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As seen in the Dayton Daily News on February 23, 2019.

I’m typing this article while sitting in an airport terminal. I just finished the most wonderful road trip with one of my daughters. We visited several National Parks in the southwest, and stopped at anything of interest.

Everything was going beautifully until our drive from Utah to Colorado. As we were high up in the mountains, a snow storm hit causing very hazardous driving conditions. It was very dark outside with the sleet coming down making our visibility very difficult.

I decided we should cut our drive short and stay in a hotel room until the storm passed. Unfortunately, we were too high up for there to be any exits, which meant we had to keep going. Instead of letting fear paralyze me, I told myself, “I can safely get down this mountain.” I began thinking about what it would be like after we reached safety. We would check into a hotel, pull back the sheets on our beds and say goodnight. I found the courage to continue as I kept replaying in my mind the two of us reaching safety and making our way to our comfortable beds.

Fortunately, we did make it down the mountain and into a cozy hotel room. As I pulled back covers, I smiled because this image was now very familiar to me.

How could this story possibly have anything to do with organizing, you ask? When I help people organize their homes, I see fear paralyzing them. As we walk into their disorganized rooms, they begin sabotaging themselves with self-doubt and self-talk. The words “I can’t” suddenly become part of their vocabulary. They begin making excuses as to why they can’t get organized.

When you tell your brain you can’t do something, it believes you. It will feed into your fear and help you look for excuses to quit. You are actually asking your brain to help you fail when you say “I can’t.”

If you say, “I can’t organize this room,” your brain will start telling you things like: “You tried this before and didn’t succeed.  You’ve never been good at making decisions. If you had a bigger home, you could get organized.”

But when you become aware that you are saying “I can’t” and replace it with “I can,” your brain begins to look for solutions to help you reach your goal.

When you say, “I can turn my catchall room into a craft room,” your brain will start recognizing what needs to leave the room and what items stay based on your goal for the room.

Your self-talk sounds more like:  “I will start in this corner and keep only craft related items in this room.  I need to separate what I want to keep, from trash and donate.  I can turn my phone off and work with no interruptions.” 

You go from feeling paralyzed to taking action because you set your brain up to see what your goal is.  It then begins to work towards helping you accomplish your goal.

Whether you’re faced with a mountain of snow or a mountain of possessions, visualize reaching your destination and let that vision guide you as you work.