I am moving house again. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve moved: it’s well over 20.
I like to throw things away when I move. I really like to throw my husband Michael’s things away. Here’s why: the first time we moved together Michael did not want to throw anything away.
It was a Saturday afternoon and I was packing up the kitchen.
“What’s this?” I asked Michael, holding up a small, twisted piece of metal that I found on the windowsill.
He looked up from the newspaper and replied, “No idea.”
“Did it break off of something?” I persist.
“I don’t know,” he answered.
“I’m going to throw it out.”
Small, twisted piece of metal went into the box.
Michael’s ability to influence my overarching need to purge was severely diminished by this exchange. If you don’t know what it is and why you need it, why would I think it’s worth keeping? And even worse, I will hate finding a new place for it in the future.
Stuff at work that makes me unhappy is the same. Too often, we find a place for something that’s broken, or doesn’t fit any more. I think we believe that if we always had “it,” then we must need “it,” whatever it is. I have a simple answer: throw it out and move on.
Yes, this is one of my secrets about how to be happy at work: pretend you’re moving house and you’re only taking what you need and love with you to the new house (or job). Just don’t ask me about my blue jeans from high school…