Whenever I feel like I would just like to leave my plate on the dining table instead of taking it to the kitchen, I remind myself “it takes less than a minute now, but when I have 10 plates, it’s serious work.”
At least that’s where I started from. I mean organizing our stuff. Donating, selling, throwing out. In the end we even sold two massive bookcases.
It started with me stumbling upon our then neighbor’s web page. She happens to be a professional organizer. She was just about to start hosting a minimalism game (more on the origin of the game can be found here), I think it was in October 2015.
You look at that date way over a year ago and think: Why is she not done by now? Well…. We moved twice during last year and having two small kids really does complicate things somewhat! We bought an apartment that was just about to go through four months of plumbing reno. So we moved all our furniture and most of our belongings into storage and took shelter at my parents home (how lucky we didn’t have to pay extra rent!).
I think I made somewhat of a rookie mistake and propably saved many such things that should’ve been sold / donated / trashed before the move. I mean we got rid of heaps and heaps of stuff! But obviously my konmari days just were not behind me.
And that is how January resolution Number 5 became: Organize your living space.
I had planned to tackle a few things: finish setting up our walk-in closet, get the “office” wallpapered and organized and with some luck, also stick some wallpaper on our bedroom wall.
I got to a good start with our walk-in closet. This one needed a trip to IKEA though (I know, I know – but even Konmari doesn’t ban buying boxes and stuff, if you have finished cleaning out. And in case of clothes, we’re doing ok). But even here it’s still somewhat of a work in progress.
As I’ve told, January was a time of sickness in our household so that was pretty much where I ended up with my resolution. January is almost over so no massive changes will take place.
But!! I’m only slightly sad (for missing my opportunity of a renovating weekend – I love to be home alone for that purpose!) that January wasn’t the month to tie the loose ends, because of my new found understanding of time:
Not everything has to be accomplished today. You will have your moment!
I always have next month to try and tackle this:
I have some approaches to suggest if you want to clean out your apartment:
– Read Konmarifor inspiration even if you can’t really follow her method to the point. She won’t know. Her way of giving thanks to each item given away has made me think, how much material and effort goes to making a simple t-shirt for example. When you are finished with tidying up, I encourage you to think hard if you really need to buy something new.
– Clean in alphabetical order (method I learned from my neighbour). So tackle for example books, magazines, sheets, pens, tools etc. This approach is usually doable even if you can only spare moments of time here and there.
– If you have decided (like me) that you really don’t want to hold on to a piece of furniture anymore, start making space. Two ways to do that: get rid of the stuff that is in that said piece of furniture, or start making space elsewhere (by getting rid of stuff! Not organizing ;))
I like her idea very much and encourage you to check her post out too, if it so happens you stumble on my blog first.
I listed a lot of things in my bullet journal about why I want to do a happiness project anyway. What it is that I hope to become at the end of my project. What kind of person I want to be. For example I tried answering this list of questions to start off with: Get started by Gretchen Rubin.
The first thing I wanted to do was to change the headline.
Perhaps it has something to do with the very protestant work ethic in my country (I for one relate commandments with the bible and I wasn’t too happy about that) or just the translation of the word “commandment” in Finnish, I just thought it too harsh a word to be associated with my happiness project.
So I call mine “guidelines“. I find it to be an encouraging word, so that I can choose each day to follow my guidelines (or not, but propably yes, because I think they really represent me). I wouldn’t be surprised if over time these guidelines will change. Some will become obsolete. I will figure out new things. But for now, I’m happy with my list.
I found that figuring these guidelines out wasn’t at all an easy task to tackle. I think I got the idea a bit wrong initially. But as I kept thinking about what is the whole point of me embarking on this happiness journey, the guidelines started appearing.
Some are straight from Gretchen’s book, like “Let it go”. But there just wasn’t a better way to describe how I want to get over things faster. I am quite an elephant when it comes to forgiving and forgetting. And I have found that being stuck on feelings, past events, failures, negative thoughts in general does nothing for my well-being.
I won’t explain all my guidelines here, because I’m sure they will play a part in my blog posts throughout the year. But as “be kind” is surfacing in January, I’ll go a bit into detail about that one.
I (like many others) felt there was a lot of negativity going on in the world last year. I admit that sometimes I felt like I wanted to punch something. But as Martin Luther King, Jr put it:
“Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.“
So I’m determined to be kind; not only to the people around me, but to any service personnel, random people on buses, to people who annoy me, to nature, to animals…
Another important one that is going to fuel my whole project and that has been somewhat of an inspirational “quote” in my life for some time:
If you do nothing else. If you can’t do anything else. Do this:
write a gratitude journal.
I have been doing it everyday now since the beginning of January. I have tried before, but like with everything I have done in the past, took it too far. Tried to write a page full of things. In pretty handwriting. BIG things. It doesn’t work like that (well, not for me anyway.)
In my bullet journal I have a really teeny tiny slot to write down three things everyday I was grateful about. And for the first time yesterday it really paid off!
It had been quite an exhausting week (and weekend), mainly because I was still not completely recovered from my flu and suddenly my hubby got a gout attack in his foot. If you are familiar with gout, you’ll know the infection will make a person completely immobile until it’s cured. I missed some nice appointments I had made with friends and so on.
In the past the clear signs of a sinus infection that appeared last night would’ve been the last straw.
Instead I did this:
I took out my bullet journal and wrote my three lines (and I will make an exception sharing these with you now):
– My sister-in-law took our daughter to a friend’s birthday party (so I saved a trip on the subway and bus with two kids).
– My goddaughter (in lack of a better word) came over to play and the girls played so sweetly together it was a joy to watch
– Hubby’s foot is possibly on the mend (as he can actually sit for some time and bear SOME weight on the foot).
And as I was writing my list I was filled with joy from the past day’s events and actually had a good and worry free night of sleep.
Concentrate on the good, do not dwell on the bad.
One of my guidelines for the year will be the same as Gretchen Rubin’s: “Let it go”. Applies perfectly here too.
So the usual resolution making in my case looks something like this (picture in your head, if you will):
Resolution: “I want to exercise more.”
Approach: “Must exercise five times a week.” (And of course if I don’t, I’ll consider it a failure and start eating ice cream.)
Reality: Went from zero exercises in a week to five. Lasted for a week. Body couldn’t handle the sudden strain and didn’t have enough time to recover. Also have a full-time job, a husband and two small kids, so should be home every once in a while too.
Conclusion: I suck. If I can’t even exercise correctly (ehm, what?) why bother at all.
Pretty soon I have “failed” but only because my goal was insane to begin with.
That was – or is supposed to be- the old approach. But if I was ever going to succeed in making 12 months worth of realistic resolutions, I needed to come up with a better plan.
To ensure that I wasn’t going to get tired of my happiness project during the first week of January, I put down as my first two guidelines (these are what Gretchen Rubin calls her twelve commandments):
“have patience “and “have mercy”.
I’m telling you folks, it has not been easy. I am such a weird mix of perfectionist and short temper, I’m always getting in trouble with my plans.
There is one thing to being an overachiever though. As Rubin points out in her book, I like “my gold stars” too.
This has meant that tracking my resolutions has been helping me keep them (well, the ones possible when your fever is sky high)!
I was inspired by Gretchen Rubin’s task lists (she has made printable copies, in case you’re intrested) and Ryder Carrol’s bullet journal and made a habit tracker to my journal for the first month.
Look for #bujo #habittracker hashtags in social media and you will get the idea.
– Theme: Boost Energy. I had absolutely no reason to disagree with Gretchen Rubin on this. To have any hope of achieving my goals for this year, I would need energy.
Gretchen has good starting tips in her book and blog, and one revelation came from her idea of nagging tasks. I didn’t put that on my list, instead I knew what really made me feel miserable and because of that, was very energy consuming.
On the list it went.
Number 1 habit to track: play with kids.
This may sound weird to some, but with a list of errands and a full-time job it is really not self-evident that this happens every day. And it makes me feel really bad.
Number 2: SLEEP. Kind of self-explanatory? Well of course not everyone is troubled by this, but when I’m stressed, sleep is the first thing that goes. So, sleep.
Number 3: Eat better. I also tend to eat stupid stuff when I’m stressed. And the stupid stuff makes me feel even worse. Out with all the diets! (No, doesn’t mean you are allowed to eat only pizza and candy!)
Number 4: Exercise. I’m totally aware that I become mind- numbingly boring when I sit still for too long. It doesn’t necessarily mean that regular exercise has been part of my life lately. I want to make it so again.
Number 5: Organize your living space. I can’t even… Every unfinished job in our apartment drives me insane and drains my energy. I try to cope and “have patience” but too many loose ends are just too many. Fixing it.
Number 6: Last but not least. Write. Anything, anywhere, I don’t even care. As long as I’m finally writing again!
I realize people usually ask about resolutions during the first days of the new year. But by the end of January it’s typical to forget about them. I challenge you to think: Did I make resolutions? Were they truly worthy and achievable goals? If they were, have I followed them? If not, should I make new ones?
Life has a way of throwing curve balls at you when you think you have finally cracked something. I haven’t been very successful with many of my resolutions due to being sick since 10th of January.
But I’m not kicking myself because of it and totally plan to continue on my path when I get my health back. Perhaps I’m already learning…
Happiness, I thought, was something that I’ll achieve when I am skinnier, have finished renovating out apartment, have slept solid 8 hour nights for at least a month… I could have happiness when I have acquired all the right furniture, have a perfect cleaning routine and the dream job. Oh yes, a Master’s degree would be a really nice thing to have too and why not win the lottery while I am at it!!
This in Finnish is called the “When, then” -life. And boy it took me years and years and a depression to get the point.
Happiness is in the smallest of things.
Because most of us will continue living our lives where we are now, basically doing what we are now with the resources we have now – it is a very good idea to try and start seeing the things that make you happy in your everyday life.
I suppose that is why Gretchen Rubin’s (gretchenrubin.com) Happiness Project spoke to me. Gretchen’s conclusion is sort of the same; she has to make her happiness project work in her everyday life.