Earlier this week I passed an important milestone. It has been six months since I made the bold declaration, via text message to a friend, that I was setting myself the target of “running a mile without stopping”.

It may not sound like a particularly arduous challenge but at that stage – given I hadn’t run for 11 years, save for the occasional breathless dash to catch a train – it was akin to someone casually announcing they were off to scale Annapurna or K2.

I won’t bore you with the details – a story for another day – but suffice to say the ensuing weeks involved lots of mud, freezing mornings, a few tears, sore muscles and burning lungs.

But then something clicked, and I began to look forward to running (those who read my “joy snacks” column a few weeks ago will be familiar with that part of the tale).

Why run at all? It was part of a bigger plan to “winterproof” my life. I wanted to stave off the worst ravages of the soul-sapping shorter days and gloomy weather from impacting on my mental health by setting tangible goals.

Now we are forging ahead into spring, I am able to look back on the past six months with a sense of achievement. Not only did I manage to run a mile without stopping; I have continued to run several times a week and over increasingly greater distances.

Read more: Get stuck into some joy snacks

Running has enhanced my life in myriad other ways. It has taken me on fun adventures through beautiful landscapes that I never expected when I first started plodding up and down a soggy patch of the local football pitch.

I am a sucker for “a journey”. I love the little landmark celebrations; the steely determination and quiet reflection; the cringe-inducing mishaps and heart-soaring breakthroughs; the incredulous delight at conquering something that, at one time, seemed like a pipe dream.

With the longer and brighter days here (both metaphorically and meteorologically), I am beginning to ponder what comes next.

While most of us are familiar with traditional spring cleaning – tidying cupboards, wiping down skirting boards or tackling the crumbs and other unmentionables that lurk in growing ranks beneath the fridge – we often overlook the benefits that a good clear-out can have across all aspects of our lives.

The vigour we apply to sprucing up the physical areas we inhabit can equally be applied to the space where we actually spend most time. Yep, I am talking about inside our own heads. Think of it as spring cleaning for the mind.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, this point in the year is when we should be giving serious thought to our goals. It cites academic research that suggests “spring may be one of the best times to start a new habit or make a change”.

That makes sense. To me, spring always feels filled with possibility and hope and fresh beginnings – arguably far more than January 1 ever does.

It has become something of a trope that ambitious resolutions fall by the wayside. That’s OK. Not everything is going to stick first time. Real life is not akin to a movie montage where a series of epiphanies click seamlessly into place as Eye of the Tiger plays on a loop in the background.

Ultimately, the trick is that micro habits – small changes – can lead to macro results. But first you need to declutter your mind and that’s where spring cleaning comes in. We can each only hold a finite number of thoughts in our head.

If you are constantly ruminating over a to-do list, that doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Do a “brain dump” – write down everything swirling around – and then text a friend one goal you would love to achieve within the next six months.

Let’s reconvene in October and you can tell me how you got on. I bet you do it. Good luck.