Simplicity – Reality vs Perceived Need

As I begin the New Year I am often excited about having a break from work for a week or two and seeing family and friends for festivities. Then I reflect  on what was the year that just passed and what I want to work towards in the year ahead. There are many things that I can be working towards, I am often guilty of having too many things I want to try to do and only getting a few of those things done.  In 2023 I began the process of simplifying my belongings and decluttering my home. I had become an empty nester in recent years and wanted to start clearing out some belongings and sort out the things my adult children had left behind. By simplifying  I could get more clarity about the things I had, so I could focus on the things I wanted to put energy into in the next season of life.

What I learnt about myself along the decluttering journey was at times confronting but has also been a great process in deciding what I want to hang onto and what I don’t want to hold onto anymore.  In the past I have tried decluttering and really only just reorganised things and never really thrown out much at all. I am big on taking things to op shops, but I wasn’t great at throwing out or recycling stuff that are long past being useful. So last year I enlisted help in the decluttering process. And this has transformed my life!

I was challenged many many many times about:

  • Have you used or worn  this in the last 12 months?
  • Have you ever used this?
  • Will you use or wear this in the next 12 months?
  • Why do you have 3 of the same thing?
  • Isn’t that the same as that other thing you have?

Once I decided that I didn’t have a ‘real’ purpose or need for that item I was quick to get rid of it.  Apparently we have about 500,000 items in our homes!  I know, I was surprised by this number too but as I started going through each room in my house, I realised how true this could be.  I was actually embarrassed by how much stuff I had that I had forgotten about, didn’t know I had or could have made better use of had I been able to see it or access it more easily.

In Bowen Family Systems Theory there is this idea about what is the reality based need and what is the perceived need.  I often have to ask myself this question.  For example when raising a child a parent might think is this really what my child needs?  Or is this what I worry about for my child? This worry then becomes this fear that if I don’t do this thing for them then they will end up……  (usually a negative thing/outcome).

What I have been confronted about is that my emotional pull towards an item is often clouding my thoughtful brain from making the decision about ‘Do I still really need this item?’   When I can think it through a bit, then I am usually calmer and able to really consider whether this item fits with the season of life I am in right now.  I can also ask myself  how it lines up with the things I want to be working towards this year?

I have found myself having more time to do the things I really want to work on, easier to access the items that help me do what I enjoy most which then frees up more time. And I have donated so much stuff to charity bins and op shops, recycled and repurposed items and just got rid of actual rubbish in my life!

I don’t have a crystal ball but I am guessing this sets me up better for the year ahead.  Are there things in your life that you want to declutter or simplify? – maybe old habits, or work patterns, ways that you relate to people? What do you need for this coming season or the current season in your life?  Do you need help sorting out what you really need vs what your ‘worry’ brain tells you that you need?

If so, then get in touch with Veronica at Leadership In Mind via email on or go to 

Stay tuned for the year ahead – blogs, online workshops and plenty more.