What my tidy bookcase has to do with you

The first week of October was National Get Organized Week in the United States.

The National Association of Professional Organizers (yep, that's a thing) started it back in 1992.

I say 'was' because, in 2005, they moved National Get Organized Week to National Get Organized Month (January, big surprise).

So, here we are, in the final quarter of 2017, with the ghost of a national awareness week hanging around, collecting dust and convincing us that we don't need to concern ourselves with order until January 1, 2018.

I'd probably let it go except this past weekend proves that synchronicity is alive and well in my neck of the woods.

Also: As your favorite action-oriented life coach, it'd be a shame to pass up any opportunity to shower you with encouragement to Do The Thing Now! And a national awareness week, ghost or not, is one such golden opportunity.

Anyway, back to synchronicity:

For those of you who are new here, my husband and I bought our first home together this summer—after two years of living on the road and keeping our possessions in storage and in the spare closets of our generous parents. We've been unpacking steadily since early July, but made our most impressive progress in the past four days.

Our shared office now houses two desks (which we picked up and assembled Saturday evening) and a bookcase (which means our books are no longer living on the floor, trading stories with the spiders); lamps are arranged (bulbs replaced for efficiency) and in use; a filing cabinet is ready to receive the stuff that's been living in plastic totes in my mother-in-law's closets; the printer and speaker and internet cables are coiled and twist-tied into submission.

In short, we got organized.

Then, as if to say, Keep going, Helen!, my own coach announced her free, week-long Turning Pro Challenge, which began yesterday.

In today's email, she writes about creating sacred space: "Where you work has a huge impact on how you work."

She goes on to quote Steven Pressfield, whose book, Turning Pro, is the inspiration behind the challenge: "When we raise our game aesthetically, we elevate it morally and spiritually as well."

Huh. So, I guess there's something to be said for this environment thing after all.

You see, I used to care A LOT about how my surroundings looked and functioned. Too much, I'd say. And not in any of the ways that might've mattered where my career was concerned.

I was a writing student, enrolled in an MFA program and avoiding my little writing table and writing chair because my closet was a mess. Or because I needed better kitchen storage solutions. Or because my plants needed dead-heading.

My neatnik tendencies could've been innocent (maybe? I'm still not entirely sure about their true innocence), except that they kept me busy—they kept me from creating, from being prolific, from turning pro in the one area of my life where I was supposedly wanting to turn pro.

I fussed over the details instead of immersing myself in my work.

I fussed over the details so that I didn't have to immerse myself in my work.

That's quite different from the pro approach of squaring away a sacred space (read: not perfect, but dedicated—and, more importantly, functional) in order to really up one's attention and focus and performance.

Living on the road for two years was HUGELY instrumental in my turning pro in my working environment.

I had to learn to work everywhere.

I had to learn to alter a space just enough to meet my immediate needs...but not to get lost in rearranging and adjusting.

I had to learn not to be so precious about my stuff (most everything was in a storage unit in central Virginia).

I had to learn to stay focused on the thing I was creating—my service-based business—even and especially when I wanted to make it about something, anything, else (such as finding and purchasing the holy grail of all planners, creating my perfect logo, tweaking my website fonts for the umpteenth time).

Those two years on the road, I got organized somewhat inadvertently: by removing from my field of vision all the normal noise and stuff to the point that there was nothing to do...except my work.

And even now that those things are back in my field of vision—the bookcase filled with books, the filing cabinet and the plastic totes of files, the washi tape, the round pebble collection, you name it—they don't distract me as they once did (or as I once allowed them to).

What's different now is that I'm committed to my business. I'm committed to making my vision happen. So committed, in fact, that I won't let my fear stop me.

Now, just to clarify: You don't need to become nomadic in order to turn pro. You don't need to get all #tinyhome or #vanlife in order to clear a sacred space that's devoted to your work.

You need only to decide to turn pro. You need only to commit to making your thing happen. You need only to refuse to let your fear get in the way of taking action.

And you might need to tidy up a little, to make space for your pro self to work.