It Only Works If You Do The Work - Conny Graf

It Only Works If You Do The Work

Here we are already in February, how are you doing with your intentions goals and New Years resolutions for 2021? Are you still working on them or are part of the 80% who abandoned them by January 19 or part of the additional 15% who give up before the end of January?
Yes that’s right according to my Google research, 95% of people who set New Years resolutions and goals give up by the end of January.
One of the issues I see that are happening is, whether we are talking about a decluttering goal or any other goal like the most popular ones of losing weight, eating healthier or exercising more… and it goes like this:
I want to reach this goal but I don’t want to have to change, or do anything for it.
I get it, nobody wants to be on a diet, we all just want to be skinny, nobody wants to exercise, work out, go for walks or runs, but we all just want to be fit and in shape. None of my clients wants to clear clutter, tidy and organize, they just want to have less stuff and that stuff is magically all organized. all.the.time.
We are also all in a hurry because we think it’s better there than here and that once we are there, we don’t have to do any of that work that got us there anymore. We think that once we have “arrived” that life is so much better and easier.
Here’s an example that came to my mind while I was outlining this blog post and podcast episode: My mother struggled with her weight her whole life, and she had a friend who was quite skinny, effortlessly skinny so it seemed to my mother.
They would meet for coffee sometimes at our house and my mother, as any good hostess would, always had some cookies or pastries or a cake for the occasion. Her friend, who was funny enough also a Mrs Graf, would always just want to have a small piece of what ever was offered.
She was very polite about it, but also very firm, and my mother would get a bit irritated and then say to her friend: “well you are not the one with weight issues, so you could have a bigger piece” or something along that line. It didn’t seem to occur to my mother, that maybe because the other Mrs Graf was firm about how big of a piece she was going to have, that this was the reason she wasn’t struggling with her weight.
I witnessed this as a little girl with my mom and I witness a similar thing now with my clients. Most likely I am not the first clutter clearing coach, organizer, or money coach, they are listening to, they jump from one to the next because they are hoping and waiting to hear that one thing that will magically get them to where they want to be, without them having to do the work.
They just want to be skinny, not have to watch what they eat.
They just want to have enough money, without making smart money decisions,
They want to just have a clutter free and supportive environment without doing what it takes.
You might think if you could just be done with the decluttering and live a clutter free life you wouldn’t have to worry about going through your things, making decisions, feeling all the feelings that come up, and then letting go of things that are not loved and needed anymore.
You too might think there is a secret out there that if you just find it, understand it intellectually, that this will get you to where you want to be in record time.
But even if there were such a secret out there, understanding it intellectually is not knowing, understanding something is not enough.
I told my clients last week that they don’t come to the coaching calls to learn how to declutter. You can do that by reading books, asking other people or  google, and signing up for free online courses. We can listen, read and learn all we want, that is all passive. If we don’t apply what we learn, if we don’t do anything ourselves, nothing will change and all the learning and understanding is a waste of our precious time.
When I was preparing for this podcast episode I was also remembering back to when I was in high school, specifically in the Algebra and Physics classes. I have a pretty fast mind (Mercury in Aquarius for you Astrophilia friends out there) and it can really trick me to this day.
So back in high school, the teacher (who’s name was also Graf and he too was not related to me in any way) would explain something, some mathematical equation for example. I would hear it and see it as he presented it on the blackboard in front of the class. I would think that I understood it but then at home I would struggle with the homework when I had to actually apply what I just learned.
It’s not enough to just hear and understand something, we have to really know it. Know it with our body, and the only way how we can know it is by experiencing it, in other words by doing it ourselves, by applying what we learned.
That’s when what we learned sinks in, it sinks into our body, and we start to know it.
Also, when we are not doing, when we are not applying what we are learning, when we are not practicing it ourselves, even if the miracle would happen and we would wake up skinny tomorrow morning, or fit and in shape, or in a clutter free house, we wouldn’t know how to maintain that result.
I am sure you have heard of the stories of all these people who won the lottery, who won millions, and then a few years later they were broke again, sometimes more broke than before. Or the people that were on the these reality shows like “The Biggest Loser”, during the show they lost a lot of weight, but then a few months or a year later they were back to being overweight.
Or the people that are in the decluttering reality shows, where organizers, builders and interior decorator come in and declutter and organize the entire home and style it beautifully.  while the owners are on vacation. When they come back almost all their belongings are gone and the home is clutter free.
But without addressing the underlaying reasons and changing the habits that don’t serve you or them or are the reason why we have money issues, or weight issues, or clutter issues in the first place…. these problems will just creep back into our life, the surroundings or our circumstances may have changed, but we haven’t.
That’s why you want to avoid big changes but rather tweak what you are doing with small changes. James Clear says in his book Atomic Habits:
A lot of people overestimate the importance of one big change and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis.
I would add, they are not just overestimating the importance of one big change, but also underestimating the challenging effects of such a big change.
The challenging effects of being catapulted into a scenario or environment where you don’t recognize yourself and you don’t know how to handle it all. That’s why we fall back to how we did things before, to be back in familiar territory.
The impact created by small changes in your habits on the other hand is similar to the effect of shifting the route of an airplane by just a few degrees. We don’t need to make drastic changes to arrive somewhere different, or to have a different or better result, we can make small changes into the right direction on a regular basis. 
That’s why going slow is going fast. Making small tweaks, addressing the real reasons, applying daily what we are learning, we can experience the questions and the feelings that come up, work through them and that’s when the knowing begins to sinks in, you are on your way.
Unfortunately small tweaks often appear to make no difference at first, at least until you cross a critical threshold. And because most people are in a hurry, if nothing changes within a few days they throw their hands in the air and give up. They say that didn’t work and move on to a different approach in the hopes that this is the one gets them to where they want to be without them having to do the work.
A lot of us feel we have nothing under control these days, and it’s true, we don’t have under control whether we are going to reach our goals or not whether there is a pandemic going on or not. But what we always have under control, or in our control, is what we are doing on a daily basis.
Last month in my book club we read Seth Godin’s new book “The Practice”. I I love this book on so many levels, it’s about what we do daily, not about the outcome. Seth of course can articulate what I am trying to say here so much better, with so much elegance so let me quote him:
Seth writes
Effective goals aren’t based on the end result: they are commitments to the process. That commitment is completely under your control, even if the end result can’t be. But the only way to have a commitment is to begin. (page 31)
The practice requires a commitment to a series of steps, not a miracle. (page 40).
Choose to commit to the journey, not to any particular engagement. (page 73)
If you want to get in shape, it’s not difficult. Spend an hour a day running or at the gym. Do that for six months or a year. Done. That’s not the difficult part. The difficult part is becoming the kind of person who goes to the gym every day. (page 103)
BAM, there you have it. 
Goals, visions, intentions and New Years resolutions are good for setting a direction, but action, daily habits, you actually doing something, that serve those goals and visions is needed for making progress and for eventually reaching those goals.
The best part, those habits and steps will equip you with the tools needed to maintain your success once you reached your goal. That’s how the other Mrs Graf kept the weight off, that’s how people stay debt free, and how people live a clutter free life.
Now listen closely, even if you don’t reach your goal nothing is lost, read that again: nothing is lost! Because in this process you became a different person, a person that shows up for herself and her goal. A person that does the work. This is a win-win-win situation, I hope you can see that.
Just as life is a journey not a destination, decluttering is a journey not an event – I talked about that in episode 21 already, go have a listen 🙂
Living a clutter free life doesn’t mean you have no clutter in your life. It means you are constantly identifying and actively working on releasing and letting go of what ever you identify as clutter in your physical, digital, mental, emotional or social environment.
If you would want some help with that let me know, you can book a complimentary 20-minute call here, and if you’d like some simple outside accountability to reach your goals, I have you covered with that too, with the

From Chaos to Peace Accountability Program

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