There is something extraordinary about having a space to call your own, a space that “speaks” to your spirit, that makes you happy, and sparks your creativity. We all want to have a space that’s “ours.”
A great example of how early in life we desire a place of our own is in the story of a mother who was washing dishes and realized she hadn’t heard her toddler playing lately. She dried her hands and headed toward the play area to check on her little girl. The toddler was nowhere to be found. Frantically the mother started searching the house, and then the yard, calling the little girl’s name. She called the neighbors, and then her husband at work, and then the police in a panic. A police dog, enlisted in the search, kept barking at the hall closet near the front door to the house, and the police began to be suspicious that there were drugs hidden in the closet. When they opened the closet doors, there on the shelf, nestled amongst the clean sheets, was the tiny little girl, curled up into a ball, fast asleep. She found a quiet, comfortable place to hide from the world, a place where she could relax and unwind, and do what she needed to do.
Older children build forts. Have you seen children hanging blankets from furniture to create a “fort” in the living area or their bedrooms? Even homeless people want a card board box, or a place under a bridge to call their own. Having a place of our own is a basic human need.
In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation in which he said that people have certain needs which must be first met before they will attempt to fulfill other needs or desires. Written more than half a century ago, his theory remains the backbone of sociology even today. We all need a space that is uniquely ours, a place with which we can identify and one in which we feel at peace. But where can one find such a space?
Create it! Create a space that is all about you. Start with the area where you spend the most time right now. For example, your office. If you have an office, even if its a tiny cubicle, make that space yours. If you work from home or are retired, start with an area of your home. Another way to determine where to start is to use your goals. For example, if you want to be more spiritual, then start with creating a “prayer closet” (by the way, this doesn’t have to actually be a closet!). If you love to garden and work outdoors, create a potting area or shed. Find an area and create a space that is all about you.
To create an amazing space that really speaks to you, first you need to get it organized. One popular method to do this involves four boxes or bags. Label the containers as follows: Recycle, Maybe, Donate, Trash.
Pick up something in the area and decide, is this useful or beautiful. If it is something that you use every day, or if it is something that is really beautiful and inspirational, keep it. If not, place it immediately into one of the 4 containers you labeled. If it’s broken or damaged, or no longer useful, such as faded receipts, outdated forms, or expired coupons, throw these away. If it’s something that can be recycled such as old newspapers, empty water bottles, aluminum cans, or magazines you haven’t read in the last 6 months, put them in the recycle bin. If its something useful that YOU don’t use, but that someone else might, put it in the donate bin so that someone somewhere can actually derive some benefit from the item. Finally, if it is something sentimental that you are keeping just because Aunt Ethel gave it to you when grandma died, put it in the maybe bin. Go through the entire space in this manner, leaving behind only the things that you either use daily, or that you find highly motivational or inspirational. Once your space is neatly organized, get rid of your bins. Take out the trash, drop off the recycle and donate items, and use packaging tape to seal off the maybe box. Store your maybe box in the attic, garage, a storage shed, or somewhere out of sight where it wont be convenient to take a peek inside. After 6 months, take the sealed maybe box to a charity and donate it. Let someone with no emotional attachment decide what to do with the contents (and don’t stand over their shoulder…drop it off and move on).
This process doesn’t have to be done all at one time. Set a deadline of a week or even a month if the space is large, and commit to sorting 15 or 20 minutes a day. Set a timer (or use your phone app) and work in short intervals if this task seems too overwhelming.
Now, add items to your space that motivate and inspire you. Create a vision board for your goals and dreams. Put up a white board where you can brainstorm ideas daily or weekly. Add photos of loved ones or of your favorite animals. Add a special drinking glass that makes you feel like a glass of water is an indulgence! (Dehydration can lower your IQ by as much as 10 points, so drink up!)Take the picture your son drew in kindergarten of your family and have it framed and display it like the masterpiece it is. Add some flowers or plants. (Some plants, like English Ivy, can actually remove airborne toxins such as formaldehyde and carbon dioxide.) Add a basket of fruit or a glass container of nuts or wrapped peppermint candy. Add a radio or other audio player, or external speakers for your smart phone or tablet. There are even battery operated candles and tiny water features you can add for ambiance.
Create a space that is uniquely you. Your space should inspire you and relax you. It should be a place you can’t wait to get to, and have to force yourself to leave. And finally, remember that your space doesn’t have to be final. It’s a living space that will continually evolve as you do. The books on your shelf may change, the flowers and plants will change, your vision board and whiteboard should change, and even your equipment and furniture may need to be updated every 3 years or so. You can even set a goal to change one thing every month deliberately. It’s your space.
If you get stuck, remember that your lifecoach is available to help. If you create a space where you love to be, work won’t feel so much like work. A space you love will give you a new lease on life! Get started today. If not now, when?