Last week I went to an old friend's place whom I hadn't seen in quite some time, and when I walked into his condo it looked horrendous. Buried in a mountain of projects, he had everything from paint cans to tarps to cardboard boxes just hanging out in his place. There was really no room for anything including furniture, of which he had none. His walls were half painted and waiting to have the edges painted, and there was no rhyme or reason to any of the madness. One of the bedrooms in his house was empty if you don't count the leftovers from roomates of years ago, and the one he stayed in was dark and disheveled.
Upon further inspection, I learned that my friend had kicked out his old roomates, pretty much given up on girls, and had traded in his dream (good job, wife, kids, etc) for projects. He now had a car he was working on, his condo still to renovate, miscellaneous carpentry projects, mountain biking projects, and a mountain of cleaning that could be done. In addition to all of this, he was working around 60 hours per week, and when I asked him why his job took more than 40 hours to complete each week he said it was because he spent most of his time on the internet at work.
When I saw all of this I knew it was almost an emergency to stop this pattern and get him on the road to being more healthy. But how can you get out of this rut?
Well when my life gets overwhelming and stress starts to take over, I like to use a needs heirarchy of sorts to iron it out. It starts with basic needs and moves on to less important things from there.
The first need to always take care of first is the needs of your body, like food and water. If you're stressed out and hungry, eat something. If you're thirsty then get something to drink. It sounds simple, but many people get so caught up in stress that they stop taking care of themselves, and it only amplifies things. For this reason, I went out with my buddy and we both had a good nutritious meal.
The second thing that I like to take care of is the most daunting of the tasks at hand. In this case it was all the miscellaneous shit all over the apartment. If you've watched Hoarders on TV then you know that this can be easier said than done, but luckily normal people usually know they've got a mounting issue, so in this case I told my buddy "we need to do something about this, like now" and we did. We started eliminating trash and recyclables, then moved onto start grouping items to move to the garage and sorting out things to be sold on craigslist. Another friend's help and a 12 pack later, and the house was clean.
The idea is really quite simple. A clean house with minimal possessions = a clean feeling life. Clean out all your shit except the bare essentials. Throw out all your trash, move your projects to your garage where they belong, donate old clothes to goodwill, and throw out all your old college textbooks that you're never going to use anyway (worried you'll need them? try this thing we've got called the internet). The idea is to take everything that you haven't used in the last 6 months and that isn't current and get rid of it.
Once we've taken care of our bodies and eliminated all of the clutter in the house, it was time to make some forward progress with the house. My view on a house is that it should be a place that you RELAX. It should be a shelter from all the outside issues that you deal with during the day, and also a place where you bring your loved ones and friends for fellowship and social gathering. This house was none of those things, so we needed to do more work.
The first thing we took care of was the painting of the walls and discussion of furniture needed to make the place look decent. Your home doesn't need to be some crazy outlandish extravagant megamansion, or even have every bit be a reflection of who you are in minute ways. Instead, your house just needs to have furniture that's comfortable and is the right size, scale, and place in the room. If you need help with this, watch some HGTV staging shows or ask some women in your life for their opinion. You could even call a realtor, ask for a referral to a professional stager, and rent furniture from them for a month to figure out what it should look like.
After making a plan for furniture in the house, we moved into the bedroom. If you're wondering how to arrange your bedroom for maximum efficacy, think hotel. In a hotel the bed's headboard is always up against the wall and there are two nightstands on the sides of the bed and adequate room on each to enter/exit the bed. To all you bachelors out there this means no putting your bed in the corner of the room, it's just creepy. My friend was a bachelor like this, so we moved his bed to the center of the room and put his nightstand on one side, with a plan to buy another one.
After all of this, my friend felt great (not surprisingly). He said that he realized that things were getting out of control and that he was going to start paying attention to his life more. If you're in a place like this, it's time to fill out a value-heirarchy and write out some goals for yourself. This will start to align your thoughts in your head with what's healthy for you and what you need to be happier as your life attains more balance.
So how does all this relate to women? Well for starters, you're definitely not going to pick up girls anytime soon when you've got a house full of shit. You should at the very least have decently clean bedroom and a place to relax and watch a movie. To go a little deeper, my friend had tried to meet some women, and at some point in time he didn't get the results that he'd hoped for and might have started losing a bit of motivation to keep going out and working on his skill set. This can happen to any of us. In my friend's case, he likely felt terrible about this, and to ease his suffering he decided to spend his time on his "man" projects. His problem was lack of balance in his life.
Are you a hermit? Is there anything in your life taking up tons of time or taking away time from the things in your life that REALLY need attention? My advice is to stop wasting time on email at work and be at work do get your work done and GTFO (get the f out) the second you're done. If you can do your salaried job in 30 hours per week, then it might be time to negotiate a different work arrangement or start working on contract.
Are you neglecting the things in your life that need time and attention? Do you even REALLY know what these are? If you fall into these categories, then start thinking about what the things are that you value in life and start working towards them. Write out your values and arrange them in accordance with importance, and then write out some goals and the resources you have to help you realize those goals. This process will make you far more likely to actually achieve them, and you'll thank me for doing so. Remember, our goal is to experience happiness and fulfillment through a balanced life. And remember you can only do what you can do today.
I'm happy to report that after only one weekend of condo cleanup and a couple nights on the town, my friend is already calling me asking for texting advice on the new digits he's gotten from girls in the past week. You can clean up your life and get back on track too. And btw, if you ever need a quick brush up on what IS important, you can always get me on the phone for an hour and i'd be happy to help you out with this whole process. Just email me firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get you set up. Good luck!