When Scared and You Want to Make a Change, Where Is the Best Start Point?
Monday, February 4, 2019 at 6:45AM
Linda Samuels in Embrace Change, action, change, decision fatigue, decision making, next steps, organizing, overwhelm, perspective, professional organizer, stuck, stuff, time

As a professional organizer and coach, my work centers around helping people facilitate the changes they want in their lives. Change doesn’t just happen in one quick moment. It takes time, contemplation, and bravery to get to the point of action. It’s at that time when I’m usually contacted. My clients’ desire for change related to organizing issues has been percolating for some time. They got to a certain point on their own, and they want my help to continue. They might feel overwhelmed, stuck, afraid, or unsure of how to get from where they are to where they’d like to be.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with many new and long-time clients. While each person and their situation are different, there are certain similarities with how we work together. Understanding these could be useful for you as you pursue the changes you seek.


So where do we start? . . .

1. Acknowledge Thoughts and Feelings

When we face things that are challenging for us, we think and feel a variety of ways. We might feel like we’re going to fail, especially if we’ve had a history of unsuccessful attempts. We might feel anxious that we are beyond help. We might feel scared to let go of stuff, thoughts, and feelings even if they are no longer serving us well. We might feel overwhelmed because there’s so much to do and we can’t imagine that we will ever get everything done. We might be ruminating about the negative comments other people have said to us. We might be generating our own negative thoughts and beating ourselves up for what we didn’t do in the past.

Guess what? This is all completely normal. It’s helpful to say these things out loud and just let them land. It’s OK. It’s part of the process. We all come to the table with “stuff.” We bring positive and negative stuff.

We give space for these thoughts and feelings to be heard. We acknowledge them without dwelling on them. I listen for the forward-moving ideas to help us shift the energy and perspective to the next stage.



2. Get Clarity

Notice that we’re still talking here. This is an essential part of the change (and organizing) process. We’re in the curiosity and discovery phase. I keep listening and asking questions. We’re learning new things that will inform what happens next. We’re digging down to what the client wants to accomplish in a more significant way and also during that particular session. We talk about expectations and outcomes. We get on the same page with where we are heading. We’re building trust.



3. Prepare Tools

Once we’ve discussed thoughts, expectations, and direction, we gather the tools necessary to do the work. If needed, we set up recycling, trash, donation and shredding bins or bags. We gather markers, tape, sticky notes, folders, or a pad of paper for making notes. We make the supplies easily accessible, so they’ll enhance the flow of the action phase. It’s OK if along the way you need to grab additional items. That can happen. We don’t always anticipate everything in advance. Organizing is a fluid process. However, if you can begin with the basics as you set-up, it will make the decision-making process more efficient.



4. Dive In

It’s time. We talked. We outfitted the physical space with the tools we’ll need. Now it’s time to make decisions that align with the changes you want. Where you start isn’t as important as the questions that get asked. What stays? What goes? What is useful? What has overstayed its welcome? It helps to set a few decision-making boundaries. These can expand as you work. For instance, you might decide that all of the empty shopping bags can go without looking at each one. You might opt to recycle magazines that are older than two years without looking at every issue or page. You might decide that small size clothes that no longer fit can be donated without trying on each piece. These types of parameters help things move along more quickly. It allows you to make some global decisions without having to look at every, single thing.



5. Check-In

Guess what? Making decisions can be exhausting and emotionally draining. Check-in occasionally is important. I watch for decision-fatigue. When the quality of the choices start to deteriorate (as in keeping everything or letting go of everything), the client is probably experiencing decision-fatigue. At this point, I’ll suggest a short break. Maybe they need some fresh air, a quick stretch, a snack, a cup of coffee, or bio break. It’s also an excellent time to assess where we are, check on our timing, and see how they’re doing overall.

There are other aspects of changing and the organizing process such as reviewing and relishing in your accomplishments and determining next steps. However, they aren’t as relevant to getting started, so I’m not going to elaborate on those now.


Change can be energizing, but starting can be scary. Some of the ideas that I shared can help you move past the challenges so that you can create the changes that you want. If you’re having difficulty on your own, reaching out for help when you’re stuck, afraid, or overwhelmed is an excellent choice to make. 

When fear inhibits the change process, where do you begin? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Join the conversation!






Article originally appeared on The Other Side of Organized by Linda Samuels (http://theothersideoforganized.com/).
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