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March 10, 2011

How to Create Change in Four Steps

Recently, I’ve made a big change in my life:  I’ve become one of those people who exercise regularly. It’s shocking, but it’s true. While this isn’t the first time I’ve been one of those people who exercise regularly, it is the first time in a long time. I used to be a runner but then I hurt my leg (and my feet) and had to give up running. And if I couldn’t run…well then…I just wasn’t going to do anything (except for yoga once a week.)


But in the past seven weeks something remarkable has happened. I’ve gone from someone who did yoga once a week (and didn’t exercise at all the other six days of the week) to someone who exercises enthusiastically four times a week.


In the process, I’ve learned a lot about how change happens. And I’ve learned a lot about the power of creating change from a place of wanting the outcome as opposed to a place of feeling like you should want the outcome. And what I’ve learned applies to getting organized, too. If you want to get more organized (and if you want to stay organized) it requires a shift in how you do things on a regular basis.


Organizing, like exercising, isn’t a onetime event, but rather a lifestyle change. It’s about making regular decisions that lead to order, as opposed to making regular decisions that lead to chaos and clutter.  So let’s take a look at how I went from exercising once a week to exercising four times a week…and then apply it to getting organized. Here’s how it happened…

One Saturday morning I was waiting outside the Tae Kwon Do room at our local YMCA waiting for Kailea to finish up her weekly class. Aside from learning self defense, Kailea was also getting one heck of a great workout. And I was watching.

Meanwhile, a mom of one of the other Tae Kwon Do students was flipping through the YMCA catalog, exploring the options for a Saturday morning fitness classes. She noticed that Boot Camp started at the exact same time as Tae Kwon Do. She said this out loud. I heard her say it. And without any intention of doing so, this mom planted a seed in me. I thought “Does it really make sense that I’m sitting here watching my child get fit…when I could be getting fit, too?” The answer was no. It didn’t make any sense at all.

So between that Saturday morning when the seed was planted and the next Friday, I decided to go to Boot Camp. I posted my crazy decision on my Finish It Friday blog post, which meant I couldn’t back out. I was terrified. Boot camp? Me? I do yoga once a week…I’m in no shape for boot camp. And guess what? I was right! I wasn’t in any shape for boot camp, but I was accountable. I had to go…and so I did. 

And so it began. One seed planted. One decision made. And one blog post to hold me accountable.

The accountability continued.  Group fitness classes have a way of doing that. I know I wouldn’t do nearly as many crunches at home as I do in a fitness class…or sprints…or pushups…or you name it. I wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t a class full of people doing it with me. I run harder, lift heavier weights, do more reps, and exercise with greater conviction because of the instructor and my classmates. The best part of this effort and accountability is that I feel so successful when class is over! And this feeling breeds the desire for even more success. I began thinking, when else can I fit exercise into my schedule? The answers were rather simple.  On Tuesday nights I can run while Kailea in gymnastics class and on Wednesday nights I can do a total body conditioning class before Tae Kwon Do. With minimal tweaks to my schedule…I am working out four times a week!

So, how does this apply to getting organized and clearing the clutter out of your home? Here are four simple steps to creating change.

Step 1:  Decide to make a change. Make this decision from the place of wanting the result, as opposed to a place of guilt or should. Why do you want to get more organized? How would your life be better? How would you feel if you were taking steps forward in the direction of a more organized home and life?


Step 2: Make yourself accountable. Accountability was a huge factor in my taking the step from deciding to go to boot camp to actually getting my butt into boot camp! Believe me, when the alarm clock went off that first Saturday morning and the reality of my decision hit me…I wanted to hit that snooze button and roll over and pretend it was all a dream. But I remembered that I had made myself accountable. I had posted on my blog so now I had to do it!

You don’t have to have a blog to create accountability for your organizing goals. Ask a friend to be your accountability partner. Or join one of my online workshops. The online community is a place to proclaim your daily organizing intentions and hold yourself accountable so that you take those forward steps that you want to take.


Step 3: Enjoy the feeling of success. Once you’ve made yourself accountable, you will take a forward step. The next step is to allow yourself to really enjoy each step of progress that you make. Don’t hold out on feeling successful until you’re done; instead recognize and celebrate every step of progress you make! When you feel successful you want to create more success. So acknowledge each forward step you take…and feel good about it!

Step 4: Find a way to fit organizing into your schedule.One of the main reasons I have been able to add three weekly workouts to my schedule is because I found places where workouts fit into my existing schedule with just minor tweaks. The Saturday boot camp class and Tuesday night run meant no tweaks at all…I just have to change into my workout clothes before going somewhere I was already going anyway. On Wednesday nights we have to leave 45 minutes earlier for Tae Kwon Do to make it to my fitness class, but this schedule tweak is well worth the effort.


By following these four steps you will find yourself creating amazing results.  Give it a try…you just might surprise yourself.


I’d love to hear from you…what works for you when setting out to create change? Please share your ideas in the comments. 


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Becky@Organizing Made Fun

I, too, have an accountability as I have also blogged about my losing weight and my four day a week work out:

I also have a friend that meets me here at 6 AM four mornings a week. And, boy is she good at texting me the night before as a "I'll see you in the morning" and I know I can't miss it. But, we work out hard up the hill of death {see the post and you'll understand!}.

Becky B.
Organizing Made Fun


That's a great inspiration - what a great idea to use the time you already spend at the place to exercise yourself! I have just one question: what's your daughter doing on Wednesdays when you have to leave 45min early for your exercisingclass? Does she do her homework there? Or did you find an additional class for her that she attends?
have a great weekend!


Hi, evi,

Thanks for your question. My daughter watches the first 30 minutes of my class. She is very supportive of my new desire to exercise...and so she was really open to sitting there. (Which is great.) Then she goes to her class 15 minutes get warmed up / watch the class in front of her, etc. She does homework after school...before the classes, etc.


I too sat outside the martial arts class and heard that mom discuss boot camp. I have now gone 3 weeks in a row and enjoy getting to know you and feel good to have completed the workout. I also enjoy Wed night Toning class and it helps that we have kids that are at an age where we can feel good about their activity as well as our fitness activity. I totally agree with your four steps and have implemented those in my life since 11/1/2007 and have since lost 90 pounds. I am glad to read your steps tonight since keeping the weight off is as much of a struggle as losing it. Anything in life can be tackled with the steps you mention. Thanks for the post and see you Wed at class!!!


I also find that sometimes "just do it" is enough to kick me in the pants. It might not lead to sustained change, but a case in point is a tall stack of shredding that had accumulated. Since taking your Paper Organizing workshop last year, I have tried to continually chip away, 15 minutes a day, at backlogs like this. But for some reason, I kept working on anything but that shredding pile, which of course just grew. Finally, last week, while things were a little slower than usual, I thought, "Just shred 2 inches of paper today." And 2 inches really didn't take that long! I was thrilled to see how quickly I was whittling down the pile, and I ended up shredding until the pile was gone. Since then, staying on top of the daily shredding has been so much easier.

Sometimes procrastination builds things up in our minds, and it's a very pleasant surprise to find out, once you take action, that the project you've been dreading is actually not so bad.


ej215, thanks for your comment! That is so true about procrastination and how our mind makes things bigger than they are sometimes. :)


Organized Living Solutions

What a lovely and useful post, thank you!
I especially like step 3, we so often forget to enjoy our successes and instead race on to the next thing.

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