Picture a kayaker heading towards the rapids. This kayaker will confidently and successfully be able to take the rapids because navigating change is part of their training. Just as facing rapids without the proper training is scary for a kayaker navigating change in your life can be scary, too. But with the proper tools at your disposal you, too, can successfully and confidently navigate change.
Of course, since I am a professional organizer, I am talking about changes people make which require them to alter the way they are organized. Change can be difficult and stressful. The results are not guaranteed and making any sort of lasting change means hard work. The person making the change will have to mindfully practice the new behaviors.
Here are some examples of difficult changes that people decide to make which involve organizing:
- Moving – across town, to a different state, to another country
- Habits & routines – creating new habits and routines requires that you organize differently.
- New organizing systems – reorganizing the pantry, the cupboards, the closets etc.
- New filing system (paper & digital)
- Time management – organizing a daily plan.
All of the above examples require that the person or people in the home change the way they are currently organizing themselves or their things. How will they do this?
I am about to make a significant change in the way I have been living for decades. If I were to tell you that I was not at all apprehensive, I would be lying through my teeth. You see, I have 2 dogs and I am moving from a house with a yard to a townhome with no yard. Moving is stressful enough, changing the type of home is an additional stressor because I will have to remember to walk the dogs more than I do now. And I won’t be able to go out all day and just leave the backdoor open for them. These are big changes in the way I live my life.
Navigating change is difficult but not impossible.
Here are the 5 tips I have come up with to help myself navigate a big change. Read them and see if you think they will help you, too.
1. Be specific about what you are changing and understand why you are making this change.
It’s always easier to work toward changing something when you are clear about what you want to change and your reasons why. As I have already told you I am changing my home from a house with a yard to a townhome. I love the place I am going. It is in a community that has swimming, fitness, beautifully landscaped walkways, and a 12-acre nature walk in the woods. I am trading convenience for less maintenance and activities I don’t currently have at my house.
2. Create a plan to make the change happen.
Think about what you need to do or not do to open the door for change. Which behaviors can you modify to make navigating change easier? What can you practice?
In my case, I am practicing walking my dogs in the early morning, at noon, and at night to get all 3 of us in the routine. It’s not easy as it’s so much more convenient to open the door and tell the dogs to go out.
3. Think about your desired result.
Our thoughts are powerful influencers. I believe that when we put out positive energy and believe in ourselves, positive results follow. However, do not simply rely on positive energy. Ask yourself what steps you can take to achieve the results you desire. Schedule those steps sequentially into your calendar.
4. Work your plan.
Keep track of the details. You can use a small notebook or keep notes in your phone about the things you need to follow up on. Another suggestion is to use an accountability partner so that you maintain the momentum as you create the changes you seek.
5. Accept that lasting change is a process.
There is no overnight magic potion to create change. You can not snap your fingers or wriggle your nose to make change happen. It is hard work. Mindfully practice the habits or behaviors you want to change. You may find that you slip back into your old habits unless you are determined as you practice new behaviors or routines. Be patient with yourself. Forgive yourself and renew the practicing if you happen to backslide.
Whether you are changing the way in which you organize the clothes in your closet or changing the way you organize your time, change is challenging. It is always easier to stay in your comfort zone and do things the same old way. But you cannot do the same thing and expect a different result. Use the 5 tips above to help as you are navigating change you want to make.
Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release, Repurpose, Reorganize in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane specializes in residential and home-office organizing and working with people affected by ADD, hoarding challenges, and chronic disorganization. Contact Diane for a free 30-minute phone consultation.