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SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck (English Edition) [Format Kindle]

Julie Morgenstern

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Chapter 1
What Is SHED?

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.

—Henry David Thoreau

As an organizing and time management guru, my work over the past twenty years has been dedicated to delivering practical and insightful solutions that transform the way people and companies function. My “inside-out” philosophy lies at the heart of my mission—building systems around the unique personality, style, and goals of each individual and company so that they can make their greatest contributions to the world.

Organizing is the process of arranging your home, office, and schedule so that it reflects and encourages who you are, what you want, and where you are going. Simply put, organizing is about designing systems that improve your efficiency and enable you to achieve your goals.

But what happens when organizing isn’t enough?

Dear Julie,

I am stuck, paralyzed, before my own future. I’ve been opening doors and closing them, unable to confront the task that awaits me—getting my so-called empty nest ready to sell.

Brooke, 53, public relations consultant

I’m unhappy in my job, but am stumped whether to stay or go. I’ve been spinning my wheels for years and I have no idea where to go from here.

Greg, 36, financial analyst

On the outside, my life looks good—nice house, great family, good job. I look so accomplished. But it’s an empty shell. I’ve felt my whole life that there is something unexpressed in me.

Olivia, 47, real estate agent

I read your organizing books, and they make utter sense, but change is hard. I can’t seem to part with my old ways.

Adam, 62, architect

Organizing works when you know where you are going but don’t know how to get there. But when you are feeling stuck in your life, when you are in transition and unsure of where you’re going next . . . organizing is not enough.

Here’s a little more from Brooke’s letter to me:

Before spring vacation I had made a list of things to do based on putting the house on the market this spring. It included shopping for improvements—French doors to separate the front hall from my computer room—and lots of sorting tasks to pare down the nineteen years’ worth of stuff that is stored all over this big house.

But at the end of spring break the only task I had accomplished was loading and using Turbo Tax! I still can’t believe that with nothing to do I was unable to face that list. Spring vacation is my get-it-done time. I clean, I sort, I organize. What is wrong with me?!


When I read Brooke’s note it seemed clear to me that the issue she was struggling with was not how to get organized. She sounded like a “get-it-done” person who was good at making lists and tackling her to-dos (“I clean, I sort, I organize”). Our follow-up conversation confirmed my hunches:

A public relations professional and a divorced single mom, Brooke, 53, woke up one morning to find herself an empty nester. “With no actual kids under my roof, everyone—including me—thinks I ought to consider moving on,” she said. “Plus, it is ridiculous. I have over 2,600 square feet of house, and I spend most of it camped out on my bed, surrounded by novels, magazines, and crossword puzzles, happily munching on my dinner like a kid in a tent.” Brooke was wrestling with a major change.

Brooke’s house was not messy or disorganized—it was a lovingly designed and arranged work of art, a symbol of love and family. She felt attached to it, although she knew that attachment was weighing her down. She had always known her children would grow up, go to college, find jobs, and live on their own, but the moment had arrived all too soon, and she felt unprepared. She was not quite sure where she would go from here. She didn’t need a better system; she needed something more. In Brooke’s state of paralysis, simply getting organized wasn’t the solution.

In my experience, people who are ready to get organized always have a clear vision of their destination—they have their eyes on a bigger goal. They want to save their job or start a business, strengthen their marriage or take better care of their children. In other words, no matter how high the piles, or packed the schedule, breakthrough comes when someone sees something that they desperately want on the other side of the clutter. By the time a client calls for my services, he or she already knows where they are going, is clear on their goals, and just needs help laying out a path to get there.

But when you don’t know exactly where you are going or what you want (even though where you are isn’t working), organizing isn’t enough.

When you need or want to change something about your life, when you are going through a transition and are struggling to relinquish something that represents the past, you don’t need to get organized—you need to SHED.

What Is SHED?

SHED is a transformative process for letting go of things that represent the past so you can grow and move forward. The four steps of SHED (Separate the Treasures, Heave the Trash, Embrace Your Identity, Drive Yourself Forward) provide a framework for proactively managing change, transition, and the feeling of being stuck and unsure. By releasing the defunct, extraneous, and burdensome objects and obligations that are weighing you down, you create the space to discover what’s next and gather the energy and courage to move forward. By understanding and releasing your emotional attachments to tangible areas (like your space and time), SHED enables you to release intangible burdens including unhealthy beliefs and limiting thoughts.

SHED is not only about throwing things away (though that is a piece). SHEDing converts the process of letting go into an opportunity for self-discovery and healthy growth. It is a catalyst and companion on the journey to living a richer, more connected life. The ultimate payoff ? Clarity, lightness of being, authenticity, and living as your most genuine, fully engaged self.

Is SHED for You?

SHED can be used by anyone who is feeling stuck in their lives. This book helps people gracefully and optimistically manage all kinds of change, including those prompted by:

  • Natural life transitions: moving, retiring, graduating, marriage, promotion, new baby, empty nest, new business

  • Sudden shift in life circumstances: job loss, company merger/management change, health crisis, divorce, threat of eviction, unexpected gain (financial windfall, new relationship)

  • Internal drive for self-fulfillment and improvement: a desire for improved relationships with others, oneself, and the world

This book treats all change as an opportunity to grow. It provides a framework to positively manage change and converts the transition process— usually considered the most intolerable part of change—into a vital, vibrant adventure. SHED can be used to help you gain clarity no matter what stage of a transition you are in, although there are typically three points along the change continuum that trigger the process. You could be feeling ready to SHED if:

  • You’re on the brink of change—having thought about it for years—and now you’re ready to take action

  • You’ve already made a change but are still feeling stuck in the past

  • You’re being forced to make a change, whether you like it or not, and are feeling resistant

Let me give you a few examples.

I’ve been brewing about making a change for years

Caroline, 41, had worked in investment banking for years and did not want for money, comfort, or prestige. Yet, despite her outward success, something wasn’t quite right; she was unhappy. On the fast track to becoming a senior managing partner, Caroline was extremely organized, productive, and efficient in her behind-the-scenes job crunching numbers, prepping deals, and crafting mergers. But something about the work had always felt hollow and mechanical; there was a social part of her personality that craved deeper, more sustainable relationships with clients and peers. Caroline’s unhappiness intensified over eighteen months and she finally decided to make a change. She stepped off the fast track and accepted a new position in training and development, a more visible role within the company. Leaving the comfort and safety of her behind-the-scenes role was scary, but she felt incomplete and knew she couldn’t stay where she was a moment longer.

I’ve already made a change but am still feeling stuck in the past

Jay, 32, grew up in the foster care system, and had battled physical chaos in his life for as long as he could remember. Having switched homes many times throughout his childhood, he never successfully set up a space for himself. He’d gone on to college (where he lived in the dorms) and then postcollege to a house share with some friends. No place ever really felt like home. In every abode, his room was cluttered and stifling. He moved into his first real, grown-up apartment four years ago—a contemporary one-bedroom flat with a brand-new kitchen, beautiful wood floors, and renovated bath. Yet he’d never fully unpacked, and when I first met him, he was still living out of boxes and bags. “The one thing every single living thing on this earth has is a home,” Jay told me. “A place it calls its nest, its cave, its hole. These little animals go through the hassle of moving rocks and clearing out the dirt to make a space their own. When you don’t have that element in your life, you feel lost.”

Jay had a dog-eared copy of my book Organizing from the Inside Out, spine broken, facedown on his coffee table, peeking out from und...

Revue de presse

"Absolutely brilliant!" -- Stephen R. Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

"This book will help you to recognize what you really value in life so you can let go of everything that's keeping you from reaching your true potential." -- Larry King

"I've always been amazed by the way Julie Morgenstern can organize everything -- but until now, I didn't realize that included human minds, hearts, and souls." -- Martha Beck, author of Finding Your Own North Star

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  99 commentaires
308 internautes sur 311 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Shedding Stuff and Getting a Life 15 août 2008
Par Terri J. Rice - Publié sur Amazon.com
Not one to like self-help books, I was VERY skeptical and am here to say this is a fantastic book. Getting ready for a move, I have been trying to clear out junk and it wasn't until I read this book that I could really begin to clean out the house. Morgenstern's point is not to have a sterile, barren home or life but rather to free up your life by getting rid of the irrelevant with some pointed questions:

"How much space or time would you free up if you were to release the obsolete items?"

"How difficult would it be to let go of the obsolete items?"

"Is it invigorating to my life right now?"

"What practical value does this item provide?"

Every time I was hesitant to clear away what I thought might be clutter, I would ask myself the questions that Morgenstern asks in her book. so for example, when I came across my grandmother's antique metal curlers that I had held on to for decades and moved about in the back of the closet, I was able to ask myself, How much space would getting rid of these free up? Not a lot. How difficult would it be to get rid of them? It would be easy to get rid of them. Is it invigorating to my life right now? No way! What practical value does this item provide? None! Done. Out go the curlers and I move to the next item. In fact I become a little embarrassed that it took me so long. Then on to that stack of books, clothing in my closet, the knick knacks that I dust, for what?

Morgenstern contends that we can't move productively into the future unless we SHED the stuff that is weighing us down and keeping us from making changes.
And this really cut to the core: "A perfectly arranged dresser drawer filled with clothes you haven't worn in years is still clutter."

Once Morgenstern finally convinces you, yes, even you, that you have a problem with junk in your life; she takes you step by step through her process of cleaning it out and letting it go. And she stresses this isn't about a one time clean up, it is about changing your thinking and thereby changing your life.
Reading this book can change your life!
145 internautes sur 147 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Tons of practical advice 11 juillet 2008
Par David J. Singer - Publié sur Amazon.com
I read a lot of personal development books. There is more practical and useful advice in this book than in almost any book I have read. One area of advice I liked a lot is the Perfectionism Habit Breakers, a few of which are (1) Devise three approaches, minimim, moderate, & maximum, before jumping into anything, and opt for minimim or moderate whenever possible. This helps you to recognize there are more than two outcomes (disaster and perfection) (2) Rephrase the question "how much can I do?" to "how little can I do?" You are not cheating, you are preserving yourself for other tasks, likely ones which are more important and/or more enriching. (3) Stop doing other people's jobs. You can better use the time, and it develops them rather than sending the wrong signal. And, you can always provide coaching feedback later.

Very, very good book
115 internautes sur 117 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Helped me out of my rut! 1 octobre 2008
Par :) - Publié sur Amazon.com
I can't say enough about how great this book is! I had been in a rut for quite some time, and I didn't really know what to do next. Then I saw this book, and being a fan of Organizing from the Inside Out, I decided to give it a try, though I was kicking myself the whole way home from the bookstore because I bought "yet another" self-help book and I already had a ton of them. Thankfully I didn't listen to my reservations this time, because this is one of the best self-help books I have ever read.

I forced myself to work slowly through the process, reading one part, answering the questions and taking actions, then reading more. And now I stand back, looking at my clean house and schedule, and I have so much energy. Furthermore, I have tons of ideas for moving my life forward in new, exciting directions, things that never would have occurred to me with all of the obsolete clutter in my life.

As I mentioned, I had a bunch of self-help and organizational books (SHEDed those!!) and I felt this one helped me more for several key reasons:
*Picking a "theme" for the next phase of my life. I had spent months agonizing over which career I wanted to do, to no avail, so picking a general theme and not having to make any specific decisions immediately helped me enormously.
*Differentiating between "junk" and "obsolete stuff." My house was pretty much junk-free, but I had a lot of obsolete stuff. For example, I had a huge book "collection" (over 350 books), most brand new, that were still perfectly good, that I would never, even in two lifetimes, have enough time to read. SHEDing these books (keeping only the treasures) lifted a huge weight off my shoulders. Morgenstern also guides readers to reflect on why they have acquired the clutter they have, which was very helpful to me. When I reflected on why I had acquired so many books it was easier to get rid of them, and I don't think they will build up like that again.
*Providing exercises after the fact. Most organizing books stop with a clean, organized house, but Morgenstern doesn't let readers off the hook that easy. She provides very helpful exercises for moving toward the life you imagined before and during SHEDing.

After reading this book and working though the process (which has taken me months) I actually feel "unstuck" and I have plenty of ideas for bringing my theme to life. I can't recommend this book highly enough; it's more than just a de-cluttering book, it's a life-changing book, giving you tips and techniques for getting out of the rut and propelling your life forward. Well done Julie!!
61 internautes sur 64 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 This book works - even for tough cases like me! 20 octobre 2008
Par One can never have enough books! - Publié sur Amazon.com
This book works because the author more effectively deals with the psychological aspects of clutter and cleaning up - especially the pain of *gasp* actually getting rid of stuff.

What made the book so effective for me is the acknowledgment that some of our stuff isn't junk but rather hidden treasure. I was also able to forgive myself for the money "wasted" on some things because as the author said, the item served a purpose at the time I bought, but now I am in a different place in my life and I don't need it anymore.

You will probably get something different from the book - whatever it is that you need. But like me, you will find that this book really works (I have culled about 200 books from my collection so far).
29 internautes sur 29 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent! 4 janvier 2009
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
I loved this book! Ms. Morgenstern has a completely unique perspective on 'clutter,' that takes the reader from looking at our physical space to living in the moment.

While she does recommend doing a certain number of specific exercises and tasks, mostly this gem of a book is about looking at your life NON-JUDGEMENTALLY, and simply sorting it out from an objective perspective.
One thing I love is that she does not recommend the somewhat judgemental 'chuck everything' approach. She instead wants you to look at your things, your schedule, and your habits - and notice what is relevant and what is outdated or detrimental to your present moment, now. I highly recommend this book. It is a fun read and a fun way to explore looking at how you set your life up, without making it wrong.

In conjunction with this book, I also highly recommend two amazing books, also about how to live in the moment and look at your life in a non-judgemental way: Working on Yourself Doesn't Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life and How to Create a Magical Relationship: The 3 Simple Ideas that Will Instantaneously Transform Your Love Life by authors Ariel and Shya Kane. These books are astonishingly excellent guides that address the mechanical habits we frequently learn as children and drag into our present, regardless of how relevant or un-supportive they may be to our adult lives.
These books dovetail wonderfully with Morgenstern's chapters on Habit 'clutter' and her lovely chapter on living in the moment. Enjoy!
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