As a child, my family lived in a small, 2 bed/1bath home that maybe was 950 sq ft. It was small, especially as I grew up. But what made it smaller was the accumulation of stuff. Boxes of magazines, papers, files, and who knows what else. As I look back, knowing what I know now, I see it was a symptom of a much greater problem. All that stuff was a reflection of the feelings my parents did not want to deal with, so they stored it instead.
Having spent over two decades in the fitness field, I know January is when many people decide to “make a fresh start” and “get healthy.” They want to shed those extra pounds, have more energy, and feel good. Simply showing up to the gym and doing a few workouts will make you feel better (after the soreness subsides), but it doesn’t nothing to address what influenced the choices that created the unhealthy lifestyle in the first place. I believe this is why so many resolutions fail.
If you’re unwilling to dig in with courageous honesty about what’s not working, it’s like trying to train for a marathon with 50 extra pounds on. You can do it, but it’s awfully exhausting and far harder than necessary.
We are all a little guilty of setting goals without knowing the why. Flipping that and knowing why you want those goals turns the goals inside out. So what if you want to lose 20 pounds, make $100K this year, find the perfect mate? How is that going to make you feel? When you don’t know the why, if you reach your goal, it’s probably going to feel empty. If you don’t reach it, you’ll beat up yourself. You’ll find yourself searching for more, more, more, trying to fill the void with stuff or numb yourself to the earning for what you actually want and need.
I remember deciding to clean my garage several years ago. I’d just stuffed everything in there that I didn’t need or have time to deal with when I moved in and I, unfortunately, just kept adding. Eventually, I needed a makeshift personal training studio, so I decided to clean.
I pulled everything out. Everything. It occupied my driveway. I looked at it all sitting out there and just wanted to cry. Not so different than putting on your favorite jeans that have become too tight to button. Or realizing after a breakup that maybe the other person wasn’t always to blame after all. It can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Can you get through it? What if you can’t?
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received:
Think big. Start small. Act now.
I just picked a place and started. I made piles. I got rid of some stuff, I kept some stuff. What I kept, I put back up in an organized manner. Within a few hours, I had my makeshift studio. It felt good.
Cheat sheet HOW TO:
- Decide on how you want to feel. Make a plan for how to get there.
- Stay focused on how you want to feel. If you’re not feeling that way, make a shift, pivot, correct the course. Maybe you’ll need to ask for some help.
- Embrace the contrast. When you aren’t feeling the way you want to, view it as an opportunity, not an obstacle. If you want to feel luminous, but you feel lethargic, heavy, and down, get honest with yourself. What is the payoff for those feelings? Do you perceive them to keep you safe, free from risk of hurt or failure? By engaging in behavior that fuels those feelings, are you pain free and successful? Nope. So take some responsibility and shift.
- Stay flexible. Perhaps what you thought would make you feel the way you wanted, doesn’t and something more appropriate appears.
- Kindness rocks. You know how it feels for someone to be kind to you. You know how it feels to be kind to others. For the love of all that is good and pure, stop treating yourself with anything less than kindness!
Now, if you’re really ready to go all in and start simplifying your life, I’d recommend some fun challenges:
If you have been told you have too many shoes or clothes, try this.
If you’re ready to clear the clutter in your home, try this.
If food is an issue, check this out.
If you need help, let’s talk– 30 minutes on the house. For those who are DIY’s, may the force be with you, never against you. Have fun. Make it a game. Enjoy the journey!