An Organizational Expert Shares How to Do a Decade Detox for 2020

Photo: Stocksy/Martí Sans
You know how when you get back from a vacation, you tend to not unpack your baggage? It feels so overwhelming that you leave all those unwashed, rolled up clothes in there for what feels like an eternity. That's how I feel with 2020 approaching; it is a new decade, I have 10 years worth of baggage to unpack, and I don't even know where to start.

"New Year, New Me" is a fallacy that we embrace every year. With a new decade, though, we factually are new people weighed down by a lot of emotional and literal clutter. I started my decade as a senior in high school, and there are certain things like neon yellow bangs and the dream of being a lingerie designer that I've given up. It's the, you know, rest of it all that I'm struggling with. And if you've had a significant 10 year transit, you're probably looking to shed some of your baggage too.

Luckily I was able to sit down with organizational expert Patty Morrissey, who gave me the rundown on how to do a successful decade review and cleanse.

First, center yourself and envision the major plot points in the movie of your decade

"I use a framework that's modeled after the Ignition spiritual exercises, called the Jesuit Examen, it's really a process of first getting centered, becoming still with your breath," Morrissey says. "They practice it on a daily basis, but I like to practice it on bigger time horizons."

Close your eyes and get still, feel the awareness of the world and whatever you believe in. Feel your breath through the awareness of the universe. And then allow yourself to be washed over with gratitude. Look, it may not have been your day, your month, or even your year, but something probably went right over the past decade. Like I don't know, things have been rough but I at least found out I look great in black turtlenecks this year. Now, put on the glasses needed to look back.

"You review the last 10 years or the last day through the lens of like: what are the moments," Morrissey says. "Who are the people and what are the experiences that I'm most grateful for? The 10-year review is quite powerful in doing that because you can realize how much gets done in that period of time."

After you've finished your gratitude review (and hopefully it is a lot longer than "really learned how to rock a turtleneck"), you want to check in with your heart and ask yourself the following questions:

When did you feel the most alive? "And the key word is alive, the full body feeling [of being] totally engaged in those situations and with those people," Morrissey says.

When did you feel the most drained? She notes that this is sort of an obvious, out-of-body feeling.

When did you when could you have shown up better? Or essentially, what were your shortcomings?

"That's like, 'I missed that opportunity' or 'I didn't show up well in this relationship,' or 'I didn't try hard enough,'" Morrissey says. "You have to practice that one with a lot of compassion, because this is not an exercise about judging yourself."

On the same thread of compassion, the next step is to forgive yourself, forgive other people for their shortcomings, and you let it all go. You can factually acknowledge where you went wrong (I've missed getting tickets for not one but two Harry Styles tours and I just have to live with that now) and move on that regret into the universe. Make sure to write all these things down so they're concrete and documented, especially because it's been 10 years and that's a lot of territory to cover!

"That's where the magic happens, because you realize, the last 10 years, look at all that was accomplished," Morrissey says. "Now when you're looking forward, you realize, 'so much happened to me in 10 years.' It gives you permission to make much bigger plans."

Once this intellectual exercise is over, it's time to declutter for the new decade

The reason behind really take stock of your 10 years is because it'll help you reflect on what you do and don't want to leave behind. If, for example, the place that you felt the most drained was at a soul-sucking receptionist job circa 2012, it's probably time to get rid of the office birthday card that's an adult version of "H.A.G.S." But uh, very nice of Brenda in HR to set that up. And please don't stop at the obviously discard-able things.

"I recommend going through your clothing, looking through your books, going through all of your documents going through every object that you own in your home as part of a cleansing exercise," Morrissey says. "Get rid of anything that doesn't serve the person you're becoming in the next 10 years. When you go through your things, it becomes this life review process."

Now, some items are truly trash-worthy, but for the things that aren't, Morrissey recommends selling them. There are a lot of ways you can do this, like taking your items to consignment shops. Or, you can try selling items on EtsyPoshmark, or apps like Mercari. A little pro-tip from Morrissey: taking a picture of the item makes it easier to say goodbye to it.

"When you're doing this cleansing exercise, you're not just discarding things that are broken," Morrissey says. "You're discarding things that are like so perfectly good, but not good for you and where you're at here, and so it helps facilitate people finding what they need, and it gives you when you're selling the items, it's much more likely to get in the hands of someone who needs it."

Also, money is great! But the best part of this cleansing activity? Well, you know how you're older and wiser than you were in 2010 (or god, I hope you are). Well, this will allow you to use that wisdom, and really utilize everything you've learned longterm.

"When people do this cleansing activity, they not only have the clarity of like reviewing what worked for them and what didn't work, but it also changes your consumption habits overall helps you live more in overhead lifestyle," Morrissey says "It makes you a lot more nimble for approaching the next 10 years of your life."

And whatever journey you may go on next.

Start small, start with one room: this is why a minimalist bedroom can help you declutter your whole life. Or try your kitchen with this cutting board hack via Joanna Gaines.

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