It’s January, the traditional time of my people to make life-altering resolutions. (Actually, it’s late January, the traditional time of my people to abandon those resolutions, but I’m running a bit behind.) I’m thinking big this year, and I’ve decided to work my way through the KonMari Method as both a life-altering and home-altering resolution for this year.
Now as I’ve said, almost no one mentions visualizing their ideal lifestyle in their descriptions of applying the KonMari Method; they mostly talk about the decluttering and the sparking of joy. But it’s clear that lifestyle planning is how you’re supposed to start. If I’m going to follow this plan, it would be silly to screw it up this early in the game. So, Step One:
Before you start tidying, look at the lifestyle you aspire to and ask yourself, “Why do I want to tidy?” When you find the answer, you are ready to move on to the next step: examining what you own.
As I’ve also mentioned, I never really spent much time thinking about the lifestyle I wanted to have when I grew up. My current lifestyle developed along the lines of “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” So Kondo’s first step was two steps for me: to figure out what lifestyle I aspire to and to answer that question.
The lifestyle of my dreams
First off, I don’t hate the life I’m living right now. I’ve barely done a thing to plan it, but the decisions I made throughout my adult life have gotten me the lifestyle I have today. For example, I chose to go to college almost 500 miles away from my hometown and to not move back after I graduated. I moved to some neighborhoods and not to others. I made relationship decisions that resulted in my staying single and childless. And this series of decisions where I was trying for the best possible outcome turned into a lifestyle that could stand to be tweaked, but I hope won’t need to be completely overhauled. What I want out of all of this is to consciously create the life I’m living, not fall into it absentmindedly.
For a few weeks now, I’ve been documenting my current lifestyle. What do I like? What do I want to be rid of? I’ve also been noting what I see in other people’s lives that I either want to have as well or wish to keep avoiding. I’ve ended up with pages of notes in no particular order: I like sitting in cafés to write, I like being in walking distance of interesting or useful stores, I don’t want to have a commute to work that’s more than an hour long, I haven’t decided if I want pets again or not. A lifestyle is made up of little things. I haven’t covered everything yet because I keep thinking of new things to add, but I’ve got enough to work with.
I already knew I’m uncomfortable being around clutter. That’s probably true of most people who read Kondo’s books. I do like a place to look lived in: a sterile home is a home without life. But too much stuff piling up leaves me feeling claustrophobic. I have a pretty low trigger point on this, and I know that by many people’s standards, my apartment isn’t cluttered. Still, I look around at what is clutter to me and because I can’t just wave my hand and make it all disappear, I feel overwhelmed and ineffectual. Even if Kondo’s method does nothing to change my lifestyle, it offers a way to make my home less oppressive and I figure that’s worth the price of the books.
Also, even when I’m not feeling defeated by the mess, clutter is distracting. I sit down to do something and notice piles of papers and books (and sometimes yarn) around me. Then I’m torn between doing what I was planning to do and stopping to straighten everything up. I don’t like being scattered and unfocused, especially at home—it’s “anti-Vestal.” Yes, Vesta is the goddess of focus, so to speak: the English word comes from a Latin word for hearth and Vesta is the goddess of the hearth. Focus starts at home, it seems. So to answer Kondo’s question: by tidying and decluttering, I will bring my life into clearer focus, aligning it with what I want and like. I’ll make a living environment in which it’s easier for me to focus. And through all this, I’ll be honoring Vesta.
I don’t know as I’ll find the perfect lifestyle buried in my apartment, just waiting to be revealed as I discard various random items. But I figure my apartment should reflect the life I’m living now, not one that I was living years ago, and I think the KonMari Method can help me with that. Off to figure out what sparks joy!