New Year’s Day, and I can’t believe it took me most of the day just to get the drawers and cabinets in my bathroom cleaned out and organized. Sure, I took a few texting and email breaks, and spent over an hour on the phone catching up with one of my BFFs! But I still did not expect it to take so long. Nor did I anticipate how much junk – outdated, expired, and almost empty containers of junk that was just shoved in the back of my cabinets and drawers.
I know I’m not the only one. I also know that one of the reasons people like me, and most likely you, put off taking on the chore of cleaning and organizing our homes, and even our lives, is because it all just seems so overwhelming. This time of year often makes it even more daunting. So many “experts” on morning talk shows, columnists in newspapers, magazine articles, all talking about the many things we should be doing – personally and professionally — in order to be a “better person” and have a better year.
Get physically fit. Get healthier. Get financially secure. Get the house cleaned and organized. Travel more. Read the Bible in a year. Join a book club. Plant an organic garden. Raise chickens. And on and on and on. I mean who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed a bit; and confused about where to get started, and how to make most of it happen?!
When my sister shared a social media post titled 30 Challenges for 30 Days, asking me to join her in it, I replied within a split second — “NOPE!” The subtext of the headline noted: “That Will Make You a Better Person.” That extra message probably set me off more than the title. I don’t need to compete with someone, trying to accomplish so many things at the same time, all within some arbitrary time period, to prove I’m a better person! And I think that’s the trap we often fall into every year.
I am definitely a believer in doing things to make your life, your family, your home, and yourself better. But what those things are will be different for each person. And the priority of what’s most important to you now, versus what can wait, will differ. I mean I love pulling open my top bathroom drawer now and seeing how neat everything looks. I love finding what I need on sight; not having to shuffle a bunch of junk around, or getting ready to use some medical or cosmetic cream, only to find out that it expired six months earlier. But maybe your drawers are already organized the way you want them.
I decided early on that rather than trying to take a lot of things on at once, as if it would even be possible to complete all of the things I need to do, while shopping better, eating better, working out every day, going to bed on time, and getting my budget in order, etc. etc. – you know the drill – I would instead choose tiny projects, like the bathroom cabinets, and just work on it until it was done (no pressured time limits) before moving on to the next one.
So, in preparing for and thinking about my life in 2020, I broke things down into four major areas:
- Personal Life
- Home Life
- Financial Life
- Professional Life
It feels much better to think about changes and improvements I can make to FOUR areas in my life, rather than trying to work on 30 or 40 different things at the same time! Obviously, each one of the areas have subparts to them. But keeping my focus on the big picture helps me to plan better on how to attack something in each one.
For the next few weeks, I’m going to be sharing some of the things I’ve done, and how I’m choosing to tackle them in my own life, project by project – baby steps to success. Some may be things you’re already doing, or there might be some things that inspire you to try to accomplish. Other things may be of no interest to you whatsoever. But the cool thing about a new year, and our efforts to make a new start, is that we each should start with looking at our own lives, and apply only those things that impact you directly. If it’s not something that’s at the top of your list; don’t do it.
By the way, on day two of the new year, I spent time tackling the desk in my bedroom. It’s not an “office” desk, where I do work. It’s a desk that I use to write notes, letters, journal, read, and occasionally, work on my blog. The problem was, like an unused piece of exercise equipment, my desk had become the place to toss things I didn’t want to deal with, file away; a convenient landing site for whatever! Getting through all of the desk drawers and cleaning off the top of the desk really made my day. No one’s going to see it except for me. But that’s the whole reason I did it. For me! And that should be your motivation as well.
What will make you and your life easier, happier, and more convenient? Go for it!