New Year, Fresh Start


Now that the dust has settled from the season of holiday craziness (which I love, but let's be real - it's pretty exhausting too!), we can look forward to a new year and a fresh start. 2017 is here, and there's something about that turning of a calendar page that signals to us that it's time for a clean slate, a blank page, and a chance to reflect on what's behind and plan for what's ahead. January is a great time to take stock of all sorts of things from the physical, like organizing your closet and assessing your exercise habits, to deeper things like thinking about where your career is headed and what's happening in your heart and mind. While my husband and I were away for the past two weeks visiting family over Christmas and New Year's, I had a bit of time to reflect on some of those things, and I'm excited about taking some more time to flesh them out in the coming weeks. 

The start of new year is also a great time to start looking around your home and seeing if it reflects you, if it fits the way you (and your family) live your lives now, and if it might be time to make some changes. I'm doing this in my home this month, and my list is already starting to grow! I want to be methodical and purposeful in the changes we make though, and I'm guessing some of you might be in the same boat. It's easy to get overwhelmed when you look around and all you see is project after project, and an ever-louder cha-ching noise starts going off in your head.

To nip that feeling of overwhelm in the bud, I've come up a set of five guidelines and questions I want to ask myself (feel free to join in in answering them for yourself!) as I do this home inventory of sorts for 2017. 

1. Take stock of what you have.

Grab a notebook and take a tour of your house with fresh eyes. Jot down notes as you go in three categories: a love it list, a fix-it list, and a thumbs down listBe specific and trust your gut. Keeping a list of the positives and remembering the good will keep you going when your other two lists start to grow, trust me! Make sure to think about both the big picture ("I love how our living room is set up for entertaining") and the details ("This dresser has a broken drawer that makes it so I can't maximize its use").


2. Think through the "why."

This step goes beyond the gut feeling of liking something or not - you want to get underneath that and understand why it gives you the warm fuzzies or repels you. You might notice some themes emerging - maybe it's that you like furniture with clean lines,  or that you prefer neutral foundation pieces with pops of color, or something simple like a room isn't complete unless it has a plant in it (guilty). Even if you don't see major themes, pay special attention to the items on your love it list, since they can act as guidelines to help you decide what new items to bring home. 

3. Out with the old (or fix it).

If you don't love it or it doesn't bring you joy, that usually means its time to say goodbye. If you've read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up* by Marie Kondo, that probably sounds familiar. I'm not necessarily championing her entire method, but I do think she's onto something. When you decide an item isn't bringing you joy, she recommends telling the item thank you and letting it go. I've enacted this practice in my house, and I find it really freeing! 

Also, in your house tour, I'm sure you'll come across things that are broken. Ask yourself if it's worth the time/money/effort to fix them. If the answer is yes, give yourself a deadline to make it happen, or tell yourself you'll have to let that item go.

4. Be honest about how you live.

Not to get too deep here, but before you click "buy" on that pretty new tufted sofa, think about how you actually live in your home. Are you big on entertaining large numbers of people or are you more of a homebody who only has people over occasionally? Do you currently work at the kitchen table, but long for a true office space where you can close a door at the end of the day? Are overnight visitors a common occurrence, but you're kindasorta embarrassed by the room they have to stay in? The goal is to create a home you love to be in, that functions well, and that's inviting to others, so if you haven't thought through how you live, it'll be hard to figure out how to decorate it.

5. Set goals.

Now comes the fun part (at least it's the fun part to me!) - fill in the gaps! By now, you should only be left with what you love, so there are probably some holes both in functionality and style. Maybe you finally said goodbye to that overstuffed recliner you've had since college and now you don't have enough seating in your living room. Or perhaps you got rid of the duvet cover on your bed that had seen better days since you let your dog sleep on it with you (I may be speaking from personal experience on that one). Whatever it may be, it's time to start perusing those magazines and websites, and begin the process of putting together a home that brings you joy.

Create some priority lists for your home and set financial goals to enable you to make any purchases. You may not be able to buy every single thing immediately (I'm going to guess that's most of us!), but maybe you can buy a coffee table now and start saving for a quality dresser. 

These five guidelines and the accompanying questions may feel like a huge challenge, but when you break them down, I think you'll find it's empowering to start this process. The end result will be worth it.

I'll leave you with one last (bonus!) tip: find some accountability. Nothing helps me follow through on projects like this more than telling someone else about them. Be it your spouse, a friend, your Facebook friends - whoever! - when you know someone is going to ask how it's going, you're more likely to plow forward. You can even tell me about what you're doing in the comments of this post - I'll follow up and ask how it's going!

So, my friends, let's do this together! And remember, sometimes done is better than perfect!


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