I’ve been thinking about how to define the starting point for design. There are many reasons a person may decide it’s time for a change. You may not really be able to pinpoint when the urge fully hits you. Maybe you just know that you’ve reached the point of no return and you need a change. You can begin by asking yourself, “where am I now, design-wise?” By that I mean what parts of your home you like or don’t like, and what is or isn’t working. Bear in mind that what you like is often different from what works.
Are there parts of your home that aren’t being used? Are there areas that have just become a place for things to pile up? Maybe your space doesn’t flow the way you’d like, and navigating through it feels awkward or constricting.
Here are a few questions to consider (it might be useful to write your answers down):
Is there anything in your home that you chose for reasons other than you really loved it? (For example, did someone you like or respect show appreciation for it, and you based your decision on that, assuming it would work for you too?)
We’ve all bought something because we love it. I’ve done it with clothing too many times to recall. But then I bring it home and somehow it just doesn’t look the same. With furniture, it’s a bit harder to just shove to the back of your closet! Maybe the dimensions are slightly out of proportion with the space. Maybe the style is not as seamless as you hoped.
Or did you buy some of this furniture when you were living in a different home? If you bought it for a completely different space, it’s not surprising if it doesn’t merge easily with the new surroundings. Repurposing is a great way to extend the life of some pieces. It just so happens that you may need to acquire someone else’s repurposed furniture, and sell off those pieces of yours that no longer fit! I know, I know…it’s more work. But it’s in your interest in the long run to take that time and effort to get it right.
I discussed this in my last post, and I’d like to reiterate that it is in no way shameful to find yourself disorganized. Most of the world struggles with this. And I can’t say I know a single person who is completely free of this challenge. It’s just that some are further along in the process than others. There is no reason to be hard on yourself for experiencing the very human problem of clutter and disorder. In fact, being hard on yourself can really get in the way of fixing the issue.
One of the themes I come back to time and again with design is reassuring clients that their problems are normal, and maybe shouldn’t even be seen as problems. I’m going to get a bit philosophical here and say that you will feel better and achieve more if you accept yourself as someone with challenges – not flaws! – and stop trying to ‘fix problems.’ This has to do with the concept of toward energy, as opposed to away energy.
What does that mean? I’m best at explaining things through example, so here’s an example: Let’s say you want to get into shape, lose weight and feel healthy. So how do you achieve that? Well, you can use negative reinforcement, where you tell yourself that you want to look different than you do, that you want to be a size whatever, and then try to deny yourself certain culinary pleasures while at the same time forcing yourself to take on new physical challenges. I know from personal experience that this can work, for awhile… But if my main motivation is to get away from where I currently find myself, then there is an aspect of personal rejection taking place. It means that I am telling myself that where I am currently is not okay.
Now what if I instead focus on all the positive aspects of diet, exercise and lifestyle that being healthy entails? If I get excited about the new flavor profiles that my new food choices offer, and relish in the endorphins that inevitably follow my workouts, that’s a very different experience. If I can further add to that revelation by acknowledging that I don’t always feel excited about the prospect of exercising, now I’m practicing acceptance. I am being honest that I’m not always in the mood to put in effort, but I’m choosing to do it anyway because I know it will feel good, inwardly, physically and emotionally. I am also learning to look forward to the meals I prepare, to engage with new flavors, as well as questions of hunger and satiation. Finally, I am choosing to honor myself. This is what toward motivation means.
I do not have this feeling all the time. And I don’t know anyone who does. But I have to tell you that I believe it’s possible, and I try, at least on my best days, to embrace this idea. Because those moments when I truly practice self acceptance, when I allow myself to be complex and imperfect, those are the moments when I actually move forward as an individual.
So, as you evaluate your current surroundings, and ask yourself where you are now in your life, design-wise, I encourage you to be kind to yourself, trust that you are where you need to be, and also that there is room to grow into the person you are always becoming. Design can take you there in fantastic ways.
Astute readers will have noticed that I only addressed two of the four bullet points above. I guess I went down a rabbit hole today! I will address the other two points in my posts next week.
Stay tuned and have a lovely weekend!