Well, January is almost over. Raise your hand if your New Year’s resolution to be more organized is on track.
If your hand is up, way to go! You’re nearly a month into making a big change. Hopefully, you’re already seeing the benefits. Now is a great time to check in with yourself and see how you’re feeling about what you’ve done. Keep doing the things that are working and try something new where they’re not.
If your hand is not up, you are almost certainly not alone. Our lofty January 1 ambitions start running up against the reality of everyday life from January 2 on. If we’re not careful, February 1 can find us demoralized and unmotivated, resigned to just accepting things the way they were pre-resolution.
Let’s Start At the Very Beginning
If you remember, on January 1, we talked about some important aspects of making resolutions. So, let’s revisit those and figure out where things got sideways.
Did you articulate a clear reason for why you wanted to get organized? We typically want to make a change because we are dissatisfied with the way things are. If you aren’t particularly bothered by your life being out of order, you will probably have a hard time being motivated.
Similarly, if you are unhappy with the way things are but haven’t connected that with the need to get organized, your motivation might not be very strong. You need to feel like what you are resolving to do is going to change your life for the better.
Finally, are you sure that the resolution wasn’t driven by someone else’s desire for you to get your life in order? Extrinsic motivation is notoriously ineffective at generating change. This has to be something that you see value in doing, or you’ll find reasons not to do it.
Did you determine what exactly you needed to change to get your life in order? ‘Be more organized’ is a pretty nebulous concept. You’ll have an easier time sticking with this resolution if you set a more specific goal.
Figure out what your most critical area is and focus on that. You can’t go paperless, clean out your garage, style your closet, and organize your pantry all at the same time. Prioritize and refocus.
Do you know what you’re working towards? It’s incredibly difficult to reach a goal if you don’t know what it looks like, or when you’ve arrived. If you haven’t already, picture what that area of your life is going to look like once it’s in order.
Did you give yourself deadlines? Were you realistic regarding the time and attention you would be able to devote to this project? Maybe you bit off more than you could chew, or you wildly underestimated how long this would take. Revisit your plan if you had one, and revise it given what you know now. If you jumped in without a plan, take the time now to create one.
Hopefully, the progress that you have started – or will start – to see will be enough to keep you going. On those days when you need a little something more, here are some key things to keep in mind:
Getting – and being – organized is a learned skill. It’s easier for some, but everybody can get there. And everybody can improve from where they start.
If what you’ve tried didn’t work, it isn’t a failure. It’s a lesson in what does, and doesn’t, work for you. Success is not about finding the “one right solution” (there’s no such thing when it comes to organization). It’s about working with your strengths and sticking with it.
It’s a Journey and a Destination
Don’t think of a resolution as an all or nothing proposition. You are committing to a PROCESS of change. If your kitchen counter is currently buried under two days’ worth of mail and paperwork, it just means that you’re still in the process.
You don’t have to (and can’t) do it all at once. Small steps are still progress. Just like losing ten pounds provides measurable benefits – even if you need to lose 100 – getting one area of your life in order provides a calming, positive impact even if five other areas are still in chaos.
The Best Laid Plans
You have a life, and life does not always cooperate with your plans. If you’ve had unexpected emergencies, illnesses, demands on your time, etc., it’s completely understandable that your resolution might have taken a back seat temporarily.
Mel Robbins has a saying that I’ve always loved – “Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got a flat.” Keep up with what you can and, as soon as it’s feasible, recommit to your plan, but be kind to yourself in the meanwhile.
And look forward to the day that your life is in order. You’ll find that it’s a lot easier to roll with the unexpected when your day-to-day is running smoothly.
It Will Get Easier
The more organized you get, the less you have to work at it. In the beginning, it takes a LOT of effort – decluttering, sorting, labeling, remembering to put things away where they belong. But the beauty of any good system is that it eventually starts working for you.
You can do it!