I have no beef with New Year’s resolutions, but I find I get a lot more traction out of “before the end of the year” resolutions. For the past two years I have resolved to declutter my house before the end of the year. Yes, the very fact that I’ve made that same resolution two years in a row reveals that I was not exactly successful in accomplishing my goal. However, I cut myself a lot of slack on that. When we moved from Michigan to California, we went from a home with a 1,700 square foot basement to a home without any basement at all. (What’s up with that, homebuilders? You think basements are only for cold country? Basements are for JUNK STORAGE, obvs). So, here we are without even a crawl space. Zip, zero, zilch space to put all that “stuff” that for some reason we thought it was important to hang on to for 13+ years.
I have made a lot of progress over the last few years since we moved into our home and there are only five spaces remaining to declutter:
1. The linen cabinets in the upstairs hallway. We have way too many hand-me-down, mismatched sets of bed linens. Time to purge those and get organized so I can tell what goes with the master king bed, the queen beds, and the full bed.
2. The extra cabinet in my 8-year-old’s room. It’s filled with photo albums and scrapbooks and miscellaneous papers that need sorting. There’s no reason for all that stuff to be in my daughter’s room.
3. The laundry room cabinets. Those are the cabinet versions of “junk drawers.”
4. The garage. We have made tons of progress on the garage. The proof is in the fact that we can now park two cars in our three car garage instead of only one. It’s sad how happy that makes me.
5. The master bedroom closet. That closet has been clean in the past, down to the shirts being organized by sleeve-length and color. Right now I would settle for “no crayons dumped on the floor by the toddler.”
Am I going to get to all that in the three days remaining before the New Year? Heck no! I’ll be satisfied to do one of those. (The linen cabinets are calling my name: “Purge me, Angela. Use your extra energy in the off-season to make me pretty. Go crazy and make labels! You know you want to.”)
The thing about resolutions is they’re not absolutes. They’re goals to work toward. They’re not all or nothing. The key word is progress. If you can say you’ve made progress each year, moving forward toward your goals, I’d call that a huge success.
When I peeked back into the archives of my journal for 2012, I found this entry on January 4th:
I don’t have resolutions or goals. The two words that sum up my hopes for 2012 are “progress” and “prompt.” Make progress bit by bit on keeping the house clean, staying fit, making friends (for me and the girls), going down the “to do” list. Prompt means not procrastinating on big tasks or small. Laundry, dishes, paying bills, doing things on the “to do” list that are bothering me.
I confess that by the end of the year I’d forgotten about the words of intent I’d chosen for the year — “progress” and “prompt” — but I can say that I lived by them for the year. I made progress keeping the house clean. There are still many times when it looks like a tornado hit the downstairs (“tornado” being “three girls I am desperately trying to teach to clean up after themselves”) but with my decluttering efforts we are never far away from being tidy.
I definitely made progress on “staying fit.” In 2012 I ran my first 8K, half marathon and full marathon. That’s epic progress!
Making friends for me and the girls? In addition to my high school friends who remain close, and the lovely book club ladies, I made a new friend in my half marathon coach Stephanie. I’m a die-hard introvert, so for me to have someone I can reach out to for companionship on a long run is wonderful!
I made lots of effort for the girls to have playdates here at the house and local parks. We do not live in a traditional neighborhood with sidewalks, culs-de-sac (yes, that is one of the grammatically correct ways to say the plural of cul-de-sac, which is French for “bottom of the bag” or “bottom of the sack”) and a school within walking distance. We have to go the extra mile (literally) to get the girls together with friends.
As for the last goal of paring down the “to do” list? Progress on that front too. Sure there are big things remaining (“power wash the deck and stain it” is not likely to happen anytime soon) but when it comes to things that I can realistically accomplish in the next day, I am pretty darn good about knocking items off the list faster than I can add them. I couldn’t say that when I had young babies, but with my youngest turning age four last July, I’m gaining traction. It feels good.
What about you? Do you have any resolutions, goals, or words of intention for 2013? How did you do in 2012?