The title of my my blog is My Life In Order, but I have to admit, this weekend, I did not feel very orderly! One of the things I enjoy most is ending - in a quick and unexpected way. I learned this weekend that Clever Container is going out of business in just a couple of weeks. Clever Container is a company I have worked for since June selling organizing supplies. It has been more fun and fulfilling and I was more successful at it than I ever expected! I had plans for a long future and a lot of growth with the company, and it all just ended with one phone call. To say I’m disappointed is a severe understatement.
Over the weekend, I felt like doing a whole lot of nothing. All my grand plans for Saturday got derailed when I learned this news. I didn’t feel like cleaning, wrapping gifts, doing paperwork, or even spending quality time with my friends and family. I really kind of wanted to just crawl into bed and binge on Netflix while eating chocolate, but instead, I trudged on reluctantly. I soon realized this disappointment was interfering with my productivity in a big way, and that made me kind of mad! My future had already been changed by this news, and now I was struggling to do some basic tasks and to enjoy the things I normally look forward to. I had a couple of choices. I could be upset and wallow in it or I could control the things I could control in the moment. For me, a clutter free house, organized paperwork, and a productive day are things that I can directly control. After giving myself some alone time to mope a little, I spent time doing things that had a visible impact in my house. I needed some quick wins to make me feel back in control. Clean laundry and dishes, clear surfaces, and a to-do lists with lots and lots of checks were just what I needed!
Even after this take charge approach, I still felt down, so I decided to break it down so I could turn it around. Here’s what I figured out: I needed to identify what I was feeling and sort out which of those were rational and irrational and then figure out how to move forward. Of course, I whipped out my journal because writing things down always help me process them. I’m no therapist, but here’s my list of feelings:
Next I wrote down part a Bible verse that most of us know “All things work together for good.” (Romans 8:28) I knew this intellectually, but emotionally it was hard to accept! You’ve all heard the first part of this famous quote, “When one door closes another opens;” but I had never heard the second half which is really profound,”but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” Alexander Graham Bell, you were wise! Thinking about this, led me to write three words that gave me some hope:
Reflect - why did I choose to join Clever Container? What did I like about it? What didn’t I like? What would I do differently if I could? If it could have continued, what would my success have looked like? What were the costs to this opportunity - financial, time, etc? What were the benefits of this opportunity? What could have gone better and worse?
Reevaluate - what are my true goals? What are my priorities and how do my goals align with those? What am I missing that is necessary for me to meet those goals? Where can I get those missing pieces?
Refocus - what can I let go of that is hindering progress? what is my plan to actually do the things that will get me where I want to be? What do I need to add or subtract from my life?
So far my reflection, re-evaluation and refocusing efforts have gotten me here: Clever Container was fun and lined up with my desire to help others achieve their goals, but I’m fortunate to have my blog where I can still share my love of organization and productivity. Maybe this is the perfect time to refocus on the blog and other avenues to help people get organized and stay productive. I get to choose how I will spend the time I otherwise would have spent on Clever Container - maybe I’ll start practicing piano more, start a new hobby or side hustle, exercise or read more (or find a new Netflix show to get into, go to bed earlier, enjoy more bubble baths). Who knows - the possibilities are exciting!
I know this disappointment is minor compared to many things others are dealing with like loss of jobs that is a primary source of income, broken relationships, sickness, or loss of a loved one. I am aware that my direct sales business closing up shop doesn’t even come close to the disappointment and emotions related to these more serious events, but I do think that the same exercise may apply to help identify what we are feeling and why and then to give it the attention it deserves through reflection, looking beyond it with re-evaluation and starting anew with refocus. The highs in life wouldn’t seem so high without the lows, so let’s choose to let our lows teach us and bring us up!
I'm still accepting Clever Container orders through December 15, 2018.
I wasn't running late.
Time and I haven't always gotten along...in fact I wrote about when I first started my blog because it's such an issue for me! That glorious morning, I had plenty of time - like EXTRA time - and I loved how it felt! I think part of the reason it happened that day was because my kids were well behaved and they were actually ready early as well. Because moms don't have the luxury of just getting themselves out the door on time, I realized that my focus should really be having the kids be ready at least 10 minutes before I wanted to walk out. I also decided to plan to leave the house a full 15 minutes before I would need to. This would give me a cushion for traffic and last minute emergencies - AND it may make me early to my destination, which always makes me feel kind of like a rock star! I’ve definitely improved overall, but the “I can squeeze one more thing in and not be late” fallacy trips me up more often than I’d like! Making lists the night before helps me stay on track.
I normally checked email and news first thing in the morning, and usually there was something negative in the headlines or something stressful in my inbox. That morning, I didn't let my device control me. I realized I didn't feel as down during the morning when I wasn't consumed by negative thoughts. New plan - no news til lunch time and no email until I've at least taken a shower! The only problem is sometimes I feel that I’m not keeping up on current events as much as I should. It’s a tough balance between being informed and staying positive!
I sent a message to a friend and received a reply.
I sent a Facebook message to a friend because they were on my mind, and they messaged me right back. Having that connection made me smile. I decided that everyday, I'm going to reach out to at least one friend- it could be in person, on the phone or via a message on Facebook, Snapchat, etc. I’ve been doing this faithfully, and I love this so much! It’s fun to let my friends know they are on my mind and even better to hear back from them!
I spent time doing my hair, makeup and picked out a cute outfit.
That morning, I had the time (and took the time) to fix myself up a bit. It made me feel confident, put together, and in control. I realized that too often, I sported the "I didn't have time nor do I care" look, especially during the work week. I vowed to put on a little makeup and make an effort with my hair every morning. Time was my biggest barrier, so I tried washing my hair at night and using dry shampoo every other day. I also planned to do what I knew worked for me - picking out my outfit the night before. Last week's blog post explored this phenomenon in a little more detail - how we look impacts how we feel. I still enjoy a good no makeup (or shower) day, but that’s more of the exception than the rule these days.
Because I had extra time and some of that extra time was spent alone, I read a book - for fun! I know that reading has many positive effects, and I wanted to read more. I decided to schedule in reading time into my day. My oldest son and husband read together nightly after the youngest goes to bed. This was the perfect time for me to read, and all I'd be sacrificing was some social media time! I have been reading a lot more recently, I think partly because I track what I read in Goodreads. I have also started reading right before bed which helps with my sleep as well.
1. Motivation - What do I want to be known for?
2. Mentors - Whom can I learn from?
3. Milestones - What are three subprojects I can complete?
4. Monitor - What positive things are happening that I can acknowledge?
5. Modify - What one change can I make to keep moving forward?
This is heavy stuff! Thankfully, there were more exercises in the book to help me work through all of this. One of the activities that helped me the most was figuring out how I spent my time. As I've mentioned before, time is one of my weaknesses, so I needed to figure out if I was proving what I wanted to be known for by how I was spending my time.
- Was I being present with my kids?
- How much time was I working on staying "on top of things" at home and at work?
- How often was I actually helping someone else achieve a goal?
The real difference maker was when I answered the next couple of questions in the exercise. The first was: "What do I wish were different?" You may have heard the saying, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results." Insane may be a bit of an overstatement, but if I want things to be different, I'm going to have to change. I think we could all make a long list of what we'd like to be different in our lives, but what are we doing to make that happen? If you're like me, I've gotten to this point before - I know what I want things to be like and then make a giant plan of all the things I'm going to change to make it happen. And then I fail because that amount of change all at once is overwhelming.
That's why the second question this section asked was really valuable to me: "Do I really need to make changes now? Should and can I wait?" Yes, I definitely need to make some changes, but which of them are critical or should be done first? It takes time to form new habits - longer than you'd think. Gretchen Rubin, author of many books including Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives, wrote about this in her blog post, "Stop Expecting to Change Your Habit in 21 Days." Give yourself time and space to make a change and really master it before adding more change.
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results."
I will add some more changes soon - once the family time on weeknights is a real habit. In the meantime, I'm trying to keep my short list of what I want to be known for front of mind as I make decisions or even speak - is what I'm about to do or say going to cause others to "know me" for being kind or helping them achieve their goals; is how I'm choosing to spend my time helping me stay on top of my responsibilities? If the answer is no, I need to rethink my actions!
How about you - have you thought about what you want to be known for and what that really means in your daily life? I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments. If Get Momentum sounds like a book you'd like to read, you can earn entries for the giveaway by visiting the Facebook page and/or simply like and comment on this post below before Wednesday, March 21, 2018 at 9 p.m. to get an entry!
Womack, Jason W., and Jodi Womack. Get Momentum: How to Start When You're Stuck. Wiley, 2016.
Rubin, Gretchen. “Stop Expecting to Change Your Habit in 21 Days.” Gretchen Rubin, 16 Oct. 2009, Stop Expecting to Change Your Habit in 21 Days.
Before I was ready to actually do anything, I needed to decide what it was I wanted to accomplish. I knew I wanted to get rid of the sense of dread I felt at the thought of some tasks in my life, I knew I wanted to spend less of my time cleaning my house, I knew I wanted to stop losing things, I knew I wanted more time with my kids and husband, I knew I wanted more of the feeling I had when I walked into someone else’s house that smelled good and had no clutter, I knew I wanted to feel in control of my finances, I knew I wanted a wardrobe of clothes that I liked and fit me. That’s all - - not too much to ask, right? Just that list in and of itself was overwhelming - where in the world would I start?
I consider the beginning of my journey to be when I sought wise council. I did this through working with a coach. Coaching was fantastic - I could just spew out all my frustrations, my fears and my shortcomings, and I learned about tools that I could apply in my own life. The biggest two takeaways from that experience were:
- Don’t expect more from myself than I expect of others
- Set boundaries and stick to them.
Boom, mic drop - I realized I was drowning in my own pool of expectations. I had asked myself, “Why can’t I do it all? Why can’t I work full time, commute 2 hours/day, keep a clean and orderly house, maintain a garden and flowers, be an involved and loving parent, a dependable volunteer, an active church member, a caring friend, a helpful daughter, a loving wife, remember to schedule and go to regular health care appointments for everyone in my family, arrange childcare and transportation for two kids, manage the family budget, maintain elaborate scrapbooks of all our family activities, plan said activities and vacations, read enriching books, keep up with a hobby, stay informed about current events, and assure that I had time for myself?” Why couldn’t I do all of those things?? Because it was IMPOSSIBLE for one human being to do all of those things to the level that I expected them to be done. I had to have help, and I had to be realistic with my time and set boundaries. Coming to that realization was life changing. I sincerely want you to come to that same realization. You are not a failure.
"Why couldn’t I do all of those things?? Because it was IMPOSSIBLE for one human being to do all of those things to the level that I expected them to be done."
I started with the hard part - the head and heart part What matters most to me? How do I get there? What/who can or should I eliminate from my life that is keeping me from what matters most? Where can I afford to lower expectations in my life? Once I got through that, I started thinking functionally. What could I do in my everyday life that would make me feel more ‘in order’? The answer to these questions are multi-faceted and broad and what inspired me to start this blog. I look forward to sharing some of these changes I made in my life with you in future posts. I'd love to hear your experiences about making changes that helped you feel more in control of your life - share in the comments or email me at email@example.com.
A great read:
I remember one of the first times I was driving with my dad in the passenger’s seat, and I was waiting to turn left onto a four lane highway. The traffic was spaced just right so there was never a big enough gap that my 16 year-old self felt it was safe to dart to the median. After a few false starts and some brake slamming, my dad said something that, in hindsight, was one of the wisest things he’s said so far. He said, “Just wait, you’re not going to have to sit here forever. It will eventually be the right time to turn.” He gave me permission to be cautious and wait until I felt safe and confident in my decision to cross the road. There have been many times in my 20 years of driving, that I’ve been waiting for a left turn when I have ignored the person honking behind me and just paused and said to myself, “You won’t have to sit here forever.” I wonder how many accidents or close calls this has helped me avoid?
When I think back to times in my life that I felt the most out of control and craved order, I was usually at a crossroads and needing to make a turn. Quick decision making has never been my strength. I am an information gatherer, and after I have a lot of information, I need to analyze it. Then I need to talk to others about it, then think about their perspectives and perhaps gather more information. More information requires more analysis and more discussion, and soon, it becomes a cycle that usually results in a delayed decision. I used to feel like this was a fault, but recently I realized that was not the case. I began picturing myself in a car getting ready to cross lanes of traffic to turn in a brand new direction. I wouldn’t turn when there was something barreling down the road at me, would I? Of course not! I would turn when the coast was clear, and I felt confident I could do so safely - when I was focused and had my full attention on the road. Sometimes the coast wouldn’t be clear for quite some time, and it would feel uncomfortable having others wait on me, potentially judging my driving skills. Going in a new direction isn’t something you should do immediately when you think of it. You should prepare, note the “traffic” in your life, and just be patient and wait until the time is right regardless what the others on your path think. Almost as important as choosing the right time to start your trip across the road is to follow through. Once you decide it’s your time, you’d better gun it and get out of that intersection! Hesitation or going in reverse could cause just as much damage as not even looking to see what was coming.
"Just wait, you're not going to have to sit here forever."
As we near the end of the year, this is the ideal time evaluate your own "traffic report" and map out next year. If and when you think you may need to make some sort of change in your life. Give yourself permission to wait at that intersection until the time is right and you feel confident in your decision to go for it. But be aware that sometimes the right time to move might be right away, so make sure you have your full attention on the road ahead so that you don’t miss an opportunity. No one likes it when they realize they should have just put the pedal to the metal and made the left turn when they had the chance rather have waited and then sit there and say to themselves, “Why didn’t I turn?! I could have gone six times, and now I’m stuck here.” And don't forget, there's no shame in making a U-turn if the landmarks are telling you that you are going in the wrong direction.
Thanks, Dad, for the tiny nugget of wisdom so many years ago that has helped me to accept my questioning nature, to make better decisions, and to perhaps be a little bit better driver!
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!