I think at the beginning of the year, we all look at how we want our year to progress. We reflect back on the past year, what went well. What didn’t go so well? What did we learn?
Then, we use this information to look forward to our current year. Do I still want the same things this year as last? Why or why not? And am I on the right path to lead the life I want to be living.
I have a long list of things I would like to accomplish this year.
But in the end, what I really want is to live a life with more love and happiness. And to this end, I want to experience more things and have less stuff.
As I look around the space I am currently in, I see way too many things. I regularly clear my work space, because I just can’t work in a cluttered area.
And yet, somehow, the area is cluttered again.
There are an accumulation of papers coming in for our taxes. The Christmas cards which I haven’t yet thrown out. A few random boxes of things, which I really have no idea who owns them or why they are here.
There is also a chronic pile of books which I am in the middle of reading.
It isn’t like I or someone else just randomly dropped these things on my desk one day. They have piled up, one item at a time. Until I am slightly scared the piles may fall over on my while I work! 🙂
It was the unnoticeable things which slowly accumulate, which seem to cause the most problems. It was easy to put things down on the desk. You didn’t need to think about it. It was a place to store things. It became a habit to place it there.
Until it wasn’t so easy.
It isn’t easy to live with too much stuff. It clutters the mind. It takes a way some of the joy of getting home after a long day. It is just too much.
But it all happened slowly. The habit to accumulate things happened one small item at a time.
The same could be said for my health.
I grew up in a family where we ate real food for our meals. We didn’t go out to eat very often. We didn’t often have juice, soda, chips or candy in the house. Growing up, we road our bikes to our friends homes. I was a competitive swimmer and spent a good port of my day exercising.
Living healthy was just a part of our lives. We didn’t think about it.
Very slowly, one meal, one snack at a time, this changed. I didn’t think too much about it. It was a choice for fries instead of a salad. Driving the car to get the kids from school instead of walking.
My meals now are highly processed. I eat fewer vegetables and fruits. I go out to eat more, not because it’s a treat, but because I don’t spend the time preparing lunches to take to work.
This didn’t happen over night. It was never a conscious decision, yet slowly, one small choice after another, I have gained 40 pounds.
Eating poorly became my habit.
Slowly, one small choice at a time, life changes.
I just finished reading James Clear book, Atomic Habits.
I have to say, I had a bit of a problem finishing the book. It isn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, I did. It wasn’t that I couldn’t relate, I could.
It was just every time I opened up the book and starting reading, I thought, he’s right. If I just got up and put away the one bill, do the one push up, cut up the vegetables for my lunch, my life would be better. So, I would get up and do it.
It wouldn’t necessarily be completely better today, but it would be better.
I wouldn’t be living more minimally by shredding the paid bill, but I would be living with less. I wouldn’t get magically stronger by doing one push up, but I would be stronger than if I didn’t. I wouldn’t change all of my eating habits by having a few vegetables for lunch, but it would be a start.
More importantly, I would start to think of myself as someone who lives in an organized, invited home. Someone who is strong and takes her health seriously. Someone who values herself enough to take the time to be the person I want to be someday, today.
That is where I am today.
I can tell you that today, since I started reading the book, I have taken small steps. I cleared out the bathroom drawers and I have slowly started clearing out the linen closet. Three shelves done, two to go. (The teetering tour of papers, sadly, is still there.)
I bought the vegetables and as soon as I am done writing, I will cut them up!
I have laced up my shoes more often.
It is strange how just taking the smallest of steps helps you to see yourself differently.
The book has great advice on how to build better habits and how to break the habits you currently have which are no longer serving you. But for me, just taking the first tiny step forward is helping.
What tiny steps can you take today or this weekend to put yourself on the path you wanting to be living?