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Well, we’re into the last three months of the year and this is when it always seems like the year sprints away from me. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and Hanukkah, every month has at least one major holiday. It can be easy for the days and weeks to zip by so fast that we feel we’re just on auto-pilot, reacting, depending on which display is taking center stage at Target that week!
So, I invite you to take a moment at the beginning of this final quarter to 2018 and reel in a little more control, a little more order, and commit to a more purposeful approach to this time. Why not take a breath, press pause momentarily, and re-visit what’s important.
The new year is the traditional time to consider the passing of time, the travails and accomplishments of the previous year, and, looking forward to the twelve months ahead, to consider and plan with resolutions, what we want to achieve in the coming year. I think that approach is both cute and utterly ineffective.
January 1 is an arbitrary moment in which to consider where we are in our lives and where we want to be. It’s also just one day out of three hundred and sixty-five. Surely we shouldn’t limit such important work to one moment in the year. And, let’s face it, it’s often a time when we’ve overspent, overeaten and overdone it on the partying front. We’re probably not best placed to be making serious commitments on the back of that predictable emotional guilt-fest.
So, October it is! Let’s get you organized this October so that, come January 1 2019, not only do you not fall for the same nonsense of the New Year’s resolution that never sticks, you’re already set up for success in achieving your goals.
GET ORGANIZED OCTOBER!!
Yes, there are steps - there are always steps LOL. I’m still waiting for the magic pill - in the interim we have steps.
To be clear, I’m not going to help you do a seasonal closet cleanse here, that may happen as a result of this work but it’s not the aim.
So, I don’t know if your physical environment is a mess or whether you are terrible at handling your finances and administrative responsibilities. Maybe you haven’t committed to giving your diet and nutrition needs the attention they deserve. Perhaps, for you, the area of most disorder in your life is your job or work-life balance. Whatever it is, you can take steps now to get organized.
One thing I know for sure is this, when you take the time and effort to care for your internal world, your external world will reflect that care.
WHAT'S YOUR DESTINATION?
It helps, as a first step, to answer a couple of questions. Many of us spend our lives adrift, ping-ponging from project to project, frequently busy and at times overwhelmed, but often without a defined destination in mind. So let’s look at that with a few questions. Take out a piece of paper and write the answers to the following questions:
- Name three things that are most precious to you in your life.
- Name three things you want to achieve.
- What causes you anxiety or keeps you awake at night ? Name 1 to 3 things, if relevant to you.
- Do you have a list of goals, written down, that you want to achieve in the next 5, 10, 15 years? Yes/No
The purpose of these questions is to get you to focus your thoughts on what's truly important for you in your life. If what you do, how you spend your hours and days, isn’t in alignment with what's truly of most importance to you, you're probably not seeing the results you want. So, in answering these questions, you should have more direction as to what you should be committing your attention and efforts towards.
Most people will answer “No” to question 4. They may have a vague idea but rarely is it committed to paper. Don’t panic though if you are one of the majority here. It’s important to acknowledge it and then you’re in a position to do something about it. Put a pin it it for now.
[ You might also enjoy reading Finding Your "More" - 10 Steps To Building The Life You Deserve ]
Review your answers to the questions from Step 1. There is probably something, some issue, that will jump out at you, particularly in the answers to questions 2 and 3. This "something" probably consumes a lot of your time emotionally. Step 1 is all about taking a look at your priorities and then assessing whether how you’re living your life, day in and day out, is aligned with what’s precious and important to you.
Whenever I hear people say they want to get more organized in their lives and then they start on some project of emptying their closet out, or tackling their messy garage, I always wonder what they’re not looking at. As nice as it is, and I do like to have ordered surroundings, often people can get lost in “busy projects” to avoid asking themselves bigger questions, like the questions listed in Step 1.
WHAT REALLY MATTERS TO YOU?
“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives”
- Annie Dillard
So, if you want a meaningful life, take care with how you spend your days. If you don’t take the time to answer the questions in Step 1, and in particular if you don’t begin the work of question 4, you are destined to spend your life adrift and distracted with “busy projects”.
Now, take the one thing that jumped out most for you from Step 1 and let’s tackle that one thing. Perhaps it’s something that’s worrying you enough to cause you frequent anxiety and even waking you in the night. Maybe it’s an ambition that you have and once you saw it written down on paper, in response to question 2, a smile came to your face, and maybe there was a hint of apprehension. Whatever triggers you emotionally is worth exploring - your closet and garage can wait!
You deserve to live a life that’s compelling and purposeful. You deserve to be free of anxiety. So why not organize your life to reflect this?
Before you move on take that one issue that causes you anxiety or sleepless nights, or that one ambition that has been ignored for too long, and commit to focus on that one thing.
It’s easy to get caught up in “busy” and mistake it for being “organized” in the true sense.
I think we’re organized when how we’re living our lives reflects our goals.
Right now you’ve identified an anxiety or an ambition that you’re going to work on and you’re going to need to break it down.
If you’ve chosen to tackle an issue that’s causing anxiety, first off I want you to congratulate yourself. Most people are afraid to look these issues in the eye and deal with them. They prefer to put their heads in the sand, look away, or dedicate themselves to “busy” mistaking it for being effective.
“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.”
- Rosa Parks
Maybe it’s your finances, or a personal relationship that has broken down, but, whatever it is, there is a way to sort it out and move beyond it. Put a 3 hour slot in your diary for this week. It must be a time that you’ll be able to dedicate wholly and exclusively to this issue. Turn off your phone and remove yourself from all avoidable distractions. Dedicate this time to examining the full extent of this issue.
For an issue that’s causing anxiety - Write down
- What is the issue - Describe it fully (if it’s financial get into the nitty-gritty of the numbers).
- What actions are you currently taking or have you taken in the past to attempt to address this issue?
- Note the outcome of these actions and also add any comments as to why you believe these actions did not resolve the issue. Be brutally honest.
- What is the worst possible outcome if you took no further action?
- How likely is the worst possible outcome? Be realistic here!
- What resources do you have to address the issue now?
- Think big here and get as creative as possible. You want as many options as possible even if you cull the list a little later.
- What external resources might you be able to call upon to assist you?
- Think about organizations, individuals, acquaintances and friends?
- How would you feel if you resolved this issue? How would your life change for the better?
- Make this section as compelling as possible. This is the “pull” that will keep you committed and focused on achieving the goal of ridding yourself of this anxiety issue.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
- Marie Curie
For an ambition - Write down
- What is the ambition you want to achieve?
- Define it as specifically as you possibly can.
- What resources would you need to be able to realize this ambition
- Would you need training to acquire new skills, extra time in your weekly routine, physical resources? Whatever it is get it down on paper here.
- What’s your why?
- Why do you want to achieve this ambition? What would it mean to you?
- What are any obstacles that are standing in your way to achieving this ambition?
- Get brutally honest here and list everything including any potentially limiting beliefs you feel about your own abilities.
- What actions could you take to overcome these obstacles?
- Think also of resources and support that you would need to call upon. List it all here in as much detail as possible. Also get realistic about how big these obstacles really are.
- What would your life look and feel like if you achieved this ambition?
- Again, it’s really important to spend time here and make this possible future as compelling as possible. Make this section as rich, alluring and meaningful as possible for you so that doing the work to achieve this ambition won’t feel like “work” in the traditional sense.
Remember that life favors the specific ask over the vague wish. Be as specific as possible in all your answers!
[ You might also enjoy reading How To Make A Good Habit Stick ]
Once you’ve really looked at the work you’ve done over that 3 hour block you’ll get a real insight into what’s possible when you get purposeful. Problems always seem bigger when we’re hiding from them. Ambitions always seem impossible when we fail to examine them and dare to make a deliberate plan to achieve them. Imagine what your life would look like if you approached it just like you approached that one issue that caused you anxiety or that one ambition that you’ve dreamt of achieving.
Your next step to get organized is the most important one - PLAN IT!
What you’ve uncovered in Step 3 is the skeleton structure of your plan. Now you have to put some meat on the bones.
The time period that you should work toward will depend very much on the particular nature of your issue or ambition, but you should have monthly milestones at a minimum. Weekly milestones may be more appropriate for shorter duration issues/ambitions.
Diarize the actions that you will take every day/week/month in relation to your issue/ambition. You might also want to consider an accountability partner to keep you on track. Perhaps you have a good friend, a confidante that you could arrange to check in with to review your progress and to help you. Depending on the nature of your issue/ambition it may even be appropriate to consider a coach who has particular expertise in a relevant field. The important thing here is to ensure that accountability is blended into your plan.
Commit your whole plan to writing. That means taking the answers and information from Step 3 and ordering into an actionable plan, with dates, check-in milestones, resources etc. Write it all down. Consider dedicating a one to two hour no interruption time-slot to produce your plan, complete with all appropriate diary entries. You may want to check-in with an accountability partner or trusted confidante at this point to have them review your plan and give feedback.
So you want to get organized? Well, if you’ve worked through the previous steps you are well on your way. Step 5 is quite simply EXECUTE! Executing your plan is really you living a purposeful life, no longer adrift, but rather pursuing your clearly defined path.
We’ve just looked at one issue/ambition here in this post but once you commit to one, and see it through, you’ll realize that compelling future you wrote about in Step 3. You’ll experience what it feels like to finally be free of that issue that was causing you so much anxiety. You’ll feel that huge sense of achievement of having committed to your ambition and having worked methodically towards its attainment. You’ll want more of that - a lot more of that!
Remember that stumbling and the odd set-back are inevitable and not a reason to abandon your path. Maybe you need to adjust something in your plan, maybe your timescale was unrealistically short. Make an adjustment, re-read the work you did in Step 3 where you detailed how you would feel if you achieved the ambition/resolved the issue, and move on. Don't fixate on the negative. Re-commit and move forward.
Looking back at Step 1 you might even begin to think that it’s time to get all those goals down in writing. If you did that you'd be among the most organized people in the world. Well, follow my blog to ensure you see my future post on Committing to a Life Plan - Stop Drifting and Start Achieving!
You can now Follow my blog with Bloglovin!
About The Author
Eimear Zone is an entrepreneur, co-founder of feminist brand and social enterprise, PEBBLE + ROSE, and an author. Her first book, The Little Book of Good Enough, is available on Amazon from 30 October 2018. She blogs on feminism, entrepreneurship, and mindset management. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and IG @emtczone
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