After finishing Chapter 4 of The 100 Thing Challenge, I realized there was one aspect I had not covered: my guidelines for taking on this challenge. I wasn’t sure cutting everything down to 100 things would be possible for me, but looking through my belongings, I also gathered I couldn’t keep everything I owned. As I started digging through books, craft projects, and more, I began putting everything in boxes to give away. My dad observed, “Are you giving all of these books away? Looks like you have a library.” His comments made me realize that although I may not be able to handle cutting everything down to 100 things, I can definitely cut back on what I own. This led me to set a few of my own guidelines, similar to what Dave Bruno establishes in his book:
Rule 1: My inventories will consist of cutting down my craft projects, my toiletries, my clothes, and my books to 50 items in each category. Even though this is more than 100 things, during this challenge, I’ve decided these are the key areas where I have a TON of stuff. I’ve hauled items in these categories with me from job to job and it’s time to decide what really matters. And, the best way to do this is to inventory everything, to be honest with my readers and myself about what I actually own. When I was moving from Denver back to southern Utah for school, I discovered tons of cooking supplies I never opened because my roommates always had them. I ended up donating these items to an organization that was assisting refugee families with relocating because I realized they would be of more use to the families than unopened in a storage unit somewhere.
Rule 2: This is my challenge, not my family’s challenge. Living with my parents, I do not expect them to take on this challenge. I also will be careful to define what we share since it is not an item I can determine solely as mine.
Rule 3: Some items can be counted in groups. As Dave Bruno indicated, certain items like socks and underwear can be counted in groups. I’ve decided this is useful to me as well since you would end up constantly doing laundry, which would wear on your clothes and cause you to frequently replace them. Constantly washing and replacing clothes is not exactly sustainable, which is why I plan on grouping some items.
Rule 4: Buying something new means I must give away something else. If I end up acquiring anything as a gift or a purchase, I need to give something away. This is the rule not only for the challenge this month but for everything later on down the road . . .
Rule 5: I will set goals (my personal KPIs) for reducing what I own and purchase. What I mean by this, is I will set standards to reach in each category to help me determine if I am successful at reducing what I own. As graduation is approaching, I am beginning to see how I need to cut back more so I have less to carry with me along the way. In terms of my clothes, for example, I will commit to wearing each item 30 times (#30wears) and any clothing item that does not fit those standards will be given away by graduation on May 4th. As I continue throughout this month on my inventory reports, I will announce these standards for each category.
My first category to tackle? My craft projects and supplies. So far, this is what I own and have stored:
Cross-stitch patterns to complete: 5
Boxes of beads: 1
Bags of jewelry cording: 2
Boxes of jewelry findings: 2
Yarn projects: 2
Boxes of thread: 2 (1 for serger thread, 1 for sewing machine thread)
Machines: 2 (1 sewing machine, 1 serger)
Boxes of sewing supplies: 3 (1 large, 2 small)
Sewing patterns: 26
Sewing projects: 3
My reason for separating out sewing patterns as individual counts is because I acquired many, many patterns that I never ended up never using. I’m getting smarter about the patterns I own and will only purchase ones that do not require sewing in a zipper or do not have styles I can wear for multiple purposes. This helped eliminate a plethora of evening gown and formal wear patterns I gave away a few months ago. I also decided to group sewing supplies and jewelry supplies since they are contained in certain boxes. A few months ago, I decided was never going to pursue a millinery career or ever sew a corset, so giving away those supplies seemed appropriate. I’m beginning to see I need to keep that mentality in order to reduce my crafts inventory.
At this point, I’m at about 28 things, which is below the 50 limit, but I’ve decided the best step from here is evaluate what I own and if I really need it, especially after seeing photos of my boxes piled on top of one another. A few months ago, I went through my craft projects and gave away two full boxes of fabric and patterns to a local thrift store and one box of beading, jewelry, and fabric scraps to the museum I work for. I am still gathering fabric scraps to give to the museum, but my specific KPI is to finish up my sewing projects, complete my cross-stitch projects, and assign all of my beads and jewelry findings to specific jewelry projects and finish them. All of this has to be done by the time I graduate. Any items leftover that I don’t anticipate using will also find itself in the fate of giveaways to the museum.
After reading the first few chapters of this book, the one aspect that stood out to me was how we can acquire so much for our careers. Now that I will not be returning to the costume shop, seeing all of the patterning and design books, sewing supplies, and jewelry findings seem unnecessary. I don’t plan on giving everything away, but keeping the basics including: serger, sewing machine, supplies for clothing repairs (interfacing, ribbon, denim scraps for darning), patterns (for occasional sewing moments), thread, buttons, snaps, my toolkit of sewing accessories, knitting needles, a small collection of knitting patterns, and jewelry cording. Sorting through the millinery books, piles of fabric, and more, I saw what Dave Bruno meant when he indicated that we acquire more to reach the ideal life and the American dream. Now I’m beginning to see how little I need in order to get where I want to go. Did I really think I was going to be able to sew every wedding dress pattern I purchased? I hope I didn’t think I was planning on getting married that many times, dating is hard enough. It made me realize that from now on, I look at sewing patterns, cross-stitch projects, jewelry designs, and knitting ideas with these questions, “Will I really make this? How important is it that I own this? Will it help me reach my goals in life?” Most of the time, the answer is, “No.”
Until next week’s inventory, tune into my Instagram account to see how I’m finishing up and arranging craft projects. See what I end up giving away and what I don’t need!
What did you purchase to help you achieve the ideal life?