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November 2018

8 Things to Get Rid of Before the New Year

 

Positively Present Letting Go

 

In last week's post, I wrote about 5 ways to prepare for 2019, and this week I wanted to dive a bit deeper into the "clear out your clutter" point because, while you certainly don't need the start of a new year to declutter and simplify your life, sometimes the change of a date on the calendar can be all the inspiration you need to make positive changes. Plus, there's something immensely satisfying about kicking off a new year with a (somewhat) clean slate! 

There are obviously tons of decluttering posts online, but here are some of the things I think you should seriously consider ditching before 2019. Decluttering might sound like a luxury task -- something you do whenever you have the time -- but getting rid of what you don't need can free up not only physical space, but also mental and emotional space as well, allowing you to fill it with things, people, and experiences that bring you joy. So, tempting as it might be to say, "Who has time to declutter during the busiest time of the year!," keep in mind that taking the time to do it now will help you in more ways than you might realize in the year to come. 

 

ONE-SIDED RELATIONSHIPS

Are there any relationships in your life where you're doing all the work? Are you always the one reaching out, suggesting plans, texting first? People and relationships are complex so sometimes there's a reason for you initiating (perhaps a friend is super anxious or shy, for example), but, more often than not, if there's a noticeable imbalance, you might be better off with out the weight of that relationship on your shoulders as you head into the new year. You might not be able (or want) to end it completely, but you can at least pull back and expend your energy on more balanced interactions.  

 

CLOTHING YOU NEVER WEAR

This is an obvious decluttering go-to, but it's popular for a reason. With the rise of fast fashion, many of us have tons of clothes we never wear just hanging in our closets. Not only does this take up lots of space, but there are so many people who would love to wear the items that no longer interest you! Host a clothing swap with friends if you have the same styles and similar sizes, or, better yet, donate what you don't need or like to those in need. Just thinking of the joy you'll bring to someone else can be the motivation you need to finally clear out that lingering clutter! 

 

ANY "JUST IN CASE" ITEMS

And, speaking of lingering clutter... get rid of all of the items (clothing, kitchen gadgets, accessories, etc.) that you've been hanging onto "just in case." I used to hang on to so many things because I thought that I might need them one day, but, after overcoming this mindset and becoming super good at getting rid of things, I've only encountered maybe one or two times where I've thought, "I wish I had kept that!" I know it's hard to imagine, but once you get rid of the "just in case" items you've been keeping, you won't miss them -- and, by giving them away or donating them, you'll be sharing them with someone else who actually will put them to use.

 

LINGERING TO-DO TASKS

You know that thing on your to-do list that you keep writing down but never doing? Now's the time to either do it or get it off the list. Either accept that you're not going to do it -- after all, if you haven't done it yet, it's not looking great -- or do it right now. If it's appointment you've been putting off, schedule it. If it's a call you've been meaning to make, pick up the phone. If it's something that can't be done it one sitting, at least take the first step to get the ball rolling and break it down into smaller, actionable tasks that you will actually do. 

 

SUBSCRIPTIONS YOU DON'T USE

Subscription services -- and boxes -- are all the rage now, but are you actually getting a bang for your buck? Look through anything you're subscribed to -- magazines, TV or music accounts, monthly boxes, etc. -- and make sure you're actually using and enjoying them. These monthly things are easy to forget about (or think, "I should cancel that," and not actually take the time to do it), but if you're not using them, get rid of them before the new year begins. (And, with that extra money, consider supporting creatives you enjoy via sites like Patreon!)

 

BOOKS YOU WON'T READ

If you're a book lover, you probably have a few tomes on your shelf that you want to read, but know you actually won't read. Often these are books we've picked up because we thought we should read them -- the classics, those highly recommended by others, etc. -- but if you've had it on your shelf for awhile and haven't read it, consider donating it to your local library. That way, if you do decide you want to read it some day, you can check it out! This year I've personally gotten into the library big time and it's such an amazing way to get tons of books -- for free! Consider taking advantage of the library in the year to come and you won't have extra books on the shelf come next December!

 

EXPIRED FOOD + MEDICATIONS

We often notice expired food and medications when we go to eat/use them, which is precisely the most inconvenient time to be finding out that they're not good! Go through your fridge and cabinets at the end of the year and get rid of anything that's expired, taking note of anything you might need to pick up to have on hand for the year to come. If you come across food that's still good but that you know you won't eat, see if you can donate it to a local charity so that someone else can enjoy it rather than just throwing it in the trash. When it comes to medications, check online to see the best and safest way to dispose of them.

 

NEGATIVE SOCIAL ACCOUNTS

Do you follow any social media accounts that make you feel unhappy, angry, worthless, or negative? Now is the time to unfollow them! I wrote about this in Inspired Unfollowing: A Week of Conscious Content Choice, and it's still as relevant as ever. You are not required to follow any accounts that bring you down and, now, with Mute options on most platforms, you can silence them even if you don't feel right unfollowing (like, for example, a family member). Most of us spend a ton of time on social media, which is why it's so important to go into the new year with a positive and productive collection of accounts in your feed. Obviously not every account needs to make you feel pure joy, but if you have some in your feed that are causing you serious mental anguish, get rid of them! 

 

 

These are just a few of the many areas of your life that might need some decluttering before the new year begins. Everyone's decluttering needs are different so if some of these don't apply to you, try to think about the areas of your life where you feel frustrated most often. Frustration and stress can be a result of having too much of what you don't need -- and that includes not only things but people, activities, expectations, etc. If you're not quite sure what you need to get rid of for the new year, pay attention to where and when you feel the most stressed and ask yourself, "What could I remove from this situation to make it easier?" (And, remember, sometimes that thing you need to remove is your own mindset or expectations!)

 

 

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5 Ways to Prepare for 2019 (+ GIVEAWAY!)

 

Positively Present - EDM 2019

 

The end of the year is upon us, which means it's just about time for all of the articles about New Year's resolutions and "how to make the most of 2019" to come out! Personally I'm not a fan of resolutions, as they're often too broad and rarely stuck to, but I am all about prepping for the year to come. There's only so much you can really do to prepare since you never know what the year-to-come will have in store, but here are five of the ways I like to try to get it together in December so that the new year will feel like a fresh start! 

 

1. ASSESS 2018's HIGHS + LOWS

You'll find no shortage of recommendations to "reflect on the year" in get-ready-for-2019 articles, but reflection is popular advice for a reason. Many of us dart from year to year without pausing to think about what did -- or didn't -- work in the past. While I'm all about staying in the present, taking a bit of time to look back at the year and jot down the highs and lows (and perhaps some things you might want to do differently in the future) is one of the best ways to make sure the year to come is filled with positive, proactive choices. 


2. CLEAR OUT YOUR CLUTTER

Clearing clutter is often discussed a lot in the spring ("spring cleaning!" articles will abound), but there's something about getting rid of what you don't need (or haven't used all year) that is wonderfully satisfying. I like to keep a bin in my closet and whenever I come across something I'm not using or no longer enjoy, I toss it in there. I usually try to clear it out a few times of year, donating it to a local charity, but I like do an extra run-through at the end of the year, checking my drawers and boxes and making sure there's nothing that wouldn't be better suited with someone else. Clearing clutter feels great, but knowing that the things I'm no longer using will find a new home is also a great way to end the year!

 

3. PREPARE YOUR PLANNER

As you might know, each year I create the Every Day Matters diary (available in desk or pocket sizes!), and the getting planner organized for the year ahead is one of my must-do December tasks. I set aside some time to fill in all of the birthdays, special events, and holidays, and, as a little kindness to my future self, I'll often write little bits of encouragement for myself on random pages throughout the year. It's silly, but there's something about having all of the key dates already marked off in a planner that really makes me feel ready for the new year! 

 

4. DECLUTTER SOCIAL MEDIA

Clearing out clutter isn't just for physical things! At the end of each year, I like to go through my social media and look at the accounts I'm following. Have I gotten joy from them throughout the year? Did they provide me with information or insights? When I spot one of their posts in my feed, how does it make me feel? Most of us spend a ton of time on social media so it's important to make sure that the content we're consuming is content we want to consume. (I'd also recommend making a note in your planner to do this throughout the year so you don't spend months consuming content mindlessly!)

 

5. CHOOSE A 2019 FOCUS

Now, I know I said I'm not into resolutions, but I do find it useful to go into the new year with some sort of focus. In the past, I've chosen a word of the year, which can be a great way to have a general-but-attainable focus for the year, but if choosing a word isn't your thing (or a single word isn't enough for you), consider choosing a general focus for the new year. Maybe you want more family time in 2019. Maybe you want to zero in on career growth next year. Maybe you want to direct your attention to self-love. Whatever you feel you didn't get enough of in 2019, make that your focus for 2019 -- and write it down in your planner so you don't forget about it! 

 

Speaking of planners, my publisher is doing an awesome giveaway for you to win one of the 2019 Every Day Matters diaries! Check out the details below for how to enter! The diary is available in desk or pocket sizes, and you can see more about it in my YouTube video

 

EDM 2019 Diary

HOW TO ENTER

Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry!   


GIVEAWAY DETAILS

  • Every follow / share counts as one entry
  • One winner will be chosen + notified on December 17, 2018
  • The winner will receive their choice of desk or pocket size diary

Two Little Words That Make A Big Difference


Right_Now

 

As someone who spends a lot of time writing (and thinking about) words, it's not unusual for me to stumble upon new revelations about them, but recently I had a realization about two words that make a really big impact: right now

I frequently find myself making sweeping statements -- things like "I'm so stressed!" or "I'm obsessed with [insert current obsession]!" or "I can't live without [thing I didn't even know about a year ago]!" or "I'm so upset with [irritant-of-the-moment] -- and, while those are partially due to my flair for making dramatic proclamations, I don't think I'm the only one who makes broad statements like these. 

The thing is, sentences like the ones above (and, to be honest, most sentences) are only true right now. Sure, they might be true in the future, but that's not a given. And, yes, they might have been true in the past, but so was the statement "I can only drink from a bottle," and (hopefully...) that's no longer true. The only time we can be absolutely certain of is right now. The only statements that are 100% true are the ones that occurring in this moment, which is something most of us frequently forget. 

I spend a lot of time trying to stay present, but the truth is: the only thing we ever are is present, like it or not, and using these two magical little words -- "right now" -- can transform how we perceive the present. It might seem minor, but I actually feel differently when I say, "I'm so stressed," instead of, "I'm so stressed right now."

Tacking those two words on the end of a sentence might seem silly, but semantics matter. Adding the "right now" to most sentences can have one (or more!) of the following impacts...

 

  • Adding "right now" can reassure you that a bad situation you're in isn't forever
  • Adding "right now" can prompt you to appreciate a good situation you're enjoying
  • Adding "right now" can bring you back to the moment (countering anxious thoughts!)
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to begin again or do things differently
  • Adding "right now" can remind you that just because it's not now doesn't mean it's never
  • Adding "right now" can inspire you to focus on the task that's right in front of you
  • Adding "right now" can make huge projects or tasks seem less daunting
  • Adding "right now" can boost your enjoyment of a moment that won't last forever
  • Adding "right now" can allow you to mentally step back from pointless worrying
  • Adding "right now" can give your full attention when engaging with others
  • Adding "right now" can help you relax when you're feeling very overwhelmed
  • Adding "right now" can invigorate self-compassion and cut down on guilt 
  • Adding "right now" can maintain self-control and more easily overcome cravings
  • Adding "right now" can mitigate feelings of physical pain by easing mental suffering

 

To be fair, most of these things are benefits of simply being fully present in the moment, but knowing we should be present and actually being present are two very different things. For some reason, adding "right now" seems to work really well for me when it comes to triggering me to be in the moment. Here are just a few ways I've used it this week (and how it's helped). These examples are all kind of frivolous, but it worked for much more intense thoughts as well! 

 

What I Initially Thought   How I Felt When I Added
"Right Now"
How I Felt
"I'm spending way too much time on Instagram." Annoyed that I'm wasting my time on social media; frustrated that I can't stop scrolling; distressed that I can't find a way to make a living from my art that others seem to love "I'm spending way too much time on Instagram right now."

 

Still annoyed, but hopeful I won't always spend so much time on it; inspired to stop scrolling because I realized I can change; stopped identifying my current action as a guaranteed future state

 

"I'm so happy to be here in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Comfortable and relaxed, but distracted by the to-do list I wasn't tackling; worried I should be out with friends on a Saturday night instead

 

"I'm so happy to be here right now in my room with a new book, cozy on a rainy day!"

 

Grateful for the alone time I so desperately craved after socializing all day; engrossed in my book and assured that I'd tackle to-do's tomorrow; reminded that I often long to be in bed with a book when I'm out and about 

 

"I'm so overwhelmed by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

Overwhelmed (obviously); stressed and anxious about the lengthy to-do list that seems to be never-ending; tempted to lie down and do none of it

"I'm so overwhelmed right now by all of the things I have to get done this week!" 

 

Still a bit frazzled by the to-do list, but reminded that I'll soon have the tasks done (it's always more stressful to think of them than do them!); grateful for projects that bring in money and for the personal to-do's that, while annoying at the time, will bring my future self (and others!) joy

 

 

"I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks!"

Frustrated with my lack of self-control; angry with myself for buying the snacks in the first place; envisioned myself unable to ever stop eating said snacks, stuck in and endless snack-and-shame spiral "I can't stop eating these delicious but terrible-for-me snacks right now!"

 

Reminded that guilt is a waste of time and I should either enjoy the snacks or put them away (which I did!); felt lucky to have snacks (affording groceries isn't a given for me!); made aware that my future self could be someone who doesn't eat such unhealthy snacks (unlikely, but possible!)

 

 

Hopefully these little examples inspire you to give "right now" a try and see if those two little words motivate you to return to the present the way they have for me! It might seem small, but staying present is hard and you never know what little thing will help make it easier for you. It's cliche to say, but there's truth in the idea that every second is a chance to turn your life around. Your whole existence is just a bunch of choices you make, and you can change at any moment. It's not often easy to do, but the first step is paying attention to what you're doing now, how it's making you feeling, and deciding if it's what you want to be doing in the future. Your "right now" is always up to you! 

 

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