You’ve heard it before – January is a great time of year to go through your items and purge your collections… it’s the beginning of the year, time for a fresh start. Heck – January has even been deemed “Get Organized Month” by the National Association of Professional Organizers!
So, what’s keeping you from just doing it?
If you’re like most people, your excuses for not getting through piles and storage areas of endless, unused stuff has something to do with time. Or, at least that’s what you may say (and even believe) But, likely there are some other reasons connected with those items, and they are generally stored between your two ears!
- You Think It’s Worth More (Perceived Value) – You may feel that the item in question is worth something. So, you may say things like: “I paid so much for that” or “This is worth something”. In other words, you probably spent “good money” on the item, and feel as though if you donate it, you will in essence lose something. But, in reality – you already did spend the money on it, it’s lived its life-cycle in your care, and now can move on. The real “value” of an item depends on several factors. Values change base on marketplace demand. There are fads, hot streaks and fashions that one day may command extraordinary prices, yet on another day be relatively worthless. To determine real, re-sale value, you’ll need to check out the marketplace and re-sale estimates before you’ll be able to truly determine value and get money for it.
- It’s Too Good To Donate – (This is almost a sub-category of the top reason.) Some people have thoughts attached to their things and believe that whatever they have is “too good” to donate to just anyone. You may say something like: “I don’t want to just give it to goodwill – what if it gets lost and left in the bottom of a donation center? It’s too good for that!” You may be confusing fear of the unknown with letting go of items, and be embellishing a story about what “might” happen. You may have thoughts that items will be damaged, ruined, pest infested, or thrown away, and won’t be useful any longer. If this adequately describes your thoughts – get some information on the donation cycles of certain organizations and increase your knowledge. More information on how receiving centers handle and process donations may lead you to feeling more comfortable with letting it go.
- Personalizing Items – People who personalize items feel as though each item has its own personality, life, thoughts and feelings. You may be attaching your own emotions to items in an effort to not let go, or you may be personalizing items as an extension of yourself to fill in emotional gaps or insecurities.
- Losing Control – “This goes to the library, this goes to Kim for her son, this goes to the pre-school, and this to the animal shelter…” If not finding the right recipient is what holds you back, you may be facing the fear of losing control. need to micromanage the donation, and also get more warm fuzzies as people in all these different organizations thank them for the help.
- Fear or Guilt – Some people may have an extraordinary rush of emotion when faced with getting rid of their things. To them, getting rid of something evokes feelings of fear, guilt or loss. If this describes you, you may have some ‘unpacking’ to do around how and when your emotions came to be associated with the items. The personal insight available at this level can be incredibly freeing and transformational, and is worth the attempt to uncover where these emotions are seated.
- Detail Overwhelm – “It’s too complicated to try and figure out who will take what.” – It’s true that some places are more picky than others, but I recommend the Vietnam Veterans of America. They even take toys.
And some people have had a bad experience with donating in the past, and that discourages them from donating – at least to the same organizations – in the future.
What methods do you use to organize and then donate your items? Please share your wisdom and ideas in the comment box below!