Despite my best efforts to keep things clean and tidy around here, I’m afraid my house in the past few months has become one massive, disorganised mess. Papers and books cover random surfaces, my clothes don’t fit in their drawers and don’t even start me on trying to find a matching set of salad servers in the second kitchen drawer.
Clutter, to me, is not just physical. A crowded, disorganised space does not make for a calm, peaceful mind. It also means I waste a lot of time looking for stuff that is not in its right place and that makes me frustrated and stressed.
That’s why I was intrigued when I first heard about Marie Kondo’s bestselling book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying”. Marie is a Japanese declutter expert with a unique approach to the task of reducing the amount of stuff in your house. I’d known about the book for a long time before I decided that things had gotten so out of hand that I needed a bit of KonMari in my life (KonMari is her nickname and the name given to her unique method of tidying.)
My priority was to clear my space, physically and energetically, for all the things the new year may bring and for about a month now, I’ve been quietly, excitedly anticipating the day when I could begin shedding my excess and regaining my peace of mind. That day was January 29th, which means I’m now a few days into my decluttering process. I have a very long way to go but I thought I’d share with you the basic principles of the KonMari method in case you too are keen to clear some space in your life and mind.
Here’s my quick rundown:
- Decluttering is best done category by category, NOT room by room. So whether you’re doing clothing or books or papers, you go around the whole house and collect everything in that category, then begin the process;
- Next, you take everything OUT of the wardrobe (or bookshelf or cupboard) and decide one by one which items deserve to stay;
- Deciding which items stay and which ones go involves holding each item in your hands and deciding if it brings you joy. Seriously, hold it, connect with it and ask yourself, ‘does this thing make me feel happy?’ If it cost you $500 and you wore it once before you realised it was itchy and uncomfortable, it’s not sparking joy therefore it’s gone! I bloody love this because it’s not so much a rational process as an intuitive one. Marie says quite rightly that with a little practice, you will immediately know which items spark joy. (hint from me: if you feel stuck, it’s because your thinking mind is weighing in on the process);
- For those many MANY items which do not spark joy, you thank each one for the purpose it served and then you let it go. I especially love this. Because I find the hardest things to let go of are those which I might have purchased on a whim, or which were expensive, and I feel guilty about giving away perfectly good (expensive!) things. But the KonMari approach says that any particular item’s purpose may have been served the minute it brought you joy when you purchased it. Or its purpose might have been to teach you to be more mindful about your spending, or that the colour orange doesn’t suit you and never will. Thank it and bless it out of your life;
- There is a particular order to the decluttering process. By the time you get to photos and keepsakes which are hardest to let go of, you’ll be more skilled at knowing what sparks joy;
- After you finish sorting, the next stage is storing things in such a way that everything has its place. This way your home will never be cluttered again. There’s a unique process here too but I’ll let you get the book for that!
And that’s pretty much it. She says most of her clients end up keeping about a quarter to a third of their original amount of stuff. I believe her.
As for me, I’ve just completed clothing over several days (contrary to the ‘do each category from start to finish’ rule). Everything I own is now in plain sight in my bedroom wardrobe – nothing hanging around in the spare room or in storage. And when I go to my wardrobe, there is nothing I automatically skip over because I don’t like how it looks on me. It really is a great feeling.
Probably the thing I really liked about the whole book was the amount of gratitude that goes into the whole process and continues as you actively appreciate those items you have chosen to keep. It’s well known that gratitude is fundamental to happiness, and Marie advocates expressing gratitude for the very things we take so much for granted on a daily basis.
I plan to spend the next week continuing the process, and then I hope to maybe reap some of the ‘life-changing’ rewards that others report experiencing – including ‘KonMari’ing’ all the activities, obligations and people which do not spark joy in my life. I’ll keep you posted!READ MORE
I stopped making new year’s resolutions a long time ago. Even when I was running a successful full-time Life Coaching practice, helping people to achieve their goals, I was very clear that I don’t care much for new year’s resolutions.
I do, of course, fully support any effort to make positive changes in one’s life; I just think there are better ways than the traditional “From 1st January, I will…” approach.
What’s wrong with resolutions?
1. The Willpower Factor
I already covered off in a previous post that most people choose to make sweeping life changes on the first day of the new year, and outlined all the reasons why this is not a wise idea according to the latest research on willpower. In a nutshell, willpower is a finite resource so if you attempt to make too many changes at once, you’re more likely to deplete your resources. Starting slowly and building new habits that become so routine they no longer require a lot of willpower is a much more effective approach to making long term change.
2. All or nothing
A resolution, by definition, is a statement of resolve. I resolve to either do something or not do it, commencing 1st January (or whatever date you choose). Stating your intention in such absolute terms only allows for passing or failing. If you resolve to go to the gym three times per week, as soon as you miss a session you’ve broken your resolution. Many people slip up on their way to achieving goals and this is no sign of failure – in fact, it can be a great opportunity for learning and growth – but resolutions don’t allow for slip ups. The feelings of discouragement (and accompanying negative self-talk) make it difficult to pick up where you left off, which is why many people have shelved their resolutions by mid-January only to bring them out and dust them off again on January 1st next year.
3. The laundry list of resolutions
“Get fit, get out of debt, drink less, eat better….” *yawn*. It’s a long, boring list only serving to highlight all your perceived inadequacies and there isn’t very much inspiring about that! Combined with the high probability of breaking all those resolutions due to points 1 & 2, people find themselves by mid-January adding lack of self-discipline to their list of (supposed) faults. It’s a lose-lose.
An alternative approach
I’d like to share my preferred options when it comes to planning what I’d like to achieve in the coming year.
1. Get clear on your intentions.
Living with intention every day is more likely to take you closer to the life you want to create than any list of goals.
You might, for example, have an intention to live more simply. Or more sustainably. Your intention might be to foster more authentic social connections, or stretch yourself and step out of your comfort zone.
Living with intention cuts through the to-do list of goals and requires you to get clear on your values.
From values and intentions, goals and actions emerge very organically. For example, if your intention is to nurture social connections, you might be inclined to cut back on social media and make more effort to have real conversations with people in your life. Your decision and action is inspired by an authentic value whereas creating a new year’s resolution to ‘spend less time on Facebook’ is unlikely to stick.
2. Choose one word.
I first read about this approach several years ago in this blog post and I’ve chosen a word every year since.Your word for the year can encompass many different life domains and represents a kind of ‘theme’ or thread that weaves through all areas of life and influences your decisions and actions. Some of my favourite words over the years have been Compassion, Courage, Simplify, Unsubscribe and Balance.
3. One Year From Now.
When it comes to setting goals, imagine yourself a year from now looking back on what you’ve achieved. Decide on the specific accomplishments that are most important to you and that are likely to make you feel proud and satisfied. Then wind back. How will that look in six months if you’re on track to your best outcome. How will it look in three months.
It can be fun to make a vision board either in real life or on Pinterest to bring your goals to life and add a sense of excitement.
You might have personal, family, financial and business goals. Make them specific and write them down so you can refer back on your progress throughout the year. Give yourself a full year to map out a course for achieving these things. Nothing magical needs to happen on 1st January; so you don’t have to try to achieve everything all at once; and there are no resolutions to be broken.
Sometimes at the end of the year, I find there are some goals that aren’t achieved or only partially achieved. Regardless, I know that by writing down my objectives for the year and systematically working towards them, I have achieved far more than I would have had I not set any goals at all.
A life lived with intention, values, a sense of purpose and clearly defined goals is far more likely to bring you success and fulfillment than another year of procrastinating on what’s most important to you. But if you have a long trail of broken new year’s resolutions in your past, maybe it’s time to try a new approach.
Do you make resolutions? I’d love to hear what works for you.READ MORE
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