Spring Cleaning – Letting Go and Decluttering for a Better You

Mar 11 / Julie Jones

What might be holding you back from being your best self and thriving?


I look forward to Spring each year – as Ohio transitions from cold and gray to color — green grass, yellow daffodils, blue skies, and sunshine. It’s the time of year to start fresh or begin anew. Even the reminder for daylight savings time is Spring forward – forward motion. Spring is the perfect time for a bit of clean-up to declutter and let go of things that don’t define you.  


Recently, I caught this Ohio sunrise – the sun reflecting on a calm lake, casting a warm and tranquil glow. The lines in the sky from airplanes are their jet trails, leaving marks from their path. As I watched the sunrise, I thought of the trails like the experiences, mindsets, or previous work you believe define you— your achievements, a job title, or perhaps a failed work or personal relationship. These may be the marks you carry each day.   


What are your marks?



Whether you like to admit it or not, a job title defines you. People make judgments about you based on your title. But does the title represent you as the person? What happens when the job title goes away? Many baby boomers have experienced this shift. I spent half of my thirty-year career at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center as the Director of Food and Nutrition Services. The title was embedded in my very being. But after retirement, that portion of my “identity” was gone. It’s taken a few years, but I’ve come to realize the job was part of what I did, but not who I am. I’m slowly shedding this identity and springing forward to embrace who I am today. 


Letting go meant appreciating the journey, the people, and the lessons learned, while embracing new opportunities, additional growth, and learning.



Perhaps it was a mentor, advocate or a sponsor who was always in your corner – But something changed, and the relationship failed. You could be angry, avoid situations where this person could be, or you bury the emotion and forge on. When feelings are involved, the marks are deeper and could be harder to let go. 


Self-reflection is a powerful way to evaluate a failed relationship.


Consider these questions:

  • What was the situation?
  • What were the actions or behaviors of myself and the other person?
  • What was my response? Their response?
  • What has been the impact of the loss of this relationship?
  • How did/do I feel?
  • How important is it to rebuild this relationship or let it go?



On the surface, how can positive things such as awards and accomplishments hold you back? Then, I hear my father’s voice and his frequent feedback – never rest on your laurels, meaning that’s your past and not your future. I remember JJ Watt’s quote, “Success isn’t owned; it’s leased, and rent is due every day.” He goes on to say, “Someone’s coming for your greatness…If you are not constantly improving your game, somebody else is”. It’s a good reminder that awards and accomplishments are the outcomes of your efforts, skill, and dedication rather than defining you as a person.


What is your next hill to climb? How can your previous awards or accomplishments fuel your journey to continue to move forward, grow, and evolve?



Let’s face it: mistakes happen, and disappointments occur. You missed the financial projections because you overlooked a crucial change in operations or didn’t get selected for a job you desperately wanted. You have marks -- that likely have deflated your confidence, making you insecure or more risk-averse to future opportunities. These are common feelings experienced by other people in similar circumstances. In today’s compare-and-compete culture, successes are celebrated, and failures broadcasted via social media, which can also escalate these feelings. 


Perfection is a tough destination to meet, and accepting that failure, defined as anything less than perfection, is hard on your mental well-being. I’ve heard a saying, “expectations can be the killer of joy”, which reigns true here. How have your expectations added to your emotions? In addition, when negative self-talk has gained a foothold on you, it may be the voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough.


Sometimes, a misstep or disappointment escalates into a quake – in your career or life. These major events hit you at the core of your being – these marks are deeper and broader. You could feel anger, disbelief, retreat, blame, shame, and fear. There isn’t a defined path forward without processing the feelings and impacts of these events.


To better navigate these missteps, build and seek out your “thrive team” – those people who are there to encourage you and know you are enough! They can serve as listeners, connectors, mentors, advisors, and sponsors, helping you gain balance and perspective to move forward instead of holding on.


As I watched the sun rise, the trails and the clouds faded away, leaving an unmarked sky.Perhaps it’s the license to begin anew - releasing the things that previously defined you, allowing yourself the grace for self-compassion, or and perhaps challenging you to rethink mindsets or expectations. Letting go creates space for you to evolve, grow as a person, and shine brightly like that new day.


For any of these situations, seeking outside support or counseling can also help you process the emotions, unpack the excess baggage, and develop a path forward.


This month, use the Thrive worksheet and consider what you can let go of to spring forward? You can download the worksheet below. 

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Reflect on those things you might want to let go of or reframe for a better you. Who might you consider for your thrive team.

  • Things - jobs, awards, accomplishments
  • Relationships
  • Missteps or failures
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