You want to change.
You’re overwhelmed. You’re tired of clutter. You’re exhausted by the endless tug-of-war that is modern life.
But change is scary.
You may be struggling to breathe underneath your piles of clutter, or the weight of your hectic and crammed life – but at least it’s familiar. You know how it works. It’s your comfort zone. And while it may not be exactly comfortable, it’s safe.
But change doesn’t usually come overnight and it isn’t usually heralded by trumpets and fireworks and a Main Street parade.
Change is gradual and moving from clutter to simplicity is not an overnight journey.
Look at it this way: to build muscle, you need to repeat the same movement over and over and over. For weeks, months, years. And once you’ve built that muscle, you need to keep using it regularly or face seeing it atrophy and wither away, as though it never existed.
Making changes for simple living is exactly the same.
So please don’t expect huge overnight change. Don’t expect that you can walk in to your attic or garage and achieve decluttered perfection in one day. Don’t expect to start baking your own bread, making green cleaning products, growing your own vegetables and making all your clothes in the space of a week.
Reading back over that paragraph, it sounds negative and I don’t mean it to. It’s just that my experience has shown these changes take time. And when we have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and the simplifying process, we can easily get discouraged if the experience doesn’t live up to them.
Instead of diving into simplifying head-first, start with small changes.
Don’t try to declutter the basement or your wardrobe first. Instead, try cleaning out your handbag or one drawer in the kitchen. If that feels too overwhelming, choose one corner of one shelf in one room and clear it of all clutter.
Then, keep it clear.
Then move on to the next shelf, the next corner, the next drawer. Keep that clear.
As you move through your home space by space, you build those muscles and strengthen your thoughts on what is and isn’t bringing you joy. And from there, simplifying, decluttering, paring back, saying no – all these start to come easier as your muscles strengthen.
It simply takes time.
And on the days you can’t muster up the energy or the motivation to continue building those muscles, remind yourself why you’re doing this.
If you had one word to say to yourself on those days, one word that sums up the life or the feeling you’re aiming to achieve, what would it be?
Mine would be ‘peace’.
Write your word on a piece of paper and stick it on the fridge or above your desk – somewhere you will see it daily. Keep it as a reminder of where you’re headed and why you’re working so hard to simplify your life. Then, go make a change.
Also, don’t forget that registration for A Simple Year closes on January 10. If you want to join us and make 2015 your simplest year yet, head over to simpleyear.co and find out more.