Marie Kondo, Work, and Letting Go 

I’d been absent from the air waves for a couple months. Why? Mainly because of one key decision in 2018: to take the Portland Underground Graduate School class, Financial Freedom 101 (FF101).

FF101 blew so many things out of the water for us in terms of what we “thought” we had to do in order to retire. It taught us things about money and time that we just can’t “unsee” now. We realized we have options to “buy our time back” sooner but only if we make some different choices.  

Choice #1: Sell the house we’d had for 8 years and downsize to a smaller place in a cheaper neighborhood. Yup. So, recently we went through what proved to be a fast and furious big move and, phew, it was a lot of work! 

Knowing that we wanted to downsize and have fewer “possessions” overall was a process.  We proved ourselves to be quintessential Americans with more stuff than 2 people and 3 pets could ever possibly use. Even our dog had too much stuff: 32 toys – which is probably 25 too many!  

Prepping for the move was an intense process of swearing at Marie Kondo while buried in a sea of books. If you haven’t heard of Marie Kondo, you have been living under a bushel. 

Marie Kondo is THE international sensation of tidying up and letting go of things that don’t spark joy. Her method actually works but she left out the part where you will be cursing her name at least a dozen times during the downsizing. 

Key learning: Never go to the pre-opening of your own estate sale. It does not spark joy to see your cornhole set labeled “boxes with holes” next to a spare Swiffer handle and grandma’s crystal. It’s a perfect way to bring on a meltdown. 

Choice #2: Starting two new client projects eat once which was a lot like having a split personality. Of course, all of this ended up coming together at once so two projects that I had been waiting for, hit at the same time. It was a nutty, nutty, time.  

Key learning: This was definitely a time of HUGE change saturation. Taking on too many things at once is exciting and hard.

Choice #3: Ignoring anything vying for my attention that wasn’t part of the projects, packing, or moving. If it wasn’t a client meeting, didn’t directly generate cash, eliminate a packing chore, or provide me with food, it was relegated to low priority. I just kept putting a lot of other things off. 

Key learning: This is the same thing that happens in organizations when too much change is going on. People stop listening and learning for a while and become blind to all but the basic essentials. Sure, they might also engage in some not-so-helpful gossipy behavior to deflect some of their own anxiety about the change onto other things but that’s not helpful either.

We moved into our new house as one of my projects wrapped up!  We’re in a further-out city neighborhood that is within 5 minutes of 3 golf courses and less than 10 minutes to the airport. 

Key learning: even change you want has an expiration date and it’s about 90 days. Most of us can get enthusiastic and sustain a certain amount of change for 30-90 days. Within 90 days we need to see some substantial shift and a milestone hit or we start to lose interest. 

In this case, the first 90 days was about finding a house, downsizing, selling the other house, and moving in. Milestone one achieved – celebrate the win!

The second 90 days needs to be about quickly getting settled into the new place. Those of you who still have boxes sitting in your basement since the last time you moved 7 years ago, now know why this is important. 

If we don’t hit the next milestone within about 90 days, inertia will kick in. It’s not judgment; it’s just human nature. 

Most of us can deal with 80% of moving, a project, or similar quickly but it’s the other 20% that gets us stuck
. I know the clock is ticking and whatever doesn’t get accomplished within the next month or so might end up sitting for a lot longer than anyone would like.  

  • Consider your workplace and ask yourself if you are trying to take on too much change at once?  
  • What are some situations at work where you know that inertia has set in?  
  • How might you create a project with a short duration that could achieve some quick wins and momentum without making it so big it’s unwieldy?  
  • What are ways in which you could communicate to others when you are buried in massive change and simply can’t absorb anymore? 

"Kim’s training methods and passion for the subject and participants are highly effective! She makes the learning fun and highly results oriented!” 

- Todd Gieber, Director

Sports and Apparel Industry

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