5 weeks ago I declared my not-so-epic new year’s goal…”just trying to have a clean chair.”
I’m obnoxiously proud that the chair is still clothing-free, and has been for all 35 days!
What’s been surprising about this not-so-epic goal though is how much I’ve learned about myself.
The first week was really, really hard.
“I was too tired to hang up my clothes.” “One day of clothes on the chair wasn’t a big deal.” “I was being anal, what difference did it make if I had a messy chair?” “I didn’t have enough time to put my clothes away.” “It wasn’t going to last, so what difference did it make?”
I was surprised by how little I believed in myself. I was also surprised at how much unsupportive chatter I had in my head – around something that I wanted. The amount of effort it took to talk myself into believing that I wasn’t actually too tired to hang up a belt was remarkable.
The second week was like new love.
After adding hangers to the closet (so there were actually enough to hang my clothes) things got easier. And after years of Saturday mornings spent cleaning my bedroom, I suddenly I had nothing to do. I found time! (This never happens.) By not making the mess, I didn’t have to clean it up. I’ve heard myself say this to my kids – It works! I basked in this glory, for days.
The third week it became infectious.
With my extra Saturday morning time, I cleaned out the home office. I emptied the overflowing in-box that held bank statements from March 2015 on, various school projects deemed worthy of saving, report cards, and a wide variety of other papers that were waiting to be filed. In this case, the filing cabinet itself was a problem. There was no room. Once the files were purged of their ancient artifacts, there was room enough for everything that we actually wanted to save. The in-box has been empty since.
The fourth week I saw a pattern.
I was far more likely to put something where it belongs if I didn’t put it in a “pile” first. Throwing my clothes on the floor led to picking them up. Putting them on the chair gave me a sense that they were “handled.” Putting papers into an in-box felt “handled enough” so there was never enough motivation to file them. A-ha!
I had a hunch that this might apply to the piles in the kitchen. The piles were just enough to ease the discomfort of “messy” but they took away the discomfort I needed to actually deal with the clutter. (This A-ha! felt like unlocking the genome)
The fifth week I got bold.
I de-piled the kitchen. It’s been clean for 5 days. This is a bigger, maybe-a-little-epic goal since there are 4 other pile makers here. But I feel more confident, armed with what I’ve learned from my chair. And my internal chatter is far more supportive.
The lesson: little successes can lead to new perspectives, capacities, and challenges.
But back to the chair… I’m so proud of my chair. Every time I walk by it, I smile. It makes me happy because it was impossible and really I’m genuinely surprised it’s clean, every time I see it. (like groundhog day)
Of course without the clutter, the lack of upholstery on the chair is becoming a thing.