letting go of the bad stuff

Every January I have a shredding party.

Because I save seven years’ worth of income-tax paperwork, I discard everything that’s eight years old. I can’t just toss it, though. I have to look through it and reminisce as I shred. I flip through my old calendar, too, which I keep with that year’s taxes.

I forgot that 2004 was not such a good year. I had just started a job that turned out to be a very bad fit, I got hit by a car and needed to have surgery on my wrist and my mother was bedbound with a back injury and had surgery the day before I did. In addition, I had to pay back the IRS for a mistake I had made five years before.

I readily disposed of all the paperwork because I don’t need reminders of that period in my life. Sure, there were benefits, too. I got paid very well at the job that I hated and I was able to do a lot of needed work on my house. I still enjoy all the things that money bought; however, I realized early on that doing work I enjoyed was much more important to me than a big salary.

Thankfully, the year ended on a high note, with the birth of my sister’s twins. That’s one memory I will be hanging on to.

When clients ask me what to do with things that bring them negative feelings, I say: If you don’t have a legal or financial responsibility to keep it, let go of the bad stuff, keep the good.

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