Less Is So Much More: 5 Signs Your Possessions Actually Own You

by Emily Torres

Organizing and decluttering is all the rage lately, and it's especially relevant for Millennials in transition.

Whether it's moving into or out of college, getting married, buying a home or having children, our stuff is following us through all these big changes.

Our possessions help shape who we are and whom we want to be, but there's a tipping point when owning too much starts to detract from our quality of life.

So, how do you know when your stuff is taking over?

1. You work to shop, and shop to work.

So often, people get stuck in jobs that they hate. Do you find that shopping is one of the only things redeeming about getting that paycheck?

The “treat yo' self” mentality can be a great way to show some self-love, but if it's done regularly it can be harmful to your wallet and your happiness.

Think of it this way: Are you happier shopping to blow off work stress, or would you rather take a pay cut for a job you love and cut down on visits to the mall?

2. Your stuff slows you down.

We all know that person who takes forever to get ready. We might be that person.

The perfect outfit, shoes and makeup are never in reach, and prep time can cut into quality time with friends and family.

Why spend all day picking an outfit from your bursting closet when you could own a few items of clothing that you really love?

You don't have to have an extremely minimal wardrobe, just one that's more simple and suited to your lifestyle.

3. Your stuff makes important decisions for you.

Moving is an overwhelming experience for most people, and having too much stuff can drag you down.

Don't turn down the apartment or home of your dreams just because there isn't enough storage.

The less you own, the more freedom you have when deciding where to land next.

4. Your stuff isn't worth it.

Say you spend $25 on a new shirt and wear it one time before it goes out of style and into the back of your closet.

Was it worth it? Did you get a proper return on investment from that purchase?

Evaluating the costs and benefits of your possessions before and after purchasing them will help you better understand their value.

This goes for more than just clothes and accessories; don't forget to consider the value of things like kitchen appliances, furniture and craft supplies.

5. Your stuff is the lead instead of a supporting character.

Do you really need to keep adding to your collection of cute workout gear to let people know you're fashionable and fit?

Do you use purchases as ways to support who you are, or do you use purchases to define who you are?

An easy way to tell is to ask yourself if you'd be the same with or without the item.

If you're the same either way, then you're using the possession to support your identity.

If you're not the same without the possession, then it may be time to rethink your self-image.

There's no set amount of possessions that will make a person happy, so what to keep and what not to keep is up to you.

But, changing the way you think about things will help you become a more intentional consumer.

What does that mean? Your stuff will stress you out less and your bank account will fill up a little faster.

Getting rid of what doesn't work.

So, you've decided that you're too reliant on the stuff around you. What next?

Follow these two steps and don't be afraid to break the process down into smaller pieces that are more manageable for you.

Here's how:

1. Start with what you own: Start by looking at one “set” of things you own and getting rid of the things that either aren't necessary or don't bring you joy.

If you don't need it, you can sell it, donate it or trash it.

Evaluate shoes one day, dresses another day and kitchenware another day.

This approach ensures you won't get burned out because getting rid of things can be emotionally taxing.

2. Change your shopping habits: I'm not suggesting you should stop all shopping.

In fact, shopping for high quality things that will be useful and bring you joy can be rewarding.

But that's the point; becoming more conscious of what you buy and why you buy it will lead you to make better purchase decisions (see point number four above).

Now it's your turn.

Do you see your possessions as things that will allow you to do what you love, or are they holding you back?