Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: Organization and Well-Being

by Ethan Carter, Associate Director of Programs, Well-Being, & Assessment, Mason Recreation

“Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble. But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

To me, being organized is living in a state of readiness for whatever circumstances life provides. When positive things happen, I am ready to respond with an open mind. When something negative happens, I am ready to respond with an open mind. When I am in a season of optimized organization, I feel that it leaves room to participate in life at a pace that encourages soaking in every moment, and that truly enhances well-being.

The concept of being organized is simple, but not always easy to maintain because of the pace of our ever-changing world. I’ll use the analogy of cooking to share my perspective. The steps and impact of organization are different for everyone. These are a few ingredients from the recipe of my continuing growth in organization to enhance my well-being:

  • Openness to change
  • Preparation
  • Practice
  • Commitment

So let’s begin with openness to change. If you are reading this article, chances are that you’re seeking to improve your organization. That is a positive sign, as no one is perfect. There is always room for growth. In the process of growth we acknowledge the need to be different from how we have lived in the past. Thus, we open the door to the opportunity for change. We can’t keep doing things the same way and expect a different outcome. If we want the end result to be something new, then we have to make different choices. We have to be open to learning to live differently than we have in the past. Change is hard, but is definitely worth it. I encourage you to read an earlier article I wrote that focuses on our need for a Learner’s Perspective.

A couple more ingredients in the recipe are preparation and practice. Many of us have heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect.” Well, perfection is a high standard and it is okay to strive for something hard to reach. However, I have found the pursuit of excellence (rather than perfection) a better option because it centers on giving your very best under the current set of circumstances. Pursuing excellence also includes competing only with yourself. That means focusing on the factors that you can change rather than comparing yourself to others. This could change your whole outlook on success. When you take this approach and notice that you are disorganized due to the choices you make, you can stop, assess, adjust, and make different choices that place you on the road toward organization.

Take some time to reflect on your past behaviors to identify the characteristics that have impacted your ability to be organized. Then do some research to identify characteristics that are tied to being organized. There are plenty of self-help texts and workshops from which to draw information. Then, you can begin to implement some of those new practices to cultivate a life of organization. That is where the practice comes into play. Things may be bumpy at first, but stay the course because change takes time. John Wooden summarizes the pursuit of excellence and the importance of quality practice in his book Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court.

The final ingredient is commitment. Commitment is important because any effort to initiate change includes occasional bumps on the road. When the bumps come, we can acknowledge the challenges so that we can develop a plan to overcome them. This can include asking for assistance from others in the form of feedback. It could also include learning about their experiences with a similar challenge in the past. Another approach is taking a step back and reassessing your behaviors so that you can take a new action. Don’t give up and in due time you will begin to see the fruit of your efforts.

Now that you have my ingredients for organization, I want you to mix them together. Admit that you want to make some changes in your life so you can be more organized. Complete a self-assessment and ask some of those closest to you to provide feedback on how they think you could improve your organization. Ask them to include practical examples.

Next, review both your personal observations and the observations shared by others so that you can pick one to two changes that you plan to make. Then take the healthy risk of putting those changes into practice.

Note that you may have to make minor adjustments along the way to tweak your changes, but don’t give up on your goal. You have to stay committed over time to initiate long-term change. Over time, those changes will potentially become the norm. When that happens and you feel comfortable go back to the beginning of the process and pick one to two more changes.

There is always opportunity for growth in the life we all live. We just have to decide if we are up to the challenge. I encourage you to commit to the pursuit of being organized so that you can accept the challenges that life brings as opportunities, live in the moment, and soak in the gift of life. Live well, my friends.

Additional Resources

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal

A Learners Perspective and Well-Being by Ethan Carter

Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court by John Wooden with Steve Jamison

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