Our Clutter, Our Gardens, Ourselves: Spring Cleaning, Planting, and Blooming for Personal Wellbeing

Closets crammed with unused holiday gifts and other relics of the past, under-bed spaces stuffed with stuff–these might be our first observations of Spring (ugh, time for Spring cleaning!). Now here we are in April, and maybe the clutter still abounds because of more enjoyable activities like planting and basking in the resurrected rainbow glow of past nurturing.

But this isn’t about our closets and gardens.
This is about a more oft-neglected space.

To truly nurture ourselves, we sometimes need to cast a long and brutally honest gaze in our own direction to become aware of what we really need to grow and thrive. It’s a difficult thing to do, but to get and make the most out of ourselves, it is necessary. Now don’t go running to those closets and under-bed spaces because there’s no use in taking refuge in those overdue tasks. As a matter of fact, after your self-evaluation, you might just be more motivated to get that work done. Right now, though, your own “decluttering” takes priority.

This is the personal version of a common evaluation tool used in business and teaching called “Start, Stop, Keep Doing.” I give it to my students as a midsemester evaluation so that I can make the adjustments necessary to finish the semester in the most effective way possible. While the survey is used for others to evaluate a business or teacher, we are going to use it to evaluate ourselves for the purpose of determining changes we need to make in order to improve the health and happiness of our lives. For this purpose, “Stop” comes first and is renamed “Spring Cleaning”: putting an end to the clutter and dust, literal and figurative, so that we move forward with clarity and cleanliness of mind, body, and spirit. “Start” is now “Planting,” a more obvious renaming. And “Keep Doing” is “Blooming”: continuing positive habits to encourage growth, beauty, and joy in our lives.

Let’s get started with our Spring Cleaning, Planting, and Blooming!

Spring Cleaning (Stop): What do you want/need to clean out of your life so that you can Spring Cleaning: Getting Rid of Household Clutter ...make room for planting and experience rejuvenation? What habit(s), behavior(s), and  attitude(s) need to stop? What things, and maybe even people, need to go?

Planting (Start): What seeds do you need to plant to begin positive, healthy, and useful growth in your life? What do you need to start doing?

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Blooming (Keep Doing): What is working for you that you should continue? Why are these behaviors working well for you? How have you been benefiting from them? Spend some time reflecting on these behaviors so that you not only reap the benefits of “planting” photo of pink and white petal floweryourself in a positive mindset for a while, but also to help you determine how your Blooming can positively impact your Spring Cleaning and Planting efforts. Think about how all this can work together.


Consider taking your journaling further by creating an actionable plan with my Wish-Goal-Outcome method. I use this method to help my colleagues create measurable outcomes that align with their teaching and learning goals. It can be quite useful for personal development also.

  1. List your wishes. These should emerge from the “Spring Cleaning” and “Planting” parts of your writing.
  2. Articulate these wishes as goals.
  3. Reflect on these goals to determine the actions, behaviors, attitudes, etc. that are required for you to achieve them. These actions, behaviors, and attitudes can be considered your personal growth outcomes.

When creating this plan, be sure not to promise too much to yourself. This can lead to overwhelm and the inability to meet your goals–which can then lead to counter-productive feelings and attitudes. Why try to grow an oak tree when there’s only room for a rose bush? Be realistic and set yourself up for accomplishment and growth.

What are you cleaning out and planting? How are you blooming?
I’d love to know how you’re nurturing yourself!
*Please share in the comments section*

Contact me if you would like guidance in creating your actionable plan.


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