When one door closes, another door opens, but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the doors that open for us.
-Alexander Graham Bell
Have you ever parked on a steep hill and put on the emergency brake and then later driven away forgetting to take off the brake? I once drove for two days like that, wondering what was wrong with my car, why I had no pick up and go. If you sometimes feel like that, lacking in energy and motivation, it might be because you have your brakes on. Time to take the brakes off.
What is holding you back? It could be many things. Do any of these ring a bell for you–clutter, old unresolved disagreements and hurts, regrets, uncompleted projects, unfulfilled dreams and wishes that you just can’t let go of, resentments, bad habits, promises you made and never kept, promises made to you that weren’t kept, or old worn out self perceptions and labels.
Your energy and focus are the most important resources you have. Remember, I’ll say it again and again, what you focus on is what you are attracting into your life. If you are distracted by ‘stuff’, physical, mental or emotional, you are looking backward and that’s where you’ll stay–in the past.
Clutter is a common source of fatigue. When you are surrounded by junk, it’s like it drags you down–literally. If all your surfaces are covered with ‘stuff’ your attention is pulled down when you need to be looking up and forward. I know because clutter is something that I’ve struggled with and continue to deal with to some extent. I’m a creative person and like many creatives I tend to be easily distracted and take on too many projects. All those projects, aside from the distraction caused by the incompletions, create mess. I have paints and canvasses and a great big easel. I have paper and many many books. I have fabric and beads and ‘findings’. I have exercise equipment. And I have a very small house. Bad combination.
I know how challenging it is to clear clutter. I know how it feels to start purging and then reach a point where anxiety starts to set in and you start feeling like you can’t throw anything else out. You start to make bad choices about whether you need an item or not because you seem to have reached your limit on purging. It’s not all about just finding better ways to organize your stuff; it’s really about getting rid of what you don’t need any more.
Imagine that every single thing you own is attached to you by a string. Energy flows through that string. If the item is something you love, or need, or is of value to you in some way, the energy flows to you. If it is clutter, the item drains the energy from you. The key is to get rid of the stuff that drains your energy and only keep the things that feed your energy. As you declutter your space, imagine that you are cutting the string from your body and stopping it from draining your energy. As you move through your home or office, cutting off strings attached to clutter, imagine yourself becoming lighter and more energetic. The only things you should keep are those that feed you and increase your energy. Try it.
How about incomplete projects and unfinished business? Do you have half finished sewing projects, half read books, pictures you never hung, boxes of photos to sort and file? Do you have burned out light bulbs? Do you have half finished renovations projects? Do you have unpaid bills collecting late fees every month? Is one of your stove burners not working? One of your doors not quite closing properly? An annoying noise in your car engine that you need to get checked out?
You’re busy and I certainly understand that. It’s challenging sometimes to find the time to take care of so many little things. Today we tend to have larger houses, more complex cars, more stuff, and it all has to be cared for. And in spite of the promise that computers would lead to four day work weeks and make life so much easier, in reality we work much longer than we did just a decade ago. In fact, it appears that as we accept the 24/7 connectivity and ability to work from anywhere at any time that is now possible, we will have a blurring of the boundary between work and personal life.
Time becomes ‘squishy’ and things get left behind or left undone. What we leave behind becomes our incompletions. They drain our energy and keep us from putting our focus where it will better serve us.
Take the time to go through your house and office, listing all your incompletions and then set aside a short time every day to start getting them done. It won’t take long to change that light bulb, but when you do, it’s one less drain on your energy.
Tomorrow: Get rid of the emotional clutter.
Have a clutter problem? Start to clear it. Set a goal to spend a certain amount of time each day or to get rid of a certain number of pieces of clutter each day. Be persistent with small steps and you’ll find your energy increases as your clutter decreases. With each clutter item you get rid of, visualize yourself cutting off the string that attaches it to you by which it drains your energy.
Spend an hour going through your house room by room, listing the incompletes: bulbs that need changing, things that need fixing, papers that need sorting, bills that need to be paid, phone calls that need to be returned. Work on your list every day, finishing the incompletes and crossing them off your list.