The 95/5 Principle and How it Affects Our Lives

What is the 95/5 Principle? Well, I made it up.  It is something I observe in life.  I briefly explained the 95/5 principle in my previous blog post (it is below).  As a quick reminder, that is when we make a decision based on how we live in or use that item or space 5% of the time.  It is when we choose to do something because it is only inconvenient 5% of the time.  Or maybe we buy it because we love it despite the narrowness of the actual use.  Let me give you a simple example.  How many of you give 2 ft. of pantry space to a turkey roasting pan, and how often do you roast a turkey?  That is the 95/5 principle, (I know that is a 99/1 item but I am big picture thinker.).

I saw this in my own life recently.  My husband and I have traditionally entertained quite a bit and traveled several times a year.  As a result of that, we never had a dog.  We like dogs well enough, but I wear black too often to want to frequently play with other’s dogs who can’t look at me without shedding.  So, though I manage and enjoy dogs, they were never much part of my life.

As a speaker, I travel a lot, and my husband deals with some pain issues related to his back.  Being in pain alone is a challenging combination.  So after much consideration, we got a goldendoodle puppy (they don’t shed ?).  Now that we have had him for 8 months, we have observed a few things – we travel together less – we expected this, and when it comes to company, I have learned that some people like dogs less than I ever did.  I value those people.  So taking care of the dog with company requires a bit more work on our side.  And a bit of inconvenience and crate time on his part.

I realized that the 95/5 principle was intact here.  We got the dog for the 95% of the time it is just the one or two of us at home.  And we work through the adaptations we have made for the 5% of the time he is a challenge.  Cats are the same.  Some people are allergic to them.  So we made the decision for the majority of our life even though there is some inconvenience as well.  The benefits began to overrule the challenges.

How does this apply to your life?  Is it the right decision for the right dreams?  Are you putting off a good decision because of a small inconvenience?  Are you letting the 5% rule your life?  And is that okay with you?  Sometimes it will be and sometimes we should reconsider.  I wish you peace as you make decisions in your life.

Things to Get Rid of in Your Home

Through our lives, we collect things we like.  Some of us get tired of cleaning it or moving it and get rid of it along the way.  Some people don’t move much and don’t feel the need to help their possessions move along during their lives.  And they keep them, and keep keeping them.  So these items become valuable to us and we think about passing them down to our children or grandchildren, but what do the younger generations think about these possessions?  They don’t really care much about them at all…  Oftentimes, we collect things thinking that they may be valuable items that we can pass on to our children or our grandchildren.  Nowadays, it’s very rare to find younger people who have their eyes set on a “valuable” doll, coin, or china collection.  Not to mention finding those rare young adults who may have their heart set on an ornate piece of antique furniture.

So unless you can and are willing to look at the possibility of renting a storage space to keep all of the things that your kids will not want to be passed on to them, you might want to consider purging them from your home.

Doll Collections

I have yet to find that rare kid nowadays who is with Victorian or porcelain dolls.  In this world now filled with Lalaloopsies, My Little Ponies, and Barbies with all the bells and whistles, it’s a gamble to keep on storing your doll collection, hoping that it might someday become an important collection to someone else.  And if you sell it, there are still people out there who will buy them.  Hurry, while they are still out there…  I was at an estate sale with a hundred or more dolls there, and I commented that it looked like the dolls were not moving.  The person holding the sale told me that they had been moving like crazy.  There had been 3 to 4 times that many dolls at the start of the day.  Sell them while you still can.

Silverware and China

Silver, for one, doesn’t really sell for that much anymore.  So unless it’s just really one set of silverware and it’s really something that’s been passed on from generation to generation, it would be best to get rid of them.  Perhaps keep your favorite set.  I mean, it only takes up little room, right?  I am keeping one set that nearly matches my regular set.  I really don’t know when I will use it though.

I guess it goes the same for your china collection.  You can probably keep a favorite set, or something that has some sort of sentimental value.  But in this fast paced times that we’re living in, where fancy entertainment is almost rare, passing on your china collection may just serve as extra stuff stored away collecting dust.  Nowadays, people are more fond of using disposable plates, arranging for a catering service, dining out, or basically anything that will get them out of slaving over a hot stove and doing the dishes after a few glasses of Merlot.  I’ve got china I really liked for my wedding and used it some early on,  then I had no place to store it.  I eventually gave it away to a young couple who I thought would like it and they seemed thrilled to have it.  I found one of the few who do like those beautiful things.  

Antique Furniture

This has the same theme: What do people want nowadays?  Following the trend of minimalist homes, more and more people want furniture that not only take up little room, but more importantly, provide storage and/or function.  While antique furniture still sells to some extent, especially the unusual pieces, it doesn’t sell as much as it did before.  They are also  mostly sought after to be re-purposed into something crafty and shabby chic.

Now how do you go about reducing your clutter and parting with these things?  First, you need to know if you have any use at all for the item.  If it’s just stored away and has been for 10 years, or if you are paying to store it long term, it’s time to get rid of it.  Second, and this was a huge a-ha for me,  is to make wiser purchases and fewer of them.  You could go into a periodic “no buying” season.  Finally, make de-cluttering part of your general cleaning schedule.  It doesn’t have to be just the big things, de-cluttering small items help a lot too.

My daughter is one of those folks who likes pretty and old things.  My journey through my stuff is over for now and I am pleased with the reduced results.  But they may yet revisit me on the way to my daughter’s permanent home – which is a ways off in the future. Enjoy your things while you can.  And move them onto a better home when you are done.   Wherever that home may be – with family or a neighbor who thinks it is cool. 

The Gratefulness Exercise

Research shows that cultivating a positive, grateful attitude is huge for your mental and physical health.

Being grateful helps us see our lives – our family and friends, and our possessions in a way that cultivates enjoyment. If I am always grateful for the comfortable chairs in my home, this reduces longing for things I may not really want or need to spend money on. When I am grateful for aspects of my husband’s character and the ways he loves me, I treat him with kindness and affection. This is an upward spiral. When I am grateful for my children, I find ways to encourage them.

Do this everyday, in the morning or evening. Or during the day if you need help refocusing. Keep a journal where you can write five things that you are grateful for in the last 24 hours, or the upcoming 24 hours. Sometimes it may be more difficult to find things to be grateful for, but as you look, you will find them. Your home, the food in the fridge, a favorite pair of shoes, or a kind neighborhood. There is always someone or something to be grateful for. If you are grateful for a person. Tell them.

Feel free to write more than five, if you think of more. Cultivate joy and appreciation as you go through your day.

Enjoy forming this sweet new habit!