Spring is finally here and for us Pakistanis thatÂ sadly means just a couple of weeks of pleasant weather before we hurtle straight into summer. (Climate change is real guys!) However short spring may be, it brings with it the essence of rebirth, a chance to chuck out the old and move ahead with the new. Flowers bloom, baby birds are hatched and the promise of new life is all around us.
This euphoric feeling pervades our homes as well. In fact the term spring-cleaning is derived from historic Persian and Jewish practices where the annual arrival of warmer weather meant thoroughly cleaning the house in preparation for springtime festivities. Over time, itâ€™s become a way for winter cobwebs to be cleared, warmer clothes to be packed up and summer-friendly linens, drapery and upholstery to replace their cold weather counterparts.
While there are several ways to go about your annual spring cleaning, ranging from the Marie Kondo method, the Swedish Death process, to simply just packing up everything and storing it in the back of a room to be dealt with later, I would like to focus on a different type of cleaning. The new year and the new season (and this time around the new decade) provide us with an opportunity to self-reflect and sort through more than just our material needs. I firmly believe that every year we should use this opportunity to go through our personal lives and do a bit of spring cleaning there as well.
In this article, I’ll be listing a few areas where I’ve taken to doing so over the past few years.
By the time spring arrives, our new year’s resolutions are already down the drain. We’ve gotten bored of the new language or instrument we decided to learn, the gym becomes another thing we pay for but attend infrequently, financials are all over the place and the idea of happiness that we decided to chase continues to elude us. So three months down the road from the start of the year is the ideal time to re-evaluate your goals and see where you stand. At the risk of sounding like Kondo, what’s bringing you joy and what isn’t? Grab a pen and paper and make your list!
It’s important to differentiate between your personal goals and your career goals, although they are definitely intertwined. If what you’re doing is causing you to burn out and/or doesn’t seem to bring the sense of satisfaction or elation it once did, then this is high time to start floating your resumes around, or depending on your work environment, have “the talk” with your superiors. Where do you plan on being in the next five years? What sort of work seems worth your while? These are important questions to answer. Sometimes, it’s not the job itself, but in fact the work environment that is pernicious to your personal development and hence must be axed from your life.
Cleaning out closets is a lot easier than this part of spring cleaning. Relationships in any form are complex and carry with them a lot of emotional weight. Despite that, your personal sanity is of paramount importance and analysing your relationships is a crucial step towards achieving a sense of balance in your life. Toxic relationships, whether with your parents, siblings, romantic partners or even friends, need to be identified and steps must be taken to remedy the situation. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but at least being cognisant of the toxicity in your life allows you the space to react accordingly. As they say, acceptance is the first step. I firmly believe that non-romantic toxic relationships are the ones we hold on to the longest, due to the associations we have developed, as well as the way society views them. But, if a friend is dragging you down or if there needs to be a functional shift in the way you interact with your relatives, then let that happen. In the long run, it’ll work out in the best way for everyone involved.
This might be the new year’s resolution you’ve broken already, but taking stock of where you’re at health wise is essential. Schedule an annual medical check up every spring (especially to see what damage wedding season caused) and take it from there. Maybe a hardcore gym regimen isn’t for you, but knowing your health status will at least prompt you to make the lifestyle changes required for living a healthier life. See what needs to be cut form your diet or lifestyle and what should be added. Always consult a professional for this.
Anyone who knows me is aware of the palpitations I get whenever I need to do anything remotely related to finance. I’m uncertain if it’s because my finance professor wasn’t captivating enough or whether it’s the fact that I’d rather not face the truth of my bad financial habits (probably the latter). However, an annual financial cleanse is important and something I’ve been working on. Various software exist to facilitate this process, providing you with data regarding your spending. Observe the areas where you’ve spent the most and what can be cut down. Ensure you’re saving some money every month (once again, easier said than done in this economy, but of the utmost importance). An annual overview of the previous year’s financial health allows you to move forward in a more deliberate manner.
These are just some of the areas I believe should be incorporated in our annual spring cleaning rituals. Reducing toxicity, whether in relationships or the way we live our lives, is conducive to entering the future in a more mindful manner. Happy cleaning!