We love a fresh start.
That’s why we’ll take as many new year’s celebrations as we can get.
And today, there’s another one: Chinese or Lunar New Year. Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in Asian cultures. When I was little, my mom told me that it was important to act on Chinese New Year how you wanted the whole year to be. Traditionally, homes are swept clean, special lucky foods are eaten, fights avoided and grudges forgotten so that peace and happiness can be wished on everyone.
The Chinese are big on prosperity and fortune as themes for Lunar New Year, so in honor of today's ringing in the Year of the Dragon (a year of great luck), we had a feng shui consultant come to my apartment and assess what changes I could make to increase wealth in my life. If you’re raising an eyebrow, feng shui is an ancient system of geomancy based on geography and astrology that has been around for over five thousand years. It’s based on the concept of “chi,” or energy, and often the tips just make a lot of common sense.
Allessandra (Ali) Bogner is a feng shui consultant in New York City who used to have the very non-fluffy job of investment banker, so she knows a thing or two about money. She got interested in feng shui when her life started to fall apart after moving into a building, and she heard similar stories from other tenants. She works with clients who are prominent in the fashion, finance and hedge fund industries in New York City.
"Wealth means different things to different people," says Ali. "It's not necessarily about money, although it can be. It can be about creativity, achievements or recognition."
While we obviously recommend tackling your finances in a concrete way first and foremost (start the new year off right by signing up for an affordable Financial Plan, or a free Take Control of Your Finances Bootcamp), a little extra luck never hurt. Follow these general tips to increase the flow of good wealth-creating energy into your life. Then view our slideshow to two feng shui makeovers: My apartment and an office cubicle.
1. The wealth corner is the southeast area of your home.
If you hire a consultant, she will do a more detailed identification of the spot based on the year your building was built and your birthdate, but you can use the southeastern area as a rough guide. Here, put symbols of money or real money (tape it behind a piece of furniture or a picture).
2. Put something "active" and red in the areas you want to activate.
You should also put active elements in your wealth area. Examples of active things are a computer, printer, a working clock, a fan, a TV, a fish tank, a fountain—something that is used and has energy.
3. Remove dead flowers or branches.
Dead or dried flowers or branches represent dead chi—they are the worst thing to have in your home. Ali tells me that she used to have lots of dried flowers around her apartment, and it was one of the darkest times in her life.
4. Put some live bamboo in your career area (this is generally the northern area).
"Left to its own devices, bamboo will grow like crazy," says Ali. Bamboo is a lovely sustainable plant that represents money and natural, creative growth.
5. Close the bathroom door.
Keep the bathroom door shut at all times. Otherwise, the energy of the house will flow into the bathroom and "down the drain."
6. Fix anything that isn't working properly.
In feng shui, everything should work as it's designed to, so there is good chi and flow. A leaky faucet? Money leaking out of your life. A clogged drain? Not letting things go. A clock that has stopped still? It can symbolize time stopping. A burner on a stove going out is bad—the oven is the hearth of the home. Fix whatever you can, and get rid of the rest.
1. Keep clutter at bay.
The most important thing you can do for your career is to perform well (check out our Build Your Career Bootcamp), but some physical changes to your work area can help. Make sure your desk is neat and organized—take some time every week to go through your desk and make sure everything is neat. Ali points out that your boss will notice a re-organized work area, whether consciously or not, and it will send a message of effectiveness and organization.
2. Make sure your pictures are inspirational.
Look with a fresh eye at what images you have around your work area. Make images positive, future-oriented and inspiring. Replace old ticket stubs or old vacation photos with pictures of where you'd like to go in the future. "I had a client who had a giant picture of the Titanic hanging in his office," says Ali. "He liked to remind himself that nothing was ever a sure thing, so it reinforced his cautious nature. I told him to take it down, and instead he put up a photo of Mount Everest.
"Within a month or so of doing a little feng shui in his office, he signed the biggest deal of his life. He started focusing on international deals, with emphasis on the Far East. (Yes, near Everest.) Within two to three years, he managed to build up his business and hire enough people that he could work from home."
3. Evaluate the papers on your desk.
"What papers do you have on your desk that are positive or negative?” asks Ali. “An executive I worked with had piles of paper and half of them were dead deals! Why would you want that negative energy around you? Store them somewhere if you have to keep them, but don’t keep them out and around you.”
4. Keep family photos to a minimum.
Work is for work, according to Ali. Keep images to those that will inspire you for work, so you can stay more focused. Have just one spot for your family or personal photos—don't spread them everywhere—or you will be less focused.
5. Don't have your back to the door.
Never work with your back to the door or to a room. If you can't change your seating, put up a mirror near your work area so you can glimpse people who are coming up behind you.
SEE THE SLIDES BELOW FOR MORE TIPS, AND FENG SHUI MAKEOVERS OF MY APARTMENT AND A LEARNVEST STAFFER'S CUBICLE.
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Photo Credit: Trevor Wilson