In the last 3 years, I have made some remarkable changes in my life. I’ve added something I really love which is painting, and I’ve let go of more than 700 items in my home. There is more to do in both of these areas but I have no doubt that I will continue to grow both with my painting and simplifying because they have become a practice to me.
It’s important to start doing
Reading, wishing, talking, and learning aren’t enough to make change happen. You have to do it and that means starting. Yes, you have to start to make change but it isn’t in the starting that the change really happens.
It’s important to build a practice
If you want real and lasting change to occur you need to make it a practice. Daily is best but it’s important to make it work for you. Most things take quite some time before developing a noticable result. Trying something once or twice isn’t enough. When building a practice it takes lots of trial and error, adjusting, and discipline.
Tips for making your practice successful NOT stressful
- Give yourself enough time to see a result. They say it take 2-30 days to build a new habit. I disagree. If you do something for 20, 30, even 40 days it’s a good start but I don’t think that is enough to make it a practice. Even simplifying my home took almost a year to accomplish. Let go of the desire for instant results, which can only lead to disappointment.
- Be patient with those you live with, as they have to change too. I didn’t just have to fit painting into my life, I had to fit it into my husband’s and children’s lives as well. They weren’t used to me taking that time, didn’t know if it was ok to interrupt, or that I would paint instead of watching a movie some nights. It is a learning curve for everyone.
- Choose to change only ONE thing at a time. I added painting. I didn’t add painting, and declutter my house, and start an exercise routine…I painted for one hour a day, that was it. Later, I did declutter 700 things. I didn’t declutter, and paint all the rooms in my house, and declutter my computer, and my declutter my paperwork. I took one aspect of simplifying and tackled each of them one at a time.
- Be willing to adjust. Most likely when you begin your practice it isn’t going to work out the first few times flawlessly. There may be things you didn’t account for that make the time of day or space not work well. When I added painting I didn’t have a place for me to paint. You may have to adjust the time and place several times before you discover the best one for you. I also developed a back-up time to do my painting. If you’re a mom there are always unexpected things that crop up. By having two different times to paint I could usually make one of them work.
- Let the outcome be open-ended. While I did create time goals for my practices, the outcomes were left wide open. My goals were not that I would sell paintings at a show by the end of the year, or that my house would be simplified by the end of the year. Trying to predetermine the end result just limits what can happen. Be specific with what you are going to do and how long you are going to do it, but don’t predetermine what you think will happen. There are so many wonderful possibilities! I decluttered 500 things but the end result was that I didn’t see the difference I was hoping for. I had to go back to the drawing board and look at what else I might need to do. I didn’t feel like a failure, or that what I had done was a waste, it just wasn’t enough.
- Every once in a while isn’t enough. For me, I really need to do something every single day for it to be a practice. Much less than that and I fall off the wagon. Sure, 6 out of 7 days works fine, but if I miss more than one day a week I lose my practice. Everyone is different but if you’ve had difficulty in the past with creating a practice, commit to doing it daily. Not to mention you will see results quicker that way!
- Don’t deprive yourself. Do you really want to change it up? Then try making a change that doesn’t take anything away from you! Seriously, we all suffer from feeling a little deprived, especially if we haven’t been taking care of ourselves. Instead of telling yourself “no,” try adding something you really want or wish you could do! It is a blast! Try it, I think you’ll like it.