Our homes often become a mess as a result of a long winter, so we use spring cleaning as an excuse to tear our homes apart, scrub them until they’re clean and tidy, and welcome the warm weather with the best home we have to offer. The idea behind spring cleaning—evaluating our home and then revamping it to fit our goals—also applies introspectively.
By the time spring cleaning has rolled around, three months have passed since the start of the new year. This makes spring cleaning the optimal time to evaluate the effectiveness of the steps we have (or have not) taken to achieve our goals, including those we tend to set around New Year’s. Questions like, “Am I on the right track to losing X pounds?” “Have I lost any weight?” “How is my fruits-and-veggies-only diet going, anyway?” are useful for checking in with yourself.
If you’re sitting in your torn-apart home in the process of unearthing old knick-knacks and garbage you didn’t even know you had, thinking, “I am on the right track. I am absolutely, positively proud of myself,” then I implore you to become my lifestyle advisor. But if you are sitting in front of your computer, scrolling on Facebook, thinking, “I clicked on an article called “Spring Cleaning Your Goals,” maybe your goal setting hasn’t gone as well as you expected it to, and it’s time to regroup.
The first step toward getting yourself back on the right track is evaluating your progress. How much progress have you made so far? What’s working? What isn’t? If you are making significant progress on your quest to, for example, lose X pounds, then congratulations. Keep doing what you’re doing. Part of spring cleaning is keeping what works.
If you are not making the progress you would like to see, however, start by modifying your goals. Perhaps losing X pounds by summer is unrealistic, but that doesn’t mean you should give up on losing weight altogether. Modify your deadline. Losing weight takes time—about 1-2 pounds a week. Maybe it would be physically impossible (or just extremely unhealthy) for you to lose X pounds by summer. But perhaps losing Y pounds would be well within reach. So, when you put your mind to it and reach the milestone of losing Y pounds by summer, you will feel accomplished. Then you can focus on losing the remainder of X pounds by, say, Labor Day.
The most well-known aspect of spring cleaning is sacrificing useless clutter to make your home beautiful. When translated into the context of goals, this equates to throwing out goals that simply aren’t working for you. I’m not saying to give up on goals that are just too hard to achieve; I’m saying give up on goals that are making you unhappy.
I suppose a good example of this would be trying to save a toxic friendship. You want things to be better between you and your friend, but the reality is that your friend treats you terribly and gives you endless stress and grief. Despite this, you have invested years into the friendship, and you do not want to give up on him or her.
To the hypothetical spring cleaner who’s stuck in a toxic friendship or any other toxic situation, I have this to say: “Run, Forrest, run!” Yes, I get that Forrest Gump stayed stuck in a toxic friendship, which is why I’m quoting what I screamed in my head for two hours as I watched, but I digress. Your goals should improve your life, not make it worse. You may have good memories of that sweater, but every time you wear it, you get hives. Throw it out! Same goes for salvaging your friendship.
To be successful with spring cleaning, we must have the will to tear out homes apart and throw out a year’s worth of junk. The same goes for our personal goals. We must feel motivated to improve our lives, which sometimes means dissecting our goals, keeping part or some of them, implementing new ones. Planning our goals is merely talk. We must act on our goals consistently if we ever intend for any of them to come to fruition. While spring cleaning is, if you will, a self-improvement holiday like New Year’s, remember that the best time to improve yourself is today. Don’t wait to make your life better.
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