…and how to reboot those resolutions/goals you have already forgotten about.
It’s early March and the weather has turned. Here in Phoenix it was 82 degrees today and that is okay with me. On Saturday we recently decluttered our yard and garage and dumped a huge pile of debris on the sidewalk for the quarterly bulk goods pickup. Today, that huge pile is gone, and our garage and yard look great.
This is the month where many of us go through this annual ritual of cleaning out the winter dust, rust, and cobwebs. We toss out the stuff that has been collecting in the corners of our yard or garage because it has been just too cold or snowy or rainy to dispose of properly.
That time is now.
But should we stop there with the annual spring ritual?
I propose that we also need to cleanse our minds of all those useless, wasteful, irrelevant, and discarded artifacts of thought and memory that linger in the proverbial corners of our minds. It’s junk, it’s clutter, and it’s in the way of a clear and present path forward.
What are some examples?
- New Year’s Resolutions that you stopped pursuing the second week of January
- The new hobby or project you started and then gave up on because it was too hard, too time intensive, or too expensive
- The unformed or unfinished idea you had for a story, blog, or journal entry
- The idea you had to improve a process or product at work that you wanted to spend more time developing
- The trip you thought about planning, but never got around to it
- The call you never made to that family member or friend who hasn’t heard from you and could use your support or wisdom
Now think of your own unfinished business, something that has been bugging your all winter that you just haven’t dealt with it. That stuff piles up inside the mind and doesn’t go away unless it is addressed.
What to do? Well, sort the piles and like that cable show, Clean House, create three virtual piles of your mental debris.
- Trash: to be thrown out and never worried about again
- Sell: to be given away to someone else who will have more use for it
- Keep: this is the stuff you value and you can keep using
Once things are sorted, administer the piles and move on. The idea here is to toss or sell over 2/3 of the junk. If you are keeping too much, the point of the exercise is defeated. Your decluttered mind and psyche will thank you.
Okay, you’ve dealt with the piles, now what? Is spring cleaning over?
Not quite. You need to make a deal with yourself to keep things clean. Don’t let the junk pile up again. Monitor that unnecessary stuff and sort and clear daily or weekly. Write it all down if that helps. Especially the mental junk you want to throw away. Write down a useless thought, feeling, memory, or idea on a piece of actual paper and either crumple and toss in the wastebasket or burn in the fireplace. Sometimes the physical act of destroying such mental debris is cathartic and frees you to focus on what is really important.
You’re asking yourself if I follow my own advice….okay, let’s work though an example.
At the end of last year, I hit a mini-slump in writing my epic fantasy novel when the market changed to limit the size of first books from new authors. After spending over a year on it, I had developed an unhealthy pile of useless thoughts and emotions about the subject. I had two choices, I could despair or use the information to my advantage. So, at the beginning of this year I began outlining a prequel that will more closely align with the market AND will better set the stage for my original novel. I knew it was the right plan for 2011 and I was comfortable with my path.
Early in February I started have winter thoughts about the setback. I had lost 15 months of time on that halted novel. I was starting over and the outline was going much slower than expected. I got sick and missed two weeks of writing. Woe is me!
Waa, is right. Play me a violin. To anyone else it would be no big deal, but to me it was becoming a big roadblock that I was creating for myself. I was starting to question my decision to write using an outline (click for a previous post on outlines). I was supposed to start writing the first draft on February 1st and as March approached and the personal deadline was missed, my frustration trebled.
Then I had enough of the nonsense and took a figurative Mr. Clean to the roadblock thoughts and recommitted myself to a well designed plan of writing an outline so my first draft goes smoothly, and I don’t hit any dead ends.
That’s it. Done. Junk thoughts have been trashed. The soil of my mind, after a long hibernation, is now ready for new seeds to be planted, new ideas (click for a previous post on ideas) to take root and grow because I’ve pulled all the weeds and killed all the pests. Only good bugs remain, and good seeds.
Spring cleaning of the mind can be done. I just did it.
Get rid of what is in your way and revisit those goals and resolutions you thought important at the beginning of the year.
It’s spring. Things grow in spring.
You can too.