Last week, we had an ice storm. It was nothing terribly dramatic—no power outages or downed trees—just your run-of-the-mill-thin-sheet-of-ice ice storm. It was enough ice for school to be called off and to make it tricky to get just about anywhere outside. But other than that, it was nothing too dramatic. Well, until you tried to get around, of course.

Because school was out, a neighbor child came over to see if one of my kids wanted to play outside. In the process of discussing plans at the front door, 92 pounds of fur and enthusiastic muscle, which we fondly refer to as Maggie the dog, bolted out the door and onto the ice. The thin sheet of ice wasn’t enough to keep the 92 pound lab from breaking through to the muddy layer of dirt underneath.

Muddy dogs and freshly cleaned carpet don’t mix…so a temporary panic ensued in the Garvey household. We must get the dog inside!

slippery stepsI did as I always do when attempting to retrieve 92 pounds of dog—bolted out the front door, calling “Maggie!” Only this time…I had dramatically different results. You see, concrete sidewalks are slippery when frozen. Very slippery, I might add, and very hard when you fall on them flat on your back side. (Which I did, for the record.)

Now you may be wondering to yourself, how on earth could Aby have forgotten that the sidewalk was frozen? It was because of the ice that this whole situation was happening in the first place. Good point.

Here’s why: I was responding to this crisis situation based on habit! I have run out the door after this dog (or the mail, or a child, or any number of other things) thousands of times in my lifetime, without the worry of ice. Even though one side of my brain knew there was ice today, the other side of my brain was responding to the crisis at hand and doing things on autopilot.

So what does this have to do with organizing or creating change in your life? A whole lot, really. See, just because you intend to get organized or go for some other big goal this year, it doesn’t mean you will do as you intend one hundred percent of the time. Nope, sometimes you will forget, or uh, slip-up—it’s just part of the learning process.

There’s a whole other side of you at play—the side that’s operating based on habit and deeply engrained ways of doing things just as you’ve always done. That part of you has to be reminded from time to time that there are new rules now. You will forget to sort the mail every single day, or put your things away as soon as you’re done using them, or drink more water, or eat healthier food. You’ll simply fall back to your habitual way of doing things.

The trick is to recognize that forgetting is just part of the learning process; it is not a personal failure. Just as when I was laying on the concrete staring at the sky saying “ouch, right, it’s icy today” you too will get reminders when you forget about your newly intended goal or habit. You will slip-up. Look at these slip-ups as gifts— opportunities to pick yourself up and dust yourself off, knowing that next time you’ll be much more likely to remember that things are slippery when frozen.

The following two tabs change content below.
Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

Latest posts by Aby Garvey (see all)