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Lessons from the Filing Cabinet

Earlier last month I decided to finally clean out my filing cabinet. It's something I usually do at the end of each year, pulling out the files that can be boxed up and stored in ...

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Earlier last month I decided to finally clean out my filing cabinet. It's something I usually do at the end of each year, pulling out the files that can be boxed up and stored in the garage and starting fresh files for the new year. Not everything gets pulled; only the files that need to be refreshed yearly. Since it was already February, this obviously was not a task that I felt would bring much pleasure! And turns out, I was wrong.

I came across a file titled "Articles" and pulled it out to look through it. I knew it was in there and since it was not very full, I never paid much attention to it. Even though I encourage clients not to have such a file, I was O.K. with mine because it was not bursting at the seams. (note: I still discourage this type of file because people with organizing issues generally tend to overstuff it.)

Going through the contents of folder was an eye opening experience. First of all, how old some of the articles were. Some were easily ten years old. Obviously those hit the trash because the subject matter, even if it still held interest, was definitely outdated. Actually, everything in the folder ended up in the trash because it either held no interest for me or was information that was outdated or could easily be found on the internet.

The thing I found most surprising was the items I came across that I could not figure out why I had put them in there. Subject matters that I could not understand why I would keep. Subjects that had no relevance in my life today, nor did I think they did five or more years ago. There were photos that were clearly for decorating ideas yet I could not identify which photo had held interest for me when I put it in there. Clearly my tastes have changed over the years to the point that I could not even recognize my previous taste!

It actually was a fun thing to do, since most of the things I saw I asked myself, "What in the world did I put this in here for?" It's amazing how life and time changes our views, interests, tastes, priorities, choices, decisions, etc. It was refreshing to know that I have been evolving and growing over these years and that makes me feel good.

I guess the best lesson I can pass on by the experience I had with my Articles folder is that we are ever changing. I work with so many people who struggle with giving or throwing things away. Things that were from a time when there were a different person. Think of who you are today. What interests you now? Who have you become? How have you changed? It is always good to remember who you were and where you came from and it is good to see how much you have grown and how some material things from the past do not hold much water for you today.

But I can almost guarantee that the clutter in your life is not representative of who you want to be now and where you want to go in your future. When you get rid of the burden of clutter, it opens up room for new things to come. And I don't necessarily mean more material things. Freeing your space also frees your mind and your spirit. Be excited about new things to come and being able to let go of things you no longer need, use or love. You don't have to say goodbye to who you were; that will never change. But making more room for growth and who you will be in the future is very freeing.