Friends of mine were recently impacted by flooding in Houston. They lost many important possessions, but fortunately all humans and pets made it out unharmed. As they started the daunting task of cleaning up debris – it seemed incomprehensible to find a starting place. Not knowing where to begin, they grabbed towels to clear mud from the floor where they were standing. “it’s going to be a long process – we should at least have a place to sit”.
It occurred to me that most of us could use help clearing a space in our lives. We run from task to task, event to event, without giving thought to our own mental housekeeping. We read piles of self improvement books knowing neither where we are starting nor the destination. By creating a clear space, you can not only find peace where you are, but also have room to lay out a vision of where you want to be.
The list below is hardly revolutionary. They are mostly reminders for myself, but I hope that others find them useful too. The goal is to find time each week – even if it’s only a few minutes – to reflect on where you are and where you are going. Maybe it’s over Sunday morning coffee, maybe it’s the commute to work, or maybe it’s out on the trails. Here are a few reminders from my friends’ experience that relate to everyday life:
1. Accept the space you occupy. That’s not to say you have to just “live with it”, but being angry or ignoring it will not change where you are today. Only by accepting your current situation can you clearly chart a path to where you want to be.
2. Take inventory and don’t be afraid to discard the junk. What was important to you 5 years ago may be different than what’s important today. Don’t hold on to things (either material or mental) that are no longer relevant to your current mission.
3. Celebrate the little successes along the way. Big wins are great, but are almost always comprised of many small steps. No team has ever won a championship without putting in months of hard work. Recognize that even though your journey may be incomplete – you are making progress. And if you aren’t making progress, celebrate by taking that first scary step in a new direction.
4. Remember that most “stuff” is replaceable. People are not. If an appliance breaks, you buy a new one. Not so with fiends. The only choice is to constantly nurture and maintain them. Relationships are difficult to fix once they are damaged. And once they are broken are often irreplaceable.
5. You are stronger than you think you are. I’m constantly amazed at the resilience of the human spirit (including my own). Don’t believe that little voice in your head that says “you can’t”. The obstacles are real and you can’t ignore them, but by focusing on the things that are within your control you can chart a course around – or through – them.
So, clear your spot and identify what’s important. Just don’t sit there too long – after all, you have work to do!
For me, writing down my thoughts provides a clear spot to see beyond the horizon. I’d love to hear about yours.