The Year I Discovered How Clutter Blocks Success - Christine Kane

I looked at my phone in horror.

“You want me to what?” I said into it.

“It’s time, Christine. You’ve been talking about that basement for weeks now. It’s time to deal with it.”

I had been working with my very first life coach for months at this point.  And even though I had reached certain levels of success in my work, I kept getting stuck in the same old ruts.   I was about to record my fourth CD, and I was ready to move to a higher level.

Thom was doing what good coaches do: listening carefully, seeing clearly – and of course, pushing me to take conscious action.

So, he encouraged me to start small and completely clear out the junk in my basement. Thirty minutes a day. One section at a time.  Building momentum as I went.

Each week, during our call, I’d report back on my progress.

Each week, I had a new reason why I simply could not let go of some clutter-y item.

“But I spent so much on it!” “I might need it someday!” “I could gain weight and need this again.”  “I paid such a good price for it!”

To my credit, I did pretty well at letting go once Thom talked me through these old mindsets.

Then came the week I had to face one particularly significant section of the basement.

It was where I stored various pieces of furniture I had gotten at the Salvation Army and at local flea markets when I first began my songwriting career.  A bookcase, a kitchen table, a dresser, and a few shelves.  I no longer liked or used this furniture because my tastes totally changed.  I had begun to cherish beauty and opulence in my surroundings.  I wanted to fill my home only with items that I loved.

“So, Christine,” Thom asked.  “Why don’t you want to let these things go?”

I was embarrassed.  But I told him the truth. “Well, here’s the thing. If my music career doesn’t work out, I might need them one day. If I fail, and I don’t have any money, I might wish I had kept these things.”

Long pause.

“So, you’ll be on the street – but at least you’ll have that bookcase?”

I laughed.

Thom sighed. And what he said next has been a core lesson of creating my success and happiness.

He said that everything in our lives has energyEverything has our thoughts and emotions embedded into it. Old furniture is no exception.  In essence, what I was saying to the universe and to my subconscious, creative self was this:

I believe so deeply in my own failure that I’m holding onto physical things that represent that possibility. Every time I walk by these items in my basement, I will be reminded of my inevitable failure.  Every moment I’m in my house, my subconscious will know that in the very foundation of my life (my basement), there are items that prove I don’t believe in my own success.

That week, I called Goodwill, and scheduled an appointment to have the old furniture taken away.

I’d love to report that I smiled and waved as the old clunky furniture was carried away. But the truth is I was terrified. I was letting go of my Plan B.  I was saying to the Universe: “I thoroughly believe in my own success.”

I had never done that before in such a concrete way!

As I wrote earlier, I began recording my fourth CD as I was clearing out the basement.  That CD went on to sell five times more than any of my other CD’s.  It received rave reviews. Border’s Books featured it on a listening post that year, and named it the top CD of the year in my category.

Now, even though I know this success wasn’t ONLY about letting go of my old flea market furniture, I have become a firm believer that we each need to pay attention to the energy of the stuff that surrounds us.  We need to pay attention to what we are telling our subconscious minds when we hold on.

Now you.

What are you holding onto?  What thoughts and beliefs are you putting out into the Universe by clinging to it?  Are you telling yourself you don’t believe in the inevitability of your own success and prosperity?  Or that you don’t believe you can expand and create better things in your life?

Pick one thing – just one small thing – and let it go. Today!

  • Kim

    It is amazing that I have come across your post here. In the last year I have had to clean out my parents home since my father has passed away and I have had to put my step mother in assisted living and rent their home. I was not sure if she would be able to go home at any point so I did not want to get rid of one thing. I rented a storage unit and filled it up, along with most of my garage, turned my living room into a storage area (boxes I wanted to make sure I went through and stuff I did not want to risk being in the storage unit or the garage. I thought I would have a garage sale and started putting stuff in the corner of my bedroom to sell. Now I had so much of my own to begin with so this is just insane….but I have not been able to get anything done. I thought about all this as I was reading this and it was like a light bulb went on. Every little thing seems to have a memory attached to it!! But it occured to me that the memorys are not in the things but in my heart! I also do not want to get rid of the furnishings because my girls (2) are in their early 20’s….one living at home and one in her own home might need them and it would be so expensive to go buy these items later and I feel we would never get what they are really worth to sell them.

    I truly feel as if I am drowning! I had to give up my career due to health issues and so want to be working from home. I got here to you through a link on Etsy because I know I have the ability to have a great shop but I now have my mom living with me and everyday I get up with intentions of getting this or that done… almost never happens. I am burried in paper…I pay their bills and ours the files are never done, there is always a pile (or 2 or 3) to be filed.

    You have inspired me to look at it different, to take 30 min each day and attack it. I have been considering sending so much to an auction, and I think after reading this and looking at it from a different view I understand what I have been feeling. You are so right about this. It was funny, my husband and I had a discussion this weekend and worried that we were turning into Hoarders!!! Thanks for the insight it was EXACTLY what I needed!

  • Kitchen Butterfly

    Thank you. I came here via google (and vision boards). See we just moved back home to Nigeria, after 4 years abroad. I am smack in the midst of unpacking and have been SHOCKED at how much stuff I’ve accumulated. So on Sunday I began to fill black bin bags and brown cardboard boxes with stuff to give away….and then I watched a program on TV that focussed on ‘Hoarders’. I was shocked – I could see so many elements of me in the people featured… Thank you for articulating thoughts and fears that I didn’t want to admit. Thank you for giving me more courage to let go of 20 kilner jars and all the other stuff that may never see the light of day….stuck in my kitchen cupboard as they are!

  • Joanie Veage

    I love, love, love this blog. What an eye opener. Thank you for the push in the direction I need to help with my success. In life itself, w’ friends and family, w’ colleagues and most important, my career!

  • Kylie

    I couldn’t agree more that letting go of objects (or bringing certain objects into your life) has immense power. I find this with myself, and with my coaching clients, all the time. I’m currently working to gradually remake my own closet. It used to consist of whatever people had gifted me, and I never really thought about what I actually wanted to wear. Now, I’m learning that I deserve nice, comfortable clothing. And that surface-level change is rooted in my core beliefs.

  • Kimberly Maiers Shaw

    I know this and have done it many times…but it has been way too long! This came at the perfect time as I needed this reminder. I know there are still some things I’m hanging onto – shirts I STILL haven’t worn in years, shoes I don’t wear, ugly chairs that don’t look good anywhere. I know next weekend’s project… Thanks!

  • Camille Gaines

    Love this just before my Saturday de-clutter day. I am on a mission and this is so right on spot! Thanks Christine.

  • Kathryn at Good Life Road

    It’s funny I have seen this so obviously in others but it’s so hard to detect it in myself. The hanging on. I tend to take the opposite approach with fear which I have finally been able to see. I turn away and pretend the dream, the hope, the goal, the wish….never. happened.

  • Sandra Kibellus

    Hi Christine


    I would like to honour and serve you by thanking you for the amazing free video and phone in training program!!!

    You are changing many lives here is South Africa!!

    See you in Atlanta!!!

    You Rock!!!

  • Carol Gyzander

    I have had the same attachment to “stuff” as the only grandchild on both sides of the family. My house has been getting overloaded. Why is the basement full of stuff that my mother loved, but I will never use? I still love that mug from college, but 30 years later I don’t use it. Why do I still make room for it on the shelf? I have also started doing the clutter clear-out, and one thing that works to help me get rid of something “precious” is to simply take a picture of it before it goes out the door. Then I drop it into the scrapbook of “Things I have loved.” So, I get to keep the memory but not the object!

  • Andrea

    Hurricane Irene helped me through this one. I had boxes of photos, letters and documents that were taken from my mother’s apartment after she died in 2009. I had sorted through things right away: documents of family history, old black and white photos of my mom as a baby in the 1920’s, old love letters from men not my father, photos of myself and my sister when were were growing up. What to do with this stuff? Would my kids care about this? I put side a box to send my sister and boxed the rest. Well, Hurricane Irene filled my basement with 9 inches of water and the boxes were soaked. Very little could be rescued and everything else that was stored in the basement was moldy. I was really upset that I had kept these family records in the basement (why not the attic?)……..but as I put each box in the trash….I felt weight lifting off me. So…I really understood the energy that “things” have, even family “treasures”. Now I need to think of everything else that is tied with some kind of little string to me that I keep in the house.

  • Cindy Platt

    “I believe so deeply in my own failure that I’m holding onto physical things that represent that possibility. Every time I walk by these items in my basement, I will be reminded of my inevitable failure. Every moment I’m in my house, my subconscious will know that in the very foundation of my life (my basement), there are items that prove I don’t believe in my own success.”
    WoWzers! I love this post. This hit be like a lightening bolt. A year ago we moved from California to Cincinnati for better schools, creative space, and quality of life. I have been a teacher for 20 years, but crossed over to writing with my husband. It was not an easy transition and through our endeavors failure and loss was a part of the process. The month of September I finally got to the basement. Purging the stuff was cathartic, terrifying, and liberating. Fear and failure held me hostage, but now I am free of the shackles. On the last day of September I felt a great sense of relief and sadness when the yuck was hauled away, but now when I go to the basement I see potential and a resurrection of another part of me my family and world needs to know. Thank you for your insight Christine.

  • Cheryl

    What a timely post! I recently realized that my clutter is holding me back from doing what I truly want to achieve in my life. Every year, every month, every week clearing out my craft room is on my list, but I never get around to it! Meanwhile, the physical energy in pulling out items to work with saps my desire to create. I wanted to hire someone to help me with my clutter conundrum, but never thought I could fit it into my budget. However, now I determine I can’t afford not to! Thanks for sharing!

  • Ann Bell

    Thanks, Christine! I realized long ago that the clutter gets in the way of my success by costing me time when I need to find something.

    I’d never thought of it as belief in my own failure.

    It’s gone as fast as I can pitch or donate! My beliefs rank in importance with my own creativity!

    I learned long ago that I could afford anything I REALLY wanted. But I DON’T want failure, so clutter is the ONE thing I truy cannot afford.

    Thank you!
    Ann Bell

  • Farnoosh

    I loved this post, Christine. I don’t collect much “junk” but I do hold on to old letters, old post cards, old CDs, and I never consider it clutter … maybe because they are so neatly stacked up in m closet :)!
    But the thing is, I rarely even think about them, so how can they have energy – good or bad – if they don’t cross my mind? I wonder what Thom would say to that? 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!