People skip their vision statements in konmari all the time. It's easy to do ... In her "Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up", Marie Kondo spends very few words on this part of konmari. And she is intentionally vague about what a vision statement is.
In her manga book, Marie highlights the vision statement much more clearly. The manga-Marie-Kondo tells the sloppy protagonist to think about her dream space, to develop her WHY for tidying, as her first assignment. The protagonist sputters and asks to take action while the manga Marie assures her that this step is the most important first one to take.
That is really all a vision statement is, at its core: it is your WHY for taking on konmari.
Having a compelling vision statement is absolutely the difference between finishing konmari and stalling out.
So how do we get to your why? Let me offer you a few approaches.
#1 Just pictures.
First, if my client is a visual person and is active on Pinterest, I encourage her to let loose on Pinterest with dream spaces. Drawn to Scottish castles? Sure. Love those opulent chandeliers? Pin 'em. Cat canals throughout the apartment? Why not. What emerges is, of course, their decor preferences and their dream activities to carry out in their current space.
#2 A few words. Like, maybe just three or four words.
My most successful konmari client began her konmari with her usual brand of personal decisiveness and direction. I watched in amazement as she developed her vision statement in a few minutes, using three words: "an open-house-ready home".
She had just moved into a rental house with her family after their previous home sold. It sold quickly and her realtor attributed that to the home's clean condition, a condition she told me was a rarity for her family. For a glorious month, she recalled, her family lived in a home stripped of all their clutter. They could be ready for a potential buyer in 15 minutes of putting-away and polishing. My friend said those four weeks showed them a glorious way to live and that her family loved it. When it came time to unpack the boxes at their rental, her kids were reluctant. They liked the space and didn't remember what stuff had been packed away enough to miss any of it.
She craved that lifestyle again. "An open-house-ready home" became her mantra. As she discarded much of her clothes, books, papers, and kitchenware in those early coaching sessions, she repeatedly asked herself if the item she held in her hands brought her closer to that kind of home.
# 3 Reframe your most frustrating house moment.
My own vision statement was less of a picture or a few words and more of a feeling. I wanted inner peacefulness. I replayed my peak moment of frustration with my home (repeated each week): the moment when I would come in all hot and sweaty from mowing my lawn and realize what an absolute mess my home was. Then I reframed it. I envisioned that I would come in, sit at my empty kitchen table, and sip a glass of ice water. As I scanned my surroundings, I would not see a single task that needed to be done. Empty counters, no dirty dishes or laundry, no pantry or fridge or cabinets or closets needing organizing, nothing in need of repair. Nothing. I would be done with housework that day. It seemed impossible at the time but now that is standard operating procedure. When it comes to housework, I have very little to do on a daily basis.
Since then, I developed mini-vision statements as I went for each category, all of them based on my desire for that feeling of peacefulness. That helped keep me motivated. Fueled by my vision of peace, I finished my first round of konmari in four weeks.
# 4 Tell your house story.
When I am coaching women who are stuck in their konmari, I have them unleash all their complaints about their home while I take notes. Then I write a sample vision statement in story form. It is important to note this: I always, always, always get it wrong. Why? Because a vision statement is deeply felt and deeply personal. But my erroneous first attempt at their vision statement usually gets them started.
Here is one such vision statement story for a client, a recent empty-nester whose frustration is so high that her only house wish is to get to her next home. (Marie Kondo would tell her that preparing this home and becoming satisfied with it will bring her next home more quickly. Hard words to hear for someone who just wants to light a match and leave.)
Corey's Vision Statement (Take Two)
It's Friday afternoon. Corey pulls into the driveway, noting that their realtor's car is out front so she waits until the realtor and the potential buyer come out. Corey feels no fear about the condition of her house. It is always "open house ready" without much effort from her or her husband Charles.
The realtor gives her a thumbs-up sign while the buyer is not looking and the two drive away. Corey pulls into the garage, which used to be an Olympic obstacle course even with one car gone. It has become a place of order and efficiency. Charles' and Corey's tools are attractively displayed and accessible, a konmari result that meant they finished most of their home improvement projects within a year after she completed her konmari.
Corey enters the orderly, productive laundry room. No clothes are on the floor. Hangers on the rod are empty. She notes that hers and Charles' laundry basket of "to be washed" clothes has reached the half-load mark so she puts down her (tidy) purse on the top of the dryer and pops dirty clothes into the washer. When the house is almost on auto-pilot, tasks like this seem invisible.
Corey goes down to the basement to check for workout clothes and towels to add to her half-load of wash. The basement now serves as Charles' extensive workshop, which is part of the reason the garage has such a spacious feel. His car project supplies stayed in the garage and every one of his home projects moved down here. The set-up of this workspace meant he made rapid progress on home improvements and, as a result, there are few projects left to do. Corey surveys everything with satisfaction ... this arrangement has meant the exercise stuff is used more too. Corey takes the workout towels and clothes from a cool and funky clothes hamper. After some trial-and-error during her konmari, Corey mindfully chose to place this hamper by the basement door. Since it is convenient, the hamper is now getting used just as she wanted it to be.
When Corey ascends the stairs, she scans the first floor, seeing it as her realtor and the potential buyer must have seen it. Every floor, counter, and surface in the kitchen and living room is clear. The kitchen counters are ready for dinner prep. With no tasks to impede her progress to her bedroom, Corey strolls through.
Corey looks up the stairs for just a moment. The second story is a place Corey goes often. The sunniest room is now her studio and her art supplies are arranged in pleasing and off-beat ways. She has plenty of workspace and she can retreat there and lose track of time on weekends ... or she can just as easily spend 10 minutes before leaving for work on a weekday morning, just moving forward on the next step in whatever current art project delights her. The other two bedrooms are guest rooms for when the kids and their friends visit for a night. The floors are hardwood and the new baseboards look fabulous. The closets in both guest rooms are empty, as she made sure her grown children took all their possessions with them to their current apartments. The upstairs bathroom is no longer full of the kids' half-used and abandoned personal care products; it is a spa-like set-up with folded towels, favorite soaps and a few toiletries for guests.
She moves into her bedroom. Ah, her bedroom is such a sanctuary now. The bed is made with her favorite sheets, pillows, and comforter. Her nightstand is bare except for a favorite lamp and the novel she is reading. Everything in the room points to rest and sleep. The bookshelves display art. No laundry or home project materials are in this room. An oil diffuser puffs out a pine scent in the colder months. Since summer is approaching, it now emits a pleasing linen fragrance. The lighting is soft. The room breathes calm and serenity for both her and Charles.
Corey unpacks her purse at her bag station. She changes into comfortable clothes that play to her strengths. She could leave the house for a restaurant meal in what she is wearing if Charles suggested that. Otherwise, she has a bowl of chicken salad for the two of them to finish up for dinner at home, if they decide to stay in.
She gets a text from the realtor saying the potential buyer loved their home, finding every part of it to be spacious and clean. The buyer wants to return next week with her spouse for a second, more serious tour. A year ago, this second tour would have caused a flurry of household chores, packing up stuff and hiding it away. But now, none of this is required and Corey gets to enjoy the wonderful news completely and without worry. If the house sells this fast, it'll be a great development. It means she and Charles can move to that custom-built home in the country and really get the open outdoor space that they want.
She drifts into the kitchen, pours herself a half a glass of red and idly makes plans for her weekend, none of which involve housework.
Allow yourself some daydreaming. Conjure up your own vision statement, tailored just for you!