When you’re in the process of simplifying your life, you have to take some time to consider your expectations.
Seriously… What do you expect from yourself?
- Is it realistic?
- Is it even possible?
- Is it in line with your passions and goals?
- Is it actually someone else’s expectation that you have assumed for yourself?
- Are you sabotaging your confidence with unattainable or unnecessary ideals?
Many of us become frustrated with our progress in the area of decluttering because we are making one of two mistakes:
- We expect too much.
- We expect too little.
Both of these can cause problems. They hinder us from living the life we want to live. They limit our ability to be all that we could and should be in our relationships and work.
As you think about your current expectations for yourself, consider the following three suggestions:
1. Your life doesn’t look like everyone else’s.
I know… It’s pretty obvious, huh? But it needs to be said. We all need to be reminded that our circumstances don’t match the other person’s.
Here are a few of the many possible scenarios for people who might be reading this post:
- Maybe you work a full-time job (40 hours or more) and you have a one-hour commute both ways to work. On top of that, you’re trying to fit in all the responsibilities that go with parenting. By the time you get home, you’re exhausted!
- Or, maybe you are a stay-at-home parent with small children. Your “working friends” make little jokes about how nice it must be to have so much free time. But you know the truth. You know that you barely get any sleep and it feels like all you do is change diapers and wash dishes.
- Perhaps you’re a student. You’re working very hard at your part-time job and studying for your full-time classes. You’re trying to figure out what to do with your future.
- It might be that you are in a fairly comfortable position. Maybe you have to work very few hours—part-time or less. Maybe you had a business idea that went very well. Perhaps you received an inheritance. Whatever the case, you find yourself with lots of discretionary time.
This is only a sampling. There are hundreds of possible combinations of circumstances. Some of them are more flexible than others.
If you’re the person with lots of extra time, you don’t have to feel guilty because of what you have. And, if you’re the person with little to no extra time, it’s not fair for you to compare yourself to that other guy. It’s not apples to apples.
You have to consider your options, not someone else’s.
- How much time do YOU have available?
- What are YOUR passions?
- What is the best choice for YOUR situation?
- What makes the most sense for how YOUR friends and family respond?
When you choose to give yourself to something, other things go undone. Choose carefully what you leave undone. Some things just don’t matter as much as others.
2- You have to consider timing.
When you have kids in the house, things are different. I’m not making excuses. I’m just trying to be honest. It’s harder to keep the house clean. It’s harder to keep everything in it’s rightful place. It’s harder to maintain restful rhythms. It’s harder to be clutter-free. Not impossible…just harder.
There…I said it.
But harder doesn’t mean I have to surrender to complexity. Regardless of our circumstances, we can all take steps to simplify our life and make it simpler than it used to be.
It may be that you have to have slightly lower expectations than you would normally have. You might not be able to only possess 100 items. You may not be able to live in a 300 square foot house.
You may have to say, “Yes, but later.” Right now, other things are more important.
Whether your unique circumstance is having children or something totally different, time will change your circumstances. You have to consider timing if you’re going to find contentment.
3- You’re capable of more than you think you are.
The first two suggestions were geared toward those of you who expect too much from yourself. This one is the opposite. This one is for the person who has surrendered to the clutter. You just don’t think you can make progress. You’ve set the bar too low.
To you, I say, “You can do this.”
You may feel like you don’t have the time or energy or ability or confidence to tackle the clutter and live a focused life. Oh, yes you can!
In fact, I’m fairly certain that if you took 30 minutes and searched YouTube, you’d find stories of people with less time or energy or ability or confidence than you… who did it.
I know, right?! Annoying!
But seriously… it IS in you. You just have to stir it up and get it moving. Don’t be content to let your life pass by while you only make excuses. We all have them.
You have potential. You have the gift of this day. You can do something!
Are you expecting too much or too little from yourself? What do you need to do to adjust?
(This post is an adjusted excerpt from my eBook, Living Clutter-Free with Kids in the House.)