4. New Years Resolutions can feed perfectionist and all-or-nothing tendencies, two common traits of the housekeeping-impaired.
Part of my own problems with housekeeping, which I talk about in the book at length, stem from my lifelong tendencies toward both. Here’s how the perfectionist/all-or-nothing mindset works, whether we realize it consciously or not. We think:
If I can’t keep the house spotless, I won’t bother to clean it at all.
If I can’t keep the dishes in the china cabinet from getting dusty, I won’t even bother to pick up the socks off the bedroom floor.
If I can’t afford to fix the stained grout around the sink, I won’t even take the time to swish cleanser around in the toilet.
If I don’t have time to get this place in order from top to bottom, I’m not even going to start.
Sounds crazy, yes, but those are the mind tricks we perfectionists and all-or-nothingers play on ourselves. With a little perspective, we can see how silly we are, yet we persist. And a handful of well-intentioned resolutions can only make things worse by feeding into these tendencies.
Think about your own resolutions. Have they been too big? Too unrealistic? Too ambitious given your past record? For example, in each pair of resolutions below, which would you be more likely to say:
1. a. “I resolve to get this house clean and keep it that way!” OR b. “I resolve to try and pick up dirty socks more often when I notice them.”
2. a. “I resolve to feed my family only healthy food from now on, including all meals and snacks!” OR b. “I resolve to try and spend more time in Produce than in Processed Foods when I go food shopping.”
3. a. “I resolve to lose 50 pounds!” OR b. “I resolve to take the stairs instead of the escalator whenever there’s a choice of both.”
If you’re a perfectionist or an all-or-nothinger, you probably chose all “a’s”. And yet the more realistic, do-able, practical, likely-to-succeed choices are the “b’s.”
If you are a perfectionist, keep this in mind: You’ll make great strides toward keeping your home a cleaner, neater place once you surrender your goal of “cleaned to perfection” and strive instead for “clean enough.” I promise, it’s true!
And if you are an all-or-nothinger, remember this: True success comes not from some giant, fabulous kaboom, but instead from a long, steady series of smaller, less noticeable actions. Don’t let any lofty, exciting, ambitious resolutions lead you into believing otherwise.
BE SURE TO COME BACK TOMORROW FOR THE NEXT PORTION OF THIS ESSAY.