The Final Count of November’s 30-Day 100 Item Challenge

Today I reached my goal of 100 items after spending 30 days getting rid of 45% of my belongings.  It was a pretty aggressive timeline and I’m really surprised that I was able to actually reach 100.  The hardest part of this challenge was definitely the timeframe.  I was able to rationalize a lot of my belongings and why I had them and what they meant to me but the major obstacle was how could I possibly get down to 100 items in 30 days while still having a life?  The answer was: give things to friends/family or donate as much as you can as fast as you can, it was like pulling off a Band-Aid. I purged at first by category: clothing, sports clothing, sports gear, books, electronics, etc.  Then I purged en masse, taking a look at all my belongings and figuring out what was really important.  The easiest items to give away were pieces of clothing (not emotionally tied to what I wear).  The hardest things to get rid of was my ukulele and harmonica, neither of which I have played more than a few times in the past year (however both of which I am emotionally tied to for various reasons).  I am still trying to sell my ukulele because I want it to go to a nice home where it will be loved and if that takes more than 30 days then so be it J

I spent the entire month coming to terms with the fact that the number 100 was pretty arbitrary and gimmicky.  Why 100 items?  Why 1 month?  I decided to do this challenge because since I left home 6 years ago, this is the first year that I’ve stayed in the same place for more than 12 months.  Moving so often during college requires you to be nimble, agile, and minimal with what you own.  I could usually manage one car-load of stuff to move from one place to the next.  Now being almost two years out of college with disposable income and staying in the same apartment for a second year I saw myself accumulating lots of stuff. “This is how it starts, I’m settling down.  Next I’ll get old, stop adventuring, and spend my weekends at home depot trying to remodel the bathroom .”  That’s an exaggeration but I’ve been interested in a major purging project for a while.  I basically picked the number 100 because I had read about it on the internet (hundreds of blogs online talk about doing their own 100 item challenges).  I never expected that I’d actually get to that number.  However, after making my final count of all the items that I own, I can safely say that I use (with high frequency) EVERYTHING that I own.

Now this challenge wasn’t without the caveats.  I stated these at the beginning of my challenge and stuck to them.  The point of doing these 30-day challenges is to improve the quality of my daily life, mostly by getting myself out of the daily grind and attitudes associated with being a young urban professional.  Therefore, I decided that this challenge shouldn’t impact:

1.)   Hygiene because that sucks for everyone, not just me.  Knowing myself as well as I do, I’d likely pitch my deodorant or toothbrush in order to keep my snowshoes.  This is exaggerated of course (or is it?) but it’s not a choice my friends/girlfriend/family/coworkers would want me to make.  So I didn’t count soap, toothbrush, deodorant, and the like, mostly for the sake of others (and for things like my dentist bill).

2.)   Safety because this challenge isn’t worth putting my life in danger.  I do a lot of recreational sports, so I didn’t even give myself the option of getting rid of safety gear.  I’ve had a few serious concussions so I don’t even mess around with that anymore, wear a helmet, always.  For example, I left out my helmets for biking/hockey/climbing and medical kit for hiking.  I also considered my trail maps a safety item.  One could surely hike in NH without a map, but that’s pretty dumb so I didn’t even consider it as an option.

3.)   Other People because this challenge was my idea and wasn’t meant in any way to negatively affect those around me.  Therefore there were a few items that I share with my roommates that I didn’t count because getting rid of them would have resulted in getting beat up, harassed, or unofficially evicted.  For example, we share my bike pump (without it we wouldn’t have one), some tools for around the apt (again I have some unique tools), a couch (can’t really get rid of that), kitchenware (I’m not even sure what’s actually mine anymore), and the worm compost (that I built in my first month’s challenge but share with my roommates).

I didn’t count food as an item because it’s always in flux, never really existing as an item in my life for very long (except for those few things in the fridge you forget about for 2 months, yikes).  So the above three caveats would definitely drive me above the arbitrary 100 item limit, but at the beginning I decided that it was in my best interest (as well as those around me) that I stick to them.  Therefore my 100 items listed below are the items that I personally own, personally use, and would personally carry with me if I were to pick up and move or travel.

Here’s the list of my final 100 items:

Socks – Cotton

Socks – Wool

Underwear – Cotton

Underwear – Techwick

Pants – Blue Jeans

Pants – Khaki

Pants – Corduroy

Belt – Black

Belt – Brown

Shorts – Khaki Cargo

Shorts – Jorts

Tshirt – Dysarts

Tshirt – Spartan Beast

Tshirt – Chamonix

Tshirt – VICE Fest

Tshirt – College Baseball

Longsleeve – Blue

Polo – Blue

Button Down – Blue/Black

Button Down – Green Flannel

Button Down – REI

Button Down – White/Brown

Button Down – Red/White

Button Down – Blue/White

Button Down – Black

Blazer – Brown

Suit – Grey

Dress Shoes – Brown

Sneakers – LL Bean

Sandals

Hiking Boots – LL Bean

Running Shoes

Running Shorts

Running Shorts

Tech Shirt – Ragnar 2010

Tech Shirt – Ragnar 2011

Tech Base Layer Upper

Tech Base Layer Lower

Expedition Base Layer Upper

Expedition Base Layer Lower

Shell Pants

Tech Baseball Hat

Micro Fleece 1/4 Zip

Rain Jacket

Marmot 3-in-1 Winter Jacket

Polyester Liner Gloves

Goretex Winter Gloves

Mountaineering Boots

Gaiters

Crampons

Microspikes

Snowshoes

Osprey Backpack – 24Liters

Osprey Backpack – 40Liters

Osprey Backpack – 70Liters

Backpack Cover – 40Liters

Ski Pulk (haul sled)

Sunglasses – Athletic

Sunglasses – Aviators

Messenger Bag

Sleeping Bag – 0F

Sleeping Bag – 35F

Sleeping Bag Liner – +20F

Expedition Down Parka

Winter Hat – Fleece

Winter Hat – Expedition

Nalgene

Insulated Thermos

Camelback – 3Liters

Rock Climbing Shoes

Rock Climbing Harness

Head Lamp

Camping Bowl

Camping Stove

Knife

Hobo Tool

Sleeping Pad

3-Season Tent

Trekking Poles

Hammock

Baseball Glove

Hockey Skates

Hockey Gloves

Hockey Stick (and puck)

Bike Shorts

Road Bike – Beater

Road Bike – Racer

iPod Touch

Waterproof Camera

Smartphone

MacBook

External Hardrive

Electric Guitar

Tube Amplifier

Acoustic Guitar

Acoustic Guitar Lamp

Reference Books

Bed/Bedframe/Pillow/Blanket

Wallet

Watch

I found that 14/100 of my items are strictly used for winter (crampons, puffy jacket, etc) so for 8-ish months out of the year I have only 86 items.  I also found that 57/100 of my items are related to sports/outdoor activities.  Therefore, when taking out sports stuff, I’d own only 43 items.  Through this challenge it became evident that I was largely unwilling to give up on my outdoor life thus reaffirming its importance in my life.  I have 31 items of regular clothing, 50 items of outdoor adventuring stuff, 7 items of strictly sporting goods, 5 electronic items, 4 musical items, and 3 in the “other” category.

It was a pretty intense challenge trying to juggle all of the baggage that goes along with owning “stuff”. My emotions, the emotions of others, having to be practical, trying to stay comfortable and many other factors were very real and very hard to deal with.  All in all I’m glad I did the challenge and I feel like I have more clarity on what “things” are important in my life.  Generally, these “things” give me mobility and the ability to adventure.  I think from now on I’ll do something like this once a year where I take an inventory of everything I own just to make sure that things aren’t getting out of hand.  The last thing I want to do is to let the things I own hold me back from seeing what’s really important.

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3 Responses to The Final Count of November’s 30-Day 100 Item Challenge

  1. I’m curious – did you get rid of all the little “nik-naks” – like pens, glue/tape, shoe polish, etc? I find that I keep those things because I think I need them and they’re so small, but when you add them all up it accounts for quite a bit of stuff.

  2. I have some tools that I didn’t count toward the 100 items because they’re communal with my roommates but as far as nik-nacks go, yeah I got rid of all of them which includes all my medals from races and whatnot. Good thing the Ragnar medals are also beer bottle openers so I put them in the kitchen and counted them as “communal” 🙂

  3. I also got rid of all my random medicines, some of them I’ve had since I got to college and I’ve kept them because I thought some day I’d need them but honestly, if I’m sick I’ll just go to the store and get what I need, I don’t need a stocked medicine cabinet. I rarely take tylenol, ibuprophen, or cold medicine so all of those little things I got rid of even though they were hygiene/safety items. I did a general purge of all of that stuff too even though I didn’t count them toward my arbitrary 100-ness.

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