We are moving from Connecticut to Florida, and while we've been adjusting to the idea of moving for months now, the actual moment when we first began packing felt surreal.

There were so many things that we needed to throw out or give away. There were items I no longer needed but that I was attached to, like my children’s baby clothing and the sets of china dishes from my grandmother. I found myself asking the same questions about everything that I packed: Is this useful? Does this add value to our lives? And if it doesn’t, then why are we still holding onto it?

I donated our books to the library and kept only the clothes that we actually wear.

The urge to hold onto all of our possessions and even the house itself is intertwined with the instinct to stay right where we are. We crave what is familiar. We like the certainty of remaining the same even when we know deep inside that we have to change in order to grow. And when our lives are too cluttered, it is hard to make the necessary room we need for that change.

The Hebrew month Elul that leads to Rosh Hashanah is a unique opportunity for clearing out what is no longer useful in our lives and creating the space we need to grow. Tim S. Grover, the author of the recent book W1nning, teaches us the following crucial lessons about how to make room for change in our lives and move forward.

Declutter your routine.

“Focus is about controlling your behavior, so it becomes easier to do the right things, and harder to be distracted by the wrong things.” (W1nning, p.211)

#Take a look at your routine and ask yourself: Does this add value to my life? And if it doesn’t, then why am I still doing it?

How we structure our schedules each day creates the ability to prioritize what we need to in order to grow. Take a look at your routine and ask yourself: Is this useful? Does this add value to my life? And if it doesn’t, then why am I still doing it?

Expect change to be difficult.

“Everyone who has finished something has one thing in common: the urge to quit. There’s not a winner out there who hasn’t thought about quitting at some point.” (W1nning, p. 218)

We all face obstacles on the path to change. We all feel like giving up sometimes when the stress and uncertainty feel overwhelming. Expecting that moving forward will be difficult prepares us for being able to tolerate the discomfort of change.

Examine your thought patterns.

“The battle begins and ends in your own mind. Your thoughts have to be constantly renewed, like a daily subscription that must be paid so you can think clearly. You get updates for your computer and your phone; how often do you update your ideas? Your strategies? Your priorities? How often do you reboot your mental energy and delete the outdated programs and files?” (W1inning, p.56)

The root of many of our challenges is a thought pattern or cognitive distortion that is holding us back from achieving our goals. Sometimes it is “all or nothing” thinking. Sometimes is overgeneralizing. And sometimes it is catastrophizing or personalization.

Whatever the thought pattern is, it require taking a step back from how we think and examining whether our thoughts are helping us or holding us back.

Worthwhile goals all have a cost but so does giving up on those goals.

“If you think the cost is too high, wait until you get the bill for doing nothing.” (W1nning, p. 73)

We often resist change because every goal has a tradeoff, and it is scary sometimes to face that cost. But turning away from worthwhile changes because of anticipatory anxiety has its own cost and that cost is remaining stuck in a life that no longer works for us.

Doing nothing may seem like the safest route, but we will get the bill for it later. And the costs may be far higher than we could have ever imagined.

We can decide which feelings get a vote.

“Weakness, laziness, frustration, negativity, anxiety. Every single morning you get to decide whether to give those things a vote. Do you listen to them? Or do you have the self-control to say: No. No discussion. Put your hand down, you don’t have a vote today. That’s what self-control is: deciding which part of you gets a vote.” (W1nning, p. 82)

#We can choose positivity and gratitude even when we feel frustrated. We decide which of our feelings get a vote and which ones don’t.

We are not defined by our feelings. We can move forward even when we feel lazy. We can choose positivity and gratitude even when we feel frustrated. Every day and every moment we can decide which of our feelings get a vote and which ones don’t.

Making room for change in our lives is having the courage to take a look at how we are spending the limited time that we have in this world. “Stop spending time you don’t have, on people you don’t like, doing things you don’t want to do.” (W1nning, p. 113). Elul is a time to throw out what we no longer need. It is a time to hold onto what really matters to us. And it is a time to move from who we were yesterday to who we have the potential to become. It is a time to make the space within ourselves to grow.