Woman's hand in silhouette reaching out across sunset waters

“What you are is what you have been. What you’ll be is what you do now.”  ~The Buddha

What a great way to think about the past, present, and future―and to do so with kindness, compassion, and acceptance.

I have a friend who is struggling right now with the circumstances of his life. He’s not happy. And he’s made significant changes in his life in the past few years but he’s not yet experiencing all of the benefits of those changes―all he can feel right now is the discomfort of the changes themselves. And since those feelings aren’t pleasant, he’s begun to fantasize about going back to some of his old behavior.

That behavior made him and the people he is close to very unhappy. But in the face of walking through the discomfort, the old familiar behavior is starting to look appealing. This is where mindfulness practice, sitting still and quietly reflecting, could soften the intensity of his feelings of upset.

Accepting where you are today with your organization, your time management and your productivity is essential to making the kinds of changes that are going to serve you in the future. If you resist accepting where you are, you’ll either try to return to the past OR fantasize about the future as some magical place where things will be better without you having done anything to MAKE things better OR where things are worse because that’s all you deserve.

Instead of escaping to make believe, just for today, do something to simplify your life that won’t stress you out:

  • Toss out a few magazines you’re finished with or will never realistically get a chance to read.

  • Get rid of a stack of junk mail.

  • Donate something you don’t like but still has utility to a local thrift store or shelter.

  • Clean off the back seat of your car.

  • Take a garment to the tailor to get it altered or repaired.

  • Or something else you can clearly see needs to be done that doesn’t involve multiple steps to complete it.

You don’t have to let the past predict the future. The past created the present but the future is yours to write today. Write something extraordinary that would make you happy if it were to come true. Because tomorrow it could.

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at andrewmellen.com.

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