It's the start of a brand new year. Today is the day Donald Trump is being inaugurated into United States presidency, some are excited, others are not. Personally I am choosing to stay positive, and hope that a lot of good somehow comes out of this. Whether you are for him or against him, he's here to stay for a minimum of 4 years. So there's that, but in other news, 2017 seems like it's off to a good start. If we stay positive and focus our energy on the good, and not the bad, think of all the goals we could accomplish this year.
This Is The Year
For a lot of people, one of their goals is to finally get organized, either at home or at work. How many times have you declared on December 31st that your New Year resolution is to organize your life? You'll finally organize the kitchen pantry, or finally clean out your closet. Then before you know it, it's summer, and you vow to do it in the fall when the kids are back in school. Then bam! It's fall, the kids are back in school, and you're balancing work with helping the kids with homework and cooking dinner every night and taking the kids to soccer practice. Then wham!! It's the holidays and who has time to do anything during the holidays?? I'll tell you who. People who are organized! It's all about creating balance. Trust me, it can be done.
By now, you have probably declared me mentally insane, and are thinking to yourself, "she's crazy! That's impossible. She doesn't know my life, my kids, my spouse, or my pets. If it were just me, things would be different and I could get organized, but there are other people involved and it's too complicated." Or some of you are thinking, "I work non stop, there is literally ZERO time to get organized!"
There is always going to be an excuse as to why we can't do this, or why we can't do that, but the truth is we absolutely can. We can do anything we put effort and energy into. Sometimes it's even as simple as changing our thought patterns. Have you ever tried saying out loud, "Yes, I can do this" or "I'm going to do this and it's going to be a positive experience"? I used to think it was silly and wouldn't think it would be effective, but when I actually started changing my thoughts from negatives to positives like that, it changed my life dramatically.
There are a lot of psychological reasons behind our thought patterns. I'm not an expert on mental health, but as someone who has struggled with anxiety and OCD (shocker!) most of my life, I have spent a lot of time researching and trying to learn about human behavior, and why we do and say the things that we do. There are a lot of factors, some environmental, some genetic, some perhaps were learned over time from our parents or whomever raised us. Of course I don't know your story, the daily challenges you face, the struggles you encounter. However, I do know that the mind is a very powerful thing, and when we switch our thoughts from negative to positive, amazing - and even miraculous - things can happen.
My heart goes out to those who have given up, and think they are just doomed forever in a powerless environment, and will never be able to solve their problems. That is absolutely untrue. You have to believe things will change, and visualize them getting better, even if you're unsure how. Make it up in your head, use your imagination. Then be patient, and over time, watch the magic happen.
That's an extreme case where someone may be in a very difficult situation and point in their life. For most people though, achieving a harmonious balance in your life between work, school, kids and socializing is 100% achievable, and won't take long to make it happen.
It has to start with you. Your mind has to change from negative to positive. I can't to I can. This could never happen to this is happening now. If you live alone, it's basically that simple. Now you just have to make it happen. If you live with a spouse, kids roommates, or any other people, it may take a little bit more effort but persistence is key. Whenever I start feeling defeated I always say the expressions "Rome wasn't built in a day" or "it takes a village" in my head to get through. If you have years, maybe even decades, worth of disfunction, clutter and chaos in your home, you can't expect it to just evaporate over night. That's not realistic. You have to balance a positive attitude with a realistic mentality in order to accomplish any goal.
Being A Realist
When I do private coaching, I tell clients to set realistic goals for themselves every day, every week and every year. Daily goals could be as simple as "I want to get my laundry done, folded and put away". That's a realistic goal, a goal that is easily doable. Now, some of you may laugh and say, "That's easy for you to say! You don't know how demanding my schedule is. I barely have time to exhale, let along get all the laundry done in one day". Okay, so now what? You're just not going to do your laundry because it's a challenge? If you're a working professional, parent or student, it doesn't seem likely that you'd back down from any challenge! So this goal, this task that needs to be finished, is a challenge that you can easily accept. Alter your mind from I can't to I can. During coaching sessions I ask my clients some questions to better relate to their personal scenario, but to generalize there are a few ideas I can throw out:
You have to just find a system that works for you, and then practice it. It's about routine. Every Friday, or every other Friday, I will do my laundry after I get home from work. Of course, there is always the exception to the rule, and not all routines can be as robotic. If you have a completely random schedule, your routine will obviously have to be adjusted as needed, but keeping that general consistency of completing that goal. It might not be every Friday on the dot, but every week, or every other week or whenever, I will do my laundry.
Breaking Old Habits
You may also need to break old habits. That is often the hardest part of it all. You've been doing it one way for so many years, now you must train your brain to do it another way. I always think back to when I started my very first job. Man, was I nervous! I just wanted to do a good job so my boss was proud of me (oh, and so I didn't get fired). When you start a new job there is so much to learn. They throw an employee manual at you, expecting you to actually read it (ha!), and it feels like pressure that you need to learn it all in one day. But of course, that's unrealistic. You need time to process this new information they're throwing at you. It has to sink in so you get the hang of it, and then eventually it's second nature and you look back at your first day and laugh at the memories of your once amateur self.
Your old bad habits are like your first day on the job. It's going to take time to adjust to changes. Rome wasn't built in a day! So be realistic, and don't expect yourself to change over night. It may possibly take time to break these old habits, and that's perfectly normal and acceptable! You are an amazing human creature, but you are not perfect. Don't try to be everything to everybody and do everything perfectly all the time. That's not good for your mental health. It causes stress, and stress leads to all kinds of health issues.
Plan Of Attack
Alrighty, so now you're ready to get all those tasks around the house done. Fantastic! You'll need a plan of attack. Start with a master list of everything you want to see change. This could be something you work on over time to, with things being added to the list throughout the year. Just keep this list in an accessible place so the tasks stay on your mind daily. It depends on the person, but I like to keep my check lists right in front of my face, either on a clipboard on my desk, or on a cork-board on the wall. Put it wherever you know you'll see it every day.
I find it quite amazing how much the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" is true. If you misplace your goal list, that is symbolism of how important those goals actually are to you, and therefore, they won't ever get done! Make sure your goals stay fresh on your mind. It's so easy to let them get put on the back burner for all kinds of reasons, but if the reason is a busy schedule, that is easily fixable.
Now you'll want to assign tasks to each goal that will help it get accomplished. If your goal is to clean out your bedroom closet, set tasks that will help that get done. Include a ballpark month, or get specific with a date and time, to get each task done. "I'm going to sort through my clothes, shoes and accessories in November before the annual coat drive in December" or "I'm going to sort through my clothes on January 21st in the morning before I drop the kids off at their swimming lesson."
This task is scheduled and you need to treat it as you would any other appointment. You keep that appointment unless there is a true emergency, and if there is something important that comes up, you have to reschedule this appointment. You wouldn't leave the doctor or dentist hanging, whether it's because they may charge you a no-show fee or just purely out of respect, so why would you treat your own life this way?
It baffles me how we treat ourselves sometimes, with such little respect. You can't cancel appointments you have with yourself that are going to benefit your life, your health, or your mental health. We have to stop thinking of "me time" as a selfish thing because it's not. Even if it was, being selfish is sometimes out of survival. How is cleaning out a bedroom closet relatable to survival? When the stress is adding up from work, school, kids, family, environment, etc, where are we going to turn to? Where is our comfort zone? Home. I use a lot of expressions, but "home is where the heart is" and home should be a safe haven for you to unwind after a long day or reboot your energy over the weekend.
You need a clutter-free place to collect your thoughts and recharge your batteries when life starts challenging you. We're going to feature another blog post on the effects physical clutter has on your mind, because honestly this is such an epidemic.
Chamberlane's Chambers is a design blog created by Chamberlane Interior Services. We are passionate about all things interior!