One of the surprising ways how to increase your chances to succeed is to do some cleaning. Cleaning, in its essence, is an activity of getting rid of impurities or dirt, to remove, to empty. We tent to associate it with some house hold chores but it also holds a promise of new beginnings, renewal and growth.
Whether we want it or not, we tend to accumulate all sorts of ‘dirt’ in our life over time: things we do not need, clothes we do not wear, relationships that do not make us happy, habits that are harmful to us or thoughts that are disturbing peace of our mind… All these things can weigh us down and slow our progress, especially when combined. When your life is completely full there is no room for new and better things to come. So doesn’t it make sense to get rid of old, broken or not functioning stuff that is cluttering your life in order to make space, both literally and figuratively, for the new good things to come? I guarantee you that you will feel lighter, with more energy to pursue your life goals and passions (or at least…you will have a clean apartment 🙂
Making room for new things to come
Some time ago I myself was feeling like I was being weighed down by the world around me. I was going through some rough patch in my job and my relationships and I turned to good old retail therapy. I was trying to comfort myself by purchasing new clothes and new home decor items. Of course, my “happiness” was only short lived and after a while I felt like I had too many things and my life felt somehow heavy.
In that time I came across now almost legendary book from Japanese organizing guru Marie Kondo (or KonMari as she nicknamed herself) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, thanks to which I parted with the majority of my possessions. The book promotes one simple discarding rule: get rid of everything that doesn’t bring you joy or is useful. Although this rule is meant to be applied mainly on physical things, KonMari writes that many of her clients experienced major changes in other areas of their life such as quitting their job or getting a divorce as a result of adopting this mindset. I have to say that I also experienced a little bit of magic from this book in my life. Within couple of weeks after I started with “Operation Clean-Up” I quit my job where I felt stuck for a while and found a new one. I also started a new relationship (which lasts till Today). Naturally, all of this did not happen just as a result of tidying up my apartment but rather from seeing the picture of my life more clearly once I got rid of things that were blocking the view.
If you also want to gain clarity and experience that feeling of lightness coming from clutter-free life I suggest you to purge holistically and tackle these four categories: things, relationships, habits, thoughts.
Sort out your things
I believe that our external environment can have a significant impact on our internal environment. You just cannot have that laser sharp focus when you are about to be crushed by a pile of towering papers sitting on your desk or to be effective when you spend 10 minutes searching for certain item. Sometimes our possessions remind us of old times, of who we used to be or of some negative experiences and thus can bring out some negative feelings. So there is just one thing to do, really – apply the discarding rule and get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy or is useful. It makes more sense to sort out rather based on category than based on room. Start with your clothes and accessories, move through your books, magazines, documents, cosmetic products and finish with essential household items. Be really strict in eliminating. There is really no good in keeping that skirt you haven’t worn for last 3 years, those trousers which always make you feel fat or all those books you read once and you know you’d never read again. Toss away all promotional leaflets, documents that are laying around without having any purpose, old magazines, cosmetics which expiration date was in last millennium. Part with broken items, with things that are stored away on the very back of your cupboard and you already forgot you had them. Experience that feeling of freedom and lightness.
Reevaluate you relationships
While you are at it take a stock of all major relationships in your life – with you partner, your family, friends or colleagues. Assess each relationship individually. Every relationship has its ups and downs but what is important in the long run is whether that relationship is lifting you up or bringing you down. Do you feel energized, optimistic and full of joy or do you feel drained, frustrated, unworthy after spending some time with that person? People who always see life in negative colors and are constantly complaining will only bring you down and take your energy. If possible, try to eliminate all interactions with them. Sometimes we cannot really avoid toxic people completely, like if they are members of our family or we need to interact with them at work, but try to get away from them as much as possible. You can use all that saved time and energy to feed the relationships that are worth preserving.
Rethink your habits
We humans are creatures of habits. Your habits can make you or break you. What we do repeatedly and on regular basis has its consequences in form of results. Choosing to watch TV instead of exercising will not do any damage if done once but doing it over and over again will slowly make you passive and lazy. Eating fast food every day will make you gain weight. Smoking regularly will damage your lungs. Lashing out repeatedly at your partner could destroy your relationship…you get the idea. Little things accumulate and create big results. So whenever you are getting some results you do not want try to trace its root to a repeated behavior that is bringing you that result and replace it with positive habit. From my experience it is more effective to replace one (negative) habit with another (positive) habit than to try to get rid of the habit completely.
Reframe your thoughts
Do you know this saying? : „Beware of your thoughts, they become your words. Beware of your words, they become your actions. Beware of your actions, they become your habits. Beware of your habits, they become your character. Beware of your character, it becomes your destiny.“ Your thoughts are the origin of everything. Everything you are or you have now is a result of your past thoughts. You become what you think about. Sometimes we are our worst enemy. We put ourself down, we engage in a negative self talk, we hold beliefs that make no sense. Just because you think something it doesn’t mean it’s true. Some thoughts or opinions have been planted into our mind by family, friends, media and we sometimes don’t even know where that belief came from. Do yourself a favour and adopt some positive beliefs about yourself and others. Eliminate those thoughts which are causing you to doubt yourself or limit your progress in any way. Cultivate optimistic, kind thoughts and observe how by changing your thoughts you are changing your whole life.
Proceed in your own pace
Overall, this seems like a lot to do or to change. However, let’s not forget that change is a process and it takes time. Don’t get stressed or overwhelmed , proceed in your own pace. Gain some quick wins by starting with the areas that are easier for you and proceed with more difficult items. No matter how slow you will proceed just keep on going. The reward in form of succesfull, fulfilled life is worth it.