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New Year, New Resolutions

Get the update on the writer's 2006 resolution to get organized, plus tips on making your 2007 promises a success.

My final column from last year ("Organize Your Home Office") was about my decision to get organized in 2006, so I thought it only fair, with one month left in the year, to update you on my progress. There's nothing like telling millions of readers you're going to do something to make a person accountable. All year long, I've had people ask me over e-mail and in person how I'm doing with my organizing project. The answer ranges from "outstanding" to "not bad," depending on the day.

My first organizer had a child part way through the process, and I didn't want the momentum to slow while she was on maternity leave, so I lined up another person to help right away. I knew I didn't want any break in the activity--or any excuse for me to turn back on my resolution. This project started as a way for me to get my office better organized, but once I got started, it permeated every aspect of my life as I went through every drawer, article of clothing, book--you name it. There were days, after a power session with my organizer, when the entire back seat and trunk of my car were filled to the top with useful items to donate, and that felt really great.

I had setbacks along the way, slipping into my old bad habits and starting to let piles build again, but between sessions with my organizer and the regular questions people asked me about my progress, I immediately corrected course to get back on track. Then one Sunday morning on a walk with my husband, we saw an open house sign and decided to check it out on a whim. We hadn't been looking to buy a house, but we couldn't resist the beautiful home for sale that ironically had been both our favorites (which we hadn't realized until we opened the gate and blurted that out at the exact same time).

About three weeks later, we closed the sale on our first home. After the initial excitement sunk in, I realized what an amazing opportunity this was to move without bringing along clutter from my past (baggage, yes, but my clutter was being dealt with at least).

If you're a regular reader of my column, you know I'm a big believer in karma, and I felt like this was the positive energy payoff I was getting back for having faced my weakness for paper and tchotchkies head on and come out ahead. With just a few weeks to go until move-in day, my goal is to make sure everything I pack has a specific place on the other end and that I know where everything is and can find it without any stress or effort.

Between the time I'm writing this column and when you'll be reading it, I'll have moved both my home and my office. And with any luck, I'll be unpacked and well organized on the other end!

As the saying goes, be careful what you wish for because you may just get it. A year ago, I said I wanted to be organized both personally and professionally by the end of 2006. It was a bit scary to put my goal down in writing and know that I would be held accountable for it, but I can honestly say it was well worth taking the risk and putting myself out there. Here are some takeaways I learned in the process:

  • Articulating your goals clearly and putting them in writing gets the wheels in motion so you can start achieving them.
     
  • Finding the right team to help you is key to your success, and it's sometimes necessary to make substitutions and additions to the group as your needs and their commitments change over time.
     
  • Just because you live with someone or think you know them well, their interests and intentions may surprise you when you least expect it.
     
  • Achieving your goals is an ongoing process, not a one-time event, and you can't let minor setbacks derail you along the way. Stay positive and focused at every step.
     
  • Karma catches up with you. Always do the right things for the right reasons, and eventually it'll pay off in wonderful ways--sometimes sooner than you'd imagine.
     
  • Recycle things you no longer need in your life. You'll help others who can use those things now, and it'll make you feel great, too.

So please keep asking me how things are going. It'll keep me honest and reinforce all the good habits I've acquired on this journey. As for my 2007 goals, I better be careful what I wish for, huh? Stay tuned.

Paige Arnof-Fenn is the founder and CEO of Mavens & Moguls, a strategic-marketing consulting firm whose clients include Fortune 500 companies as well as early stage and emerging businesses.

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