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Spring Cleaning Your Life

Spring gives such a positive push in motivation for making things fresh again.  It’s a time for growth and enjoying nature’s elements, instead of adding extra layers just to survive them.  This is a common time for people to sort through their physical space and material items to create less clutter or get rid of what no longer works since this time last year.  Not only does this have to be an exercise for your physical environment, but this can very easily be used for your mental and emotional environments.

Being an organizational fanatic myself I am well versed in common strategies to use when cleaning out your home.  Using these, I want to walk you through how you can also adopt them for use in decluttering your personal life and make it much for functional for the life you want.

When beginning a declutter project of a closet, the first step is to identify what you want the closet to be used for.  For your personal decluttering, this is your reflection and goal setting stage. What do you want your life to focus on in the upcoming year? Your goals may be very different from this time last year, and that is to be somewhat expected because you have had many new experiences since then that have shaped new insights and your outlook.  Create something visual for you to be aware of them and keep focus – vision board, post it note on your dresser mirror, an art project, etc.

Secondly, in a closet declutter, you would remove everything (yes everything) from said closet. For your personal decluttering, this would mean to write down all of your roles, obligations, or regular activities in your life. This may take awhile so give yourself maybe a few days or a week to add to this running list as you actually live out all of these things.  Chances are, you do more than you are actually aware of or acknowledge. This is something I have found so common with my clients, that they underestimate the credit to be given to them. It might even help you at this step to ask some people close to you to help identify some of these list items.

This is the step to assess all of these items you just wrote down.  If it were a closet, you would look at them all and decide what to keep, throw away, or donate.  In your personal life this also means deciding what to keep (continue doing), throw away (no longer do or participate in), or donate (delegate to someone else if it’s a role that needs to continue for others).  You can do this by looking at each item and asking yourself, “Is this still working for me? Does this help me reach my goals?” If the answer is “yes”, put it in the keep pile. If the answer is a blatant “no”, it deserves to be thrown away or donated.  If you are wavering on this answer, move on to the next step to better determine its fate.

The next task is to figure out how to make the things you have left over work even better for you or if you need to add anything else for improvements.  This looks a lot like piecing together a puzzle and finding out which pieces are missing. For your closet this would be putting back all of the items you have decided to keep for sure, and then looking at those last few things to decide if they still fit or could they be changed at all to function or if it’s better to just get rid of them.  In your personal decluttering project, look at your last few roles/activities to decide if any of them fit with the whole picture you have been carefully piecing together or how to make them fit with the time and energy you want to give to them. Once this is completed, review your new list and decide if you are in need or want to add anything new to better work towards your goals.  Be careful of adding too much or else there will be another round of decluttering very soon. Also, other people might not agree with what you are choosing to throw away or donate, so remind yourself of what brought you to that exact decision in order to decrease any guilt or chance of letting your personal boundaries be impeded.

It’s time to put your new closet to work and see just how well it functions!  For your personal life, start living out your new roles and activities for a few weeks or a month.  Keep a date with yourself that you have predetermined to re-evaluate and move things around if needed at that point.  This is a perpetually evolving process, but thanks to your fresh motivation you have made a significant start to moving towards your goals.  

Book recommendations for your spring cleaning:

The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie

Everything that Remains by Joshua Fields Millburn (The Minimalists)

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo

Joy Walsh is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at The Lighthouse Emotional Wellness Center.  The Lighthouse, located in Schaumburg, IL, was the first emotional wellness center to be established in the Midwest over 15 years ago, serving as a guiding light towards healthy relationships. Our counseling services are provided for couples, families and individuals, to assist them in creating happy, healthy and empowered lives. For more information, check us out at www.LighthouseEmotionalWellness.com, or call us at 847-253-9769.