A Guest Post by Aby Garvey, Simplify 101
(When I read this article by Aby Garvey from Simplify 101, I knew it said everything anyone ever needed to hear about making a new start. Since she wrote it so well, I asked her permission to share it, and she has graciously agreed. You can also read it and more great articles by Aby here. Thanks Aby! - Angela Esnouf, AAPO President)
Back when I worked for big companies, I loved the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I was one of the few people who always worked during that week. In the beginning, this was out of necessity—I didn’t have enough vacation built up to take time off over the holidays. Eventually though, I worked this week out of choice. Back in those days I didn’t have kids, and I welcomed the rare quiet time in the office to focus and get things done. I spent those uninterrupted days decluttering my office and getting myself ready for the busy new year.
To this day, I still get the itch to declutter during the week between the big holidays. Do you get this itch, too? Maybe it’s the fact that our homes are overstuffed with new things, or maybe it’s just a nice way to welcome in the new year—with a cleaner slate and a bit of breathing room. Regardless of the motivator, decluttering is a terrific way to welcome a new year, especially when you declutter with intention and purpose. In other words, when you identify something new that you want to create in the year ahead and let go of something old to support your desire for something new, you create space for change. You also solidify your intention to make it happen.
As you think about your goals and resolutions for 2011, consider what you can let go of to make space for the new. Here are some examples to get your creative juices flowing:
If you want to eat healthier, declutter your kitchen. Donate foods that represent your old eating habits to your local food pantry. Let go of items like your deep fryer or cookbooks that aren’t in sync with the new healthy eating habits you intend to create. When you declutter any item that symbolizes or enables unhealthy eating habits, you are creating space for new, healthier eating habits to come into your home and life.
If you want to lose weight, declutter your closet. Let go of a few items in the size you are right now and thereby create space in your closet for the size you intend to become. Of course, don’t let go of everything in your current size; just a few items will be enough to remind you that you intend to lose weight and fill your closet with items in a smaller size.
If you want to spend more time with your family, declutter your calendar. Take a hard look at your current commitments and decide to let go of one activity that no longer energizes or inspires you. Or, look for a routine task such as house cleaning or doing the dinner dishes that you can delegate to someone else—either for pay or simply because they’re a member of your family. It’s easier to have these conversations—to tell someone you’re no longer going to chair the volunteer committee or that you want to hire a cleaning service—when you’re specifically aware of what you’re creating space for—the important people in your life who currently aren’t getting as much of your time as you’d like.
If you want to feel more creative, declutter your project list and creative supplies. If your creativity is stifled, you may have too many projects in process or an overabundance of creative supplies. Declutter a project or two that no longer inspires you. Let go of supplies and donate them to a daycare or retirement center. By doing this you will create visual breathing room in your creative work space and in the creative area in your brain.
If you want new clients or exciting new projects at work, declutter the files in your office. Pull a recycle bin or a shredder into your office, and watch your energy shift as you let go of old projects and paperwork. If you have items such as old client files that you must hold onto for legal or archive reasons, move these items to a file cabinet or file box away from your active files. When you create open space in your active project and client drawers, you create space for the new clients and projects to come in.
If you want to get out of debt or get more financially organized, declutter your wallet and purse. When you clear clutter from your wallet and purse, set the intention to be more financially organized. Set up a collection spot for receipts and bills that’s close to where you hang up your purse each night. Put a small envelope in your purse to collect receipts, and write an inspiring message on the outside of the envelope to remind you of your intention to get out of debt or improve your financial situation.
Decluttering something old is always a terrific way to create space for something new. But when you declutter intentionally by deciding what you want to let in, and then take steps to let go of something old to make space for this new thing, decluttering is an even more empowering experience. What do you wish to create in the new year? What can you let go of now to create space for this new thing, idea or inspiration to come into your life?