Lately, I had been having so many questions about the direction of my career and business that my head was exploding with ideas, and not in a good way.
I was confused not knowing which of these ideas should be my priority, and what my next steps should be. I was overwhelmed by the confusion, and the lack of clarity.
I bet you have experienced feeling stuck in your career or life as well. It happens to many of us from time to time. You may not word it like I did, but you know the feeling. You are not sure what’s next. You know you are not happy with your current situation – may it be at work or at home. But you just don’t know what you should do differently.
If this describes you, this blog post is for you!
In some cases, this chaos may exhibit at a deeper level as a complete lack of desire to even think about it. Just the thought of not knowing your next steps or priorities can be so defeating and overwhelming that you run your life or career on auto-pilot. You accept whatever comes your way, without ever questioning if this is what you really want.
If this is you, this blog post is also for you!
I am going to share today one surefire way to invite more clarity in your thoughts, and what it has done for me in the last one month so that you, too, can start leading a more intentional life.
About a month ago, when I was going through a phase of confusion and mental chaos, I decided to do what I do to get the clarity – declutter.
I have found more than enough times now, that if you want to welcome what you need in your life, you must first create a space for it.
Contrary to what one may think, decluttering is not about getting rid of what you no longer want. It’s more about inviting in what you really need at this time.
So rather than beating my head over wondering what I really need in my life, I just started making space for the new, even though I didn’t know what that “new” was.
The first question I asked was, “Where in my life, am I holding on to things that are no longer needed?”
After some inspection, I realized, my digital life is a mess. I had an inbox with 6097 unread messages – mostly the subscriptions that I had signed up for but did not read. I had accounts on random websites that I didn’t even remember existed. And Evernote – a system which I use for organizing my ideas, notes, and inspiration – was not nearly as organized as I would like it to be.
So I spent 2 full work days (about 16 hours) in clearing up the mess.
1. I patiently unsubscribed from ALL the thought leaders knowing that when I absolutely want to read their material, I can either re-subscribe or simply visit their website, trusting that when I need it, it will come to me. I deleted ALL their emails sitting in my inbox. Now my inbox had 22 unread emails – all of them on which I had to take action within the next week and delete.
Now, it’s about a month since then. I still have some of those 22 action items, untouched. Clearly, I did not have enough motivation to finish them. So yesterday I deleted them.
2. I canceled / deleted the online accounts (including some social media) that I no longer used. When was the last time you used a birthday reminder website? I thought so! Just delete that account.
In today’s day and age, unused digital accounts are so ubiquitous that we think it’s a waste of time to delete them. But our goal is to know exactly what we have in our life, and bring in more of what we want. Deleting these random, useless accounts (as many of them as I could track) helped me feel more in control. The feeling of refusing to be on auto-pilot, transferred in other areas of my life almost instantly. Try it.
3. I organized my Evernote. Long time back I read an article from Michael Hyatt on how he organizes his Evernote. I was impressed with how efficient it looked, and the fact that he had put so much effort in streamlining a system he uses so frequently.
That to me, was the sign of a person who leads his career and life with intention. I have seen many successful people, including my uncle who is a CEO of his company, investing time in setting up efficient systems to begin with so that they can save time and energy every time they use it.
However, the correlation between organized, repeatable systems and the success of these people goes much deeper. It’s all in the clarity that an organized system brings. It helps you constantly see your priorities, and then work toward them with laser focus. In short, an organized system works like a magnet for attracting more of what you want.
I wanted that for myself. So I followed the tips from Michael Hyatt, and organized my Evernote such that it allows me to find exactly what I am looking for based on tags. I am seriously in love with THIS system. It works like a charm!
What was the result?
Seeing a nearly empty inbox, an organized Evernote, and knowing pretty much all of my online presence was inspirational to say the least. It made me feel exactly how I feel after decluttering my physical space. A sense of renewed energy and calm. No overwhelm, no chaos and no stress.
I would have been happy with just this.
But as if I was being rewarded for my trust in this process, in that week, I received 4 things I had been wanting for quite some time now.
My earlier actions had not worked, and I hadn’t thought of taking new, different actions. When I started clearing that inbox, the relevant emails caught my attention. Even though some of them were old emails, I had not noticed them earlier because I had so much junk cluttering my inbox.
1. I applied to be a volunteer at our local TEDx. Last I checked they were not accepting any volunteers. And this time, I almost missed the email announcing the new openings.
2. I signed up for a class to learn Italian, for FREE. I have been looking locally for language classes but none of them fit my schedule and needs. I never thought of looking for a language class online, until this one opened up for beta testing. I came across their advertisement through a Facebook group that I had been a part of, but intentionally decided to follow only that week. I signed up, got accepted, and already speaking some basic phrases in Italian. Grazie! 🙂
3. A numerology report I once wanted to buy was at a discounted price. I saw the email and bought it.
4. Another entrepreneur was looking for beta testers for her graphic design class. I applied, got selected, and as of yesterday, I have a style guide for my blog. (Heads up: You are going to start seeing some visual changes to this blog soon. I am excited! I hope you like it. 🙂 )
This last one needs to be explained a bit more so that you realize the power in the before and after transition.
You remember, I told you how I set my vision for every year, not resolutions but a vision. Well, a vision I had for my blog this year, was to have aesthetically pleasing, coherent look and feel.
Let me just tell you, images and colors are not my strengths. I like them, but I cannot design with them. I think in terms of numbers and words. If you write the word “Red” on a red colored box, I would notice the word not the box itself. That’s how my brain works.
I had been looking at several designers for their guidance but nothing fit me just right.
So when this class came along, it was a perfect opportunity for me to learn some basic design principles that will help me talk to a designer more clearly. That’s why I signed up for the class, knowing full on that it’s going to take me out of my comfort zone.
Guess what… in the last 3 weeks, I have learned SO MUCH about what I like and dislike in different design elements and why, that I felt totally comfortable setting my own expectations on how my blog should look. I already have a workable style guide in just 3 weeks. That’s a HUGE milestone for me!
Just 3 weeks ago I was sitting here thinking that I cannot possibly get it all done this year. My vision is not going to happen. I hadn’t even entertained the thought of selecting the colors for my brand on my own. I didn’t even know what a style guide is.
Look at me today, confident about what I have created. I know, there is scope for improvement. But just the confidence that I CAN get better at what I had always thought to be my weakness, with proper coaching and practice, was a tremendous uplift.
I would have never come across this fabulous class, and the coach’s teaching methods, had I not noticed their call for beta testers on Facebook.
I had been chasing the above outcomes for about 6 months now. Every time I thought about them or worked to get them, I faced obstacles, and that was turning out to be a disappointment. This time, in less than 3 days, and with no effort at all, they all came to me. In less than a month, I am seeing the progress that gives me the confidence that my vision can indeed come true this whole year.
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But such is the power of creating an empty space.
Clutter, my friend, is the enemy of clarity. Unless you create an empty space, you would not know what you want and need to put in that space. Sometimes you may know it, but you will not attract it because there is no room in your life to maximize that gift.
We tend to think that we will make space for what we want, when we receive it. What I have learned is that we need to create the space first. In doing so, we send a strong message to ourselves that “I am ready now, to welcome what serves me the best. I am open to receiving it wholeheartedly.”
If you are stuck in not knowing clearly what you want or knowing but not sure what you need to do to get there, start by first creating the space for it.
Don’t just take my word. Try it for yourself. Create an empty space in your house, your desk or your inbox. See what comes out of it. It sure feels like magic.
What are you going to do?
Now that you have heard my experience, what can you do this week to create more room in your life? It doesn’t have to be anything big. Even clearing out your purse or wallet will get you started on the right foot.
Be creative, and take the step to welcome the new and the necessary. Good luck!
If you are just starting out with your decluttering journey, here’s are some tips I have learned that will help you organize like a pro without being overwhelmed by not knowing where to begin. 🙂