Last week, I had a routine organizing consultation scheduled with a client of mine whom I visit once a month. I was so excited about this particular consultation… for over a year now, she had made such a huge effort to declutter her home and really started to develop good habits to maintain it.
Unfortunately, when I arrived, my client was almost too embarrassed to even let me in her home… her dishes were piled, her laundry was all over the living room, and she hadn’t opened her mail in two weeks. She explained that she had a rough few weeks at work and didn’t make the time to keep up with things around the house. She seemed so distraught and discouraged.
To her surprise, I didn’t reprimand her… I didn’t scold her… and I didn’t lecture her. I simply smiled, gave her a hug, and said, “Let’s dive in and get you back to a clean slate!”
You see, when you embark on a journey of personal change – whether it be transforming your home, health, relationships, or anything in life – one of the common pitfalls is believing the idea that you are either good or bad. The fact is, you will always have up and down days. But during those down days, don’t just give up.
Here is the key: you want to be always trending upward and always improving over time. Imagine a traditional line graph chart of a business in growth mode… it has smaller jagged lines up and down, but it is overall trending upward. Ultimately, you can grow and improve without having to be perfect every day.
As we cleaned up her home (which only took about 2 hours), I explained to my client that she needs to remember just how much time and effort she has put into creating a good foundation of organization in her home. I asked her to imagine just how chaotic her house was when I first met her. For a couple weeks, while she was disheartened about issues at work, she let the surface organization of her house get a little messy… but the foundation was still solid! Sometimes, when life just gets the better of us, we just need to remember to continue to move onward and upward.
As we put away her dishes, hung her clothes, and filed her papers, her simplified home magically appeared again. I could see a sense of relief in her face when she realized she hadn’t completely failed at her organizing endeavor. I reminded her that this was a journey. Change takes time and she needs to be kind to herself every day. No one is perfect.