50 Ways To Leave Your Clutter

I recently took a bag full of clothes and accessories to http://www.bottomlessclosetnyc.org/ and I was surprised at how liberating the simple exercise was. Especially when times are tough, I think that we hold onto our “stuff” because it makes us feel a bit more secure. Closets full of “stuff” and a garage full of “stuff” can create the illusion that we have value.

Shedding even a handful of possessions creates so much space for other things. If you are having trouble letting go of that too-tight belt or too-small view of yourself, you may be hanging onto things that keep you too mired in the past.

My friend and fellow life coach, Gail Blanke, has written a new book http://www.throwoutfiftythings.com Through poignant and humorous stories, she inspires us to get rid of the “life plaque” we’ve allowed to accumulate. Her motto: “If you wanna grow, you gotta let go.” That means eliminating all the clutter – physical and emotional – that holds you back, weighs you down, or just makes you feel bad about yourself. I asked Gail (GB), to share more thoughts on how she personally gains clarity and “pays attention to her inner voice”:

AM: When and how do you do your best work?

GB: On a Saturday or Sunday when I work at my kitchen table with my computer and with my 2 cats and golden retriever nearby. I have this conviction that if my work week is chaotic, I say, it will be o.k. if I am at my kitchen table early in the morning on the weekend as I know then I will be able to do my best work. Because I have that positive mindset, it works out that way and the inspiration follows. In other words, I envision what it will be like and I make a positive assumption that when I’m there at that spot, that it will be good- that all will be o.k. And so the ideas come because I invite them in.

AM: Have you had to deal with naysayers?

GB: Yes, they are all over the place like a swarm of gnats. We all have to deal with negative comments especially if you are a big-thinker. People say to me all the time “Let’s not get carried away” or “To what end are you planning to do that?” I simply edit them out. There has never been a time when editing has been more vital a skill than it is now. We can’t let it all in. We can’t listen to all of the bad news on the TV or from people who tell us how bad “it” could get (whatever “it” is). You have to edit them out if you are going to move forward. I envision pressing delete in my mind. I say, “I am not going to listen to that.”

Remember what Russell Crowe said in “A Beautiful Mind” when he played John Nash? He was asked “Do you see them? (meaning the voices that were in his head). He responded, “Yes, they are still there but I choose not to acknowledge them.” You have to feed them for the thoughts to live. So feed your dreams and not your nightmares. The minute you are out there, for something big, you are going to hear those voices. Naysayers are part of the deal. They are always going to be there, but you don’t have to listen.

AM: How do you stay focused?

GB: I find it difficult because in times like this you try to be everybody’s everything and forget who you really are. I just try to stay very focused on who I am fundamentally and what I am here for. I complete the sentence:

“I am Gail and I am the one who________ and nobody does it better.”

So what am I doing here? I am the one who enables people to know how good they already are – that they are the right person at the right place at the right time and I take away anything that would get in the way, so that they can move forward.

AM: What is the greatest drain on your energy?

GB: Anxiety. Revisiting mistakes from the past. And doubting myself (“What if I am not that good?”) Fear is the single biggest drain on our energy The way to deal with it is back to “editing out”. You can’t concentrate on what’s possible when you are focused on what’s impossible. What gives me the greatest energy is motivating people. When I do what I am passionate about, such as coaching and speaking, I have more energy.

AM: In what ways have you been able to simplify your life to greater effect?

GB: Throw out fifty things. I do it all the time. I am always letting go of the things that clutter up my surroundings and my mind. I let go of anything that would sap my energy or curb my enthusiasm or lessen my confidence or just makes me feel trapped. I give it away. That could be an outfit, perfume or anything else that weighs me down. I just took well over 100 books to a community center and it felt very good putting those books on that table. Which is why I think http://booksforsoldiers.com/ is such a great site. You are paying it forward in a way.

AM: What is the single greatest piece of advice you’ve received in relation to being true to yourself?

GB: I quote my dad all the time. He always said, “Act the way you want to feel.” Act as if you’ve already achieved the goal, as if you’ve already won. Act like a person who is feeling optimistic and see what happens. It works. We are what we think about. So you gotta watch out on what you think about.

My mom would always say to me, “Wrap your arms around it, darling.” And that was her way of saying “capture the moment. Don’t miss it.”

Gail Blanke is a world-class motivator. She is president and chief executive of Lifedesigns, a company whose vision is to empower men and women to live truly exceptional lives. She has been “The Motivator” columnist in Real Simple magazine, a contributor to Body+Soul, a Martha Stewart publication, and appears regularly on CBS 2Sunday Morning. Gail has written three other books, including Between Trapezes and In My Wildest Dreams, a New York Times bestseller. She and her husband, Jim Cusick, have two daughters, Kate and Abigail, and live in New York City. You’re invited to visit Gail at http://www.throwoutfiftythings.com.