Spoiler alert: you’re going to be doing a lot of cleaning

When I feel like I’m in a rut in terms of of anything—career, workout, relationships, you name it, I know it’s time to take action. We find ourselves in ruts because we’re repeating the same old pattern and expecting new results. The following strategies focus mostly with the exterior, visible, and tangible areas of our lives, and then towards the end I’ll begin to move the conversation towards more inward and energetic tips.

1. Check in with your plants. Humanely compost the ones who absolutely won’t make it. The ones who are still alive and kicking but just aren’t looking so good? Either change their location in your home to adjust for humidity and light, or find a friend whose living space might be a better match for your plant. Release things that aren’t meant for you, or maybe they were for a while, but you should let them go now, for both your sakes. If a plant is struggling to live in your living space, this is kind of a non-starter. Plants are a great barometer of the energy in your home, and the extent to which you can care for them properly serves as a great indicator of how much responsibility you can take on right now or how full your plate might already be. Alternatively, it might be the right time to add a new plant into the fold due to your green thumb and mini-nursery of blissfully happy plants in your home.

2. Clean out the fridge. If you think of your fridge as an Ayurvedic digestive system, you can’t pile new food on top of old food. Just as we wait to digest our first meal before adding on a new meal, get everything that’s spoiled and unuseable out of your fridge, so that new flavors don’t intermingle with old. Believe me, that sparkling mutli-hued Castelfranco radicchio does not want to go in there next to two-week old shriveled romaine. Donate the nonperishables that you know you’ll never use. A similar strategy applies to your old books and the clothes you don’t wear. You’ve gotten what you needed from them, and someone else desperately needs them now.

3. Clean house from top to bottom. Yeah the whole plants and the fridge thing was easy enough so far, right? This is the part where we deal with our own messes. If you have a housekeeper or someone who comes in to clean for you, every now and then you need to give them the day off. Shane often helps me at the end of a very long day with washing the last couple pots that need scraping, but more and more often I try to do it myself. (Recently I hid a crusty muffin baking tin from him, so that I could guarantee that I would wash it myself later.) If you’re looking for a change in your own life, you have to do the work. It can be gritty, exhausting, and your lower back might ache from all the scrubbing and elbow grease, but this type of energetic cleaning cannot be outsourced. (This is a distinctly different conversation than knowing when to ask for help. See next example.)

4. Rearrange some furniture. This one is simple, and you can phone a friend for this one, unlike our example above about cleaning, because that’s a really heavy sofa you have to move, and we don’t want you to hurt yourself during what is meant to be a cleansing process inviting change or an entirely new beginning. A new arrangement of your furniture allows for new paths of energy flow. You’ll have the opportunity to look at the same situation, but in a different way.

Photo by Sam Henderson

Now that the canvas is clean and refreshed…

5. Draw a bath, sage your space, burn candles, recharge your crystals, or do some kind of ritual that makes your space feel serene, balanced, and calm. Beyond this, the conversation at this point would turn towards suggestions for eliminating processed food from your diet, cleaning up your sleep hygiene, reevaluating your wellness regimen, and trying new journaling and meditation strategies, but honestly the rest of this entire website is completely devoted to those topics, so I’ll stop here for today.

The point is, change, opportunity, and energetic shifts aren’t going to come knocking if you have a lot of garbage lying around, actual and energetic. It’s going to skip right over you, because you’re sending off the vibe that you’re just not ready.

My favorite thing about the cycle of clearing, cleaning, and creating space is that after awhile, it acts as a powerful alert system. I notice on days where I start cleaning out something unprompted for no reason, I’m subconsciously creating space for whatever’s coming, and I don’t even know it yet—whether it’s a physical object coming into the house, or a change in my life. I’ve tried to notice these moments more often, and then I pay attention to see what happens over the next couple days. Planning a full-scale renovation project? Hold on to your butt. The change in your life, not just your house, is going to be momentous.

What are your go-to strategies for clearing out and creating space at the turn of the New Year, the new moon, the equinox, or anytime when you feel like things have gotten stale, whether in your home, your work, or in your relationships? Please share our collective wisdom in the comments.