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The spring equinox in the northern hemisphere occurred just two days ago and while the ice cubes where my toes should be remind me that winter has not fully departed, I am looking forward to the cathartic practice of spring cleaning. Often coupled with warmer temperatures to allow for fresh air to scrub any stale, dry air out of the house, along with cleaning product fumes, spring cleaning has always been a prompt to reorganize my possessions and de-clutter my living spaces. But what about the living space that I remain in 24/7—Can one “spring clean” the mind to re-evaluate where we focus our attention and time? I found an exercise that I have used to achieve a more focused approach toward building the life I would be proud of and would like to share the process so others may benefit from the transformation such drive can produce.
Write down your 25 most important goals for your near future
What are your passions and what achievements do you want to tackle within them? (try utilizing SMART goal writing from my previous post to make progress easier to monitor) When I completed my list I found my goals to be quite diverse, as I have been working hard to experience the elusive sensation of being a master of a skill that gave my existence greater purpose. Among the list was to learn two instruments, the trumpet that I had devoted hours of practice and study, along with my seven-grade dream, learning how to strum a guitar. As I identified in my introduction, writing has always been a favorite creative outlet, but studying photography and editing has joined my interests to provide original content to support my articles. I hope to contribute in progressing healthcare, but I need to work toward leaving a setting within my field that leaves me feeling non-impactful and pursue working for myself to create a career that fulfills a purpose via educating other professionals. I learned a decent amount of conversational Spanish in the past and can see that learning a coding language could be very beneficial in remaining relevant in creating content for the digital age. And it’d be pretty handy to know some hand stiches so I can do some light tailoring to personalize my wardrobe.
Now pick your top five, most important goals
Since I love music and my boyfriend practices singing and playing music often, I knew I wanted to keep an instrument, but I was faced with the need to select only one to practice. Due to the fact that I would not be starting from scratch but brushing back up on my trumpet, and the fact that my partner also played a three-valved instrument, I conceded that the guitar would not be getting dusted off any time soon. And a change in my way of eating had led to me losing weight and thus clothes that needed some altering, but I had to admit that my time would be better dedicated to developing a daily work life that didn’t make me feel anxious or out of control and therefore I prioritized my goal toward creating my own business within my field of work. I continued to weigh out what would be the most impactful and most rewarding endeavors to pursue and I did it; I found my core five goals.
But what about those other goals?
It was agonizing to choose those five individual goals that I found to be the right balance of meaningful, challenging, and true to what really inspired me. But as I was harvesting my more mature goals from the group, I kept saying to the goals that remained, “Don’t worry, I’ll keep coming back and caring for you, I just can’t spend much time but I’ll find a way to visit and work with each one of you.” I always saved a spot for my guitar in every new bedroom I moved to, singing along to a song with Spanish words and phrases kept that former skill at the forefront of my mind, and the promise to return someday.
But when does a wildflower become a weed?
If you are like me, you have felt that this exercise has become increasingly more difficult with each task that you have been asked to complete. I believe that is the design, we need to get more focused to really hone in on the actions and the beliefs that support them to create the existence that is uniquely ours. So to continue the pattern, there is one more task and it will be the most difficult step yet…
I had been allowing these lesser interests loom over me, shaming me worse than the eyes of a puppy when you talk a W-A-L-K by yourself (It was one time, and I already apologized via belly rubs and treats…what more do I have to do?!)
The remaining 20 items are to be avoided until the main five goals have been addressed and realized.
This shift in vision of my most immediate future had me a bit shaken; can I really abandon these little dream projects that had been perpetually queued? But I considered what I had gained from holding this wide array of options in one hand, while I tried to work toward my greater passions in the other: the result was that my passions suffered as I was struggling with one hand. Whether it was the physical weight of the guitar, still swaddled in its case for over a decade, or the siphoned brain power that was being drawn down into rabbit holes of “What if I had continued studying Spanish” and “I could run a badass meal prep store”, I was spreading my time and attention across too many areas. Did you just tell me to give up on my dreams?! Not quite, but I am suggesting getting comfortable with minimizing your current mental and temporal workload so that you may meet your goals or adjust them to be even more appropriate for our ever-changing lives.
Credit to Warren "Bad Ending" Buffett for creating the 25/5 exercise discussed in this article
What goal have you made more room for in you daily life? Which former goals were part of your spring cleaning?
Borders created by @kristyglas, all images accompanying this article are my own