If you’ve read Part 1 of this series, you may have come to terms with your need to let go of the past. Now, if you’re really after some extra credit, your rehabilitation might already be in full effect . You’ve promised not to drunk text your ex anymore (much). You are no longer (that) mad at your bestie for stealing your boyfriend back in high school. And…you may have decided it is time to give up that childhood dream of marrying Justin Timberlake (for now). Good job. I’m super proud of you. No, really. Here’s a complimentary (and imaginary) scratch and sniff sticker. You’ve earned it.
As grueling as the process may have been, I’m afraid that the real work has only just begun. So, grab some Windex, a mop and that zombie maid costume you wore several Halloweens back (you really should get rid of that, btw…zombies are so 2010)—it’s time to clean house.
Speaking of cleaning house, have you ever heard of the show Clean House*? If you haven’t, it was a reality program where a team of hosts visited people’s homes around the country, helping them to get rid of clutter and junk. They’d go in there, gather up all of the items the family no longer needed and throw a huge yard sale. Finally, the hosts would use the proceeds to redecorate and organize various areas of the home.
Although the clutter was rarely what I would consider to be full-fledged hoarding, many home owners had an extremely difficult time parting with their dearly beloved, but largely unneeded possessions. They would often try to keep more than they were willing to give up, even though the items were impinging on their ability to have the beautiful, organized home they desired. Much to the hosts’ dismay, it was not uncommon for home owners to drag items marked for sale back into the house during the actual yard sales. Even though it can be hard to imagine wanting to hold on to knickknacks and trinkets that serve little to no practical purpose, many of us do this same thing all the time.
For some, actual clutter and extraneous belongings may be a legitimate issue. For others, it may be a dead-end career, a toxic relationship, an addiction, or a self-defeating mindset. Despite our better judgment, we may allow negative circumstances such as these to remain in our lives due to fear, insecurity, low self-esteem or a lack of knowledge regarding better options. However, in doing so, we are simply cutting ourselves short.
As we make our way through life, we go through different seasons. I actually discussed this concept in-depth in a prior article, which you can check out over here, if you are so inclined. But, to summarize, some habits, possessions, attitudes and people are only designed to be useful for a particular duration of time—some long, some short. While in the right season, some conditions and people can be absolutely amazing. They can help us learn, laugh and grow.
However, holding on to things that are no longer meant for us can lead to unnecessary frustration, stagnation and missed opportunities. You know that individual you dated last year who was “the one”…until they weren’t? What about that “dream job” that quickly turned into a hellish nightmare? Let’s not forget about cold shoulder tops, mom jeans and the Spice Girls. All of these were great once upon a time, but seriously, let’s leave that time….over there somewhere. Check, please!
A purge of the unnecessary is an excellent way to jumpstart your year and provide you with a truly clean slate. Now that we’ve let go of the past and taken out the bulk of the mental “junk”, take a good hard look at your life a second time around. Are there any areas that need some extra attention? Have you truly eliminated everything you can, or are you still holding on to something or someone you really shouldn’t?
As you purify your mind, spirit and environment you will be able to better accommodate and attract new experiences, people and ideas. Instead of being bogged down by clutter or negativity, a liberating sense of freedom, order and peace will start to impact all areas of your life. With your past life put to rest and your current life cleansed, you will have a stable foundation upon which you can build something more rewarding.
Need a little help knowing where to look? Here are some popular areas to check for potential negativity, discouragement and disorganization:
Reorganize Your Personal Space. Is your wardrobe color-coded, or are you regularly getting buried beneath your belongings? An excellent way to boost your mood and invite positive energy into your environment is to keep it clutter-free and organized. Give away or sell items you haven’t used in the last six months. Thoroughly clean and organize your personal space at school, work and home (don’t forget your vehicle!). Once everything is sparkly and lemony-fresh, put a plan into effect to help you actually keep it that way.
Clean Up Those Personal Habits. Take steps to eliminate nonproductive, destructive or inefficient behaviors. Are you spending too much? Should you improve your diet and workout more? Could you gossip or complain less? Do you find yourself spending too much time online and too little time working towards beneficial goals? We all have bad habits and potentially damaging quirks that could be improved. While we will never be perfect, it is always good practice to aspire to be neater, kinder and wiser than we currently are.
Divorce Your Scenery. Stop frequenting places or participating in activities that fail to instill you with energy, enthusiasm and happiness. Factors such as creativity, mood, perceived fulfillment and motivation are greatly impacted by the things we’re exposed to on a regular basis. A positive, thriving environment = a positive, thriving mindset.
Rate Your Job Satisfaction. Many people spend a substantial amount of their life in the workplace, but an overwhelming number of people aren’t happy with their careers. Is your position truly congruent with your experience, talents and innate aptitudes, or are your potential and aspirations being stifled? Work doesn’t have to be a mere means to an end. It is just as important to cultivate passion and growth in your career as in your personal life. Don’t settle for “just good enough”. Make your work count.
Reevaluate Your Friendship Memberships. Temporarily restrict contact or permanently cut ties with people in your social circle who routinely bring you down, drain your energy or no longer provide you with a sense of support or encouragement. If we really are the sum of the five people we spend the most time with, is your own social equation producing a result you are happy with? And remember, quality > quantity.
Check Your Relationship With Yourself. Although the health of our relationships with others is important, the most essential relationship we will ever have is the one we develop with ourself. Are you your own BFF, or are you the best enemy you have ever had? This is a great time to start undoing any negative self-talk you practice on a regular basis. It is very difficult (and arguably impossible) to build a beautiful life if you are consistently mucking it up with maladaptive, self-limiting attitudes. Don’t be afraid to look within to identify and rectify any character deficiencies that may be preventing you from getting the absolute most out of life.
*Fun bit of trivia: I once attended one of the Clean House yard sales and can be seen on Season-something, Episode #….well, I forgot. Seriously, you should try to find me. There’s a glorious 3-second shot of my ear…or something.