“If you’re not happy, changing your circumstance also means changing your attitude. In “Ruling Your World”, Sakyong Mipham notes, “The most practical way to ensure forward movement on the path of rulership is to train for a short time each day in changing our attitude- just 10 percent.” We have to be open to the possibility of positive change and then actively work toward it. I overcame my fears by taking one small actionable step every day. Eventually, these small steps give us the momentum we need to make the big shifts we want- in our career or our circumstances. If it seems to happen slowly, that’s okay. Living simply has taught me how important it is to let go of rigid expectations and to be open to new opportunities- and how a small shift in attitude can literally change your life.”
From You Can Buy Happiness (And it’s Cheap)
For a lot of my life I was a perfectionist. Everything I did had to be done well and completely. Which of course meant nothing ever really got started and very little ever got completed. Because really, nothing will ever be perfect so why bother?
But more importantly the idea that any task had to be finished in some specific period of time gave me enough stress that the entire idea was painful to even think about. Why work on decluttering the basement if I believe it has to be done in one weekend? Is that what I want to do with an entire weekend? NO!
Once I let go of those expectations I could instead work a little at the time. Often that meant that I was more realistic about what I could accomplish in any given time (no, the entire basement won’t take just a weekend). Often it meant that I didn’t burn myself out trying to accomplish the impossible.
But the real benefit is that this new way of dealing with tasks is a lot more enjoyable and motivational.
Just this Monday I wanted to weed my yard but I was exhausted from a busy week and weekend and felt like I needed to just nap. Rather than doing nothing which would have felt a bit ugly (now it’s on tomorrow’s list of things to do) I gave myself an easy target. One bucket of weeds. One bucket and then I’m done no matter what (unless I really wanna do more). That’s easy. And it was easy to motivate myself to do it.
In the end if my expectations of specific results cause me to never have any results isn’t it time to give up the expectations?
Photo from Amayzun on Flickr
As many of you know I tend to have a lot of jobs. I do quite a bit of contract work and often have as many as 6 different jobs at any given time. This may seem like it takes every waking minute but as it turns out I have more time to do the things I want to do than many people I know. There are lots of reasons for this and mostly it’s a function of me being smarter about my time and how I manage my time than I was in the past.
Sometimes this comes down to rules I have for myself. There aren’t many of these but today’s Ten Things post directly relates to one of them. I keep everything I need to do in my outlook calendar… no more to do lists (which is a topic for another time). And with that there is a rule.
If I delay/move a task 3 times I take it off my calendar.
Let’s face it, if I can move it 3 times it’s pretty likely it doesn’t need to be done as I’ve lived thus far without doing it. It also likely isn’t a priority for my life and time, and isn’t likely to happen no matter how many times I move it. So why keep fooling myself. “Do or do not, there is no try.”
In this case I’ve been carrying around cassette tapes forever. My plan was to go through them, find the ones that I haven’t purchased as digital music and then either list that somewhere or buy them. But really, why would I want to spend my time doing that?
I’ve lived pretty well without this music for about 10 years now (the amount of time I estimate I’ve not had a cassette player). And sure, some mixed tapes from the past will be gone forever. But also gone is a task that has been on the list for so long it’s ludicrous.
Just like those things we keep for that mystical time in the future when we’ll use them, sometimes we keep tasks around for that mystical time in the future when they’ll actually get done.
Photo from domesticnoise
Well, I haven’t posted for a while but don’t think that means I haven’t been doing the Ten Things Challenge. Nope, despite a surgery and a nasty cold I still managed to get my ten things for these last few weeks. Actually in the last few weeks I’ve done far more than ten things.
That said, when I’m not feeling well I allow myself to go for the low hanging fruit… it needs to be done so hey, it counts. One such thing was the storage container drawer. I’m guessing like me most people have an odd assortment of lids or containers missing their other half. Or, like me, many probably keep every plastic container they have ever got from the store. Yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream. All of those were living just fine in a drawer too full to close.
Fortunately thanks to a new found desire to have home made food I mostly cleaned out that drawer by using the contents for the freezer. That made it easy to get rid of the rest. Cool container but haven’t used it ever? Gone. A extra lid for a yogurt container that I’ll get more of anyway? Gone. What’s left are containers with all their parts and more importantly, ones I will actually use. Best yet, I can find what I’m looking for!
The second part of my massive purge actually came from my surgery. With all the clothes I had upstairs I figured I might have something I could wear in that pile that wouldn’t irritate my surgery wounds. I didn’t find anything but things quickly went into the goodwill pile.
Fortunately that pile headed off to the Goodwill this week. Still so much more to go but nice to free up that space for more work.
What did you do this week? Are there any easy to declutter drawers or closets?
One of the best things about the Ten Things Challenge is that it’s changed how I look at my world. Prior to the challenge everything went through a “could I possibly use this or want this later” filter. The trouble with that filter is the answer for every object is yes. Yes of course, at some point in the future I might just decide I want something like this. But that rarely if ever happens because, let’s face it, if I needed to use it I’d likely be using it now.
This week a ton of fabric, old sheets and other items that were meant to be made into something or used for something were either donated or thrown away. While it’s certainly possible that I might at some point have a use for such an item the reality is that I probably won’t. And while I’ve saved them with the intention of forcing myself to use them it turns out I’m not particularly good at doing tasks just for the sake of doing them… using things just so I can use them.
So then the Ten Things Challenged has changed my brain on how I look at these things. No longer must I keep things “in case” or because I should. Now instead I look at most things as “I haven’t used you so you’re gone”. I even consider if I really need something new even if I could use it. Sure, another coffee cup could go into the rotation, but do I really need it or does it just add to the space required to store my stuff?
The reality is that most of this stuff will sit packed away going nowhere EVER. And while it pains me a bit to think that at some point in the future I’ll need to purchase something I’ve given away I’d rather go there (if and when the time ever comes) then haul around this excess junk “just in case”.
What are you saving “just in case”?