The flood is coming: 48 hours before your home is destroyed.
The hurricane is coming. You have 24 hours to evacuate.
The raging fires changed direction: 1 hour to get to safety.
Whether it’s California wildfires or Gulf Coast hurricanes or tornadoes or mudslides, this is a reality for people across the country. They get reverse 911 calls, telling them they only have a limited amount of time before they have to leave their homes.
What do they grab? For those used to evacuations, they have checklists and keep important papers like insurance documents, medical records, passports, and social security cards ready to go. Some keep their photo albums in plastic totes to grab and go. Others grab their computers and chargers. Don’t forget about pets. And water.
While the concept can seem overwhelming, have you ever played the What If game? What if you got that call? What if your home was about to be destroyed? What would you take? What would you miss most if you lost it? Then consider, what wouldn’t you miss? What could you give up and not even blink an eye.
Playing that game—spending a few minutes thinking about what’s valuable to you—might come in handy as you’re trying to settle on a New Year’s resolution.
Maybe you resolve to get rid of things. What can you easily part with? Maybe you decide to spend five minutes a day looking through a cabinet, a drawer, a closet and getting rid of things that aren’t helpful. As you consider what items are distracting you, maybe you choose to take social media apps off your phone for a week or two.
Or maybe you resolve to add to your life. As you think about what things you’d grab in an evacuation, you start to see what’s actually valuable to you. After important documents, you’ll probably find that people are more important than things. So maybe your resolution is to reconnect with the people in your life. Pick someone to pray for once a week, and then text them to check in with them. Better yet, pick up the phone and call. Play a board game one night a week. Meet a friend for coffee.
You know, the ending of 2017 is kind of like an evacuation notice. What will you leave behind? What will you take with you?
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor. Moving every few years with the Coast Guard made her family comfortable with purging their unneeded possessions.