I want a happy home. But, what does that mean? Does it mean finishing everything on my never-ending to-do list? In my pursuit to define what a happy home means to me, I found it easier to describe what it doesn’t mean. The list started reminding me of what Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, calls a stop doing list.
It is a tough-love approach to focusing on what is really important. What I came up with was a stop doing list for a happier home. These are the things I need to stop doing to reach my home goals.
It goes a little something like this:
1. Stop Seeking Approval, It is Your Home
The opinions that matter most about what you do in your home are the people who live there. No one else’s opinion matters…not your neighbors, not your parents, not your friends, not your online followers…no one. Your home should be a healthy and happy environment for you, regardless of what other people think.
How often do you “research” online to see if anyone else has done the same idea? In many ways, that is also a form of seeking approval. You want validation that someone else out there had the same crazy idea as you.
By seeking approval, you are also relinquishing control. You are allowing someone else’s opinion dictate what you do in your home. As a result, it is no longer your home.
I adopted a “who cares” attitude about my home. I do what I like and share it regardless of what other people might think. As it turns out, even if what I do doesn’t suit someone’s particular tastes, they like it better because I stayed true to me. They may not want to do it the same way in their home, but they see how my home reflects me.
2. Stop Wasting Time and Money on Fluff Projects, Instead Work on Life-Improving Projects
All fluff projects are not bad, just the ones that deter you from bigger goals. If you want to remodel your basement, don’t waste your money on less meaningful projects elsewhere in the home. Keep the focus on saving up for your big goal. Some fluff projects are fine, as long as you are still moving toward the big, life-improving projects.
The hardest couple years of my life were spent squirreling away every spare dollar to sell our town home and move into our current home. I didn’t buy a single pillow or rug or lamp. I focused on a much bigger goal. It was worth it.
3. Stop Blaming the House for Your Behavior, The House Isn’t Messy You Are!
How many times do you catch yourself saying “this place is so messy”, “my house is such a disaster”, or “my house is never clean”?? I do it all the time. The truth is, it is not the houses’ fault. A house is an inanimate object. It didn’t throw your dirty clothes on the floor. It didn’t skip doing the dishes for three days. It isn’t the one that doesn’t have a consistent cleaning routine. You are!
Told you, this is tough love. By using the above phrases to blame your house, you are shirking responsibility for maintaining your home. And by you, I am being inclusive of all the people living in the home.
A messy house is usually an indicator of other personal issues, like lack of time management, poor work ethic, laziness, workaholic, etc. I am not innocent here. My house is messy and I know it is a combination of poor time management and lack of work ethic for doing routine home chores. I spilled the beans about how panicked I get when we have company come over. I am working on it. The first step is to stop blaming my house and to start looking at what I can do to improve the situation.
4. Stop Collecting Inspiration, Start Doing
We spend hours mindlessly pinning stuff on Pinterest, all the while lamenting that our homes aren’t that pretty. What if instead you spent all that time making your house pretty? Start doing.
Pinterest is really a double-edged sword for me. On one hand, I can go down the rabbit-hole for hours pretending I am finding great things to pin…you know, providing inspiration is part of my job. On the other hand, the time spent on Pinterest can completely zap my creativity and originality. It can rip the joy out of a project I am planning, when I see someone else has already done it…or worse, done it better than I could. Focusing too much on the whizzing by pictures of what others are doing, doesn’t leave my mind and imagination free to wander. It is kind of like being a kid…you were always much more creative with an empty box than a doll house.
5. Stop Over-thinking Everything
The world is full of options and therefore decisions. Designing a home, making over a room, or choosing something as simple as a duvet cover can become an all-consuming, time-intensive process, if we let it. If you want to get anything done, you need to set limits and make boundaries, you need to actually make a decision and move forward, and most importantly trust your first instinct.
I am actively working on this. There are two things that help me avoid over thinking. First of all, I time-bound decisions. Either I already have a pre-imposed deadline or I set one for myself. I give myself the freedom to over think all I want up until the deadline, then it is decision time. Second, I remind myself to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Silly). I have a nasty tendency to over think, and therefore over-complicate, everything I do. By reminding myself to think of the simplest way to accomplish my goal, I bring myself back down to earth. I constantly try to figure out how to take 3 steps and turn them into 1.
Blogging actually helps and hinders this. It helps, because I need to convey my projects in simple, easy to follow tutorials. If I am not careful, blogging can be a hinderance, because the pursuit or originality can lead to unnecessary complexity. Thankfully, I noticed “originality plus complexity” does not do nearly as well as “originality plus simplicity”.
6. Stop Apologizing for What is Undone
Nothing is a bigger turn off than when you walk into someone’s home and they start apologizing for the mess or an undone project. Who cares?! Everyone has undone things in their home. Everyone gets behind on their chores. Just be the most gracious host possible, because you are who they really came to see, not the house. And, chances are they won’t even notice the undone things. Stop pointing them out!
I own my undone projects. Instead of apologizing for them, I focus on my guests. Because my house is always full of half-done projects, it usually becomes a topic of conversation anyway. I still don’t apologize. Instead, I take the opportunity to share what we are doing or the awesome idea I have for the space. More often than not, it opens up wonderful conversation about what projects our guests are doing in their home.
7. Stop Making Problems Find Solutions
When you spend mental energy whining about your homes shortcomings, it becomes a downward spiral of mounting “problems”. Instead of complaining about something that is broken, or the pile of mail, or the lack of storage, seek solutions. Fix what is broken, develop a system for handling the paper piles, and learn how to maximize your space.
8. Stop Dwelling on a Failure, Move on To Plan B
First of all, you should always have a plan B. Second-of-all, you should know when to move to plan B…immediately. Don’t dwell on how and why plan A didn’t work. Move on.
This one is hard for me. Because I blog, I am always photographing projects as I go, when a step doesn’t work out as expected, not only is the project in jeopardy, but I have to rework everything for the blog. Well, I have tried enough times to “make it work” to learn that it is almost always better to move on.
Accept the failure. Learn from the mistake. Move on.
9. Stop Comparing Your Home to Pictures on Pinterest. A Moment Captured in a Photo is Not Real Life.
Did you notice the not so subtle emphasis on the words in the graphic: Stop. Pinterest. Is Not Real Life. Nobody lives in a picture perfect world all the time. Not too long ago I shared the reality of one of my “Pinterest-worthy” photo shoots and what my house really looked like just outside the frame of the picture! Also, refer back to number 4…if you want a Pinterest-worthy home, then don’t spend all your time on Pinterest. Spend time on your home.
What would you put on your stop doing list for a happier home?
We put a lot of expectations on our homes this time of year…to be merry and bright, to be the perfect place for dinner, a posh place for overnight guests, full of laughter and good cheer…meanwhile behind the scenes we are fretting over a million little things in our home that don’t contribute to any of the things we imagined above. What we stop doing in our homes might be more important than the things on our to-do list for achieving our true home goals…the quintessential happy home!
What is at the top of your stop doing list for a happier home?!