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BFTP: Spring cleaning - should it only be stuff?

OK, it's not exactly spring as I repost this from about 5 years ago. But I personally like it enough to share it again, despite its chronolological problems. I "downsized" my household possessions dramatically about 3 years ago and have not regretted tossing much. As the post below asks, however, am I as willing to toss outdated ideas as I am to toss outdated clothes?


With temperatures in the low 60s this weekend and no pressing writing deadlines, it was the perfect time do do a little spring cleaning. 

When I think of spring cleaning, it's not washing windows or dusting knickknacks. I love tossing stuff out. On Saturday I tackled my home office and pitched old professional books, innumerable cables - mostly ethernet and phone, and old tax records, properly shredded, of course. Sunday was cleaning the garage of unused tools, no longer needed furniture, and, well, just junk.

There is an old rule of thumb that says if you haven't worn an item of clothing in two years, you may as well give it to Goodwill, because odds are that you will never wear it again. My guess is that rule holds true for a lot of other things as well including tools, furniture, and sports equipment. (I haven't used satellite service in five years, but the old dish was still taking up space.) It's the rare book I'll not give away - and I realize that of the 10% I keep, I'll still only re-read 10% of those. I tossed my print dictionary this weekend - gasp - since it's been at least three or four years since I cracked its spine.

So here's my question: am I as ruthless about discarding my old beliefs, values, assumptions, and goals as I am about scrapping broken toys, obsolete electronics, and unworn sweatshirts?

It's very easy to recognize the antiquated practices of others. (Really, she still lectures all the time?) Outdated views are fair game. (He still believes standardized tests are the best way to determine student abilities?) And the reluctance to adopt to new realities is soooo obvious in others. (He still has kids put their personal devices in a bucket by the door instead of using them as a part of instruction?)

On a more personal note, I hope over the past few years, some old ideas I've held about race, culture, sexuality, politics, and finance I've, if not thrown away, at least modified to be more humanistic, more empathetic. I am sure there is still plenty of de-cluttering I can do in each of these areas.

There's an old saying from scripture that reads "Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" which makes me wonder if people can truly recognize the beliefs that should be part of one's professional and personal spring cleaning each year.

If we could, wouldn't we change?

How do you know what to keep and what to discard from your professional practice and world view?

Original post 3/31/2014

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