Stuff and Stress: Why Are They So Hard to Dump?

This is a guest post by my inspirational friend, speaker and author, Sam Davidson who recently published his third book, Simplify Your Life. He has guest posted on this blog before about ambitions. He is the co-founder of Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter.

One thing I’ve been telling people as I’ve been traveling and speaking about my latest book, Simplify Your Life, is this: If it doesn’t add value to your life, dump it.

Then, I quip: This includes things like boyfriends.

But, from what I understand, dumping a boyfriend is tough. And dumping a terrible one may be tougher. Look how long it took Ann to get rid of Andy in “Parks and Recreation.” You certainly have friends who need to ditch their current fling because they’re being manipulated, led on, or even ignored.Simplify Your Life

It’s tough, the dumping. It can be awkward, unhappy, and isn’t nearly as fun as the beginning of a relationship when everyone is still putting their best face forward and it’s new and time to discovery mysterious things about the other person. Dumping, in a word, sucks.

But, when it has to be done, you have no other choice than to do it. And when it’s done, your world is clearer, you feel lighter, and you’re ready to tackle what’s next.

News flash: dumping stuff and stress are much the same.

It can be tough to actually fill a box of things you don’t need and then donate it. Many of us like the pressure to perform that comes with stress. We easily complain about hating the unnecessary stuff and stress in our life, but when it comes to putting up, we’re not very good at shutting up. We’d rather keep complaining than taking action, even if we know the ultimate outcome will make life so much better than it is now.

Consider this your call to action. If you’re stuck in a rut where you can’t get rid of that which ails you, consider these three tips to get started:

Get rid of one thing right now. Inertia can be tricky; it takes a lot to get going. But, once we take that first step, the second, third, and twentieth are so much easier. Look around right now and find one item you know you don’t need and trash it, donate it, or give it to a friend. Is it a coat you haven’t word in a decade? A set of placemats that have never been used? An old iPod. Find it and dismiss it. Now.

Quit something. Much of our stress is caused by situations we don’t want to be in, yet somehow we voluntarily ended up there. Chances are, you’re taking on too many volunteer commitments, like committees, weekly meetings, or clubs. Look at your calendar. Which one do you look forward to the least. Write an email (yes, right now) to the chairperson and let them no you no longer have the time to commit that the group requires. Apologize. Wish them well. Your week now just became less stressful. Imagine how much better you’ll be at the other commitments you have now that you have less stress!

Find a centering activity. More and more, people are placing value in experiences rather than things (case in point: we like watching the movie, but we don’t have to own it – thanks, Netflix/Qwikster). Instead of rushing out to fill the space by the thing you got rid of or apply your new-found happiness in the form of shopping, go for a walk with a friend. Sip tea. Read a book outdoors. Do something for yourself that you enjoy and life will be even better.

What do you do to get rid of stress or stuff? Share your tip below and one lucky commenter will receive a signed copy of my latest book, Simplify Your Life.

Management Lessons from McJayGate

A lot has been written over the last seven weeks about the feud between the Denver Broncos and the Pro Bowl quarterback Jay Cutler. The feud finally ended last Thursday when the Broncos traded Cutler to the Bears for three draft picks and one of their own. This isn’t an analysis of whose fault this affair was or who got the better end of the trade.

What this is about rather is what can be learned from a management and employee standpoint. These lessons don’t just work in football or professional sports. They work in the non-profits and the boardroom.

First from the side of the employee:
You Serve at the Pleasure of Your Employer:
You work for someone. In the NBC drama, West Wing, the staff of the president were heard in numerous episodes saying, “I serve at the pleasure of the president.” The same thing goes in any situation where you are the employee. Your work, your personality, your knowledge and your attitude are being paid for. When your services are deemed expendable, sometimes its simply because of money, other times its because an employer sees a chance to improve the team.

Be Open to Change:
The day Josh McDaniels was hired at the Broncos new coach, Jay Cutler was unhappy. But over time, he began to grow to be excited about the change and what McDaniels could bring. Its absolutely imperative for any employee to be open to change. Change is just that: a chance to try new things, learn new practices and grow as a person.

Don’t Play Hard to Get:
Unless you’re Michael Jordan (in his prime), or quite simply the world’s smartest person, you are expendable. Be willing to talk and figure out problems. This is obviously easier said than done because we all have pride and won’t want to come to the table with our rails between our legs. That said, if the employer wants to talk to you, talk!

Now from the management standpoint:
Don’t Lie:
If there is a chance the employee will keep working for you, don’t lie to them. Trust is hard to rebuild and sometimes impossible so why make it harder by lying. This is of course true to both sides, but for employers, if you like the employee, don’t lie to them.

Do What Best for the Team:
This not only means finding better talent, but also, if there is a chance you’re going to have an employee that is unhappy, you have to make the effort to fix that. You’re the boss. Moral is your job. One bad seed can ruin a team.

Don’t Play Hard to Get:
If you’re playing hard to get with someone you want, you’re going to get burned. If you want them, show them and it can go a long way to building up trust in the relationship. Trust is invaluable in the employer/employee relationship.

No matter what, it is vitally important that both sides have an understanding of the relationship and works every day to build it and make it stronger. This is done through communication, evaluation and constant growth.