How To Let Go

The Problem

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Periwinkle is a simple business - we help our customers get their garages under control.

Brown recluse spiders, wasp nests, roach infestations, cardboard boxes full of used diapers, and the occasional dead mouse are just a day in the life of your favorite garage cleaning experts. But you’d be surprised to hear that these things, as bad as they might sound, are not our biggest challenge in the garage.

When something stops getting used, it usually finds its way into a garage. Why? Because you don’t have to go through the pain of throwing it away, or the inconvenience of driving it to goodwill.

This is precisely why you drive though expensive neighborhoods and see BMW’s, Porsche’s, and Mercedes parked in the driveway.

This is the problem we face every day. We have customers that want to park a single car in a 2 car garage but they can’t let go of the “important” things in their garage.

“Oh I have a grandson who’s getting ready to move back into the dorms. He might need those cardboard boxes!”

“I’m not ready to let that one go! That was my great great great grandfathers bedside stand!”

“Oh you should leave that there, my husband likes to fix old electronics.”

“Hm… well let’s hang on to it just in case.”

Believe it or not, our biggest challenge is convincing customers to let go of items that aren’t serving a purpose anymore. And when we fail at this, we fail as a business.

Why This Problem Exists

At Periwinkle, we have helped hundreds of customers let go of their belongings, memories, and treasures. We’ve learned a lot from this time spent with our wonderful customers, but more than anything we’ve learned how hard it is for people to let go.

What I can tell you is, there is no reason you should be ashamed of this. Letting go is hard. Really hard.

Our happiest and most satisfied customers, without fail, are the ones who let go of the most amount of things in their garage. There really is nothing like pulling into a clean orderly garage after a long day’s work, especially if that’s the first time you’ve been able to pull into your garage in years.

We use a book called “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo in our training process and like it so much that we decided to give a copy to every single one of our customers. This book dives into the psychology of why we have so much difficulty keeping things neat and orderly and in doing so, letting go of things that aren’t serving us anymore.

We know this is hard. We struggle with it ourselves. But we see it as our job to help our customers say goodbye. Because when we let go, we create more space for the things in our lives that truly give us joy. (Sometimes as simple as being able to park your car in your garage.)

The reason it's so hard to say goodbye to things is because we tend to place more value on things we already own.

You might look at a bike in your garage and see the $500 you spent on it 10 years ago. Not to mention all the wonderful memories you have of riding that bike with your husband and grandkids!

Here’s the catch, that bike isn’t worth $500 anymore, and the world doesn’t care about the memories you have associated with that bicycle.

The hard truth is, that bike may only be worth $50 now and it’s going to require 3 hours of your time to get it sold. Do you make $16 an hour? Well, now you do!

You may not even be interested in riding a bike ever again but something about having that bike in your garage makes you feel like you're doing the right thing.

It’s the same reason we feel guilt about not finishing our dinner plates. Yet, we eat at all-you-can-eat establishments and are getting larger and larger portions at restaurants.

When did we become slaves to this “duty” to never get rid of things and never leave food on our plates?

“Okay, sweetie! You need to finish your plate!”

“Yeah I want to hang on to that snow shovel, just put it over there with the other four.”

What You Can Do About It

My favorite part of Marie’s book is when she talks about how we create and buy things to serve us, and when they stop serving us, they are no longer serving a purpose.

Imagine sitting in a cabin in the woods at for the rest of your life. You don’t work, you don’t have family or friends. You just wake up, eat, sleep, and repeat. You’d probably lose your mind after a few months of this.

Here’s where I’m gonna lose 90% of people:

Pretend for a minute that inanimate objects have feelings, wishes, and desires.

If this were the reality (I suppose it could be), then the backup of the backup cooler you have in your garage is probably pretty bummed out right now as it hasn’t been used in 3 years. The cooler was created to serve people, and all it does is sit there, collecting dust and going unused.

It’s a lose-lose situation because the item doesn’t want to go year after year unused, yet you feel bad about “getting rid” of it because all you can think about is the $100 you spent on that cooler 7 years ago.

You know you don’t use it, you know it’s never gonna see action again, (Thanks, YETI) yet, you just can’t quite get yourself to say goodbye.

If you’re struggling to say goodbye to things that you know you need to let go of, try to see the act of letting go as creating an opportunity for that item to serve a purpose again.

I’ll repeat that as it’s the only takeaway from this article:

Try to see the act of letting go as creating an opportunity for the item to serve a purpose again for someone else.

I think you’ll be amazed at how much peace this gives you when creating space for new life inside your home.

Seth Lewandowski

Co-Founder