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I make promises to myself, I think everyone does. Do you? For instance, in May, I joined a health club. It’s a gorgeous facility in Sandy Springs, Georgia. My primary reason for joining was the swimming pool. I should say, pools. This facility has indoor pools, outdoor lap pools, a pool with 2 water slides, and an area for the little ones with water fountains.

Of course, this health club also has all the machines your heart desires – multiples of each one, exercise classes, yoga classes, pilates, a steam room, sauna the list goes on.

The promise I made to myself was to swim once or twice a week and take a weekly yoga class. This was to rationalize the monthly fee which the club assesses when you join.


I love to swim. Whenever I travel, I always take my bathing suit and make good use of the hotel pool. I’m an early riser so it’s no problem for me to get up early, swim a few laps, and then get ready for my day.  It’s also easy because the pool is there at the hotel.

What I didn’t mention when I was telling you about this fabulous health club is that it’s not particularly easy for me to get to. It’s about a 20-minute drive from my house if there is no traffic but let’s but honest here – there’s almost always traffic in Atlanta!


Here’s my confession, since May I have only been swimming twice and I have only taken 3 or 4 yoga classes. It’s not the facility. As I said, it’s fabulous.

The problem is the time involved. Since it’s not convenient to my house, I have to allow a 2-hour window of free time to get there, get changed, swim, shower, get myself put together, and then off to a client or wherever.

That’s a significant window of time and not particularly easy for me to schedule.

I tried to get to the yoga classes. The one that worked best with my schedule was on Sunday mornings. I went to as many as I could, but this class was cancelled several times. That was disappointing.

Ideal Self vs. Real Self

I thought back to a conversation I had with my colleague, Jonda Beattie, and Dr. Becky Beaton from the Anxiety and Stress Management Institute. Jonda and I were interviewing Dr. Becky about the hoarding disorder. We asked if she thought that a motivator for some older clients with hoarding behaviors could be to clean up in order to have the grandchildren over.

Dr. Becky talked about the Ideal Self and the Real Self. The Ideal Self may say ‘I want to clean up this home and make it possible to have the grandchildren come to stay’. The Real Self may say ‘I like this place just the way it is. It will be a lot of trouble to go through to clean this up just to have the grandchildren over for an hour or two. I would rather go see them at their house’.

Dr. Becky told us that the Ideal Self talks to us in our mind about the way things could be ideally. The Real Self is just that, more realistic.

My Ideal Self

My Ideal Self wanted me to make the trek down the road and to create a perfect schedule for myself so that 2 or 3 times a week I could take the time to swim. The truth is my schedule just doesn’t have those two-hour windows of time and it is not convenient. Maybe, if this beautiful health club were about 5 minutes down the road, I could work it out. But it is not.

My Real Self

My Real Self understands that exercise is important to me. It’s easier for me to participate in an exercise program when the classes are offered regularly and often so that there’s some flexibility in scheduling. My schedule is rarely the same from one week to the next. So, it’s easier for me to get to a yoga class if there are lots of options.

Another Promise

The next promise I’m making to myself is to cancel this membership. Thankfully, it is just month to month. I know I’m going to keep this promise because I dislike paying for something I don’t use.

What do you think about the idea of the Ideal Self and the Real Self?

Organizing a Space?

Are you thinking about organizing a space in your home? Be honest with yourself. Don’t listen to the voice of your Ideal Self. Let your Real Self dictate the flow of the organization. Ask yourself questions like:

How do I want to use this space?

How do I want to be able to access these belongings?

Which things do I use most often?

Which ones are things I have never used?

If you get stuck or don’t know how to begin consider hiring a professional organizer to guide you through this process. To find a professional organizer go to either or


  • Oh, Diane! I understand the health club dilemma and struggle between the promise and the reality. I used to belong to a health club because of the pools. Like you, I love swimming and anything water-related. Of course, the club also had classes, workout studios, and more. The issue for me wasn’t so much the location. It was only a little out of the way, but the time involved in going swimming- all that dressing and undressing. Going there always meant a two or more hour time investment. And while I did belong for years, eventually I admitted that for how often I used the facility, the membership fee wasn’t worth it.

    I had to align the ideal and real self. And that is so often the case. We have aspirations, and I don’t want to minimize them. But when they don’t align with what we’re willing to do, it’s time to rethink things.

  • Seana Turner says:

    I think my real self often talks me out of pursuing ideas that my ideal self is excited about. I think it is good to be realistic, but I often err on the side of shutting down my great ideas for a long list of practical reasons. As for exercise, I hear you! Two hours is a big window, especially when we have different schedules every week.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I know what you mean, Seana. Sometimes it’s great to follow those ideas that are a bit of a gamble – even if they aren’t practical. Maybe you should listen to a few more of those ideas of yours!!

  • I can also relate to your dilemma. I tried a couple of yoga classes that were walking distance from home, but didn’t care for either of them. There are plenty of studios within a reasonable drive, but none of the class times suit me. I suspect that my Ideal Self wants to attend yoga classes, but my Real Self wants to stay home.

  • Thanks for discussing the ideal self vs. the real self. I think we all have those ideal notions, but sometimes reality (like the travel time to your health club and scheduling conflicts) means we just need to step back a bit to focus on what we realistically can get done. It is sad that the ideal self vs. real self situation could cause someone to not want to go through the process of decluttering to be able to have their grandchildren visit, but I can understand why. I like to think of us professional organizers as personal trainers for your space. Maybe if that person worked with a professional organizer, they’d see that the “real self” can do it, one step at a time with assistance.