I swear, the next time I see the phrase “New Year, New You,” I’m going to… do something. I’m not sure what, but it will definitely involve swearing and will probably frighten my dogs.
Many of you reading this are here because you made a New Year’s resolution: you want to be less messy, you want to keep your house clean this year, you’re sick of being a slob. And that’s fine. Commendable, even. But the way to make changes like that is not by trying to completely alter every single thing you do and when you do it. It’s not by replacing Last Year You with New, Improved 2015 You. You’re still you. This “New Year, New You” bullshit preys on our insecurities by telling us we aren’t and haven’t been good enough, and the only way our lives will be better is if we’re completely different people from who we’ve always been.
I am a messy person. No matter how many January 1sts go by, no matter how many times I tell myself I’m not going to be a messy person anymore, that doesn’t change the fact that I am one. What does change, if I make the effort to change it, is how I deal with being a messy person in relation to trying to reach my goals of having a clean house. So rather than trying to magically make myself a non-messy person overnight, I have put together a series of skills and habits that are stronger than my messiness. It took a while; habits don’t change all at once. But they can change.
You don’t need a “new you.” You need a you who is building new habits, who has a clear plan for reaching your goals, and who accepts that this shit is hard and failure is not final. There will be times when you slide back into old habits (or the lack thereof). There will be times when you look around and feel thoroughly defeated because everything’s a mess again. None of that means you failed, and none of that means you aren’t good enough. It means you’re human and you have successes and failures, and the best thing you can do is keep trying.
With all of that said, there are habits that are fairly straightforward to change that you can start trying to build right away. Put enough of these habits together, do them fairly consistently, and you’ll find that you’re well on your way to your goal of a clean house, without making yourself feel like a failure of a person on the way.
Start trying these:
- Put it away, not down.
- 20 minutes is better than no minutes. If you can’t do 20 minutes, one minute is still better than no minutes.
- Laundry and dishes have three steps: wash, dry, and put it away, goddammit.
- Take breaks. Marathon cleaning is counterproductive.
- Take before and after pictures, even if no one else sees them. When you’re in the middle of it, it’s sometimes hard to feel like you’ve made any progress.
- Make your bed.
That’s all pretty straightforward. You’re not going to do all of those all of the time right away. That’s OK. Just start trying to do them when you remember, as much as you can, and I promise you’ll start to see the difference.
New You can take a hike. Regular You is just fine, and just needs a little help along the way.
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