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Spring Cleaning Home, Business, and Self for the New Year

(c) 2004 by Cheryl Williams Levey,

Most people have heard the term “spring cleaning.” Its origin is from the United Kingdom in the 1800s. People would put hay on the floors of their kitchens in order to provide some warmth from the cold stone floors. They would remove the layer of hay in the spring when the weather turned warm. Thus the phrase “spring cleaning” was born.

Being one to sometimes not follow the pack (my mom will attest to that!), I typically do my spring cleaning in January. There are several reasons:

* The kids are in school and the weather isn’t necessarily that great, which gives me a chance to really get down and dirty with cleaning (instead of playing or doing stuff outside)

* Wintertime (particularly around the new year), is a time of reflection upon the previous year and of making plans for the following year – getting things cleaned out for that is a natural extension

* It’s the beginning of tax season, so I want to get all the files cleaned out and in order

* The house is being “undecorated” from Christmas, and cleaning while I’m at it makes sense

* In general, the new year gives me a feeling of wanting to clean up from the previous year in order to make room for the new year

When I spring clean, I go through EVERYTHING – under the beds, files, boxes of memorabilia and photos, clothes (drawers and closets), etc. I spare no corner, no cabinet. And everything from old underwear to sippy cups with missing lids are tossed or given away (depending on what shape they are in). This is not a one-day job. It takes about a week to get through everything, and I generally have several trips to make to Good Will and the trash (and various other places depending on what I’m getting rid of).

While spring cleaning does refer to the actual cleaning of my home, it also refers to an annual review of my finances, my businesses, and my goals. This includes my business plans and activities and an assessment of how they are in line with my long-term goals. And of course, adjustments are made to the plans and to the daily actions I use to consistently take small steps to reach my goals. Sometimes, I even readjust my actual goals.

And although people don’t typically think of “throwing things away” from their business, this is exactly what I do. See, sometimes things you are doing in your business are just not working and are actually hindering your progress. And if you’ve been, for example, applying a particular marketing technique for the previous year (or at least several months), and it’s not been working. It’s time to toss that out and try something else. This applies to entire businesses as well.

Now, I’m not saying to just quit on things you’ve worked really hard to develop, but I am saying to take an honest look at what you are doing and ask yourself questions like:

* Is this taking me closer to my ultimate goals?

* Is it draining my energy and using up time I should be spending on other things that are more in line with my long-term goals?

* Is it one of my goals?

* Do I like to do this or do I drag my feet getting it done and as a result, neglect other things that need to be done?

* Is this something I’m doing because I think I should or because I’ve always done it?

* Is this something I’m doing out of habit or nostalgia?

* Is this worth the effort I’m putting into it?

* Is this getting in the way of what I need to do to reach a goal?

For example, I have a website that I have had for several years. All of those years (including 2004), I have spent a great deal of time and effort revamping, redesigning, re-promoting, etc. It was my first real website and I guess I have been feeling that it will be part of me forever. But I have finally thought long and hard about this particular website and I realize that it is not a topic I want to focus on, and by forcing myself to focus on it, it has become a huge obstacle in the way of things I really need and want to focus on. So, I am finally letting it go, which is something I should have done long ago.

You can examine and think about what you’re doing in your business while you are doing your actual house cleaning. The repetitive nature of the chores is the perfect medium for some heavy duty thinking.

While you’re at it, you can also think about what you want in your life in general – your life outside of your work or business. What are you doing to give yourself emotional fulfillment?

Women who work from home (whether it’s paid or not!) are particularly susceptible to losing themselves in the myriad of every day things that need to be done for kids, house, work, etc. We tend to put what we need at the bottom of the list – a list so long that we rarely get to the bottom. Try not to do that. It is not selfish to want to do something for yourself. Doing what you love is the best example you can set for your kids. It shows them that finding personal, emotional, and spiritual (and even physical) fulfillment is just as important as earning money. Yes, we need money to buy food and have a home, but it is not what is most important in life, and if you can teach your kids a balance between making a living and making a life, you’re more successful than many.

The year 2005 for me will be a time of return – a return to what fundamentally makes me happy. In reflecting on the past few years, I can see how far I’ve come toward what I really want out of my life, in spite of the mistakes and obstacles (real and imagined). Can you say the same? Whether you’ve been actively working toward what you really want or not in the past, join me in making 2005 your best year ever by dumping what isn’t working and focusing on what you really want.


Cheryl Williams Levey owns, a site
dedicated to showing you how to save time and money
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