Recently I got a record player and so I’m re-buying my favorite albums of all time… and among the first batch I snagged is Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman.
Perhaps you are as much of a camp-dork as I am, and you can’t help but sing along to “Father and Son” at the top of your lungs while simultaneously brushing back the inevitable torrent of tears:
“It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your fault
There’s so much you have to know
Find a girl, settle down
If you want you can marry
Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy
I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy
To be calm when you’ve found something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Why, think of everything you’ve got
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not…”
While I agree with Ol’ Cat on the idea that things are MUCH easier to shift when you make a conscious decision to pivot vs. rushing through things fueled by panic and fear, I actually disagree that it’s not time to make a change.
In fact, I think that EVERY DAY is the PERFECT DAY to make a change.
Even if the change you are making is to add yet another item to your mile-long “To Don’t” list.
In my opinion, making small shifts daily is EXACTLY how you can help ensure that both you AND your dreams have the space to stretch and grow and realize potential over time.
For the last several weeks I’ve been knee-deep in helping my folks downsize from a house to a condo.
For the record that’s a mammoth change and the opposite of say, relaxing and taking it easy. In fact, moving, which usually is a good thing, is also up with there, divorce and the death of a loved one as the top most stressful scenarios in life.
As I sifted through the flotsam and jetsam of not just my parents’ lives, but of my own as well, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed. And yet, I’m the type that welcomes changes and prefers to stay fluid and flexible vs. stoic and stagnant.
If you think about life as one big ass game, making little strategic moves daily is the best way to be #winning.
So before you go diving headlong into the deep waters of change, I submit that there are at least 8 small ways you can make what ultimately are huge shifts in your life.
1. Organize one thing a day: I wasn’t always a super anal person; in fact as a kid I had a poster of Oscar Madison in my bedroom right next to my Tiger Beat centerfolds of Leif Garrett and Scott Baio. But with the collision of being a responsible adult and a breeder, I developed a pretty significant addiction to housework; or more concisely, the overwhelming urge to bring order to chaos. Rather than make everyone (READ: especially myself) crazy, though, I just pick one thing a day to tidy up: the toothpaste/toothbrush/random toiletries around the sink, the junk drawer in the kitchen, my desk, the shampoo and conditioner bottles in the shower — whatever needs it most.
2. Smile and laugh — often: It’s so easy to get caught up in the unbearable heaviness of life… and when you are dragged down to the depths, it drains your will and your ability to do, well, anything. Turn that frown upside down and do something that brings levity in — call a funny friend, flip on Billy on the Street, go try on hats (I look like a maniac in hats and I can’t help but smile at the goofiness) — whatever births a little mirth for ya.
3. Detach with love: Some of the things that hold us back most are people and the obligations that come with them. Set boundaries, quit toxic relationships and make space for good things to come. This also applies to stuff that no longer serves you — sentimental clutter is, in the end, just clutter. Nobody can take your memories, but it would be nice if they took that broken lamp, the desk you never sit at and that pile of crap in your closet that you haven’t look at since 1912. Or maybe even before that…
4. Cop an attitude of gratitude: It’s so friggin’ easy to see the proverbial glass half empty, ain’t it? But that gin definitely doesn’t go with the juice you’re gonna need to get up and over the many humps you face on the way to a brand, spankin’ new you! Being grateful isn’t just about thankfulness; it’s about finding the good in everything. Now doesn’t that make it easier to see both sides of the glass — full or empty — as a blessing? AND that, my bitches, is how we best be moving on.
5. Keep calm and, well, you know what to do: Panic is the ultimate dealer of paralysis — give in to that pusher, and you’ll find yourself in a fetal position for life. I’m not saying that calm is something you have to come up with on your own; I’m all for better living through chemicals if that’s what it takes. But it still begins with mind over matter… and what really matters is that you don’t lose your mind.
6. Take baby steps: Thoughts become things, right? But the way that happens is when you take action. And while ACTION sounds like such a big word, the reality is it can be almost imperceptible. It can be as easy as jotting down a few notes, doing one Google search, making a single phone call or even just sharing an idea with a friend who can offer a helping hand. Babies are cute and simple (sorry, but they ain’t the brightest bulbs on the tree… yet…) so that takes the onus off of stepping, amiright?
7. Make a decision in the moment… to not have regrets: Indecision is the ultimate banana peel: it trips you up and knocks you flat on your ass. And that’s NOT the position you want to be in when you’re trying to move ahead. Use the best information you have at the time — for example, I haven’t worn this thing in 10 years, my kids don’t watch Disney movies on VHS anymore, etc. — and decide to let go. Sure, you might regret that decision at some point — for example, if you sold a full Disney VHS collection today you wouldn’t have to wait for your prince to come cuz it’d make you a bundle — but just accept that the ability to make a call and move on is more valuable than the $99 you might get for an old tape of Cinderella… or anything else for that matter.
8. Preserve what brings you joy, and chuck the rest: A lot of my BBFs quote Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and founder of the KonMari Method — “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” This dovetails nicely with my favorite mantra: don’t postpone joy. (I was gifted that nugget by a BBF who had too little time on this planet, but did so much precisely because she didn’t get bogged down by the non-essentials.) Be clear: this advice isn’t just about tidying; it’s a good litmus test for the mountain of psychic garbage that any given day can try to dump on your head. And nobody wants to take in trash — we take it out.
So if you see me facing the strange just know it’s cuz Bowie was right: time changes us anyways… and of course, you can’t trace time, now can you? Nothing left to do but change, change, change!
Image: “Vertical Cactus Climb” by Alan Levine