#39: Clear Your Clutter (reprise)

For my readers new and old, I thought this post worthy of a re-post.

Maybe some of you are familiar with this New Year’s resolution: Clean out the house and keep it clutter-free. It is hard work to keep the house uncluttered when you’re busy, and even more so when you’re busy and have children. When you work, too, well, it’s almost easier to just give up. But don’t.

When you live in a cluttered home, you hold clutter on the inside, too. In fact, when you visit a person’s home and it’s just stuff everywhere, you can tell a lot about that person. Not that he or she is necessarily dirty or lazy, but that he or she likely has some unresolved issues. It’s true: Clutter is only a surface expression of a deeper issue. When you keep your home organized and clean, your heart and mind are more free and available to the people and things that are important to you.

If you are having trouble getting started with a fitness routine, or if you’ve made a new fitness goal that just seems unattainable, take a closer look at what’s going on in your life. What are the barriers to your making it to that workout? What is your internal clutter? You are likely muttering things like work, traffic, and no time. But those aren’t true barriers. Those are obstacles that can and will change if your heart is truly in it. A more likely barrier is that your partner doesn’t exercise, so doesn’t understand why you have to take the extra hour away from the home to do it. Or that you don’t really know what to do with all that equipment when you finally make it to the gym, so you don’t have a plan, and therefore don’t feel motivated, much less committed.

Try to take things one step at a time instead of jumping in head first and then feeling like you’re going to drown. Do you need to sign up for a session with a trainer so you can be safely introduced to exercises you can later do on your own? Do you maybe need to get to work a half-hour earlier so you can then leave a bit earlier to make the stop at your exercise class and still get home to spend time with your significant other? Take a moment to write down the obstacles that came to mind when I first asked what’s keeping you from exercising. Then look at your list and see if you can uncover the deeper reasons, the true barriers, that lie between you and your new routine. If you can’t see them, ask a friend to look with you. Then start to make little changes that might just lead to the big changes you had in mind when you made your resolutions.

And look around your house and workspace. In what condition are they? If you are living and working among clutter—unfiled papers, stacks of old mail, piles everywhere—carve out an hour to file some of it away. It may sound ridiculous, but you will find that in return you will be more willing and able to deal with the more important aspects of your life. Unclutter your desk and you just might unclutter your relationships next. Sounds weird, but there’s a truth to it that it pays to explore. You’ve wasted enough time hiding behind your so-called obstacles. It’s time to dig your way out of your clutter.