017