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Moving forward in the New Year

Are we past the New Year hype yet? 

You know, the pressure to fix every little thing that's not quite right with our lives, our bodies, our careers?

They all start out so joyously, with the best of intentions and so much determination. In fact, New Year's resolutions can give us a great little boost and get us thinking about what we want to change about ourselves in the coming year.

But they can also end up becoming overwhelming. They can fill us with guilt over lapsed promises to ourselves, shame over having failed once again, renewed anxiety over those things we had been so hopeful about scratching off our endless to-do lists, finally. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves paralyzed by the enormity of our self-imposed self-improvement projects.

If you find your New Year’s resolutions quickly tarnishing, and that tarnish rubbing off on your spirit, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that while it’s not sexy or immediately gratifying, the best way to effect change is through slow, steady, modest steps. So, if you find yourself already falling off those resolutions, don't worry! Consolidate them under one banner: just keep moving forward. 

When I find myself blocked while working through a difficult problem, the practice of decluttering physical space often helps me clear out the mental clogs as well. There is medicine in movement, and in giving your mind the time to rest on mundane tasks while the subconscious revs up and does its important work.

Don’t take on a huge project unless you know you have time to finish (or you risk creating another cluttermonster that will lurk about troubling you until you finally find time to chase it away). Instead, keep the mantra in mind: just keep moving forward. Choose a chunk you can chew in one sitting. You can always do more tomorrow.

As your physical space opens up around you, you may well find that your mental space, does, too. You learn things about yourself. The act of getting rid of that which no longer serves you —- whether it is an object, a thought pattern, a relationship, a practice, a habit, or a job —- helps you clarify what is truly important to you. You make decisions about what you do and don’t want in your life, how you want that life to look and feel. You rediscover things you once cherished but put away for so long, buried so deep, that you forgot about them. You may choose to bring them back into your life, or let them go.

None of this, of course, is new or original philosophy. There is currently an entire TV series, smartly and engagingly packaged, dedicated to the benefits of “tidying”. There are systems for organizing, books, fancy boxes and baskets and planners you can buy, even people you can hire to do it all for you.

It doesn’t matter what you choose. Don’t get hung up on the wrapping —- those New Year’s resolutions are part of all that, too.

Stick with the meat of the matter.

Just. Keep. Moving. Forward.

You start creating your life again, instead of just existing in it, plowing through it. You feel lighter, more refreshed, more able to concentrate on that which is important to you.

And you may just find that those mental blocks and hairy clogs of guilt, shame, and anxiety and are gone, too.

Happy New Year.