Dr Bev Smallwood

Clean Out The Old

I’ve just experienced a graphic reminder of three principles I want to share with you as we enter this new year, 2004.

In the past two weeks, we’ve relocated our office. Not fun…packing, tossing, moving the big items, then looking around at boxes and more boxes and wondering where this all is going to fit. Getting phone, computers, and utilities in place. Missing messages and deadlines. Visual chaos.

And then there were the files…hundreds of them, collected from over 20 years of clinical practice and consulting.

Decision time: Take the easy way and just stuff them back in the cabinets, or go through them, one by one, toss some, and re-organize what’s left. I chose the latter. I’m glad I did.

Going Through Your "Stuff"

If you’re ever going to “move” – grow, change, stretch – you must take time periodically to “go through your stuff.” Without that process, you attempt to add and add more, building a cluttered and disorganized life.

Where is the “clutter” in your life? Clutter can be emotional baggage, or activities, or physical debris. What is taking up space and adding no real value to the things that you genuinely consider important?

Do a hands-on survey of your work and home environment. What does it tell you about your life? Do you like what you see? Does it reflect the life you want to create in 2004 and beyond?

Principle #1: Set aside a time to take a courageous inventory of your life’s priorities, focus, and activities.

Why Have You Kept it?

It’s been an eye-opener to realize in my hours of intimate time with the paper (actual and metaphorical) in my life that I have kept so many things for questionable reasons.

  • Things I “should” be doing, but chronically don’t (and feel chronically guilty about);
  • Things I just might need someday (You can’t ever tell!);
  • Things I’m interested in (What would THAT leave out??);
  • Things others say are important (And they MUST be right, because they are so successful!)

Now I know that any one of these things, taken in balance, can be healthy and helpful. However, there comes a time for re-calibrating – for examining what’s really important to you, TODAY, in this phase of your work or personal life. I continue to pray and reflect on that for myself. As a result, I’m challenging some personal sacred cows.

What are you doing the things you are doing?

Principle #2: Examine your personal why’s.

My Startling Discovery

In this process, it hit me!

I don’t HAVE to do anything!!

Yes, yes, I know the qualifiers. There are spiritual principles I don’t want to violate. There are things that are important enough to me that I want them in my life in some form. I can learn from the successes and failures of others. I don’t have the luxury of not working; I have to earn a living

Etc., etc….

But the truth is…I really don’t HAVE to do anything.

And for a recovering should-aholic, that’s a freeing thought!

I’m exploring these ideas; how do they fit for you?

  • I am free to take a fresh look at how I can best focus on my unique talents and strengths, de-emphasizing the weaknesses I’m constantly feeling I should correct. When I’m in the flow of what I do best, I’m much more successful and have more fun!
  • Just because I’ve invested time, money, and energy into a particular pathway, that doesn’t mean I have to keep doing it. After all, this may not be the pathway that leads to my current calling and destiny. (Think about it. If you make a bad stock market investment, would you keep throwing good money after bad? Or, if the market conditions change, would you hold onto something despite the passing of its prime time?)
  • I can choose to let go of some good things to make way for better things – even I’m quite sure what all the better things will be.

Principle #3: Replace burdensome should’s with conscious choices that honor your best talents, purpose, and calling.

Before Beginnings...Endings

Endings always precede beginnings. Will you join me in “cleaning out the old” to make way for the wonderful things that can be ours in 2004?

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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