I regularly lose things. This time it’s the last straw. I lost my credit card. Do you know how annoying that is? Super annoying. And I lost it because I do not take good care of my things. I am a life coach; I train other life coaches. My job is to teach people how to be happy, confident and effective. Every time I can’t find something, I experience a lack of all those things. I get mad at myself, I diminish myself in my mind and I become like a pouty, tantrumy kid. I know the antidote, because I teach it: design something different.
Why have I let it go this far? (Why am I ignoring working on something that would increase my self confidence, ease and joy?) Because I am a brat. I think I shouldn’t have to, maybe that someone else will pick up the slack if I don’t. (Thanks, honey!) I say I don’t have time or the talent. How funny am I? This is how ironic it is, last month I even gave the assignment to one of my coaching groups to clear their clutter, and I watched them relish the benefits. One client, we’ll call her Kay, wrote to me about it:
If a home is a reflection of the person, I knew mine was not the self-reflection I wanted it to be. I kept shoving things out of sight when necessary, but not making the effort to fix what I knew needed to be fixed. I have many excuses for not having a home I’m proud of:
– Lack of time
– Lack of extra money to buy the right furniture
– Saying to myself “I don’t spend much time here so who cares?”
– Saying to myself “I have more important things to do first.”
– Thinking, there’s so much to clean, I don’t even know where to start.
Cleaning out my apartment became the task I was always supposed to do in my free time. It was the albatross around my neck, the thing that would prevent my fun on weekends. I would even stay home some weekends, but did I clean when I stayed home? No, it was too hard to start, cue replay of excuses.
Recently, my desire to love my home has become difficult to ignore, mirroring my desire to love my life, to love myself and to have more intention and impact in my choices. So, when challenged to a clutter clearing competition, I started tossing out loads of completely unnecessary stuff – things I really didn’t need for even the rainiest of days. (See pictures of my Manhattan apartment transformed!)
It’s amazing how much free time I have now that I don’t have “clear-out-apartment” hanging over my head. My weekends used to feel like a few hours of free time because I was spending so much time dreading, procrastinating, feeling bad about not cleaning and feeling even worse about why I had let it get so messy in the first place. My greatest lesson, which has also been helping me in other parts of my life, is that it’s ok to start a project even if you don’t have time to finish it because it’s much easier to pick it back up after it’s already started. I have applied this idea to my work tasks as well, and tasks I previously thought were very difficult and time-consuming are almost vanishing without me even noticing I’ve done them. Wow and thanks for the push!
We did the clutter clearing project with a lot of people this summer and here were the main takeaways summarized for your convenience:
1) Tasks are not as hard as they seem.
2) A started task is easier to finish than an unstarted one.
3) Life is better in a clear space.
4) People respect you more.
5) Action begets action.
Folks, Kay’s insights are not just about clutter-clearing and they are not just for her. They are about designing your life to make you proud, and they are for all of you, too. Soon you’ll be hearing how I take on designing my new relationship to my “stuff.” (Thank you, Kay for being my inspiration.)