To create an organized life, ditch your identity!

To create an organized life, ditch your identity!

Quick quiz!  What’s your number one obstacle to getting organized? 

  1. Lack of the right tools - color coordinated Container Store boxes…and hangers…and spice drawer trays
  2. Lack of the right system - inability to determine if box of college textbooks sparks any deep feelings within you or…tired…of…rolling
  3. Lack of time - pesky family/job/life that takes up all of your time that you really need to devote to clutter clearing

Answer - none of the above :)

To quote the much used trope: the call is coming from inside the house (oooohhhh!!)

What does that mean?

It means that the key to getting organized is internal, not external and you need to drop your current perception of who you are organization-wise if you want to change!

If this sounds strange, please stay with me and I’ll show you what I mean!

Have you ever said any of the following?:

  • “I’m disorganized and always have been”
  • “I guess I’m just clutter blind”
  • “I’m too indecisive/emotional/paralyzed when it comes to dealing with my possessions”
  • “I’m the kind of person who is hopeless at organization, this is just who I am”

Plot twist: your organizational state is not part of your DNA -  you can change!

I mean, think about it - does it make sense to hang this one identity around our necks as if it’s etched into our souls from the moment of birth? Were you a disorganized baby 🙂? Where is it dictated that if you were a messy teen or scattered young adult that’s just who you are forever?


What labels have you used to self-identify throughout your life that no longer resonate or are downright hilarious in retrospect? Are you still emo/goth/punk? Will you still only eat Count Chocula for breakfast?  Maybe so and that’s fine but the reality is that you’ve gone through many phases and tried on various identities throughout your life which is exactly how it’s supposed to go! 


Why do we believe that whatever our current organizational state is = our actual identity and that identity is more or less permanent?

Why do we take this self branding or others' perception of our organizational state as status quo? “Oh I’m just the hot mess sister, everyone in my family knows it”, “Don’t lend Lucy anything, she’ll lose it in the black hole of her closet!

Why do we accept that our current organizational state can only be changed or managed via external solutions (e.g. the latest book, system, gear, etc.)?

It’s just what we’ve been taught to believe but it’s NOT TRUE!

Well….okay, so now what??

If you want a new identity you have to think new thoughts first.

One more time and louder:

If you want a new identity you have to think new thoughts first.

I know, I hear you saying “What? Huh? What on earth are you talking about?!?!

Let me explain…

We’re typically taught to “fake it ‘til we make it” or “act the way we want to feel”; i.e., plaster a smile on your face and you’ll eventually feel happy! Nice idea but not practical - you have to first think the thoughts that will lead you to feeling differently, not the other way around. 

Example: If your brain is full of thoughts like “I’m a disaster, I can’t keep my sh*t together” then you are likely going to feel subconsciously out of synch when you try to wave a wand with a “30 Days to an Organized Home Challenge’. You might have enough optimistic steam to get the train out of the station but without changing your thoughts about your identity you won’t achieve any lasting results.  

Here is where you are no doubt thinking “nice concept but what am I actually supposed to do to change this state of affairs?!”  We go into this in more detail in our Starter Guide to Overcoming Organizational Challenges (link) but the following are some basic concepts:

→ Take time to imagine a different, or future, version of yourself and practice thoughts that your future, more organized self might think. 

For example, if your current thought is:

“Being disorganized is how my family is, I’m just like my mom and she’s been that way my whole life”

Your future self might want to think something like: 

“I am an effective manager of my life and possessions, organization is not a genetic trait”

Is that a bridge too far right now? 

I get it, sometimes jumping from current identity/thoughts to future desired identity/thoughts is just toooo much of a stretch. If that’s the case, try something in between. We call them elevator thoughts because they transport you floor by floor to your desired destination!

Some elevator thoughts you could practice…

“I’m becoming someone who isn't overwhelmed by my stuff”

“I’m discovering what organization looks like for me.

“I’m developing my own unique organizational style that doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s”

The wrap up

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve identified as whatever your current organizational state is (messy, hopeless, etc.) You can morph into a new identity that works for who you are now and  where you are now in your life, not who you used to be.

You control your brain and your thoughts and have the internal power to create a new identity by thinking new thoughts! You don’t need a new magic system to change, just a few new thoughts.

Kind of freeing, isn’t it?! 

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