As the holidays come to a close and a fresh new year begins, you may find your thoughts turning toward new beginnings in many areas of your life.  Whether or not you are a resolution maker, it can be useful to think through your intentions for the new year and how you might help yourself live into them.

For many, a fresh start involves rethinking of living spaces — organizing, clearing clutter, letting go of old patterns and things that no longer serve us well. Creating clear, efficient surroundings that will help, rather than hinder, our daily processes is often top of mind.

If you’ve spent the past several weeks in a whirlwind of activities and your house has become a minefield of decorations, wrappings, and an overflow of new possessions, you may feel an urgency to jump in and clean up, pack up, discard.  It can be a good thing to capitalize on that energy and get things back in order! But if you’re looking to make long-term changes that go beyond the holiday clutter bulge, it’s a good idea to pause and think about where you want to go. Here are some suggestions for clarifying your intentions and choosing projects that make sense for you.

First, some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Judging yourself when you need honesty and kindness to get through things.  Aspects of your living space might not reflect your ideals, but the point is not to attain some level of perfection so much as it is to keep striving for improvement. More on that in a few bullet points.
  • Comparing your home to that of your friends or your family members. Definitely don’t compare to what you see in magazines. It’s fine to take inspiration from others, but always remember that you are living your life, with your own priorities, personality, and circumstances.  
  • Attempting to conform to some ideal “right” use of space.   Look for ways to support how you’re actually using a space. Working from the dining table and doing the paper shuffle and periodic dump in your ”actual office”? Try a filing cabinet on wheels that can be moved when you need to use your office, as a dining table. Kids not using the coat closet? Hang some attractive hooks where they tend to drop their things.  Make your space work for you, rather than trying to change yourself (or your family) to use a space “right.”


Instead, try asking yourself these questions::

  • What does my Life Map look like?  Envision how your home could help you achieve your aims rather than hindering your efforts. Spend 20 quiet minutes with these questions:  Who am I when I’m at my best? How do I want to live? What do I want to be able to do in ___space, room, whole home etc.__? If you want to expand even further on these, email me and I’ll send you my Life MappingTM Workshop pdf, on the house.
  • What do I want more of in my life?  More free time? More peace of mind? Better relationships?  More evenings socializing with friends in my home? More energy and clearer thinking? Home organization can help meet all these goals, and you might find it more motivating to strive for what you want more of rather than trying to be organized just for its own sake.
  • What do my family members need?  Listen to learn their aims and frustrations, and also explain yours.  Negotiate ways to work together so that your shared home can be a nurturing, comfortable space that serves everyone’s needs — including yours.
  • How can I make my situation a little bit better today? In Japan there’s this word kaizen. Kaizen means to continuously make improvements. Not huge overhauls all at once. It’s more like the tortoise variety of change. Slow and steady for the win.

Turning the page on a new calendar year is an opportunity for a fresh start and an influx of energy.  Enjoy it, and make the most of it, but don’t overdo it all in January! May each of the twelve months in 2019 bring you kaizen.