Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Clearing Your Life

I often talk about the benefits of cleaning out what you can from your life. Getting rid of stuff makes room for better goodies. That’s why I’m so absolutely delighted to have a special guest today—Gail Blanke, a bestselling author, motivational speaker and former columnist for Real Simple. Gail is also founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives. Below she shares some fo the lessons from her terrific new book, Throw Out Fifty Things – Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life.

What’s The Cure For Inertia, Stagnation And Utter Depression? Throw Out Fifty Things!

By Gail Blanke

Okay, we’re living in really tough times. Jobless rates are soaring, home values are plummeting, 401K’s are dwindling and bad people are running off with good people’s money. And nothing is the way it was – or likely will be again.


But sometimes it takes a crisis for us to know what we’re made of, what we stand for, how good we are. And sometimes it takes a crisis for us to let go of the past – so we can grab hold of the future.

Darwin was right. It’s not the strongest of the species that survives – or even the smartest. It’s the one that can adapt to change – whether you’re a country, a company, an institution – or an individual. And if we want to survive, never mind thrive, we’ve got to let go of anything and everything that would hold us back.

So I ask everyone I work with, from CEO’s to stand- up comics, to go home and throw out fifty things. (And, by the way, magazines and catalogs only count as one.)Why fifty, you ask? Because once you make it to fifty, a kind of powerful momentum takes over; the throwing out thing becomes a habit, an ongoing mind-set. And then something really wonderful happens: you take control of your life. You start living it and it stops living you.


Look, there’s only so much room – in our homes, offices and heads for all the physical and emotional debris – I call it “life plaque” that we’ve allowed to build up. So there’s no time to waste dithering about whether all this stuff should stay or go. It’s got to go.

And believe me, you’ve got plenty of stuff to throw out: You’ve got all those mis-matched socks, the single gloves, your teenager’s old tricycle – and that drawer in the kitchen. You know that drawer: There are keys in that drawer that haven’t opened up anything in decades. Throw ‘em out. And when you get really warmed up, you’ll get to the good stuff: the old regrets, the anger, being right about how wrong it all is, about how this wasn’t supposed to happen to you, and about how your best years are behind you.


Hey, and while you’re at it, why not throw out that old, tired view of yourself – that set-in-stone notion about what you’re good at and what you’ll never be good at, your conviction that the way you do it is the only way to do it, your old beliefs about how things should be done and life should be lived – and what you need to be happy. Give it up. How else are you going to fit into the new economy?

Of course, letting go takes courage – something that might seem in short supply right about now. So where do we find it? By taking a look at our “defining moments” from the past. A defining moment is a moment when you found something in yourself you didn’t know you had and pulled it out. It might be a time when you drew a line – or erased one, if that’s what needed to be done. But it’s always a time after which you never thought of yourself in the same way again. You’ll discover a pattern of courage. You’ll find that you’ve already got the confidence you need to move forward into the change – not away from it – in spite of the noise, chaos and unpredictability of the moment.


This isn’t the time to hunker down and wait for the light at the end of the tunnel. You could wait a lifetime. It is the time to burst onto the scene with the energy and optimism that comes from clearing the clutter and reinventing your life.

I’m not kidding about “fifty.”
Check out Gail Blanke’s book, Throw Out Fifty Things – Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life and get motivated to clean your stuff and your life!

If you enjoyed my post, please leave a comment and/or click on the bookmark and write a short review at some of the sites, especially Stumbleupon and Digg. Thanks!

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  • Lilliana

    Great post. I’m gonna go start looking for what I can get rid of.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I love to throw things out. REally makes a difference!

  • Jenny Stamos

    Growing up, I’d stuff my room so full of junk that I literally couldn’t think until someone helped me de-clutter!

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    I was the same way Jenny. That’s why now I appreciate throwing things out so much! : )

  • A Fitness Minute with Pat Anderson

    I have always believed in getting rid of the clutter or as I like to say, passing on the love. I don’t have much clutter, so it will be interesting for me to find 50 things to pass on. Should be fun!

  • Diane

    I’ve challenged myself in this way and have enjoyed finding things to toss–a therapeutic creative activity.

  • Daylle Deanna Schwartz

    You’re right Pat, it can be fun to find things to throw out. I once had just done a major cleaning when I was challenged to throw out 40 things and managed to find them. It really is therapeutic Diane!

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