colors

That Thing Stopping You Likely Isn’t the Thing at All

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Last week, Melissa and I began work on a new household budget. Yes, it was as fun as it sounds, and it also took me on a ride I never anticipated taking. Buckle up.

Money can be such a heavy topic, amiright? One that we’d much rather avoid, particularly when it comes to looking at how much you have coming in versus how much you have going out. I don’t know about you, but I’m often tempted to turn a blind eye.

But I’m also well aware of how abundance works: ignore your money and money will ignore you.

Knowing a revised budget is needed, we dove in. We started by evaluating our monthly subscriptions. Isn’t it cray cray how easy it is to accumulate subscriptions these days? Eight bucks here, $19.99 there. Those little suckers add up! But I digress.

We evaluated my monthly business subscriptions and found a couple about which I can investigate more cost-effective alternatives. We then moved on to the personal ones and determined we could cancel a digital subscription to a newspaper I wasn’t reading and that we could consider uses Google docs more allowing us to cancel Office365.

Then Melissa asked about my Weight Watchers membership. Did I want to cancel it or keep it?

Ooh, child, I felt all sorts of shit bubbling up to the surface. It’s no secret to either of us that I wasn’t using the program and therefore wasn’t benefitting from it. Unless, of course, there’s a prize for who can gain the most weight while doing it. But what’s the big deal? It’s just $20 a month. I’m not using it, so get rid of it. Easy, right?

Not so much.

I was silent after Melissa posed the question. The only communication I offered was a grimace across my face.

“What’s that face for?” she asked.

I grimaced harder because I wasn’t quite sure yet. I just knew I felt a swirl of emotions in my body.

“Just give me a minute,” I said.

I closed my eyes, took some deep breaths and asked my resistance, silently, what was going on.

If I agree to cancel it, then I’m fully throwing in the towel and officially giving up.

And there it was. The message in the mess. Or at least part of it. It’s pretty incredible what your clutter will tell you if you just ask.

I was kidding myself into believing I still had a foot in the game so long as that app was on my phone. After all, I could decide to track my food one day, or I would at least have the option of logging some activity on there. And it allowed me to not fully face the truth of how off track I am with my health.

As I unpacked my resistance a bit more, I also discovered that this membership felt like my last connection to the town I lived in before moving to southeastern Connecticut. Every Wednesday, I’d go to meetings and see my “WW friends” as I called them — mostly older women who made me feel like I was in a room of loving mothers. Occasionally, we’d get together for a walk through the beautiful state park near my house, encouraging each other to keep going or walk faster.

Oh how I loved living there. Newburyport is a special little city on the coast of Massachusetts up near the New Hampshire border. It has the most quintessential New England downtown and a community of people who vibe on my level. Where we live now feels far from that, but I can’t know for sure as I intentionally haven’t integrated myself here since the plan was for this to be a temporary stop.

We moved down here to be closer to my brothers-in-law who are in the trades and had offered to help us build our tiny house. We estimated about eight months or so and then we’d be on our way. But there’s been delay after delay, challenge after challenge, and disappointment after disappointment, and here we are more than two years later.

Oh for the love! Even typing “two years later” makes my stomach drop. Suffice it to say, I’m discouraged and frustrated.

So clearly there’s much more to cancelling this membership than I thought. I never expected Melissa’s simple question to send me down such a rabbit hole, but as I climb out the other side, I’m reminded of how much lives within clutter — physical, mental, emotional, or financial.

What started as identifying an outdated expense turned in to the unraveling of my resistance to living where I am. And I can now see that this monthly fee for a membership that represented a time of such joy in my life is actually part of the reason we’re still stuck in a location we have no desire to be in anymore.

It’s as if the energetic cord I need to plug in to our next adventure first needs to be unplugged from the previous one.

Whoa this clutter stuff is big, right? You think it’s about one thing but it’s about a whole lot more.

Instead of living in the past or dreaming of the joy that will come in the future, my hesitation to cut that membership cord tells me it’s time to create more happiness now. Right where I’m at. To no longer put my life on hold until our build is done. Only then will I be free to move on.

I’m curious, where in your life are you hanging on to clutter that might be preventing you from moving your life forward? What is it time to let go of that you find you’re hesitant to release? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

Oh and I ended up not only cancelling the membership, but also turning over the admin responsibilities and leaving the Facebook group I started for those who attend those Wednesday meetings. And while I may not see it yet, I just know that doing so will help us finally wrap up our tiny house build and get on the road.

34 replies
  1. chris
    chris says:

    I love this post – so much truth it hurts. Yes I will re-read and re-think. I am swimming in debt and unable to make the phone calls I need to make, thus getting me deeper in the quagmire – and so much more. I just might need to print this out and tape it to my mirror so I can read it every day until I get that “aaa haaa” moment and can fix this mess. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Chris! How about committing to one small step — could you make one of those phone calls today or tomorrow? If that feels scary, find an even smaller step like deciding which phone call you’ll make and scheduling a time when you’ll make it. Join me in reclaiming our power! What do you think?

      Reply
  2. Marla
    Marla says:

    It simply amazes me how that stuff happens. I cleaned out my closet on Sunday. On Wednesday four clients paid and 5 new jobs came in… I think I’ll go naked now and see what else shows up!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Hahaha! That’s awesome, Marla! I love how this stuff works! And congrats on all the new biz. Go naked and you might get all sorts of unintended new leads. Ha!

      Reply
  3. Julie Pineda
    Julie Pineda says:

    Thank you! I to am at a 2 year mark…..1.5 years past where I should have been. My plug is being pulled today and I am plugging into another socket to open the next door! Been clutter clearing all week to move and it IS happening soon!

    Reply
  4. Tracy
    Tracy says:

    What an inspiration! I am in the middle of a remodel that is dragging on and on and on. Tons of frustration, fear, and longing to have my entire house back (half my upstairs is ripped up as the new dormer is on but plumbing the new bathroom is on hold), I find myself saying often, “once this remodel is finished I will ___________.” I see now this needs to stop. I need to clean out/unclutter my garage before the remodel is done. I need to set up a temporary room for guests. I need to move forward with my life despite the dragging remodel. I need to do all this NOW. I pride myself in living in the moment and to say this project has zapped my energy is an understatement. I need to get fired up now and stop waiting. Thank you for your honesty and your challenge of being tied up in the things of the past or waiting on the future. The right here and now should be embraced….it is the BEST place to be!!!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Oh yeah, Tracy, living in “Once I….” is the same as living in “Someday.” Let’s live NOW! Set yourself up for success by breaking those projects down into very small steps. “Cleaning out the garage,” and “setting up a room for guests” sound like big jobs and as such will cause your resistance to throw a temper tantrum. 🙂 Instead, identify the very first step you’ll take toward accomplishing those two projects. And then act!

      Reply
      • Bonnie
        Bonnie says:

        Wow..maybe that will work with the years of paper clutter I seem to attract. I’m like Pigpen magnet! Even my desk at work! It’s great to HAVE it but not if you can’t Find it! I feel like I walk in my house and look at computer/desk area and am immediately more stressed than at work…home sweet home, NOT. Amazing how it’s cluttering my mind, which is so cluttered I can’t make decisive actions at times…ugh. I’m very knowledgeable, proficient nurse but somethings got a hold of me..your suggestions sound so logical and easy in theory 😧

        Reply
        • Kerri
          Kerri says:

          I totally get it, Bonnie. Just last night I broadcasted live on Facebook with some quick tips about managing paperwork clutter. You can watch it here: https://www.facebook.com/KerriCoach/videos/10156780896642908/. Another quick tip about a cluttered mind is to do a brain dump. Take out a pen and paper and spend 5-10 minutes emptying all the thoughts you’re holding in your head. Your brain is a brilliant computer, but drags when overloaded with too many files. That can make it hard to make decisions and access creativity. Give it a go!

          Reply
  5. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Wow! Powerful message and comments. I’ve been waiting for a decade to live with my husband (were geo-separated due to his work and have been since 3 months after our marriage– initially I stayed in NH for my sons and now for my 89 year old mom). Hard to believe that a decade has gone by! I know I need to pull the plug and move forward into living now…even though we want to stay together, I need to build a life and a community where I am now…so much postponing, waiting for our circumstances to change… Thank you, Kerri!

    Reply
      • Nancy
        Nancy says:

        Hi Kerri… It’s kind of looking like a couple of month action plan. My husband is interviewing here in the East next week and – whether he gets the position or not – my plan is to begin looking for a job here in May (maybe even a temporary position which would allow me to travel when I don’t have an assignment). I need to do things in the community – work, see friends, volunteer as I’m feeling pretty unfulfilled and lonely right now. My short term goal is to update my resume by Sunday.

        Reply
  6. Pat
    Pat says:

    Thank you for being vulnerable with this post. We have both kids in college this year and I’ve been a stay at home mom yet it’s time for me to get a paying gig. I’ve got a lot of paper clutter which started in 2013 and I’m getting nowhere with finding a job. I know my resistance to tackling the paper piles is buffering me from the fear of going back to work. My friends who have gone back into the workplace tell me awful things about office politics and drama. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture 😕

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      That’s some really powerful insight, Pat, knowing that the delay in handling the paper clutter is a convenient distraction to finding a job. Yes, awful politics and drama can be taxing, but only if you let it. The better boundaries you have, the less you’ll worry about that stuff. So the other clutter here is relationship clutter. Where in your life currently do you need some boundaries? What steps can you take to begin strengthening those muscles? Check out this blog post for some ideas: http://kerririchardson.com/pause2/ You got this!

      Reply
  7. Alayna
    Alayna says:

    I can relate to this on so many levels – thank you! I am 5 years over when I realized I wanted to leave my job (this July I will have been there 10 years). I have stayed and tolerated so much that I shouldn’t have and continuing to work my a** off (because I don’t know how not to do things that way) for a company that doesn’t show their appreciation for my loyalty, dependable work and strong work ethic. They told me 3 years ago that they thought I was at the max salary level for my position, yet they continue to load more work on me and told my department that the new career advancement plan they are rolling out for the rest of the company doesn’t apply to my department. Not to mention the toxic people that kill my energy there, making all the above worse. My roadblocks are: I dislike looking for jobs very much, I have no desire at my age to leave there and repeat the cycle of staying beyond my tolerance at a different job that won’t fulfill me either, I make more money than my spouse and I provide the health benefits (and my employer covers 65% of the premiums of my FAMILY health insurance enrollment which I have never heard of with any employer and equates to thousands of dollars). I also am a co-founder of a community group that I started to advocate for action because my son was unknowingly exposed to toxic chemicals prenatally until almost 6 years old. Since my community was one of the 1st to discover our contamination, the work for that is essentially a 2nd job and reaches beyond my family – at a national level for others who are just now finding out they were similarly impacted. My desire/ideal job is to use my skills as a health coach to help people take care of themselves and feel empowered to make healthy choices for themselves and their families. (Ironic that this was my goal even before I knew my son was exposed). Feeling stuck and know my job is a big part of the sticking point!

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for joining the conversation, Alayna! While circumstances surrounding your employment can certainly make you feel like there aren’t any other options, I’d suggest brainstorming how you might set some boundaries at work. How can you make your current work situation more tolerable? Like my example in the post above, the more trapped and entangled you feel, the longer you’ll be stuck there. So how can you energetically detach a bit? Like, say, being less of a hard worker. I know that likely goes against your work ethic, but if you even scale down a bit you’ll likely still be more productive than most people you work with! And doing this will bring you closer and closer to pursuing your work as a health coach. What do you think?

      Reply
      • Alayna
        Alayna says:

        I think trying to detach is a good idea. I tend to be so connected to the outcome being the best that it can be, that I become frustrated when I care about it more than other people do –
        especially when it seems like my supervisor/owners should be the ones who care about it the most. Maybe trying to adopt the lower standards that they have will avoid that/ result in me not working as hard. After all, it’s their business, not mine. Then I could shift focus to things that will empower e. Thank you!

        Reply
        • Kerri
          Kerri says:

          Exactly, Alayna! I was in a similar situation at a past job — feeling like I cared more than the ones in higher positions making way more money than me. Once I decided to go into the office caring less about what I saw as unfairness or injustice and simply focused on doing my job and clocking out, I found myself energetically free to leave finally after 2+ years of wanting to move on!

          Reply
  8. Christine
    Christine says:

    Hi Kerri, I love your honesty and the fact that you share your real struggles with these clutter issues in real time . We teach what we most need to learn. I serve others cleaning and organizing but my home is filled with papers , when I get some time projects.. , when I go .. I will wear ..never wanting to let go of ideas. I have had intentions but have not transformed into reality in present time . I am an optimistic on the Someday mantra. I have donated to many fitness clubs for years without attendance and have fantasizes about my amazing body I will have when I get those dvds . I have made progress as I have begun your clutter clearing class . It is slow and steady but I do have hope my someday will be today .

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      It’s so enticing to live in “someday” right, Christine? But then someday never comes because dreaming about it gives us our fix enough to not actually do anything to make it happen. And round and round we go! Good for you for the progress you’re making. Believe me — slow and steady definitely wins the race!

      Reply
  9. Julie
    Julie says:

    Thank you for this post! So very interesting! I’m very new to the whole idea of clutter clearing and I am still thinking only in terms of physical stuff. This puts such a great example in front of me on how to look at the non-physical stuff. I find that I struggle a lot with simply “doing the work.” (For example just started doing my assignments.) I want to, I always seem to find something else that needs to be done first until there is no time left to really look at what I am out to accomplish. I think I will start there. Looking at why it is I resist just doing the work.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Oh yes, Julie, physical clutter is typically symptomatic and rarely the core issue. That’s what I find so fascinating about it all and that’s how you can use your clutter as a powerful tool for transformation. It’s your resistance that’s in charge when you find yourself looking for a distraction (that’s the “there’s something else that needs to be done” thinking), and that’s when the Pomodoro Technique® can work so well. Check out http://www.pomodorotechnique.com. And yes, you might find that the first clutter you need to tend to is your resistance instead of the physical stuff. Also, if you don’t have my clutter message ebook, scroll up this page and in the right margin, you’ll see where you can get it.

      Reply
  10. Bruce
    Bruce says:

    This is some hard-won wisdom 😉 Thank you Kerri, for being as honest and vulnerable about your own life as you inspire us to be about ours. Your story is so relatable and powerful. Also, it reminds me what courage it takes to delve into those things that cause a catch in our breath or quiver in our voice. Because you were willing to go deeper, you brought all of us with you. Thank you, thank you, thank you! And thank you to Melissa for opening the door for your journey with such gentleness and care.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks, Bruce. Life is a never-ending classroom, sometimes tiresomely so yet other times intriguingly so. This was a bit of both! I’m glad it inspired you to consider peeling some layers, too. 😉

      Reply
  11. Vicki lee
    Vicki lee says:

    Hi Kerri, this was interesting and helpful – as is usual from you. I really like the visual that comes up for me with the plug in and plug out thing. I’ve adapted it a bit to suit what my clutter is telling me currently. I could get very lost in all the challenging mayhem going on at the moment and it’s tricky finding the messages but they’re popping up when I get quiet. So yeah, plug in plug out time, especially for people that are cluttering up my well-being. Of course I don’t mean it in a simplistic way but it helps me hear what’s really going on when I find the plug connected to it.

    Reply
  12. clickercricket
    clickercricket says:

    i have the last date for my two memberships written BOLDLY in my day planner…so i may cancel before being charged again another month. one is amazon prime. a while back there was one thing for sale which was only offered to prime members that i “couldn’t live without”. two-day shipping is also alluring, but as i am promising myself to go bare bones budget, prime’s gotta go. second one is amazon’s audible. believe it or not, it is their audible books which i listen to while de-cluttering and cleaning. i find that if i’m listening to something super interesting (a portable blue-tooth speaker follows me around), i can clean and especially declutter much longer without resentment. however, i have about 13 books i haven’t even played yet. audible can live without me for quite a while, and i it. since i live on a fixed income, eliminating these two will cover my monthly bus pass…a win-win. i also have your book…it’s a gem. introspection has always been my forte…good for an author to go there with me.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Great plan to save money. And I love the idea of listening to books as you clean up. I’m sure it makes the time more fun and it goes by faster. I always get a lot done when I’m listening to podcasts or music, too. So glad you’re enjoying my book! Thanks for joining the conversation.

      Reply
  13. Renee
    Renee says:

    It is interesting to hear your story unfold. Right now I am shifting into health coaching and have had so much resistance to choosing a niche and also really envisioning my success. I have noticed that I am trying to let go of activities that aren’t still serving me. It has been difficult to say no to activities I previously felt would really make a difference. It seems like activities can serve a purpose for me and then it is time to move on. Being someone who likes stability and feels very loyal, this is not always easy. I am not sure if there is another message I am not seeing.

    Reply
    • Kerri
      Kerri says:

      Thanks for chiming in, Renee! I’d give some space to that resistance to choosing a niche and see what it has to say. You can even write a question at the top of a journal page, like “What feels difficult about choosing a niche?” and then free-write to see what comes up. Moving on from activities that no longer add value to your life is a great way to open space for the niche to present itself to you!

      Reply

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