Just like with any trip we take, we begin with a light load that we carry. We board the plane ready for an adventure. We have the goal to start new, begin new, and experience all we have been anticipating and dreaming of. We arrive, jump off the plane and there we find ourselves immediately confused, excited, and slightly lost but we toss it up to being somewhere new. We find our place, drop our bags, call it the travel day, and grab a bottle of wine. We feel accomplished for the small things like finding our hotel, navigating a new city, and for maybe the first time doing something we are scared of. It feels amazing though utterly exhausting.
As the trip continues we go through ups and downs. Along the way we make friends, find favorite places, and somehow a sense of home in this new routine we have chosen for ourselves. Along the way, we also begin to pick up things. Our bags multiply and so do our clothes and memories. It’s a wonderful thing, but what results is our mobility lessens. We no longer are able to move from one city to another on our trip as easily as we did the first two or three times. Now moving is a burden. Those things begin to weigh us down though they seemed special in the moment when they were gathered.
This idea is no different in the journey of an entrepreneurial career. We plan our escape strategically, leave the day job that was the old routine, and find ourselves on a fast track into a new reality. It is fun and exhilarating and oh yeah scary as hell, but it is all we have been dreaming of. The freedom somehow outweighs the fear we have. At some point, maybe years into it, we realize we have gathered a lot along the way in our journey. These things have left us more cautious, fearful, weighed down emotionally and creatively, and those small things we entered the journey with now feel like large piles of trash bags we must move along with us. Sometimes and many times some of these are good things we have gathered. Most of the time though, much of it we no longer should have weighing on our minds or cluttering our desks. These things may be more than just the physical things that you placed on your desk that first day. These things may be relationships, stressors, physical spaces, or even preconceived ideas. Whatever these things maybe we sometimes must declutter our life in more than just a tangible way.
What I have learned in the last few years is that we have to find a way to declutter our lives and careers emotionally as much as we need to physically. Nearly every quarter I choose to organize a closet or drawer in our house, but I then find myself asking should I be doing this for my mind as well? Are there places up there that are holding me back and making my ability to be nimble in my career more possible or more difficult? I have found that the mental clutter is harder to discard. Typically those pieces are deeper and sometimes trapped behind other things that seem to hide the darkness it holds. Uncovering that feeling, pulling it out, and successfully tossing it out is nowhere near as easy as it is to discard old shirts and shoes from even the deepest place in your closet.
There is no doubt that progressing through life means the buildup of clutter. It will gather in your mind and heart whether from failures in your career that keep you from trying something new as easily, or successes that made you feel you reached the top and you won’t need to work hard as before. The clutter can come relationships. Maybe someone told you you wouldn’t do it or that make you feel guilty for success you worked so hard for. Whatever it is, you have to find your own way to recognize that minimizing those things from your life and letting them go can propel you further in your career.
It won’t be easy and this year we chose to make it a priority. Your 20’s are a great time to work through this clutter whether through choosing to use meditation (we love Head Space) or by getting a counselor. We can focus a lot on taking care of our bodies and forget that our minds are an important part of caring for our bodies. I can say that personally and business wise that choosing to make a point of decluttering my mind and all that has gathered over the years is one of the greatest decisions I have made in my late 20’s. You find strength again you forgot you had. There is so much value in that that I didn’t understand till finding myself here; more decluttered with less baggage.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this and how you choose to preserve and protect your mind from too much clutter. It is a topic I am just not jumping into.
Image from Vogue UK about the Charlotte Gainsbourg and Current Elliott Collaboration