how to make space in your life

One of the most useful habits you can cultivate as a self-developer is to periodically cleanse your life of the elements that no longer serve you. If you don’t make this a priority, your life will slowly fill up with objects, ideas and people that belong to your past, not your present, and you will find it increasingly difficult to move forward.

Being successful at self-development depends, at least partly, on your attitude towards change. Part of change is letting go of what is finished. So take a moment to answer this question honestly for yourself: how good am I at letting go?

Some people are by nature hoarders. They keep collecting and collecting without end. Recently, I heard a story about someone’s neighbour whose apartment was so full of piled-up stuff that he needed help to get out. A client of mine also comes to mind, who has an icon blinking on his computer desktop with the message: ‘You have four thousand unread e-mails.’

But even if our habits aren’t so extreme, most of us have at least one area of our lives in which we know we need to take action to let go, but we can’t seem to get started. I’m not just talking about physical and virtual junk; having too many emotional connections (like ex-lovers who you’re not really finished with) or too many projects in the back of your mind that you’re not actively working on can have the same effect.

The effect is this: to distract you, to confuse you, to slow you down. To rob you of the energy you need for your growth.

Most likely you have had this experience with one of your devices: it slowly filled up with old data (thousands of cookies, temporary files, whatever) and gradually got slower and slower until it became really frustrating to use. And, at that point, you had to take radical action to correct the situation, like wiping the operating system and starting again from scratch. Or you dumped the device and got a new one.

Now imagine if your consciousness works in the same way. Even if you can’t see the effect of all the elements you can’t let go of, some part of you is getting fuller and fuller and slowing you down and impairing your ability to function properly. Your inner hard drive may be almost full. What are you going to delete?

If you’re feeling unmotivated, or stuck, or permanently low on energy, or uninspired, try taking radical action to make space in your life. Here are some suggestions for what you could usefully do, depending on the area of your life that is overly full:

Get rid of old possessions. For example, objects you’ve kept since your childhood that don’t really mean anything to you; old records or CDs; old photographs; letters; clothes that don’t fit anymore; books you won’t read again; gifts you received but you don’t like.

Do a digital clean-out and delete old documents, e-mails, images, attachments, music files, movies etc.

Close social media accounts you don’t use. Or go through your list of contacts and delete people you haven’t contacted in ages and who are not important to you (this can free up an enormous amount of energy).

Officially end relationships that don’t serve you anymore. Sometimes it may seem too risky to tell someone directly what you feel. So write that person a letter or e-mail, which you do not intend to send, and express your truth in that way. This can be as effective as telling someone to their face.

Admit to yourself that you will never do something you had planned to do, or felt obliged to do. Release yourself from your own expectations, and reclaim your energy for the things you are passionate about.

Each of these solutions will have the effect of freeing up resources that you can use to invite something new into your life. And, honestly, some of them will work like magic, creating a shift in your mindset that will amaze you.

So make a commitment, right now, to take action in one of the above areas (or see what else comes to mind), and watch your life change for the better.