A client asked me to coach her so she could get more clarity about whether or not to move from her home into a condo or an apartment. Within the first session it was apparent that she had never loved owning a home, that she had many mixed feelings about the responsibilities of home ownership, and that she’d once been very happy when she’d lived in an apartment. As the coaching progressed she gained greater awareness of the reasons for her mixed feelings about home ownership. Still, she sat on the fence.
I expressed curiosity about her fence sitting, despite real evidence that she’d not been a happy homeowner and she had had a positive experience with apartment living. She told me that one reason she was still undecided was that she feared that she was overlooking something important about homeownership. Fear was a factor keeping her in your home.
My client had lived in her house for over 20 years, long enough to discover the real value of home ownership. I asked her where that concern was coming from. She told me that many of her friends were urging her to stay in her home, and were cautioning her against selling her home and moving to an apartment. One friend was particularly adamant about the value of owning a home.
Apparently my client was surrounded by friends who placed a high value on homeownership. Their perspective was that owning a home was preferable to apartment or condo living. Because a number of those friends were saying the same thing, they were people she loved and whose opinions she trusted and respected, and they often shared similar values and viewpoints, she began to question her own perception of homeownership.
After some discussion my client agreed that she’d really had ample time to discover the hidden joys of homeownership. It was clear to her that unlike her friends, homeownership is not high on her list of values. She even admitted that she’s not a “traditional” homeowner. Her perspective on home ownership, unlike the positive perspective of her friends, was that owning a home was a lot of work and cost a lot of money. She had been stuck sitting in indecision because she questioned her own values and perspective about homeownership in the face of strong opposition by her friends.
It’s easy to be swayed by the opinions of others if you aren’t clear about your values. Are you living according to your values? Are you even aware of what they are? Many people are not. And, sadly many people are living out the values of important others, wondering why they aren’t very happy. Coaching is a great option to get clear about your values and needs, to discover what floats YOUR boat, and to put your and what really matters to you into perspective. Get a coach and get on with YOUR life.
Are you dragging your feet about getting a task done? What’s the barrier to forward movement?
Recently I observed myself dragging my feet about taking action to begin the legwork to shift my business from a hands-on organizing/feng shui model to a coaching/writing model with hands-on organizing and feng shui as components of coaching and writing. I was committed to the shift, but could not make myself take steps to move forward to put my vision into reality. My plan was to offer my services as a coach who can move clients from stuck to moving and then thriving. And, there I was. Stuck!
By chance while on a road trip with my husband I told him that I was considering experimenting with group coaching as an alternative way to offer coaching to people who can’t afford one on one coaching. My husband is a therapist, so I asked him to describe how he ran group counseling groups, thinking that perhaps that information could help me develop a group coaching process. I was delighted to discover that there is a distinct possibility that the group counseling process could work for group coaching.
As we talked, I noticed that my energy level around jumping into action to integrate coaching in my business skyrocketed. It was such fun to explore the possibilities of group coaching, to consider doing more than one on one coaching. With that conversation the prospect of integrating coaching into my business shifted from a scary, daunting task to a creative opportunity.
I had been stuck because something about the task at hand wasn’t motivating. The thought of doing just one on one coaching as the main activity in my business did not float my boat. I was trying to get started on creating something that wasn’t quite the right fit for me, but it wasn’t until I reached out for support from Bob that I gained clarity about that. By making a connection with Bob, a knowledgeable resource, and exploring a new possibility with him, I was able to expand my vision for my business. When I did that my creative juices kicked in, and I was off and running.
My learning from this experience? Sometimes the task I’m trying to make myself do with no success is not the right task to be doing. When I get stuck reaching out for information and support can get me going again. I learned that I am more likely to take action if I can find a way to view a task as a creative challenge. When the work I need to do meets some of my basic needs, like having fun and being creative, I am more likely to engage in it.
When you’re stuck, stop and see if you can determine the barrier to action. What is blocking forward movement? Be curious about your inaction. The awareness that may emerge could shift your energy from stuck to moving.
To do lists. Yes, most of us have resorted to using to do lists in one form or fashion to keep up with the many tasks to be done at home and at work. The truth is, our brains just don’t have the capacity to reliably hold all the things we must do to keep our lives running efficiently and effectively. Downloading the many tasks roaming around in our brains to an external list is also a great way to lighten the mental load we carry.
Converting tasks you must do to writing not only will reduce stress, but it will also ensure that many more tasks get done. Have you ever had the experience of losing one of your to do lists, only to find it later and discover that you’d actually done many items on the list? Something about the tactile/kinesthetic act of writing down tasks seems to anchor them in the brain, making it possible to remember some of them without the help of the list.
So, empty your brain of your to dos onto a list. Then watch for an increase in your productivity!
Today I coached a woman who began our session saying, “It’s been a wild week. I’ve really beenspinning.” I typically hear reports of spinning from clients who have ADHD. Since I’m fairly certain this client does not have that brain based challenge, I was curious about her spinning. Was the catalyst of her spinning thoughts and feelings on the inside or was she spinning in reaction to things happening on the outside, happening with people or events in her life.
When I asked her to describe her spinning, when it started, how she experienced it, it was revealed that the spinning began when she’d gotten drawn into the drama of several family members, people who led chaotic lives filled with challenges of their own making. Her intention had been to be a source of support, but in the process she was adversely affected by their unpredictable behaviors and unintentional disregard of her needs and schedule. She began in spin in anxiety, lost sight of her goals, and lost a whole day that could have been spent getting important tasks done.
My client values being responsible and keeping her word. When caught up trying to meet the needs of others who don’t share the same values, she lost her center and begin to spin in response to their spinning. Together we identified a need to set clear boundaries with family members, letting them know under what conditions she is willing to help and saying no to requests that will disrupt her life and could send her spinning again.
What my client sacrificed when reacting to the needs and chaotic conditions of loved ones was her own ability to stay grounded and be productive. She lost a day of work and her peace of mind. How is your productivity being affected by the chaotic lives of others? What boundaries do you need to set?
It seems a current theme in my life is grief and letting go. My mother’s cognitive functions are slowly deteriorating due to dementia. I’m losing my competent, energetic Mom bit by bit. I recently was right in the middle of helping her transition to assisted living, dealing with her grief about leaving her beloved home, the place where she had so many happy memories with John, the love of her life. And, then I had to clear out her house, take apart the remains of her life piece by piece. I encountered lots of sadness along the way, and grief underlies so many of my interactions with her these days.
Because I am trained as a counselor and have had plenty of counseling on my journey, I recognize grief when I’m in it, and know that allowing it and moving through it is the most beneficial route for me. But, most people don’t have the benefit of the kind of knowing I’ve acquired over the years of counseling training and my own therapy. In the clutter clearing process grief can be one of those barriers that can paralyze a person despite their best of intentions to complete a clutter clearing project. Uncomfortable feelings of sadness, loss, and even anger can totally derail the clutter clearing process.
I recently learned of a paper clutter clearing victory by a client who ran into papers associated with his deceased mother. Despite the sadness he encountered he persevered. When he ran into the grief he noticed it, acknowledged it and kept going. It probably helped that he had made a commitment to me, his coach, to clear those papers. He had a compelling need to show me what he could do. But, I think the real reason he was able to keep going was because he noticed the grief, allowed himself to feel it, but chose not to pull the entire scab of his sadness off his wound. Instead he acknowledged it and kept moving.
That’s how I got my mother’s house cleared out. I didn’t want that pain to go on and on. I shed tears, recovered, and moved on. I shed some more tears, recovered and moved on. By the way, I was able to allow my grief, manage it and move on not only because I understand the grieving process, but also because I had the loving support of my husband. Emotional support is an essential ingredient in the grieving process.
I suspect that some people are not aware that they can manage the grief they encounter. They don’t realize that they have choices about how they respond to it. They can run into uncomfortable feelings, stop and flee from them, leaving the wound intact and keeping themselves stuck. They can run into those feelings, identify them as grief, feel them and sink into despair and depression, again stopping their possible progress. Or they can encounter sadness, allow it, and view it as an opportunity to release some pain that they carry with them. By doing that they have the chance to let go of the negative energy of feelings that really don’t serve them, that may be keeping them stuck or limiting their personal or professional growth.
The next time you get stuck when clutter clearing, ask yourself, “Is this grief? Did I run into some feelings that were uncomfortable?” If so, take a deep breath and remember that you have a choice. You can run or you can allow the feelings. You can choose to immerse yourself in them and stop or feel them for a short while, recover and move on. Grief can stop you or be a real opportunity for healing, growth and forward progress.
I rewarded myself for weeks of hard work clearing out my mother’s house and getting it ready to sell with some time to do just what I wanted to do. My husband warned, “You’ll just work the whole time.” He knows me so well! I’m one of those people who gets a rush by getting things done. And, I enjoy my work and value keeping my life organized and staying on top of the many things I must do to maintain my home, maintain and grow my business, stay healthy, maintain good relationships, be productive, and help my mother. So, yes, I work a lot!
What did I do with my “free” time? Instead of plopping down in front of Dancing With the Stars or a good book, I set up a newly acquired writing desk that I had brought home when I cleared Mom’s house. It is a beautiful treasure that once belonged to Mart, my father’s mother. What began as an idea to move some supplies for writing notes to friends and family resulted in my clearing out and reorganizing two drawers in my office desk plus one supply drawer of pens and pencils. All it took was getting started on one drawer and my project blossomed. Why? Because all the items related to writing notes were in three locations. Once I got into each location to pull out items to put in Mart’s desk I realized that the whole drawer needed an overhaul.
Why am I telling you this? Because it’s the kind of thing that happens when you begin rearranging things in your space. Now, I could have pulled out what I wanted to put in Mart’s desk and left a jumble behind in all three places. Instead I seized the opportunity and the energy I felt to clear out and create a new order. All three drawers are now uncluttered and so much more functional. It will now be a breeze to locate items that I need within seconds. And, in the process I got rid of things that no longer serve my current needs. I’m not fighting with ugly greeting cards or struggling with an overwhelming quantity of seasonal cards I would have never used.
I also could have started that project and quit halfway through, because it did require making a lot of decisions. What kept me going? The knowledge that I was making space for new, good things to come to me. The belief that lightening my physical load would give me relief in my daily functioning. And, I knew I could create spaces that felt better than they did when I started. I kept telling myself, “Out with the dead stuff!”
Now my little writing desk is ready for use. I’ve already retrieved some rubber bands from it, and was glad to have had that supply close at hand. The order that greets me when I open my desk drawer gives me a sense of well-being. You too can achieve these benefits! Start with believing it is possible, and then make it happen–even if you have to get help to make it so. Many people have brains that cannot do what I did last night. It’s not a character flaw. It’s just a fact. Get help and get clear! You too can achieve a sense of well-being by clearing out and creating a new order.
Oh, and did I work all evening long? Well, not the whole evening. I did take a break to eat and watch Dancing With the Stars before I sorted my pens and pencils and checked them out to see what worked and what didn’t. . . .