January 8, 2013

Worth It

I’m living in a new house.

I haven’t moved. But I took the week between Christmas and New Year’s to accomplish a task I’d pondered for months: deep cleaning and reorganizing my home from top to bottom.

I hadn’t necessarily planned to tackle the project just then, but the gift of a new computer motivated me to reconfigure my home office…which inspired me to clean out and de-junk the entire room…which gave me momentum to keep going until I’d reorganized virtually every space in the house. My husband cleaned up his home office, too, and we followed through on a long-promised bedroom switch for our daughters. So by New Year’s Eve a long line of large garbage bags awaited pickup on our curb and a huge pile of items to donate sat in our basement.

I can now easily locate anything I seek in any closet or cupboard. My girls can find all their art supplies and toys at a glance. My refrigerator isn’t growing any accidental science experiments. And I feel less materialistic because, though we still have much more “stuff” than most people around the world will acquire in a lifetime, I’ve actually gotten rid of most things we owned but never truly used. My home feels refreshed and new.

I don’t describe that to toot my own horn. In fact, I don’t resemble anyone’s image of “Susie Homemaker.” Before last week, I managed to make things presentable for company, but piles of embarrassing clutter lurked behind closed doors, and I hid the wretched state of my kitchen by firmly refusing my guests’ offers to help with meal prep. And I’m going to struggle to maintain a semblance of the newly streamlined look of the place.

But now, because I devoted the time and effort necessary to tackle my looming problem, I finally have hope that maintenance is possible. Now I pause to return things to their proper places instead of just leaving them for another day. And now I can see the merits and value of setting up a regular weekly cleaning schedule. 

The same can really be said for virtually any big task any of us faces.

Is your marriage on fragile footing? Do you struggle to communicate with a moody child? Are your finances in disarray? Are you dissatisfied in your job?

Each of those problems – and many others – can seem as insurmountable as climbing Mount Everest. And when a situation involves other people, we can still only tackle our side of the summit, trusting that our work might motivate other parties. But my house renewal project started with the first bag I stuffed with unnecessary papers and broken pens and pencils. And those who’ve actually scaled Mount Everest got there by taking an initial step.

We can begin new projects any time, but starting in January can be especially motivating for many. If that’s true for you, decide on one big task you feel called to tackle right now. Then take the first step today so you can build momentum toward eventually finishing the job.

My house and I can attest that it’s worth the effort.


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