I have a confession to make:
Left to my own devices, I’m not a very organized person.
My handwriting looks like it belongs to a 5th grade boy, my purse is often embarrassingly messy, and I have at least 10 computer tabs open at any given time.
My saving grace (and probably the reason I’ve been able to start + run a successful business) is that I’m unusually fast (and pretty darn good at thinking on my feet).
- I’ve signed a coaching client in an Uber ride during a thunderstorm (periodically muting the line to give directions to the driver)
- I’ve gotten a random idea in the middle of the night for a program, written up a sales page, and announced it on Facebook within a hour (this is how Marketing Mastery, my signature group marketing program for new coaches, was born)
- I can take a piece of writing from rough + scattered to gleaming perfection, 15 minutes before it’s due to a client.
I never thought I would have to grow in the area…until I started traveling.
Suddenly my slightly scattered (last-minute but lovable?) attitude no longer cut it. When wifi and electricity are unreliable, you move once a month, you don’t speak the language, the currency is always changing, AND you run your own business?
Disorganization doesn’t fly.
My disorganization pattern was brought to a head with my own coach, who, ironically, is one of the most organized humans I’ve ever encountered (in my coach training program I was taught that how we show up in coaching is how we show up everywhere else, and nothing could be more true).
I’m supposed to fill out a weekly form before each of our sessions and I neglected to do it. Three weeks in a row. And my coach called me out–BIG time.
“Rebecca, this is becoming a pattern,” she said. “You keep showing up for our calls unprepared and feeling overwhelmed and scattered. We are capable of having MUCH more interesting and high level conversations. What is this really about? And what would we be talking about if you weren’t always in overwhelm?”
Pow. She totally nailed it, and it really got me thinking.
Why did this pattern exist? And what would be possible if I WASN’T always running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off?
Here’s what I came up with:
Disorganization is my avoidance tactic of choice. It’s a way for me to escape being fully present in any moment because I’m always “running late” or “on a deadline.” It’s hard to notice when your life is out of alignment if you’re always rushing around. You can avoid feeling lonely when you’re frantically looking for your keys.
So I made the commitment to start getting more organized, but interestingly I felt worse not better (at first).
I found that when I had a to-do list and stuck with it I was crankier and more irritable throughout the day. When my room was spotless and I had more than enough time to get ready for an event, there was nothing to do but feel my feelings (not always my favorite activity).
But I stayed with it–and got support.
Soon it became clear that my work-life was out of alignment and I decided to delay a launch I had planned for May (a very scary and very uncomfortable decision you can read more about here).
Suddenly there was space…and I began to feel lighter than I had in a long time.
It has started to really sink in: I don’t have a disorganization problem (I have an avoiding uncomfortable feelings problem…just like every other human being out there. Disorganization and overwhelm just happen to be my flavor). With this insight, keeping my external environment tidy + maintaining a to-do list has gotten much easier…and when I resist cleaning up I know it’s a sign there is something deeper going on.
Does this strike a chord with you? What’s your flavor of avoiding uncomfortable feelings? I invite you to “out” yourself and let me know.
It’s freaking liberating.