Spring! Almost summer. Warmer days draw me out to the garden. I spent the last month cleaning it up, planting, watching for new growth. Now it’s starting to burst. Peonies are full, roses are opening. Everything’s taller and fuller. And needs a second weeding.
That reminded me of a book I read to help me reduce the stuff in our small house. I learned how to do that – and a lot more. It’s a delightful book, easy to read. As I was going through it, everything she mentions about clearing the clutter of your home, I found related to clearing the clutter of your job.
You may have heard of it – “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Her name has become an everyday word – you “kondoed” your drawers or cabinets. Talk about personal brand recognition!
This book is beyond tidying. It’s how clearing the clutter of your life will dramatically transform it. “Only keep the things that speak to your heart. When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”
“Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of. Look more closely at what is there. I had been so focused on what to discard, on attacking the unwanted obstacles around me, that I had forgotten to cherish the things that I loved, the things I wanted to keep. Through this experience, I came to the conclusion that the best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
Clothes, books, junk drawers are the big ones to tackle. She advises you to thank your clothes for their service – or teaching you that pink isn’t your color before letting them go to charity. Communicating with the clothes you keep helps them stay vibrant. By paring down, you revitalize your relationship with all your belongings.
There’s been recent backlash on being as minimalist and tidy as Kondo suggests. Dominique Browning celebrates the art of clutter and loves her possessions. Gretchen Rubin says Kondo’s way is not for everyone. You need to find what works for you.
All very true. Still, most of us have too much stuff. At this stage of life, it’s the memories and new experiences that become more important than the stuff.
The critics are taking it all too literally. I used only some of her specific methods. The more important focus was taking her ideas beyond just tidying up.
Everything is a lesson.
By handling sentimental items, you process your past. You let go of a weight that holds you back so you can move forward. If you consistently can’t let go, you are either too attached to the past – or fear the future. Your ownership pattern is really an expression of the values that guide your life. How you select things represent the criteria by which you make choices in life, including your relationships and your job. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.
Keepsakes teach us lessons. Be selective of the ones you keep . “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not the person we were in the past.”
Don’t just focus on reducing. “As you put your house in order and decrease your possessions, you’ll see what your true values are, what is really important in your life. Focus instead on choosing the things that inspire joy and on enjoying life according to your own standards.”
Treat inanimate objects with respect. We are not even aware of it but our belongings work hard supporting our lives. Let your socks rest (don’t bundle them up in a ball). Make a point of turning off your phone and computer – letting them rest and thanking them for their hard work. I did just that this weekend, jokingly at first but then it actually felt good to thank my PC. It definitely needed a rest!
Confidence in your judgment and decision-making capacity will grow. One of the magical effects of tidying is that by making a decision on thousands of items, you are honing your skills on making choices.
Find your passion. When you reduce your books, papers and objects to only those that bring you joy, you start seeing what you’re passionate about and really want to do.
“Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, “Does this spark joy?” If you act on that intuition, you will be amazed at how things will begin to connect in your life and at the dramatic changes that follow. It is as if your life was touched by magic. Putting your house in order is the magic that creates a vibrant and happy life.”
So, what sparks your joy? How might tidying up your house open possibilities for your career?
Trying applying this question to all parts of your life and career:
What parts of your job bring you joy?
What strengths and skills and talents bring you joy?
Once you know, treasure it and work to bring more of it into your life and career.
Diane, The Midlife Woman’s Career Coach
Diane Howell Topkis is the author of the Career Clarity ebook series. Diane works with midlife women to gain the clarity and confidence to reinvent or re-energize their career into meaningful work for their next chapter. Please visit www.YourNextChapterNOW.com to receive your free workbook Find Your Career Passion.
In her non-work time, Diane wrote three Tasting Journals to take on her weekend and vacation tasting adventures – Wine Travels, Craft Spirits and Craft Beer. They are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.