Happy New Year! Did you make some resolutions?

New Year’s resolutions are both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, New Year’s provides a natural point in time for people to consider the things they’ve done in the past year, the things they could do better in the next year, and decide what they’d like to change. But on the other hand, most resolutions just wind up being a wish list, rather than a list of things that are likely to get done.

Let’s look at the problem, and consider a sample resolution:

“I’m going to declutter my house this year.”

That’s a fantastic goal, and if that’s your goal we sincerely wish you the best of luck! But that’s exactly what it’s likely going to take – luck.


“I’m going to declutter my house this year” is an outcome-based goal. Yes, you want to declutter your house – but that’s not a very complete picture. If we think back to third-grade English class, we might remember the “five W’s” – “who, what, when, where, and why.” Let’s look at each one.

Who? You want to declutter your house, and that’s awesome. Do you have other people living with you? Are they on board helping with this goal, or are you going to have to do this yourself? Consider the human element of the process, and plan accordingly.

What? “Declutter” can mean a lot of things to a lot of people. Even the definition of “clutter” can vary from person to person. What, specifically, do you mean by “declutter”? Identify 

When? Unless you have a magic decluttering wand, decluttering is going to take time. When can you actually spend time on it? Figure out some time slots you can devote to decluttering. Be realistic about this. You’re probably not going to go from “no decluttering” to “an hour a day” – but small daily bursts or an hour on a Saturday are do-able for most people. And note – if you do have a magic decluttering wand, we’d love to get into business with you! 

Where? “House” is a pretty big place. Are there specific areas you want decluttered more than others? If so, get specific about rooms, cabinets, drawers, closets, etc. that you want to declutter.

Why? This frequently gets overlooked, but why would you want a clutter-free house? Getting rid of stuff usually isn’t its own reward. The reward is typically psychological, and varies from person to person. Figure out what that means to you.

Now put it all together. “My messy closet makes it hard to find the clothes I want to wear, and so I wind up wearing the same few outfits because they’re in the clean laundry tub waiting to be put away. And every Christmas, I hate having to move 30 boxes in the storage room to get to the decorations. Therefore I’m going to spend 20 minutes each weekday evening after dinner decluttering. I’m going to start by going through my clothes closets, then I’ll work on the storage room in the basement. For clothes, I’ll get rid of anything that doesn’t currently fit me and/or is damaged enough that I won’t wear it. For stuff in the storage room, I’ll recruit my spouse to help me identify things we don’t use and thus don’t need to be storing.”

You’ll note that there’s no final deadline. The goal is a “process goal”, and the process ends when it’s done – presumably when it’s easier to find the clothes you want to wear, and you’re no longer frustrated by the effort to get the decorations out on Christmas. It also means that as long as you’re doing the 20 minutes per day, you’re succeeding – no matter how many days it ultimately takes. And if you ever fall off the decluttering wagon, you can be successful again tomorrow! Just pick up where you left off.

Does it take a bit longer to come up with these types of resolutions? Definitely. It might take you an hour to sit down and think it all through. But these types of resolutions have the advantage that they come with a pre-built action plan, so they’re much more likely to succeed.

What about you? What are your New Year’s resolutions? Connect with us over on our Facebook page and let us know!

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