New Year, New Me: The challenge of getting organized
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One of the most frequent New Year’s resolutions is to get organized. There are dozens of books and videos to explain various ways to declutter a home. For many, “getting organized” really means wanting to feel more in control — of their space, of their lives, of the world around them.
Life Coach Diane Decker is not a declutter expert, but she understands the desire to organize and clear out clutter. She just wants people to think about “why.”
“Sometimes it can be really important to think, ‘What really is most important to me? What matters to me?’ Not all the ‘shoulds’ that I feel like everybody else expects me to be,” Decker said. “If I’m looking at my house, for example, am I stressed because it’s getting in the way of something that’s meaningful to me, or is it I’m stressed because I have some imaginary person or persons who is judging the state of my house? So sometimes it helps us to think, ‘What really is my reason for bringing more order to my life? Will it help me be more present with the people I love? Will it help me do better in my service to whoever I’m serving and in my work, etc.?’”
Sometimes it just feels like there’s too much stuff — both internally and externally.
“Our brains have only so much capacity,” Decker said. “And so I think it’s true that right now a lot of us are walking around, maybe even unknowingly or unconsciously so, with maxed-out brains.”
When we consider taking on tasks that we know will be challenging — such as starting a new exercise program or cleaning out the garage — Decker says our thoughts before we even start can be part of the problem.
”Our brains are organized to keep us alive, so they’re biased towards looking for threats in our environment, physical or psychological,” said Decker. “And they are saying: ‘Alert, alert, this is going to be hard, this is going to take energy and resources, you might want to conserve it so you can stay alive because you’re going to need it later.’”
Decker says sometimes people just need to tell their brain to be quiet so they can get stuff done.
“Just recognizing that that’s how my brain works, I don’t have to feel bad, I don’t have to beat up on myself like, ‘Oh, if I were only not lazy, if I were only, you know, a better, more organized person I could power through,” Decker said. “Just say, ‘Yeah, there’s my brain, it’s trying to protect me, and it’s okay brain, I’m going to move forward anyways, I’m going to go ahead and do it.’”
And sometimes, a messy house might mean the homeowner is spending their time in ways that improve their life.
“There are actually some good things in life that are creating the state of my house right now,” Decker said. “I’ve got my wonderful children that are living here who are contributing to the state of the house and would I want them not to be here? No, I wouldn’t. I love that they’re here and the living part of that.
“(Or) I want to go out and spend time hiking in the Chugach. So, do I have to beat up on myself that I can’t do all these 87 things in my life that I want to be doing? I can say, ‘You know what, yeah, the house is kind of messy right now, but I’m also glad that I’m hiking, I’m spending time with people I love, that I have a work that I really enjoy, and I get to be out with people.’”
And when those who do want to take on those difficult tasks, Decker says, Nike had the right idea.
”You don’t really need motivation,” Decker said. “You don’t have to feel like doing something in order to do it, you just need to do it.”
An extended interview with Diane Decker is available on the In Depth Alaska podcast.
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