The laundry chair
My colleague Sam has a great New Year’s resolution:
Stop putting laundry in the laundry chair.
When Sam mentioned this in a group chat, everyone knew immediately what she meant because everyone has their own version of a laundry chair.
It’s that thing in your house that once served a higher purpose, but now it just makes you sad every time you see it.
The dining room table where backpacks live.
That one drawer in the kitchen.
Sam is incredibly disciplined and she was passionate about her lofty laundry chair goal, but we had our concerns. Not to (ahem) air her dirty laundry, but she is aiming to overcome her tendency to leave clothes on this chair through sheer force of will.
A lifetime of personal experience has taught me this probably won’t work, as illustrated by a recent furniture-related failure of my own.
Last year I made the ill-advised decision to purchase a giant, state-of-the-art TV for my home office. I then compounded this foolishness by connecting an Xbox to it. I told myself I would only turn it on at the end of the day, as a reward for completing my work.
This lasted for approximately one hour.
Whenever my work became the slightest bit challenging, I reflexively swiveled my chair 180 degrees and fired up the Xbox or an episode of Severance. Realizing I could never defeat this urge on willpower alone, I replaced the TV with a bookshelf this week.
Which is why I told Sam the best way to stop putting laundry on the laundry chair is to . . . get rid of the laundry chair.
(She’s considering it.)
To celebrate the start of the new year, my business partner gave me a pen engraved with one of my favorite James Clear quotes:
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”
I think this nicely sums up why it’s so hard for most of us to keep our metaphorical chairs clear of metaphorical laundry. We are too focused on the outcomes we want instead of the (often rather simple) habits that will help us achieve them.
Sending one well-crafted LinkedIn message a day to meet your goal of finding a new job. Or blocking out a single hour on your calendar each day to write 250 words when your goal is to write a book. Laying out your running clothes each night (maybe not on your laundry chair?) if your goal is to run a marathon.
Goals are where you want to go. Systems are the steps that get you there.
Put your energy into your systems this year.
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