In 1998, aged 27 I left my life in Spain with a suitcase full of debt and my two year old son.
It was the end of an important 5 year chapter and the beginning of a new life, back home in Ireland as a single mother – in many ways, starting from scratch .
I’ve always loved exercise and adventure and while living in Spain had taken up snowboarding. My God, how I loved that feeling of speeding down the slope, the sense of total liberating freedom and of being at one with nature in all her glory.
It made me feel alive, more like my true nature in a way that I had never experienced before.
I think that it represented for me the person I felt I was but didn’t get to express in everyday life. Bold, wild and free.
We all have a spark, a secret glowing ember that burns within us. A sense of our true selves.
What snow-boarding was for me back then, might be art, music or another form of expression for you. A way to connect to the essence of who you really are.
But what started out as a connection to my true self turned into something that began to hold me back from taking my next step in life.
Life back in Ireland was tough but good, I had left the father of my son but felt more grounded and in control of my life. I started to work in tech and things were working out for me. Being a busy working mom I didn’t have a huge amount of time for myself and what happens for so many of us, the responsibilities and expectations of life mount up and create a clutter that makes it hard to find that spark, our true self gets lost in the daily grind of life.
For a few years, my snowboard stood in the corner of my room, representing the life I had once had. I felt that I needed to keep it there to remind me of my free spirit, to help me feel inspired.
The reality is, having that snowboard stare at me every morning and every night was actually holding me back and keeping me chained to the past.
One day I looked at it, and admitted to myself that as a young single mother, I was neither a snowboarder nor free to do what I pleased. I saw the snowboard for what it was – a thing that was cluttering up my life. I realised that while the snowboarding had helped me to get in touch with the real me, there were other ways in which I could do that, more realistic hobbies and activities that allowed the real Ciara to come out.
I got rid of the board and made space – not just physically, but emotionally.
And by doing that, I stepped more fully into the life that I was meant to to lead.
Look around you now. What things are hanging around you that it’s time to let go of?
Does it feel scary to let them go?
Feeling scared is normal, you are afraid of the unknown, what if I regret it? But when you answer the questions below you will see that most of the time we gain more than we lose from letting go.
What do you think you will lose by letting it go?
What do you think you might gain from doing so?
Clearing Space is a powerful process
You know how good it feels to clear your mind on holiday. But so often, the people I work with forget that they can generate those good feelings with small daily and weekly actions that add up to big changes.
Let me repeat that because it’s important. Small daily and weekly actions add up to big changes.
I’m sure you’ve experienced the lightness of being when you tidy your room or clear out a cupboard. The spaciousness that is left feels so good, it makes you happy. Then you have a fresh opportunity, a chance to choose more worthy objects, items of pleasure or true purpose.
This also happens when you make the space to sit down and clear off your To Do list, clearing out your inbox or even unfollowing accounts on social media.
This process of clearing space is something you can adopt on a daily basis when you understand how to clear the clutter and get more organised.
The two biggest game changers are:
- Clearing the Clutter and
- Getting Organised
Clearing the Clutter
Seven years after I left Spain, I was married and had two more sons. Even though that brought me genuine happiness, my life was starting to come off the rails. I was disorganised, frustrated and my world was a little out of control. I started to accumulate a lot of stuff, my surroundings were a mess with five people in a small townhouse, the cupboards were bursting at the seams.
Once again, I was struggling to find time for me and my goals.
Without realising it, I had developed severely limiting beliefs about what I could and couldn’t achieve and I found myself struggling to be the positive and optimistic person I once was. My life was cluttered and I couldn’t see a way out.
You see, clutter comes in many forms – physical, mental and emotional. It all holds us back.
I knew I had to make a change so I started with the only thing I had energy for; physical decluttering, Bit by bit I cleared out every room and every cupboard in the house and it was the shift I needed, a turning point.
The clear space helped me to focus better, I was able to prioritise and think more clearly. Which in turn allowed me to be able to identify the mental clutter that I was holding onto. I wrote a lot about physical decluttering in my first book Chaos to Control, many readers gave me feedback about how they too had benefited from decluttering their physical space. How the simple act of clearing their physical space had helped them to move forward.
Next, the mental decluttering allowed me to both get my tasks and goals out of my head but it also helped me to start analysing my habitual thoughts and identifying how they were or weren’t serving me.
The third area of decluttering focused on my emotional clutter. The emotions from the past that I was holding onto, keeping me stuck in the past and not allowing me to fulfill my potential. Clients often find this piece of work the most transformational. By letting go of old emotions like hurt, anger or guilt, can release you from the binds of the past and allow you to feel more freedom and peace moving into the future.
What part of your physical environment could do with a clear out?
Do you have habitual thoughts that are preventing your progress?
Are there emotions keeping you stuck in the past?
If you want to delve deeper into Clearing the Clutter you can download a copy of my ebook Clear the Clutter Find your Life here. (This is the 2020 edition of this ebook)
After removing the stuff that cluttered up my life I also needed to organise the stuff that was left over and still mattered.
As I started to clear the clutter, space opened up and life started to shift for me.
I had cleared the physical clutter and was busy working on the mental and emotional stuff. I was then lucky to find the mentors that would help me with the next phase getting organised. This was when I got interested in all things productivity.
I learnt systems for deciding what was priority and systems for taking action. I discovered that a lot of high performing leaders have good processes for planning and prioritising their work and I started to model their behaviours.
Getting organised gave me a way to make decisions on what deserves my attention at any given moment and a way to continuously take action towards my goals.
When we are disorganised, it’s difficult to think clearly, it can be difficult to make a plan to take the action that we need to take. When your mind is full of stuff that doesn’t belong there, you will lack clarity which will mean you will be incapable of making decisions and as a result stagnant into indecision and inaction.
So please don’t get stuck in this unpleasant position of inaction, when you know you have work that you want to do, work that can and will make a difference but there is something standing in your way of taking action. Please remember there is no need to be stuck, there are many ways in which you can make a shift and create a clearing for your life to happen.
Learning to Create a Clearing give us our life
Today I understand that every leap I have made, every significant progress that has happened in my life has been due to the clearing that came before it.
When I let go of my snowboard, I started to embrace motherhood more and I felt more comfortable in my role as a mother. I then met my husband and went on to have two more gorgeous boys. In that time I got to live in South Africa and have many exciting adventures in the real Wild.
That day I decided to try, to take one step towards clearing my life by clearing my clutter, led me to a career that has seen me work with some of the most inspirational leaders and changemakers, it has led me to find my voice and write three books, it has allowed me to coach other coaches and entrepreneurs break through their blocks to step fully into their purpose and achieve a greater success than they thought possible.
Greta Thunberg says, ‘Once we start to act, hope is everywhere.
Each step leads to the next steps which leads to the next. When you recognise this process as a gradual progress, each block you remove allows you to see clearly the next step and little by little you get closer to the real you.
I now have many ways in which I connect with the brave, wild and free part of me. I have acknowledged that she exists and I know she is there waiting patiently sometimes when I get lost in the busyiness of life. But she is honored regularly when I get out in nature, when I go on adventures and when I connect deeply with my clients, helping them to find their true self, their wildness, their spirit.
My work is centered around helping people become more aware and able to recognise the things that need to be cleared from their life. I have had the privilege of seeing my clients learn how to let go and release the things that are holding them back.
The world needs more people who are unburdened, people who can see clearly and show up fully, bravely for the life that was meant for them.
And all it takes? One simple step.
Creating a clearing is a simple way to start making progress towards finding yourself and connecting to the essence of who you really are.
Or as Tara Brach so wisely puts it “Learning to create a clearing gives us our life”
Don’t forget you can download a copy of my ebook Clear the Clutter Find your Life here.
If you would like more info about working with me 121 to help you get unstuck, remove any blocks or limiting beliefs holding you back click here.