I quit my job 12 days ago, on the winter solstice – the shortest, darkest day of the year. This was a bold but deeply calculated move.
For months though I’ve had my eye on January 2, 2017, knowing it was the first business day of my new venture – a new company, a new book, new blog, new direction. It’s all very exciting. It’s also the first day in three years I wouldn’t go to the office. And that’s just tricky.
Wisely, I decided January 2nd should be tightly managed.
So, I got up at 5:30, studied, took the dogs for a walk, they found stray dogs hiding my in my barn, so I dealt with that. Then I took a shower, shaved my legs, got dressed, put on makeup and dried my hair.
Minus the stray dogs, that’s a typical morning for me – when I had somewhere to be.
I still have somewhere to be.
What I plan to do in 2017 is essentially a mountain of resolutions, but if I don’t put my boots on and climb it every day, it won’t get climbed.
Of course, how many times have I set out on a grand climb in January, only to be lying in a hammock in the grassy foothills by Valentines Day?
But this year, I’ve been training with a couple of smart people. What they taught me, they can teach you, so you can climb your mountain.
Last fall, people were raving about this Japanese woman’s little book on organizing stuff. I bought it, read it and said, “Right. Let’s do it.”
By applying her simple criteria for deciding whether or not to keep an item – a book, a blouse, a file of papers – I cleared at least half of of my belongings out of my house. Here’s the before and after of my kitchen I posted on Instagram.
Clutter steals mental energy, which I need right now, and the trick is not to organize better, but to have less stuff.
Kondo’s approach is simple:
Take every piece of clothing out of every closet in your house. Everything. Then hold each item, one by one, in your hands and ask, “Does this bring me joy?”
If not, put it in a pile and take it to Goodwill, so it can bring someone else joy, which is joyful in itself. All the other questions about fit, style, cost and someday are irrelevant. Joy is the only criteria.
When I did this, I took 200 hangers of clothing out of my closet and put about 80 back. It’s astonishing, embarrassing and freeing all at once.
Can you see the benefit of this exercise? Particularly if you plan to do something radical like quit your job and start a new company? There’s a reason high level people wear the same things every day. It frees up their decision making for more important things.
Clutter, physical and psychic, drains us. Get rid of it and use your brain for something else.
Covey’s book is a classic for a reason. My favorite thing to emerge from it is his advocacy for what he calls “Quadrant Two Time.”
Look at the graph below and decide in which quadrant, or on what tasks do you spend the most time.
Are you in a crisis? That’s quadrant one – a combination of matters both important and urgent. Sometimes life is like that, but if you’re there all the time it’s worth asking why.
Do you rush from one meeting to the next, unsure what you accomplished? That’s quadrant three, the combination of urgent and not important tasks. A nasty precursor to life in quadrant one.
Or do you lounge around in quadrant four consumed with non urgent, non important things like Facebook and Netflix. Are you trying to decompress from your time in quadrants one and three? I get it but….
Now look at quadrant two – home of not urgent but very important tasks – the place where contemplation, deliberation, dreaming and planning occur. How can we expect to execute big plans if we spend no time plotting how to go about it?
I now book quadrant two time into my calendar every week.
Sometimes it gets hijacked by urgent things, but whatever. This practice is where my new business was born. It’s also where I plan how I want my life to be in 20 years, ways I can improve my marriage, and what I can do each day to help other people. Covey has some great resources to help you in the same process.
Friends, it’s not unusual to consider our big dreams, it’s unusual to act on them. With regular, deliberate climbing.
Steven Covey and Marie Kondo are two reasons this blog is going to retire soon. In its place is a whole new world of creativity, encouragement and resources to help you get to know the God who created you, so you can figure out what he created you for.
Here’s to new beginnings. Yours and ours!