“Loss Aversion”: Why We Collect Clutter

loss aversion

Many seniors are troubled by the clutter in their lives. They try to declutter. They try to downsize. But they feel like they never make any headway in the process.
Here’s why: they are being stopped up by “loss aversion”.
In his article, “5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions”,productivity expert James Clear outlines how “loss aversion” affects us (and ultimately, our ability to declutter).
He writes:
Loss aversion refers to our tendency to strongly prefer avoiding losses over acquiring gains. Research has shown that if someone gives you $10 you will experience a small boost in satisfaction, but if you lose $10 you will experience a dramatically higher loss in satisfaction. Yes, the responses are opposite, but they are not equal in magnitude.
Our tendency to avoid losses causes us to make silly decisions and change our behavior simply to keep the things that we already own. We are wired to feel protective of the things we own and that can lead us to overvalue these items in comparison with the options.
For example, if you buy a new pair of shoes it may provide a small boost in pleasure. However, even if you never wear the shoes, giving them away a few months later might be incredibly painful. You never use them, but for some reason you just can’t stand parting with them. Loss aversion.
In my work as a professional organizer, I see clients experiencing “loss aversion” every single day. They are hesitant to get rid of things because of the pain involved in the process. As Clear’s article states, the “keep” tendency is in our wiring.
However, the ability to declutter can be built, just like a muscle. I’ve seen it happen in my clients and in myself. The more you do it, the easier it gets. Like lifting weights, learning math, or taking risks.
Want to decrease your clutter quota? You need to decrease your personal loss aversion. You CAN and WILL do so by increasing your ability to declutter!
For a little inspiration, check out Clear’s full article, “5 Common Mental Errors That Sway You From Making Good Decisions“.
And remember, “getting organized” or “downsizing” does not happen overnight. It’s an intentional and iterative process. The more you do it, the easier it gets.
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About the Author

NancyAloha Organizers Owner Nancy Nino started organizing under her former business name, Nancy Organizes!, in 2008.  After over three years of working on her own, Nancy had an opportunity to bring on additional organizers. She changed the company name to Aloha Organizers which better reflected the team approach to the business.
Since the beginning of her work in the organizing field, Nancy has been a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO), the Hawaii Association of Professional Organizers (HAPO), the Association of Personal Photo Organizers (APPO) and Faithful Organizers. Nancy and her partner organizers are committed best practices, as well as learning from and working in concert with their colleagues in the field.
For more information, visit our website at www.AlohaOrganizers.com or call us at (808) 347-7480.