Sometimes I compare strategic planning to cleaning out the sock drawer. Here’s why: it’s a time to decide what to continue, what to stop and what to add. For my sock drawer, I dump everything out on my bed so I can see what I actually have! Some things I want are hidden under what I no longer need or want. Just like life.
I take those socks that are still in good shape – no holes put them back in the drawer. Next come the fashion and utility review. Hiking socks too thin to serve their purpose are out. I think I’m done with those cotton socks with funny designs – poodles, yes I did have one. Crabs, no. My astrological sign is Cancer, but don’t want the socks. Cactus socks from a gift store out west no longer seem cute. The orphan socks – I can’t imagine how we can lose one sock, but it happens. They go out too. The goal at this stage is to have sorted all the socks. They are either back in the drawer or on their way to the rag box or trash.
So far so good.
Next comes a moment of contemplation and discernment. What socks don’t I have but need or want? When I took up downhill skiing in my fifties it required a whole new type of sock. Then ten years later ski sock technology changed and so did my ski socks.
As we move into 2019, I am cleaning out the sock drawer in my life and inviting you to do the same. Cleaning out the sock drawer of life is an iterative process – something we do over and over throughout the course of our lives. What do we want to keep, toss and add?
How to start…
Think about the different elements of your life – your family, friends, relationships, work, interests, community, health, intellectual life, emotional, and spiritual life. You may be saying, all of those must go back in the drawer, they are what make up my life.
No argument there. This is about considering what aspects you want to hold onto and what do you want to change. Writing has been a part of my life for decades. It was always business writing, except for my journal until I decided to write a book and a blog. The writing part of my life began to look very different.
Being widowed in 2017 created a huge hole in my life and a chance to contemplate what I wanted to add and when. For example, Umberto went to bed early, so playing the piano at night was not an option but now it is, yet it’s taken me well over a year to realize that I had a habit of not playing, but the reason for not playing has gone away.
You may be an empty nester or have lost an aging parent. Role changes can open up possibilities. We may continue to deny ourselves outlets for creativity, fun and learning that were not possible at a different point in our lives. Or we may have a new boss or new source of income or reduced income. Whatever, it’s time to reconsider.
It’s OK to start small!
Over the weekend I realized my spice drawer and cabinet were just too full to close. So I emptied them on the counter and discovered to my chagrin that I had three tumerics, four cayenne peppers, two cloves, and four nutmegs – two ground and two whole, and trust me, these are not things I use even once a year – the pepper, yes, but FOUR??? Now that Umberto is not doing the cooking, I’m back in the kitchen and experimenting and in charge of what’s in the drawer.
Cleaning out the proverbial sock drawer is a chance to rebalance how we spend our time, energy and talent, (not to mention money). A key question is, Does this add to my well-being, my growth, my purpose, my joy? Of course, there are some must do, like taxes and buying food and you can also ask, is there a way to simplify, delegate or swap something you hate. Are there patterns or obstacles that make everyday tasks more burdensome than they need be? This is your chance to streamline.
This is your time choose. I’ll have some of this, a little of that, none of that and oh yes a second helping of that over there. Make this fun.
About seven years ago I added writing a weekly blog to my “drawer.” I did it initially to create an audience and platform for my book – Live Large: The Achiever’s Guide to What’s Next. There have been so many unexpected pleasures especially comments from many of you. The second is a realization that I want to go deeper with my writing and that means stopping my blog at least for now, to focus on this next iteration.
If you want to stay connected this year, I will still write business articles for Thrive Global (and Forbes Leadership in the upcoming months!) and post pieces on LinkedIn. You can always come back to www.elizabethbcrook.com and read blogs you may have missed.
Of course I would love to hear from you about what you decide to keep, take away or add to YOUR drawer.
Happy 2019 and let the adventure begin!