When people leave this world, they always leave a legacy.

The legacy might be food, clothing or shelter for those less fortunate. It might be a building used to educate others. The legacy might be children who solve major world problems. These are the bigger legacies. The more obvious ones. Since we all leave a legacy, here are some of the less obvious ones:

1. The person who donated goods to a local soup kitchen each week.

2. Someone who consistently dropped off clothes & household items to a homeless shelter.

3. A parent who taught his or her children to be generous with their time and talents.

4. A person who learned that experiences are better gifts than stuff.

5. A parent who wouldn’t let his or her child delete any item regardless of whether the child did or didn’t want to keep it.

6. Someone who embraced the idea that the person with the most stuff wins.

7. A parent who insists on passing down family heirlooms without regard for the recipient’s desire for the item.

8. Someone who grew up in an overstuffed home and provided the same environment for his or her family.

You might have noticed that #1-4 are more positive legacies and #5-8 are less positive legacies. I feel very strongly about the difference because I’ve seen what can happen when someone dies and passes on an over-stuffed house to relatives. Instead of having appropriate time to mourn and cherish the good memories, the relatives have to go through all of the stuff and make decisions about the items that the person was never willing or able to make themselves.

This consumes time and usually creates anger and frustration aimed at the deceased person.

What legacy are you creating around your stuff? What action, if any, do you need to take to change that legacy?

Let me share two examples from my own family.

Example 1: When my parents moved from a house they had lived in for over 30 years, my mother started sending me boxes of items that she no longer wanted. Not a problem if I had a need or desire for the items.

A problem if I didn’t because then I had to do something with them. I told her that she needed to check with me first before sending any items. We set up a system in which she checked with me via email.

If I wanted the item, she would bring them to me on her next visit. If I didn’t want them, she would permanently delete them via donation, recycle or trash. The arrangement worked out well. Not only did I not get items I didn’t want now, but she was decluttering as part of the move, so these were items that I wouldn’t have to go through in the future either.

Example 2: I am addicted to travel and love nothing better than introducing others to travel. I have two nephews under the age of 10. After getting permission from my sister and brother-in-law, I decided on a plan to take each nephew on trips at certain intervals. I took my older nephew to South Dakota last month (first choice was Egypt, second choice Antarctica and third choice was Mount Rushmore). You should have seen his eyes light up on Christmas morning when he read the gift certificate saying we’d be going to Mount Rushmore this summer.

My younger nephew knows he’ll get to go on a trip in two years, but because I wanted to give an experience rather than stuff for Christmas, I took him to see the stage performance of The Lion King. I’m enjoying creating long-lasting memories with my nephews rather than fleeting moments with stuff.

Again I ask what legacy are you building around your stuff?  

Author's Bio: 

Developer of the Flexible Structure Method™, Janice and her team at Minding Your Matters® has an impressive reputation for helping clients achieve “flow”. “Flow” as Janice calls it, is the blissful state of having an organizational process that supports your life and lifestyle. A Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization, Janice is also a Certified Organizer Coach and the author of “Get Organized This Year!”. Janice’s practical and caring approach to organizing is the basis of her high-content live workshops and webinars. Janice is a Golden Circle Member of National Association of Professional Organizers and Program Mentor Coach for the Institute for Challenging Disorganization. She serves the organizational needs and challenges of both business and residential clients, as well as provides training intensives for fellow organizers nationwide. To enjoy meaningful tips and gain immediate access to all of Janice valuable resources, please visit her website atwww.MindingYourMatters.com. To schedule a consultation or request Janice to speak please call 919-467-7058.