The story goes that Michelangelo created his beautiful statues by visualizing what was trapped inside the marble and chipping away everything that wasn’t the statue.
Before you can untether yourself as an expat you have to undergo a similar transformation. You need to chip away everything that won’t work with your new life so you can free yourself to enjoy it.
There are two broad categories you need to chip away at: your stuff and your ideas.
Chip Away the Stuff
One way to start is by taking inventory of what’s important to you. Let me give you an example.
I own hundreds of books. I love to read, and then re-read the good ones. They become like old friends to me.
I know I don’t want to get rid of any of these friends. I also know that books weigh a lot and take up a considerable amount of space in this physical world, and that moving them is simply not practical.
Here’s what I did, over the space of a couple of years.
- I purchased a used Palm Pilot on eBay. I wanted to use it as an e-book reader to see if I could bear to read an electronic book instead of one made of paper. I found out I could.
- So I bought a Kindle e-reader and started using it. Instead of buying new books as they were published, I bought the digital version.
- I stopped buying physical books. If I couldn’t buy it for my Kindle, I borrowed it from the library.
- I inventoried all my books. Seriously. I created spreadsheets and listed each book by author and title, and indicated how I would dispose of it. I included a checkmark if there’s a digital version available. I uploaded the spreadsheet to Google Documents and shared it with family members.
- I divided the books into groups to:
- pass along to my kids
- sell or give away
Then I packed them all and sold my bookcases.
Over the next few months, I’ll send some boxes of books to the kids and have some sales. The only books going into storage are the ones that are out of print and not available (or likely to be available) digitally.
By doing this, I’ve accomplished several things.
- I’ve gotten rid of some excess stuff and made my kids happy
- I’ve opened up space in my house so it will show better when we list it for sale
- I’ve evaluated what’s really important to me in one area, which will make it easier to do the same in other areas of my life
Writing about it this way makes it seem like an easy process. It hasn’t been. It’s been hard work and has involved a certain amount of soul searching. But it’s easier than the alternative, which is to weigh myself down with all these books.
I’ve gone through a similar process with other items. I’ve whittled my list of the physical possessions I have to keep with me to the barest handful. Some are still to be decided.
But slowly, gradually, I’m reducing my accumulated stuff.
This isn’t something most of us can do overnight. It’s a process, and it takes some time and effort.
But once you decide what’s important to you and get rid of everything that isn’t, you’ve taken a huge step in preparing for your overseas move.
Inventorying your stuff is fairly easy. Taking stock of your ideas, likes and dislikes is a bit more challenging.
That’s the topic for another post about preparing to untether yourself as an expat.
How have you whittled down your stuff? Or have you taken it all with you? Share your experience by clicking the Comment link.