You Can't Change Your Life Without Changing Your House

And you can't change your house without changing your life. I've heard Martha Beck speak these words on multiple occasions and you can read her words in print in Steering By Starlight. I've always found this concept interesting because I love both life design and home design. I am fascinated by where the two intersect. Martha also says that the way we do one thing is the way we do everything. So who would have guessed that your career or life's purpose had anything to do with what bathroom soap you choose or where you hang that velvet painting of Elvis.

In my home office, I happen to have lots of paper, which can represent thoughts. The paper and the thoughts can, at times, create physical & mental clutter (I have more books & paper than I have storage space and I have more ideas than time to execute them). If you have too much stuff in your space, you may be too busy in your schedule. Perhaps the kids' toys in your bedroom means that it's time to set some boundaries. If you're hoarding objects, you may be clinging to excess weight on your body.

Here is an exercise that asks you to make a tiny change in your living space that may result in a big change in your life. Think about it: A tiny step in a different direction on the path called life could completely change where you end up years from now. Back in 1999, I purchased a book called Expecting Adam by Martha Beck. The book had nothing to do with life coaching (Martha was not a coach at the time, nor did the term exist) and I admit that I bought the book because I liked the cover. Little did I know that the purchase would lead me to a completely unexpected place in my career nine years later.

These steps are adapted from exercises in Steering by Starlight and information from classes I have taken with Martha.

  • Walk through your home and notice your body's reaction to different rooms, objects, shelves, corners, spaces. Notice what part of your home gets the most negative reaction from your body.
  • Write down three adjectives to describe that part of your home you like the least. Ask yourself, "What else in my life can be described by those three adjectives?" You can address this later.
  • Now, go into your memory or imagination and think of a space that you love. It could be a place you have been or seen in a movie (Diane Keaton's home in Something's Gotta Give), catalog, or magazine...You can even cut out pictures and make a collage or vision board of your ideal space. Lately, I've been perusing Dwell Magazine and the SimpleLovely blog. I also love the  Manhattan Beach, CA home shown above & below (photos by my husband). Write down three adjectives to describe that ideal space. Notice the difference between your current space (three negative adjectives) and your ideal space (three positive adjectives). Knowing what you like and don't like helps you create your ideal life.
  • Go acquire an object that is described by at least one of your positive adjectives and bring it into that least favorite part of your home. It could be small or big - bedsheets, a plant, a piece of fabric, a tech gadget, a paint chip, a mug, a laborador retriever...Make sure it helps you create the life you want. This weekend, I am switching out photos on my desk.
  • For each object you bring in, remove one thing from that space.
  • Rinse and repeat until you love that space.

You can follow the same steps above with other areas of low satisfaction in your life, like your career or relationships. Instead of bringing in beautiful objects, think of helpful communication skills or patterns of action or thought you can use to replace unhelpful ways of doing things.

All photos by Geoff Captain of geoffcaptainstudios. Would you like to see more photos of this particular house? They are right here.

Now available for instant download: The Best Version of You

New tele-class coming in early 2011: Extreme Career Makeover. Details announced in my newsletter.