A soulful, backwards way to create change in your work and life
With a title like this, you must think that I’ve finally gone off the deep end.
I’m in my right mind. Honest.
If you’ve been reading very long, you already know that I am a self-professed messy, creative person. The ideas I share and the concepts I teach come directly from my personal journey with creating order in my business and my life.
Well, I want to share with you a secret that I discovered along this sometimes chaotic path to soulful, inspired organization.
I stepped on the scale last week – and surprised myself!
Even though my approach works for my clients every day, sometimes I still surprise myself. For example, last week I was shocked to find that, without doing much, I’d easily lost 10 pounds. Off my body.
After resisting diets and exercise for years, this was nothing short of miraculous.
And. On top of this, I realized that my life, in and outside of work, is more balanced that ever before. My desk stays clean. I’m having more fun. I’m enjoying my life more.
I’m no Goody Two Shoes.
It wasn’t always this way. Just ask my family. I was scattered, sloppy, over-committed, and prone to bouts of exhaustion and drama after overextending myself for too long.
So, like the weight loss, the balance I feel in my work and the enjoyment I feel in my life are nothing short of miraculous.
And I haven’t worked all that hard at it.
Here’s how I got from there to here (and so can you)
I started accepting myself exactly as I am right now.
(Before your roll your eyes and click away, bear with me.)
Here’s what I mean:
I took a good long look at my life and discovered that guilt and self-judgment weren’t all that effective at making the changes I wanted in my life. Yelling at myself for my clutter didn’t improve anything, it just made me feel really badly. Berating myself for forgetting a commitment didn’t get me to change. I just felt horrible instead.
Maybe you can relate to wanting something to change (your office, for example). To be different – and yet not be able to make it happen.
In my heart, I honestly wanted to have less clutter, more clarity, more free time. One day, it dawned on me that harsh self-judgment just wasn’t that effective at creating the results I wanted.
So I started experimenting with a totally different strategy: acceptance.
The golden key
In the words of educator, Carl Rogers, “People only seriously consider change when they feel accepted for exactly who they are.” Acceptance is the key. Acceptance has the power to transform.
The acceptance, in this case, was coming from within.
It was halting at first, make no mistake. But over time, I began to accept myself and my choices as neutral and things started to shift.
Here’s why acceptance is the golden key: If you’re trying to grow a business, you need business skills. More importantly, it’s you who’s running the business, so you also need self skills. Acceptance is arguably the most important.
The litmus test
If you’re not sure if you’re being judgmental or accepting, imagine saying or doing to someone else (an employee, for example) what you’re saying or doing to yourself.
Berating yourself for another missed appointment or overdue bill? Insisting that you work 10 days in a row without any free time to dream? Harshly critiquing your work as inferior or substandard?
Can you imagine doing or saying these things to another living soul? If not, this is your litmus test. You could use some acceptance.
Judgment says: “You slob. Why can’t you ever keep anything organized?”
Acceptance says: “Hmm. I can’t see the surface of my desk.” (neutral)
Judgment says: “I’m so fat and ugly. I don’t deserve clothes that feel good.”
Acceptance says: “I weigh 188 pounds.” (neutral)
Judgment says: “Taking time for myself is unimportant and selfish.”
Acceptance says: “I’m not sure what I’d do with some me-time.” (neutral)
Is there room for more acceptance in your life?
Acceptance is a decision you make again and again.
And again. The amazing thing is that when you accept yourself and free your spirit from self-judgment, your stuckest, most unappealing behaviors and traits will start to shift. Without having to work so hard.
My clean office, 10 pounds lost, and happy heart are proof.
Things to try
1. Notice your self talk and whether there is room for more kindness in it.
2. Practice saying things that are neutral, rather than judgmental. Even if it feels awkward. This will take practice.
3. Celebrate small successes. With this technique, change comes in bite-sized pieces. Practice noticing them and congratulating yourself when they happen.