In which I confess to an area of repeated failure in my life and how I’m dealing with it (hint: this is a huge area of improvement for me!), plus five truths about clutter.
Heads up: I’m coming to NYC! Wanna play?
On Saturday, October 10, I’ll be in New Jersey, and there are two opportunities to play with me:
1) I’m teaching a half-day Unleash Your Inner Creative Playshop. Click here to read all about it and grab a spot.
2) I’m performing at a house concert that same evening — me and my ukulele, and my looper. You’ll find a link to the ticket page here.
I took on too much again.
Every other Thursday morning I meet with my mastermind group, and at the end of the meeting we each commit to the goals we intend to achieve before our next meeting. Ideally, these goals are things that will move our businesses forward, things that go above and beyond our usual day-to-day tasks.
Last Thursday my commitments were to:
1. (Finally) put up a sales page for my Art & Science of Ease one-on-one coaching package.
2. Write and submit a guest blog post for a website I’ve been intending to submit to for months.
Except that I forgot to take into account that in the span of those two weeks I am also:
1. Out of commission for one full day for Yom Kippur.
2. Out of town for four full days while I attend Life Is A Verb Camp (squee! can’t wait!).
3. In the middle of “pre-launch” for my upcoming program, the Great ClutterBust (starting on October 1st!).
It wasn’t until the day after the mastermind meeting that it hit me that the two, seemingly über-realistic items I’d committed to were in fact utterly unrealistic for the coming two weeks. I’d have to bend the space-time continuum to get all of the above done by October 1st.
So what did I do? Did I whip myself to achieve superhuman results?
No. I let my mastermind group know that I was revising my commitments.
My new and improved commitment for our next meeting is just this:
- Launch the Great ClutterBust.
Period. Anything else is gravy.
And though I had a momentary feeling of failure, and frustration that I overcommitted yet again, the larger feeling was great pride that I am finally learning to take care of my precious self!
Here’s the thing: yes, it’s good to push ourselves. Yes, it’s good to work hard. But expecting yourself to achieve what only a time-bending superhero could actually achieve is not just not good, it’s downright cruel.
So instead of working all weekend to madly try to accomplish the impossible, I took all of Saturday off.
It was great, and exactly what I needed. (Well, except for the migraine that came to visit in the afternoon…)
I share this story because I know I’m not the only person who struggles with expecting myself to overachieve. It’s hard to change that habitual way of behaving, but I’m discovering that you can continue to achieve a lot without killing yourself in the process.
There is a way to be ambitious and gentle with yourself at the same time.
If overcommitting is a challenge for you, too, I hope my story helps to make your path a little easier.
Other Ways We Beat Ourselves Up
Another place I’ve had a tendency to beat myself up is around my imperfect practice of sticking with those long-term goals that require a ton of persistence.
For example, clutterbusting.
I shared last week the great strides I made in decluttering my Studio of Doom, but I have a lot more work to do in that regard, and I also confess that the lovely intention I had to keep the clutterbusting going a little bit every day throughout the year did not happen.
Honestly, I was burned out after the deep dive I did last year. Plus I wanted to divert the energy I’d been putting into clutterbusting back into my various and sundry creative pursuits.
And, as I’ve said before, with something like clutterbusting, deep dives just work better for me, because I can see the progress, and that’s really motivating.
So yeah, I didn’t do a whole lot of “tiny and daily” clutterbusting after last year’s Great ClutterBusts were over.
But here’s the good thing: I’m pleased to say that, beyond a mild sense of false guilt for a few weeks (false because I’d committed no actual offense against anyone, so there was no actual reason to feel guilty!), I let go of the expectation that I continue clutterbusting every day.
To everything there is a season, after all. A productive field needs to lie fallow every so often to build up the nutrients to continue to yield bountiful crops.
I knew the season for clutterbusting would come around again, and I trusted that when it did, I would be hungry for it.
And this is exactly what happened!
The Truth About Clutter: You’re Ready When You’re Ready
You don’t have to be a minimalist or live in a spartan space to solve a clutter problem. Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to how much stuff they hold onto. There’s no right or wrong, except what feels right for you.
And when you’re ready, you’re ready.
Until you’re ready, you’re not ready.
For me, and for everyone I’ve ever talked to about it, clearing clutter is like peeling layers off an onion. Certain things are easier to let go of, so they go first, the first layer.
Once you start to liberate space, though, you start to appreciate space more, and crave more of it!
The Truth About Clutter: More Space Leads to More Space
Clearing clutter makes me feel like I can breathe, like I can think more clearly. I’ve heard countless people say the same thing (and this was a common refrain inside the Great ClutterBust Facebook group last year).
When you’ve experienced the clarity and serenity that comes with liberating your space from clutter, it’s as if space becomes a concrete thing that you can put on a scale, to weigh against the stuff, and the fears that go along with the idea of letting go.
The Truth About Clutter: Fear is Just a Feeling
Perhaps you recognize some of these fears:
“I might need that someday. I’ll regret giving it away.”
It’s possible that you might, indeed, regret letting go of some things. I’ve regretted discarding a few items, but it was never the end of the world.
I sold a never-used brayer and a heat gun in yard sale after last year’s Great ClutterBust, only to sign up for a mixed media art class a few weeks later that had both items on the supply list. Ouch!
Thankfully, some of my Great ClutterBust peeps pointed out that the small amount of money I spent to replace the brayer was well worth the spaciousness and freedom I’d liberated in my big purge. (And I ended up using an old, low-blow hair dryer in lieu of buying a new heat gun, which worked fine.)
“If I let go of this stuff, it will mean letting go of an identity, closing the door on a chapter of my life.”
Yes, this is true. But if you’re not ready, you don’t have to let go.
You’re ready when you’re ready. And if you are ready, you may find yourself chomping at the bit to let it go.
Until last year’s Great ClutterBust, a good four feet of my studio closet was crammed to the gills with ketubah prints that I’d spent a lot of money and time printing and wrapping, to use as display samples in my booth at wedding fairs. I did my last wedding fair in 2011 and have no desire to ever do another one. Ever.
Still, getting rid of all those prints made that decision very concrete.
I’d spent over a decade building my ketubah business, it took me four years to fully give myself permission to shift my business-building focus away from Ketubahworks and toward Living A Creative Life. When I did, and I finally dropped that load of ketubah print samples at the local Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT), it was like a thousand pound weight lifted off my chest.
I never looked back.
The Truth About Clutter: It’s Hard to Clear it Alone
Most people know, on some level, that clutter is not serving them, and they want help!
The thing is, clearing clutter is hard.
A multitude of decisions go into letting go of something. First there’s the decision to let it it go, but then we have to figure out what the heck to do with it:
- Sell it?
- How? To whom?
- Give it away?
- How? To whom?
- How? Where?
- How? Where?
Combine that with the psychic and emotional pain of letting go of an identity or closing the door on a chapter of your life, and no wonder it’s almost impossible to do alone!
The Truth About Clutter: ClutterBusting with Friends is Fun!
I created the Great ClutterBust to deal with all of the above, and it worked. Brilliantly.
I was pretty confident that it would get me to clear my clutter, but what I didn’t expect was that it would make it so fun!
That was another common refrain last year: “Who knew clutterbusting could be so fun?!”
They said a lot more, though…
What Alums Have to Say
Here’s what Lisa Pepper-Satkin had to say:
And one of my European members said this:
And Lisa Stevens shared the following:
Jump On In, the Water’s Fine!
I have a feeling this year is going to be even more epic. I recently read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (aff), and I feel like she helped me loosen up another layer of attachment.
I plan on following several of Kondo’s principles during the Great ClutterBust (and I’ll share everything I’m up to with the members), and not only do I feel ready, I feel excited to tackle another, deeper layer of my clutter onion.
The people who are already signed up are excited, too. I can feel the energy practically buzzing!
I’d love for you to join us. Just visit greatclutterbust.com, and join now to get access to the Creative Sandbox community for the rest of September for free. The sooner you join, the more free days you get.
I hope to see you inside!
Resources Mentioned in this Episode
My ketubah business, Ketubahworks
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (aff), by Marie Kondo
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