Cleaning the Upstairs

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Last week, I talked about cleaning the downstairs as a metaphor for getting our physical space in order. If the downstairs is the part of the house that everyone sees when they come into your home, then the upstairs contains the rooms which are more private. The second step in getting ready to take on new things is to prepare our mental space. We do that by cleaning the upstairs.

At the risk of taking a metaphor too far, let’s see where this goes.

They say when you move into a new house, set up and unpack your bedroom first. That way, when you’re done for the day, your bedroom is already set up. It’s a space where you can retreat and relax. Almost like a base camp amidst the chaos.

Our minds are like that, too.

Cleaning the upstairs is about letting go of anything unhelpful. It might be a way of thinking, or a direction, or a habit that isn’t supporting your goals. Too often, we move right onto the new stuff without doing this work. We risk not recognizing where mental shifts need to happen to support success. That can set you up to fail.

If you put in the work upfront to get mentally prepared, you have a mental base camp already set up.

For me, cleaning the upstairs involves setting some time apart from the daily grind. Often, a walk is helpful. My mind gets easily distracted by the shiny things. It could be the last email to ping on my phone, or a text from a friend, or the laundry piling up in the corner. Focus can be a challenge.

Questions help with that.

In case it helps you, too, here are a few questions for your consideration—

  1. What are three behaviors/habits which helped me the most last year?
  2. What beliefs are tied to them?
  3. How can I reinforce them?
  4. What are three behaviors/habits which hurt me the most last year?
  5. What beliefs are tied to them?
  6. How can I change them?
  7. What do I need to do to be ready to embrace what’s coming next, and to release any past bias or negative thinking about it?

Many of you confirmed that you’ve cleaned the downstairs—you’ve gotten your physical space refreshed for the new year. Now how about that upstairs? Those rooms need some attention, too.

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