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     Getting Motivated To Get Organized

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."

- Jim Rohn

When I get calls from prospective clients who say they want to get organized, I often ask, "Whatís motivating you to get organized at this time, and what will be possible once you get organized?" I ask these questions because Iíve found that without a compelling REASON, thereís little or no motivation to change the habits necessary for lasting results.

My first year in business, I got a call from a woman (Iíll call her Kelly) who said that her HUSBAND wanted her to get organized. As I walked through their home with her, Kelly told me what her husband wanted me to do. After listening for a while, I asked, "Who owns the problem here?" With a bewildered look on her face, Kelly responded by telling me that her husband wanted her to "clean things up."†

Although Kelly was the one who was primarily responsible for CREATING the clutter, and she was the one who was asked to do something about it, Kellyís husband was OWNED the problem because he was the one who did not like the clutter. She was not the least bit motivated to change any of her personal habits that created the clutter in the first place.†

Under the circumstances, I decided not to take Kelly on as a client. I would have felt out of integrity to work with Kelly when she was not ready to COMMIT to the process. Without her readiness to take ownership of the problem, my working with her would not have helped in the long run. Had she and I de-cluttered and organized their home, Iím convinced it would have reverted back to its original state in a matter of weeks.

When our daughter was about four years old, I was the one who took her to day care on my way to work. Every morning Iíd ask her to get dressed and be ready to leave the house by a certain time, and Iíd give her a 10-minute and a 5-minute warning. And every morning when it was time to go she would not be dressed. At a parenting class, the instructor asked, "Who owns the problem here?" I said, "I do, because I am late for work." The instructor asked what would happen if I let my DAUGHTER own the problem. †

The next morning when it was time to leave the house and our daughter was not dressed, I put her in the car in her underwear, strapped her seatbelt on, and put her clothes in a bag on the seat next to her. By the time we got to day care she was completely dressed. The next day she was dressed when it was time to go, and it was never an issue again. By allowing her to own the problem, she had an INVESTMENT in finding a SOLUTION. She was motivated to get dressed because she was cold and uncomfortable, and because I was no longer willing to own or solve the problem for her.

My most successful clients have been those who want to get organized because they see something on the other side of their clutter and disorder -- something they desperately want. Their desire and PASSION for whatever it is that they want creates the motivation that propels them forward and supports lasting change. Success has everything to do with having a COMPELLING reason to get and stay organized.

This model of thinking represents a proactive model, which is based on accessing one's own internal wisdom and core values. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions. When we ALIGN our actions with the essence of who we are and what we value most, we are using the inside-out model. As each of us more fully honors our essential selves and our values, outer conditions begin to change, improve, and even transform.

Most people are motivated by one of two things: a desire to either increase pleasure or decrease pain in their lives. Thatís what inside-out organizing is all about -- getting clear about your INTERNAL desires...what you want more or less of in your life -- and then working OUTWARD to achieve the desired outcome.

So how can Kelly become motivated to take ownership of the problem and do something about it? Letís revisit the question, "Whatís POSSIBLE for Kelly once she gets organized?" To illustrate how this works, Iíve made up three scenarios:†

Kelly and her husband sit down together and add up the actual COSTS of the clutter and disorganization -- late payment fees because the bills are not on time, purchasing duplicate items, paying for subscriptions they don't read, etc. Then they determine some alternative ways to spend the money theyíll save...a vacation theyíve wanted to take, or a home improvement that they cannot afford. Motivating factor: Freeing up more DISPOSABLE INCOME to use for things on the wish list.†

Kelly and her husband are both committed to caring for each other in meaningful ways. She recognizes that order is important to her husband and he is important to her. Therefore order becomes important to her for the sake of NURTURING their relationship in a way that is meaningful to her husband. Motivating factor: Building a more satisfying RELATIONSHIP with her husband. †

Kelly has a hobby that she has not done for years because thereís no SPACE in the house to work on it. She has a renewed energy and passion for resurrecting this hobby, and that serves as a motivation to begin de-cluttering their home. Motivating factor: Following a passion of hers and doing something she ENJOYS. †

In each scenario above, Kelly might be motivated to change some habits if itís worth the PRIZE that awaits her on the other side of the clutter.

Being organized is not about how your environment looks, but about creating an environment and a schedule that enables you to work, play, and live exactly as you want to. Stephanie Winston, author of "The Organized Executive", reminds us that "a good system expresses the organization of your MIND in the ENVIRONMENT." †

To assess your current level of organization, answer the following questions:
  • Can you FIND what you need when you need it?

  • Do your environment and schedule SUPPORT who you are and what you value most?

  • Does your current system keep you FOCUSED on what's most important and remind you of follow-ups?

  • Does your current paper and information management system work?
If you answered yes to these questions, you are doing just fine, even if your environment doesn't look organized to others. If you answered no to any of these questions, ask yourself what you would GAIN if you organized your time and your space around what's most important to you. What opportunities do you miss out on or turn away because of a cluttered schedule, cluttered environment, or a cluttered mind?

Someone once said that "one definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expecting different results." If you were to get and stay organized, what different results would be possible? What will getting organized enable you to do that you are not doing now? Once you are clear about the answer to these questions, keep your eye on the PRIZE and youĻll have the motivation to succeed!


Kathy Paauw is an organizing and productivity consultant, certified professional and personal coach, and speaker. Visit her website at www.orgcoach.net or contact her at .

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