May 16, 2012

Where Do I Start? (part 2)

Did you ever solve a crossword puzzle? It doesn’t really matter what word you write in first, as long as you can fill in all the words in the puzzle in the end. You might as well start with the words you are most sure of, because filling those in is certain to give you more clarity on some of the other words.

It is the same way when it is spring cleaning time. As I explained in the last post, it makes good sense to start by clearing away the clutter, but it scarcely matters which clutter you start on first. You might as well start on the clutter you are most sure of, because taking that away is certain to give you more clarity on some of the other clutter.

There are nevertheless a great many people who hesitate. They want to know what order to go, what to do first, what to do second, and so on through the conclusion, before they get started.

There is a reason so many people hesitate when it comes to clutter.

Many of us are trained to believe we need a perfect strategy to succeed at anything in life. It is a tough world, our parents or teachers told us. To get ahead we need to everything exactly right. Even with that we may need luck on our side.

Sometimes, I guess, that might be a fair assessment. If you want to be an astronaut, or close a particular sale with a particular customer, or win a Nobel Prize, then preparation, strategy, and luck are not always enough. But if you just want to do the things that ordinary people can do when they choose, such as solve a crossword puzzle or clear your home of clutter, then preparation, strategy, and luck are entirely optional. Just try anything that comes to mind, and chances are, you will discover soon enough what you need to do and a good way to do it.

The belief that everything in life requires an above-average or otherwise competitive effort is an example of globalizing. It is something we all do, in one way or another, without realizing it, and it is only when we take a close look at the resulting global beliefs that we can say, “Hey, wait a minute! Where did that belief come from? That might not be true at all!”

One reason you might feel pressure to do well in everything in life is that your life is something of a pressure cooker, with financial pressure, time pressure, and similar constraints that seem to conspire to keep you stuck. If this is the case, I have good news. The origin of all this pressure is the clutter. Interrupt the pattern of clutter, and you give yourself more room to take action and solve all your other problems. The danger in this case is not that you will approach your clutter with the wrong strategy, but that you will fail to take action at all, and remain stuck indefinitely.

Approach clutter the way you would a crossword puzzle. It doesn’t really matter whether you start with 1 across or 9 down or at some other point in the puzzle. Just start somewhere. The picture will get clearer as you go along.

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