Gotta be honest: I’ve scoffed at ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ every time I pass it on shelves or tables in the bookstore. I’ve picked it up, gone, “YAH SO YOU GET RID OF STUFF WHY IS THIS HARD,” and then put it back down.
Konmari? ::scoff:: I’ve got that shit nailed.
Only I’m afraid of my basement.
It’s where I put all the stuff that doesn’t live in my clutter-free upstairs existence. I avoid going down there so I can tell myself I’ve got my clutter handled and have no need for any new methods in the sparking joy department.
Admittedly, some of the stuff down there is still important. I’m not going to get rid of my Christmas ornaments or my suitcases in order to free up space, ’cause I’ll just end up buying them again within a few months. Likewise, I’ll still need rock salt and weed killer and a beach bag at some point in the near future.
The useful objects aren’t the reason I fear the basement; I fear the unknown ‘other stuff’ that has piled up over the years.
Sentimental objects that no longer work. I’ve tried to get rid of my high school clarinet before, but couldn’t, even though it’s been completely ruined by the basement damp for more than five years.
The unnamed clutter. The ‘oh I’ll just go through that later’ papers that yielded cellphone bills from 2006 and birthday planning leftovers from 2011. Empty worksheets that never got to be filled with goals. Empty folders. Artsy images I’ve printed but no longer want. Extra vases from Doey’s wedding planning circa 2012.
The papers I was sure I would need. I kept my wedding planning receipts in a folder because, apparently, you can return weddings from whence they came. Can I get a refund?
I’ve shuffled the papers around down there for years, only to find that there was nothing worth keeping upon further examination. Boxes and bags of papers, gone within a few hours.
Konmari level: superbly amazing A++.
All that clutter clearing got me to thinking about my business basement.
I’ve recently made some sweeping internal changes to my business that I promised I wouldn’t talk about for about a year — OH DEAR GOD WHY DID I PROMISE MYSELF THAT — but I’m actively doing the same sweeping and cleaning at a business basement level.
What’s lying around down there, in the basement, that I no longer find interesting or worthwhile?
What’s the business equivalent of a 2006 T-Mobile bill that’s already been paid?
Which is to say…
What do I keep shuffling around that doesn’t mean a damn thing to me anymore?
Much like my physical downstairs, my business basement turned up a shit-ton of stuff I don’t use, don’t care about, and don’t want to keep any longer.
My business basement contains five main offenders, which I’m ranking from least to most dangerous.
I’m guessing yours is similar. (Also my business basement is mostly virtual, so it’s even more cluttered than an actual physical basement full of spider webs — I can just upload all that shit to Dropbox and forget about it, hooray!)
These basement entities can hang around the edges of our psyches and hard drives, doing damage for years to come. It’s only when we take the time to examine each one that we realize they’re not only useless, but actively triggering mayhem in subtle ways.
Business basement offender #5: paid programs.
I come from a childhood in which you saved the ‘expensive’ lotion (retail value $4.99) for company and used the stuff from the dollar store for yourself, so deleting paid programs isn’t easy and triggers anxiety. But when they’re gone, aaaaaaaah: the deep sigh of relief like after you complete an intense workout and the first drops of water from the shower hit your aching shoulders. SO GOOD.
I deleted programs I’ve completed and no longer use, or once enjoyed but have moved beyond. No need to keep it for later, even though at one point it cost $499 or $2000 or $1499 or YAH IT DOESN’T MATTER I DON’T NEED IT ANYMORE.
I also deleted the ‘someday’ programs I was going to complete ‘when I had more time’ or when I suddenly developed an interest in accounting. Someday equals never. I admitted that and my trash bin rejoiced.
Business basement offender #4: books.
I’ve physically recycled some books (it’s doing the planet a favor to take them out of circulation, promise), while donating others to the library and offering my favorites to friends and clients. I keep a rather small bookshelf in my house and once it’s full, books have to be voted off my personal island or ordered from the library to be allowed into the house.
Without this practice, you’d have seen me on an episode of Hoarders in which I’m unshowered and weeping on the corner, screaming about how I’m really going to read The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe AND Stephen King AND Shakespeare AND Jane Austen starting tomorrow, dammit, while my relatives shake their heads on the sidelines and talk about how I’ve always had a serious book problem.
Business basement offender #3: free shit.
Sure, I’ll download your mandala coloring book and your sex guide and your full moon ritual tips and your dance video! Free shit HOORAY IT’S THE BEST!
…until it isn’t. Until you realize that, unless you would pay for a free thing, you shouldn’t download it at all.
Free shit is capable of wasting more of your time and energy than the entirety of the Real Housewives franchise, combined.
It’s often designed to simply sell something, if not multiple somethings, and is the internet equivalent of business junk food. My business doesn’t need more Twinkies, more corn chips, and more energy drinks: free webinars, free reports, free guides, free infographics, free secrets, tips, or tricks.
My business needs lentils and kale, quinoa and warm, nourishing broth. That shit doesn’t come for free, I’ve found, and those few people who offer the best and most delicious business food are the ones I’m happy to pay for their work.
Business basement offender #2: gurus, leaders, and aspiring empire builders.
People who ‘still have good information’ or who ‘have inspired me over the years’ but who now feel off, bad, wrong, confusing, or annoying got the boot. It physically hurt me to unsubscribe from a few peeps I’ve grown to love over the years, but honoring the parts of me that now say “Nope!” when those people talk is an act of love for myself and my business.
If I’m one of those people for you — if you shake your head and hope I’ll go back to sensible, blond-haired, non-sweary, bullet-pointed old times — it’s okay to let go.
Unfollow, unsubscribe, and move on. There are too many amazing, wonderful, and lovely people you can play with to spend even one minute more listening to someone who irritates you, rubs you the wrong way, or feels ‘off’ in ways you can’t exactly explain.
Even if they’re so smart or seem to have it all figured out. Even if they’re making millions, clearly have aaaaaall their shit together, or promise they can help you make your first six or seven or eight figures in the next six years (or months or weeks or days).
If they don’t make your heart light up and say, “Yes yes yes yes yes,” they won’t help you in the long term. PROMISE.
Further: I quit the Facebook groups, both paid and free, that I’d joined over the years but that I no longer cared about checking. The ‘communities’ that are little more than factories of LOUD, constantly popping up with notifications and marked with 20+ new conversations, but that didn’t hold my interest long enough to pop over and see what was going on in there. It was part digital, part human clutter that was taking up energy, so I quit. Over and over and over and over, I quit.
Yes, these ‘communities’ were a paid bonus, in many cases, and they could possibly be beneficial, someday, maybe, but that isn’t worth the daily energetic drains it takes to get to the maybe-possibly-helpful day in the future. Because right now, in this moment? The ‘communities’ aren’t helping. So I gave ’em up.
This was way more difficult than giving up the programs or deleting the freebies because people were involved (in theory), but I’m friends with the ones I like, and the rest? They’re no longer in my sphere of Facebook-ian influence. (Psst! I haven’t missed the ‘communities’ in the four months after my quit-a-thon. Not. Even. Once.)
Business basement offender #1: old beliefs.
These are the equivalent of those random piles of paper you’ve accumulated over the last decade: the mental clutter you move from house to house and room to room, never opening the boxes to make sure you still need what’s inside.
At the bottom of my basement, I found a bunch of beliefs that are no longer true. They went something like this:
I want to be in charge of a team.
I have to be in charge of a team to make a decent living.
I have to offer a scalable program to keep paying my bills.
I can’t get people to come to live workshops.
I have to sell my products and services using bullet points and pain points.
I have to wait until I hit $X income before I can practice radical generosity.
I can’t keep doing what I’m doing (coaching and listening and offering practical, intuitive advice while helping peeps make sweeping yet simple business changes) until I’ve found the perfect name for it.
I have to have an editorial calendar for the next six months to be legit.
I have to have a detailed business plan for the next three to five years to get where I’m going.
DUDE. NONE OF THAT SHIT IS TRUE.
I’m on a freaking business adventure and I’m open to what comes my way.
I’ve made major (major major major but I can’t tell you yet) steps toward radical generosity in the past few weeks.
I like selling from a place of ‘hey, let’s get together and see what happens when you learn this new stuff,’ not from DOES IT HURT WHEN I TALK ABOUT THIS LET ME JUST PRESS ON THIS PAIN POINT HARDER AND HARDER UNTIL YOU GIVE ME MONEY.
I’ve created editorial calendars for each six-month stint that I’ve been in business, like a good business girl should, but I’ve never stuck to one for more than three weeks.
My business is an adventure. And I like it that way.
Until you do the hard, hard work of opening up each envelope and laughing at what’s inside — much like finding a receipt for imitation sea glass purchased from Michael’s Arts and Crafts in 2005 — these beliefs hold unspeakable power over you.
They dull your sense of what’s possible. They carry a great deal of shame with them, as well as dreams you were sure would come true, and they are incredibly difficult to release into the wilds from which they came. They used to mean something. It’s hard to admit that they no longer carry that same meaning.
The work of releasing them — of noticing what you used to believe and holding it to the light to see if it’s still true — is worth it.
They’re no longer valuable, so they’re free to go. It’s okay to trash, delete, recycle, release, or eliminate the programs, books, people, and beliefs that aren’t relevant to who you are right now.
The art of noticing who bugs the shit out of you, rubs you the wrong way, or who relentlessly e-mails you free shit that seems aimed at taking your dollars but that in no way resonates with the core of your being is also difficult, but worth it.
When you’ve finished, you can look around your business basement and say, “I need everything that’s here.”
…and make no mistake, that shit will spark joy.
I’ve learned from everything I’ve decided to keep, and I’ve recycled, deleted, donated, or gifted the rest. That’s the hard work that ushers in a new day, a new way of looking at things, and a whole new era in your business.
You don’t have to listen to the cluttered voices or conflicting advice. You don’t have to accept gifts just because they’re free or carry ‘no obligation to join’ or because ‘you can cancel at any time.’
You don’t have to do business the way everyone else appears to be doing it.
I dare you to do the hard work of finding the ways in which you’d like to connect with your peeps.
The ways in which you can sell that feel good, as well as the ways that feel absolutely horrific. (You’ll inevitably find one when searching for the other.)
I dare you to do the hard work of connecting with and helping your clients in ways that feel light, ethical, and joyful for you. I repeat: light, ethical, and joyful FOR YOU. Not for that millionaire or that guru or those billionaires or as recommended by Fortune magazine. For you.
If you’re all, YAH BUT WHERE DO I START, Go Your Own Way: free yourself from business as usual is yours free when you join the Fuck Yah club. I suggest starting there. (Also it’s free, but don’t download it just because it’s free, GEEZ HAS THIS ARTICLE TAUGHT YOU NOTHING. If it’s interesting to you to learn how to market and sell your products and services in ways that are every bit as light-hearted as they are effective, get it here.)
May you clean your business basement all the way to the smooth and shining concrete, and may you usher in a whole new way of making a living when you start anew.
P.S. How to really freaking love yourself. Basement and all.