If I had to describe my experience in 2015 with one word, that word would be “overwhelmed.”
I’ve been overwhelmed not my bad things, but by good things. I’ve made a lot of headway towards my goals, but in doing so I’ve come to appreciate an old lesson my father taught me many years ago: “it doesn’t matter how much goodness flows into your life if you don’t have room to receive it.”
I once heard a speaker put it this way: if you take a water-glass to the ocean, how much water can you take home with you? A glass full. If you take a bucket to the ocean, how much water can you take home with you? A bucket full. The amount of water in the ocean is vast. How much water you get to take home with you, however, is based on your capacity to receive. And your capacity to receive is based on the resources and tools you bring to the experience.
My personal development project as of late has been to clear away the things from my life that hinder my ability to make room for the stuff that really matters. This means restructuring my priorities, dropping unproductive habits, changing the way I work, creating healthy boundaries, and adopting practices that nourish my spiritual and professional life.
Several weeks ago, my business partner and good friend Isaac Morehouse instructed the entire Praxis team to read a book called The E-Myth Revisited. There were many passages in the book that resonated with me, but the following passage struck the strongest chord:
The work we do is a reflection of who we are. If we’re sloppy at it, it’s because we’re sloppy inside. If we’re late at it, it’s because we’re late inside. If we’re bored by it, it’s because we’re bored inside, with ourselves, not with the work. The most menial work can be a piece of art when done by an artist. So the job here is not outside of ourselves, but inside of ourselves. How we do our work becomes a mirror of how we are inside.
Each day I’ve been doing small things to make myself and my work a little less sloppy. Today, I spent three hours cleaning up my Gmail account. I organized my messages into folders, deleted unnecessary messages, emptied the trash folder, unsubscribed to over 30 newsletters, and went through all of my old messages until I reduced my inbox count from over 4K to zero. Here’s a snapshot of the before and after:
I can’t even begin to say how amazing it feels to whittle things down like that. No, that one small change isn’t going to make me a million dollars nor is it going to make me a rock star. But it gives me a little more space to work with. My mind even feels less cluttered.
This is how massive changes are made: by taking baby steps towards the process of building better practices.
You don’t have to wait until New Year’s nor do you have to save up a bunch of money so you can hire a personal assistant. You can start right where you are and begin reducing the amount of clutter in your life. If I can, anyone can.