Being married, owning a large home with a white picket fence, and having 2.1 kids has been the standard American Dream for the past 50 years. We’re all supposed to want to work from 9 until 5, relax on the weekends and watch a big game, and load the family into the station wagon each summer for a week of vacation.
This dream is a great one, but it’s not for everyone. I’m married, and that is the only similarity I have to what societal conventions say we’re supposed to desire for ourselves. The Census’ monthly families and living arrangements data reports that it’s not the life the majority of U.S. citizens are leading, either. And, to be honest, it’s also not the life I want for my family and myself. (The house I grew up in has a white picket fence, and it has to be painted every other year. Most certainly, I want nothing to do with a white picket fence.)
When was the last time you sat down and asked yourself what you really want from life? What makes you happy? What matters — really matters — to you? Maybe it is home ownership and 2.1 children that you want? Or, maybe instead of the suburban life, you would rather travel the world on your own and work only when you need a little cash?
What do you actually enjoy doing? What inspires you?
You don’t need to focus only on the big issues; sometimes it’s the small things that can greatly impact your happiness. For example: A couple months ago, I was eating a piece of chicken at a dinner party. The chicken was free range, organic, killed that day, roasted, moist, and well-seasoned. Everyone at the party was praising the cook for the wonderful entree, and I knew the chicken I was eating was the best I’d ever had. In that moment, I realized I don’t like chicken. I had tasted the best, and I didn’t enjoy it. I haven’t eaten chicken since. I’m in my 30s and I’m just now admiting that I’ve been eating a food I don’t like simply out of habit.
What are you doing on autopilot? What are you doing only because it’s a traditional behavior?
Before you ever unclutter a single item from your home, you need to stop and ask yourself “why?” What matters most to you? What does your remarkable life look like? What do you want to make room for in your life? What is your motivation to change?
If you don’t know why you’re moving in a new direction, if you can’t envision a remarkable life for yourself, you will struggle with every attempt you make to get rid of clutter. Don’t worry about what your neighbors and friends are doing — you’re smart enough to make choices for yourself.