The forecast shows sunny days with fresh-cut green grass and brightly-colored tulips in our near future as Winter winds down and Spring approaches. This is also the time of year where many people get the itch to give their home a good cleaning in preparation for Summer barbecues and activities. That bug has never bitten me. Ever. Don’t got me wrong — a clean home feels great but I hate cleaning. Some people find it very zen to clean; I find it to be an annoying, required task. In an attempt to put off cleaning (or procrastinate), I thought about how spring cleaning your life should become an annual ritual too.
Spring Cleaning Your Life Leads to Mindfulness
I want to live a mindful life where I make conscious choices that honor my authenticity. Where I feel strong and whole in my own skin and confident enough to be me without worrying whether my herd approves of every action I make. To live that kind of mindful life takes diligence and focus, thus you need to eliminate clutter in your life, both tangible and in your head. Here’s how I’m giving my life a good spring cleaning.
#1: Utilize The Do I Love It Test
I had always assumed that I loved everything I bought, but to my surprise, I discovered that wasn’t true. I bought a lot of stuff because I could. Thankfully, I am now much, much better about buying things that I truly love versus trying to fill empty holes inside me.
However, I am human and imperfect. This means reasonable Tanya isn’t always the one in charge of my pocketbook. Sometimes rash Tanya is and she can be a real troublemaker. When I find myself shopping off-list and putting random things in my cart, I stop and ask myself, “Do I love this and why?” or “Does this help me achieve my goal of getting healthy?”
Almost every time the answer is no and almost every time the item goes back on the shelf. Note that I said almost every time and remember that I am imperfect. 🙂 (And see #3)
#2 Create Ongoing Rituals and Routines on Areas that Matter
One thing I’ve noticed is that most successful people have strong routines and rituals they follow, which is something I’ve been incredibly resistant to doing and never really understood why until recently. I tend to be the good girl; the one who follows all the rules. This was my small rebellion that hurt no one but myself. Dumb, I know. Routines are not boring and instead aid goal achievement when paired with clear goals and clear benefits. This means cleaning routines, exercise routines, mental health routines (i.e. journaling and gratitude) and more are about to become a big part of my life.
I’m putting on my big girl pants, people.
#3 Accept I am a Work in Progress and Make Mistakes
Sometimes it feels like I should be done, fully baked and complete. But I’m not. One of the great myths perpetuated is that we know the answers when we get “big”. We never know all the answers. We are a work in progress our entire lives. This is not a bad thing either. Because if we’re not growing and expanding, we’re not living. Even if you mindfully or knowingly break bad, consider it a gift (assuming you’re not actually being a Heisenberg) because now you have insight into your fears and doubts and a chance to address them.
It’s such a relief to know that I don’t have to be perfect, especially to my poor mind that was constantly cluttered with thoughts of “why can’t you” and “do better”. Mistakes only define you if you let them. I don’t want them to be my entire story. Let those thoughts holding you back go and free up space to learn, grow and be.
#4 Focus On Mental Well-Being and Practice Gratitude
Spring cleaning your life also means giving your mindset some much needed attention. We have a gazillion and one thoughts per day and should occasionally check-in with those thoughts. To see if we’re being overly harsh and critical (with both ourselves and others) or too passive. Our minds are extraordinary. They can be our most powerful asset or our most formidable foe, which is why it is so important to know whether your mind is an ally or a bully. Mine was in bully-mode, which is something I’ve been consciously trying to change. I find gratitude to be one of the most effective ways to retrain your mind. It takes time and consistency, but it’s worth the effort.
Have you ever given your life and mind a good cleaning? If so, what were the results? And most importantly — does cleaning help clear your head or do you intensely dislike it, like I do?
So… I am one of those people who find cleaning therapeutic. It really, really helps clear my mind and I am also a neat-freak so I guess they go hand in hand 🙂 I have been practicing gratitude in the mornings; I think you listed it in one of your posts (nor sure which one), but it talked about saying three things you are grateful for each morning. I started doing this a few weeks ago, and I am glad that I did. 🙂
So many of my friends find cleaning to be therapeutic. As soon they get stressed, they are vacuuming or doing dishes. I love how good a clean home feels, but I don’t actually like cleaning. 🙂 I wish I did! I’m so glad the gratitude exercise have been helping you. The exercise is from this post: 5 Gratitude Exercises to Incorporate into Your Life. They can really make a huge difference in your outlook and state of mind!
Jenn @ Optimization, Actually says
I LOVE THIS!!! I can’t even express how much I love this idea. I’m way too harsh on myself and too prone to negativity in general. I’ve tried so many different ways to break that habit and I think I’ve gotten better, but like you said, it’ll always be a work in progress. And remembering that is important because once I do achieve one particular goal, I’m always ready to leap to the next one, so if I was aiming to be “done,” I’d be constantly disappointed.
For me cleaning is like exercise – I don’t like the idea of it, I rarely enjoy it while I’m doing it (though occasionally), but I know I’ll be happy afterwards and I want the end results. I’ve also been struggling to get into and follow a routine for the last couple of years. It’s not not wanting to do it for me, it’s not having the willpower to set everything down at exactly 8 in order to get ready for bed and meditate, especially if I have freelance projects and clients waiting for me. And getting up on time? If I didn’t get 8 hours of sleep, it ain’t happening. I have no discipline when I’m tired, whatsoever.
So yeah, my spring cleaning list is basically identical to yours. The only area I’d consider myself to be doing alright in is buying things that I love. After applying the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up principles to my life, I’ve really optimized my “stuff” and let go of a lot of emotional baggage, and it’s awesome.
Thanks, Jenn! I do the same thing – achieve one goal and leap to the next without allowing myself to celebrate the win. Plus, with my tendency to want to be “done”, I allow it to dilute previous goal achievement. So silly!
I need my 8 hours of sleep, otherwise I can’t function either. Some people brag about being able to get by with just a few hours, which makes me think they must be part robot. 😉 I’m trying really hard to embrace routine and it is slow going, which is to be expected after so many years of running in the opposite direction. I really need to check out the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Part of my resistance to organization and tidiness does have a lot to do with emotional baggage and I’d love to let it go!
Jana @ Jana Says says
I do not enjoy cleaning. Next to laundry, it’s the chore I hate the most. BUT. I need to do it because one of my anxiety triggers is too much clutter and mess.
I love the idea of spring cleaning your life. For me, the one I need to work on the most is #2. I need routines. I generally do a good job of creating them over the spring and summer and then by the time winter sets in, they go out the window and I have to start all over again. It’s really just a matter of paying attention to the routines and how they make me feel and then not letting them go, I guess.
Okay, I’m so glad to find another person who doesn’t enjoy cleaning! We all gotta do it, but I don’t love having to do it. 🙂 Clutter and mess doesn’t make me anxious but it does eventually embarrass me when it gets too out of control.
Some routines come pretty easy to me but others are so hard. I will do good for a period of time, then get distracted and off routine. And it’s such a pain to have to start all over. Sometimes I may make them too complicated when some things are just really simple!