one grey running shoe and piles of clothes strewn on wooden floor

Feeling stuck? It’s time to declutter your career

Have you read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising? It’s inspirational. It got me thinking about the clutter we carry around or are immersed in as part of our careers. What would happen if we applied some of KonMarie’s principles to our career clutter. We all know the joy  you get when you’ve successfully tidied your sock or knicker drawer, finally getting rid of the things that don’t fit. Imagine the kind of joy you could experience from giving your career a declutter!

If you haven’t read her book, let me introduce her – Marie is a Japanese Organising consultant. Her first job was at a Shinto shrine and this experience informs much of her work. She says ‘A Shinto shrine is a place where there are no unnecessary things and our thoughts become clear. It is a place where we appreciate all the things that support us. It is where we review and rethink ourselves.’

When considering our career choices wouldn’t we all benefit from a visit to a Shinto Shrine to access that reflection and clarity. When we don’t enjoy what we do it is hard to think clearly about what is next for us in our career especially when we are weighed down by ‘stuff’.

What can clutter our career?

It is helpful to identify what is actually cluttering up your career so you can then tackle it. If your career feels a bit like your spare room, where you dump everything then it’s definitely time for a clear out. Here’s what could be cluttering your career:

  • Reputation – may be you’re stuck with being perceived in a certain way at work or maybe you have a reputation or label you don’t want
  • Baggage – things you’ve brought with you along the way – bad experiences, poor appraisals, one off comments that have stuck with you
  • Skills – the ones you don’t want to use anymore. Maybe you’ve managed a team and can do it well but you don’t really enjoy it
  • People – loyalty to colleagues, family expectations, manager’s demands, unsupportive friends
  • Routines – things we do at work for very little purpose or reason
  • Stress and overwhelm – if the pressure is bordering on the unhealthy type causing you sleepless night and anxiety, or you just can’t see the wood from the trees
  • Your CV – trying to cram everything you’ve ever done onto 2 pages can leave it looking cluttered and unclear

How to declutter

The KonMarie approach is to lovingly connect with your belongings and then focus on what you want to keep, because it sparks joy or is necessary, rather than focusing on what you want to get rid of.

Thinking about your career focus your energy on what you want to retain, mentally thanking the things or people you are no longer going to focus on. Try asking yourself these questions:

  • Who supports me? Who gives me energy? Who do I want to spend more time with?
  • Which routines motivate me? Which add value to what I do?
  • Which skills do I enjoy and am good at? Which do I want to use more of?
  • What do I do that boosts my confidence? What energises me at work? What gives me a ‘spring in my step’?
  • What memories/experiences trigger feelings of positivity about my career? How can I capture more of them?
  • What haven’t  I touched in a long time? Is it still relevant?

By focusing on the positive aspects of your career life that you want to keep you can see more clearly the parts you that you need to say goodbye to. The next step is to acknowledge and say goodbye to those elements which you feel weigh you down and create negativity in your career.

Identify the things, routines, people, etc. that you want to “recycle” or “throw out” and set about lovingly letting them go. For example, if that colleague who you had got into a ‘moan cycle’ with invites you to coffee to talk about the latest office change, you can be clear that’s not something you don’t want to do anymore. And so on with the other elements.

The Result

The KonMarie method promises you will reach a place where ‘you are surrounded by things that provide clarity, unencumbered by ‘baggage’ or things that don’t fit, with less anxiety about the future.’

After your career clear out you will be able to focus on what you want for your career with the clarity and simplicity that decluttering brings. Enjoy! Be happy always - Feeling stuck? It's time to declutter your career

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