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Let’s dedicate 2020 to decluttering life!

Sabrina Almeida

The holiday season goes beyond celebrations for me. I like to use the time off to rid my home of unwanted belongings. In the past couple of years my cleanup efforts have yielded multiple donation bags and been followed by solemn promises to minimize possessions in the new year.

Easier said than done. I’m part of the 91% that don’t accomplish their new year goals. Hence the continued end-of-the-year cleanup ritual.

With this poor track record, I thought it best not to make any resolutions for 2020. But this decision made me uncomfortable and sad. It was not just about breaking a time-honoured tradition but seemed more like I was giving up a critical goal-setting exercise. I needed a compass to steer my life through the next 12 months.

Some psychologists are of the opinion that making resolutions is cathartic as it involves assessing our lives, acknowledging mistakes or weaknesses and making plans to start over. Successful or not, it gives one something to look forward to and encourages positivity. Works for me!

Looking back on years of broken promises to be more active, buy less stuff, manage stress, be a better person, etc., it was important to be realistic if I was going to have a reasonable chance at success. Thus, my end-of-the-year ritual became my inspiration and road map for 2020. But I took it a bit further resolving to declutter my life, not just home.

As with all previous resolutions, I’ve chosen a very popular one. After all everyone dreams of an organized home and simplified life. Despite knowing clutter causes chaos and stress, our minds are overflowing with all that we have to do at work, home and with friends. I’ve come to realize that decluttering these thoughts is essential to both our mental and physical well-being and being at peace.

In my opinion the process of decluttering one’s mind is no different from that of purging one’s home of unwanted items. I’m sharing my 5-step process to simplify and enjoy life to the fullest.

1. Examine priorities: I began by thinking about what’s most important to me and my loved ones. It was necessary to examine why I was doing all the things I do as I tend to burden myself with needless tasks. I also reminded myself that these priorities were not written in stone so plans may change from time to time. Flexibility reduces stress.

2. No multi-tasking: I’ve concluded there’s no such thing as multi-tasking. One can only focus on one task at a time. Constantly switching is tiresome, stressful and reduces productivity. Something’s got to give, right?

3. Learn to love self: Most issues stem from negative perceptions of self and not accepting one’s limitations. I’m not about to start thinking that I’m awesome. However, acknowledging my shortcomings can help reduce the pressure and stress that comes from unrealistic expectations.

4. Avoid negativity: A few bad seconds or minutes should not set the tone for the entire day. Researchers estimate that we have about 60,000 thoughts each day, many of which are repetitive. Focusing on the negative and worrying about things that are not in my control is a waste of time and energy. I also want to spend time with positive people. Toxic individuals and relationships are a drain on energy and not worth the time or effort. So avoidable whenever possible.

5. Make time for myself: Recognizing that I need to unwind was a big challenge. But I’ve finally accepted that making time to do things I like is not selfish but rejuvenating and gratifying.

I believe we can choose our thoughts just as we do our clothes everyday. Would you rather use your worries and fears or your desires and positive thoughts? So why not keep what you will work with and leave the rest behind.

Here’s to a clutter-free, happy and peaceful mind in 2020!

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