Monday, July 25, 2022

Marie Kondo Your Life

We live our lives at a break-neck pace, zipping here and there, inhaling our food so that we barely taste it.  We've crammed our existence into a series of obligations that neither uplift nor fulfill.  We barely sleep, and even when we do, it's rarely restfully so.  Then altogether too soon, we wake up and start all over again.  We barely stop to breathe let alone to question the things in our lives and whether or not they ought to be there.

It's like that moment, you look around your home only to realize you've filled every nook and cranny with some object that you may or may not care for, and you suddenly come to understand that what you want, what you truly crave is to see some empty space for once!  There's a certain beauty in creating empty space in our lives: an empty spot on the wall or floor, a free afternoon, a dollar not already committed to something?  Do you know why that empty space is so valuable?  It represents an opportunity.  Each empty space represents a new choice to be made with our time, our space, our money, our lives...    

Every so often, I go on a bit of a decluttering mission...  Quite frankly, I think I might be a minimalist stuck in the body of a recovering packrat.  Where possessions are concerned, I no longer bring much into my life, but I am also admittedly slow in letting go of things.  I tend to be afraid I will regret the choice.  Unfortunately, this tendency extends far beyond my possessions.  But when we hold on too tight to things that are no longer serving us, we don't allow ourselves the opportunity presented in the blank space we fail to create.  As a culture, I think we suffer a bit from that as a whole, and while many have come around to the idea that we might need to Marie Kondo our homes, we may not have yet considered that we should also Marie Kondo our lives.

Marie Kondo has become a bit of a household name.  This queen of systematically tidying spaces has inspired people worldwide to really stop and consider what among their possessions truly "sparks joy."  The rest, according to the expert, should be discarded.  Now, what if we applied this across the various areas of our lives?  Could it work just as well, and could it really be that simple?  

As a teacher, I find myself reorganizing many aspects of life during the summer.  So, perhaps this year it will take a new twist.  This might just be the year to Marie Kondo my life.  Does anyone care to join me?  So, how exactly might one Marie Kondo their life?  I might suggest starting with a list of the various areas of life: work, possessions, relationships, finances, past time activities, living or housing situation, and location (neighborhood or city).  Any area of life is fair game!  Once each area of life is listed, it makes sense to identify some subcategories.  For example, under work, I might list each separate job.  Under finances, I might identify debt load, investments, retirement, savings, current salary, current budget, rent or mortgage as subcategories.  Within each subcategory, we must then hold up various components and ask ourselves "Does this spark joy?"

Interestingly, in asking ourselves "what sparks joy?" we are also able to identify contrast, that which is unpleasant and does not work in our lives.  Perhaps your boss and co-workers do not spark joy but various job functions really do.  Then you might recognize that you are doing the right thing in the wrong place and decide you should look for a similar job elsewhere.  

Now, what might this look like in our financial lives?  Most people are probably thinking "It's pretty obvious that my debt does not spark joy!"  But what I would challenge you to consider is whether or not you feel great about the amount you are paying it down each month?"  If the answer is yes, then your  debt repayment plan is working for you!  If not, you might have just had a bout of honesty with yourself and recognized that you really desire to kick it in high gear with debt repayment.  

I know, for a money blogger, I sure do spent a ton of time talking about things that don't appear to be about money, don't I?  What we must realize is that the entire purpose in accumulating wealth, eliminating debt, and building savings is so that we can live our best lives, not just so that we can have wheelbarrows full of money!  So, along the way, we must curate the lives we actually want to be living.  Otherwise, we have buckets of money with no real purpose, and nothing to show for it.

So, what do you want your life to be like?  How can you declutter your time, money, relationships, and possessions to make more room for that which you love?  If you feel as though your life could use an overhaul, perhaps you should join me this summer and Marie Kondo your life!  

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Productivity Vs. Alignment

Productivity.  I have mixed feelings about that word.  As a Capricorn through and through, I really love checklists and planners.  Seriously, I could write an entire post about the freakin' brilliant planner system I use.  Yes.  It's a planner system.  No joke.  I love organizing and spreading out my "to-do list."  I love the feeling of accomplishment when I get all of those items checked off my list...  But I also recognize that there's an ugly side to productivity.  Like a thief in the night, productivity robs us of our impulsivity, our joyful adventure, and very simply, our free time. We risk running on empty, and we all know what happens when the gas tank hits empty, don't we?  That's right.  We burn out and find ourselves incapable of the very productivity we so valued in the first place.

So, perhaps we need to reconsider the value we place on productivity, and how we define it in the first place.  I mean, does everything have to be a level 10 in terms of importance and urgency?  When looking at the list of things to do on any given day, how important are they?  Is it possible that one or more of them don't actually have to be done that day?  I know you really "should" do it, but what if it couldn't happen until tomorrow?  Would anything even happen?  For many of the items on your list, the answer is "No."  Literally, nothing would happen.

How much of your typical day has been filled with things you felt you "should" do versus that which you feel inspired to do? If you stop and take stock, how many of your tasks or activities felt inspired?  We spend our lives wishing time away, begging Friday to come because if we're lucky, we might, just might find a tiny sliver of time on the weekend to do something we truly want to do.  And then the weekend comes, and we realize all of the things we "should do" in order to make our week flow more easily.  Now, I'm not suggesting that we stop doing laundry or grocery shopping, but I am suggesting we reconsider valuing productivity over alignment.

Being in alignment with our higher selves is what puts us on not only the path to abundance but also to the lives we truly want to live.  What is the point in attracting financial abundance into our lives if not to aid us in living them to the fullest?  I recognize that I "should" be offering you an idea about what to do with your money, but rather, I suspect the idea that needs to be offered has more to do with your alignment.  Perhaps it's a critical step on the path to a more abundant life (both financially and in terms of fulfillment) that we really place more value on doing that which fills us up and makes us feel both aligned and inspired.  From this aligned and inspired place, we become magnetic, attracting the energy to be productive, the ideas to be successful, and the words to build relationships and communicate effectively.

So, this past weekend, I had a list of "shoulds" on my plate, as I always do.  Then I realized there was a festival in the park near a friend's place.  That friend is also moving soon for a job opportunity. I am so happy for her success, but admittedly feeling a sense of loss over the shifting of the logistical functioning of our relationship.  I really found myself wanting to enjoy the festival, and some time with her.  So, I abandoned my "shoulds" and did exactly that.  Now, this is the part where I tell you that as a result, my week was a complete disaster, right?  Actually, not at all.  I had to figure out when in the week laundry could get done, and ate sandwiches for lunch rather than something more thoughtfully prepared, but that was pretty much the size of it.  My life didn't fall apart, and I got something that I really needed in order to proceed in life with a greater sense of alignment.

I realize that this is an area I, personally, need to work on.  I need to gently release my grip on the reins of productivity and trust that all of the things that need to be done, will, in fact, be done.  I am making it a goal to give myself permission to pursue that which feels aligned rather than that which I feel obligated to do.  I would encourage you to try the same.