A few weekends ago, the weather and our schedules cleared up at the same time, so Ian and I went shopping with our Christmas gift cards. As Ian browsed the dress shirts (while 24+ other dress shirts hung in the closet), we had an epiphany - we didn't know what would improve our wardrobe/apartment. We hadn't "fun" shopped in a while due to debt-pay off mode, so we hadn't given it much thought.
Ian picked up dress socks (a definite need) and we headed home to assess and plan. Following principles I’ve learned through some recent adds to my Google Reader (Kendi and Makeunder My Life), we went through Ian's clothes, then my clothes, completing #20 of this year's concrete aspirations. With Ian's help I weeded out more than 28 items. I don't shop much but had lots of old clothes that didn't match our life in Boston (i.e. didn't look professional enough for work) and/or “made me look young,” as Ian informed me after I requested brutal honesty. (Those had to go - I already have trouble convincing people I’m not in high school.)
And we wrote a shopping list to spend the rest of our gift cards.
Motivated by that happy closet feeling, we started in on a few other decluttering concrete aspirations. We went through the living room again, selecting books to sell and catalogs to recycle. I tackled a few piles in the bedroom, started going through iPhoto, and lost 2 GB in iTunes.
This isn’t the first time I’ve been inspired to simplify, but this is the first time I’ve followed through so well. I'm a saver - if something could be functional, I keep it "just in case." I forget owning too many functional things isn't functional.
To put myself in an appropriate mindset, I applied my (ruthless) copy-editing skills: sometimes you have to get rid of good bits to make a great story. I also remind myself we don’t need it all, and it's selfish to not pass it on to someone who does (we have a big pile of t-shirts to donate for the DR trip - more on that soon).
We’re not there yet, but I like where we're going.