Recently some friends have come to me for advice. They want to be more organised, and they want to feel more in control of their lives. Apparently they are ‘rubbish at saving,’ even though they know what they want to save up towards.
The biggest problem was in the words they used. “Not everyone can be organised.” “I’m just bad at it.”
They were already putting themselves down, setting themselves up for failure. They were making it all right in their minds not to succeed at something- even as they were asking for help to improve at it!
This is the very reason why, as I explained to them, I do not want to go into someone’s house and tidy up, sort their files, write their shopping list and book them into some gym sessions. That helps no one. I want to go into their homes and discuss why they do things a certain way and suggest ways to improve little aspects of what they do in various areas of their lives so that bit by bit, month by month, they start to think in a positive, organised manner. They tidy their own house, they use a filing system without thinking about it, planning their shop is all part of their routine and maybe they don’t go to the gym regularly, but they are more active generally, and go for a jog once a week. They feel better about themselves.
That’s the aim. Step by step, inch by inch, replacing that negative mindset with a proactive one so that you feel in control of your life. You deserve better than to feel lazy and rubbish while the stress of the overwhelming tasks you’ve been procrastinating to avoid looms over you. You are better than that.
Laziness can be cured. Laziness is thinking that chilling out is better than doing your chores and that you don’t want to do that instead. (Not to be confused with being too tired- cut yourself some slack.) Various different mindsets can overcome laziness. ‘Chores and Rewards’ systems can work for some people. If you wash the dishes now you can relax later when you’re tired. If you cook dinner rather than ordering take out you’ll have shopping money at the weekend. If you do the ironing you can put your favourite TV show at the same time. Alternatively, you can try the ‘Pride and Smugness’ route- keeping your house sparkling clean so that when your parents visit unexpectedly you can say “ooh sorry for the mess!” as you remove one stray hair from the sofa in your otherwise spotless abode and smile in the smug satisfaction of having exceeded their expectations of your lifestyle. Or maybe the ‘Do it Together’ plan is for you. Sharing chores with your partner or housemate splits the work and provides much needed accountability. I hate doing the house clean on the weekend, I want to relax, but my partner insists that we schedule 45 mins in on a Saturday morning to blitz the house and honestly I’m glad he does because it feels great when it’s all done and I can chill out with a clear conscience. There are various other methods to try until you find the one that tricks your brain into motivating itself, but the main thing to remember is you can do more, you can live better, and you do deserve more!
Feeling rubbish about yourself is a horrible feeling, and we’ve all been there. You can feel fat, sluggish and generally moody without warning sometimes, especially if you have a swing in your hormones. Some things like that can’t be controlled- although you can use pick me ups to counter its effects (see my post ‘Turbocharge Yourself’). But even if you can’t slim down, get loads of energy and become super happy overnight, there are massive emotional boosts from knowing that you are doing something about those feelings. I’m not as trim and slender as I’d like to be (are any of us?) but I can feel proud that I walk a lot, eat healthy and go to the gym at least once a week. I’m not perfect yet but when I try on some jeans in the shops and they’re a bit tight, I don’t think “OMG I’m so fat!” anymore, now I think “Okay, so I might try these on again in a month or so and see if there’s a difference.” That positive mindset is our goal. Not the slim figure but the smile and shrug when things don’t go right.
Now let’s talk about that overwhelming task and all the procrastinating you’ve been doing to avoid it. Stress is the most annoying and useless emotion, and yet sometimes it can’t be helped. You can’t always fix stressful situations, especially if they are medical or involve other people’s relationships. But there are many types of stressful situation that can be avoided, through forward planning and organisation.
The first step is giving yourself a deadline if you have not already got one. Pick a day or days when you will get this thing done. Next- and this is fundamental to avoid that feeling of being overwhelmed- you make a list. You break it down into manageable tasks. Let’s use the example of preparing your house to sell. You’ve been sat on this one for a while because you have no time, there are too many jobs to do and you’re just feeling overwhelmed by the idea of doing it all now because you’ve blown it up in your head into this big scary thing. But any big task can be broken down into separate, easy tasks that you can check off one by one. Make a list, room by room, of what needs doing. Then rearrange that list into the best order- e.g. painting before cleaning. If it helps, write how long each task should take to help motivate yourself to get it done. A long list of 5 minute tasks can be checked off very quickly despite its size. (I used to do this with my homework- I’d quickly whizz through all the short pieces so that I felt I’d ticked loads off before starting on my essays.) And remember- if you don’t know how to do something, find out, if you can’t do something alone, get help. You do not have to do everything alone to feel good about yourself. Asking for help is not a weakness, it is having the brains to see the problem, the resourcefulness to find the right help, and the courage to ask for it. Three awesome traits right there. Plus you can share a pizza at the end to say ‘job well done’! And everyone loves pizza.
There are always answers. Stress and feeling bad about yourself do not have to be a way of life. You do deserve better!