In 2016 we invite you to join us in your own personal Stash Less project. Stash Less is a project whereby we work towards having a mindful stash. Each month we will be posting a challenge for you to use in your own journey of discovery and change. Please feel free to join in at any time. We can't wait to hear what you find out! Previous Stash Less posts can be found here.
Challenge #1 - Taking stock
So we want to start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. And that means taking stock; of what we have and how we came to have it.
All it involves is a couple of hours work, a pen, some paper and a bit of emotional recall.
Why do we start here? Because in order to change our behaviour around our consumption we need to understand why we consume. Understanding the why is the key to change. It gives us something to look for and tells us what our purchasing/stashing triggers are.
Some of you have been watching my journey and have been thinking about the Stash Less project for some time. Some of you have already created your own versions (which I love) and have already considered your stash. I would ask though, that if you have never gone through your whole stash before, that you do now. It is such a worthwhile exersize and one that cannot be overrated in terms of what it can tell you. On the simplest level it creates a baseline. On a deeper level it really allows you to be totally mindful of just how much you have. Taking the time to really sit down with all you own and go through it means that you don't allow yourself to have blindspots - bits of your stash you can't quite see as stashing.
I know when I sit with my stash and really do a proper inventory, my mind starts whirring at incredibly speed due to all the crazy, wonderful, exciting, magical possibilty that lies within it. And due to it's size. There is always more than I think there is when I take into consideration what is hidden in that cupboard, .... oh yeah and that basket over there. And then all those books, and my goodness all those patterns and then there is that special yarn that I keep in a different place...... And so on it goes.
Taking the time to take stock in a considered way will really change your perspective.
How to take stock
You need to write it down. All of it. If only so you can see it all on the pages at the end.
For those of you that want to be thorough I would suggest that you create a table. Write down the product, the amount you purchased, where you purchased it (online, a fair, a shop) and the why/s. There will generally be multiple whys. If it is something that has stayed in your stash for a long time you should also include information on why you haven't yet used it.
I have created the simplest of templates here if you want something to work from. I've left it as a .doc file so you can fiddle with it to your heart's content to make it something that would work for you.
A quick word of warning. Depending on who you are, and how you stash, this might not be an enjoyable exercise for you. It might be difficult to sit with your stuff and your emotions around it. You might avoid it or you might want to walk out halfway through. Or you might need a friend to help you do it. It's all good - just pay attention to how you are feeling and remember that it is the feelings that we are really looking at. So all feelings, avoidance, boredom, annoyance..., are useful. Those feelings will tell you things about your relationship with your stash. And that is what we are trying to figure out.
A few words on "why"
The why could be multiple reasons and you should try to include as much detail as you remember. The why is actually up to three things;
1. The emotion that was "around" the purchase. Excitement, fomo, tiredness, desire, boredom, stress...
2. What you were purchasing it for? A particular project or as a base?
3. Why haven't used it yet.
After you get a little way into your inventory you will see patterns appear and this will get easier.
I have written a few posts about the "whys" I found, and what I learned, when I initial did an inventory of my stash, however I would encourage you to read it only after you have had a go at doing it by yourself, with your own head and heart. I'm worried that by reading them before you take stock, you will have my ideas in your head about why you might stash, and you might overlook a reason you have for purchasing that I haven't even thought of. When, and if, you read those posts then please read the comments. Other people have added the "extra" reasons they have found. So helpful!
A final word
If possible please set aside time to go through your whole stash in one go. This will really give you a good understanding of what you have. The brain is a crazy powerful thing and without doing this step properly, I believe there is the possibility that you (and I) can trick ourselves into believing what we want to believe about what we own.
For me it took me leaving my stash for six months to give me some clarity of perspective. Hopefully you can get yours in an afternoon.
If you are sharing your journey in any way on social media then please leave a link to your instagram, blog or facebook in the comments to this post. I'd also just love your comments on what you found, what you discovered about your whys or what surprised you about what you have. As always the instagram hastag is #stash_less.
I can't wait to hear what you learn!