It’s a weird analogy but bear with me…
There are so many sayings, quotes, cliches etc about self-care and personal development etc… but how do you choose what to work on first?
I’ve had quite a few conversations over the past year with various friends, coaches; business mentors, life coaches, money mindset coaches… you name it. I’m lucky to have met these incredible people along my business journey.
But here’s the problem…
I have SO much shit to work through it’s difficult to know where to start.
My life has been a mess for a long time. It slowly crumbled around me, and I kept going. It wasn’t an overnight phenomenon. Things have been slowly falling apart for years.
Depression, stress, insomnia, unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise, lack of direction or control… taking on anything and everything that was expected of me, or I’ve been convinced I should be doing… the flashy lights, the quick fixes, the magic potions and prescribed paths.
I’ve tried so much I’ve confused myself even more.
I’ve hit a wall and stopped making progress.
I have so much more knowledge, but everything’s the same.
So how do you work out what to work on first?
Pick from the top of the pile.
All of my worries and issues from the past 15 or so years all combined and weighed on me to the point I was diagnosed with depression.
I’m certainly not alone.
Over 20% of people in the U.K. show signs of depression. I’m 1 in 5.
Once you’re under that fog it’s hard to get out.
Once you see what’s ‘wrong’ and what you need to work on, you can do what I did and try to hit it all at once.
It won’t work.
If you’re anything like me, you’ll learn as much as you can about as much of it as you can, you’ll ‘know’ about it, but it won’t change much.
Dealing with all of this is like putting away the laundry.
You’re unloading the washing machine, all the clothes are ready to be put away.
You drag all the clothes out of the machine, dump them in a basket, all screwed up and tangled… then try putting everything away all at once.
You struggle because it’s just a jumbled mess… you could take the clothes out, shove them in drawers and cupboards, close the doors and be done with it. It’s fine. The clothes are away, it’s OK. But it’s only on a surface level. Beyond that, you know there’s still a big old mess that you need to deal with.
Or… you could try this…
You take the items out one at a time.
Fold the clean clothes into the basket.
Take the basket to the wardrobe…
You start with what’s at the top. Working your way through the pile until everything’s away in its rightful place. neat and tidy.
Our problems have built over time. Much like the pile of laundry.
You can shuffle through the pile, pull it all out together and try and sort it all at once, but it will be an even bigger mess and as much as you’ve made some progress, there’s still a mess left at the end. Sometimes it’s just hidden away behind closed doors.
However, taking one thing out, starting with the stuff at the top, put that away before moving onto the next item and the pile gets clearer and there’s less mess all around.
You might even get lucky and be able to put away 3 things on the pile in one go!
Working in this methodical way, gets it done quicker.
Things get clearer from the outset, and once you’ve dealt with it, you don’t have to worry about it.
Yes, it may get to a point where you need to handle that problem again, but it will be easier the second time.
It’s just like laundry… wash, rinse, wear, repeat… we handle the problem the first time, we live with it for a bit, sometimes we realise it doesn’t serve us anymore so we throw it away and we never look at it again, sometimes we repair something minor, and keep going with it, maybe one day it could do with another go through the ‘washer’ so we take care of it again, inspect and keep going onto the next thing… it’s an ongoing and ever-evolving process
We just need to take this one step at a time. By the time we’re done, that load won’t be so scary after all… and everything will be in its rightful place.
So, the next time you’re struggling with what to deal with first… just think of it like folding laundry. Take the closest thing, deal with it, then move onto the next… that jumbled mess will be dealt with before you know it!