Good news! It seems we’re all off the hook for “having our shit together”, due to our collective global situation being so dang… (Don’t say it… Don’t say it!) *ahem* …unprecedented. Right now, meeting basic needs is the key, and beyond that, being there for one another. But as I mentioned in my post about setting goals during a global pandemic, I feel that it’s completely valid to crave progress as we ride this out.
For me, the stir craziness—and the desire to emerge from this cocoon—is getting real. It’s spring now. The birds are singing, the sun is shining. That familiar pull to refresh and scrub down our mental and physical spaces is bubbling and can’t easily be ignored. We live our lives in cyclical seasons whether society is at a standstill or not. Our bodies and minds respond in new ways to new weather patterns and sensory cues.
Spring is a time of hope and renewal, and even though I’m mostly confined to my apartment, I can’t help but think it would be a shame to let these permeating spring vibes fade into summer without distilling a bit of that magic into my life. Perhaps serendipitous, while spring cleaning my PC, I found this post hidden in a folder full of early-2020 content ideas. It’s the voice of pre-coronavirus me, edited to be conscious of the present.
I’m posting this for anyone who’s dusting off big dreams for the rest of 2020, despite the fact that we will likely carry out our actions within the confines of anxiety—and potentially also danger—for the duration of the calendar year. I recognize that this may not be for everyone and I hold no judgment against those who just aren’t interested and/or emotionally ready to consume this kind of content.
Also, this post isn’t what you think.
“Get your shit together.”
What does this even mean?
I see a lot of hyped-up quotes on Pinterest and Instagram about getting your shit together, owning your shit, outgrowing your bullshit, etc. It’s one of the most popular pieces of content that young women are consuming right now.
The desire to glow up from hot mess to confident “boss babe” is rampant across the internet, plastered over 50% opacity images of models having opulent breakfasts on balconies in Paris. I mean, who doesn’t want that life? I’m down. What do I have to do? 😂
But that’s the problem. Is there really a checklist or guide to making this elusive transformation? Can one assume the personal brand of a woman with her shit together by establishing a 5 AM routine, throwing out all of her clothes, and abandoning all who don’t support her unconditionally? (Those are a few suggestions I scrolled past on “boss babe” profiles, by the way.)
I have a few thoughts on this “get your shit together” phenomenon as 2020 progresses. This brand of content is molding the expectations of ambitious women everywhere and, in my opinion, obscuring the things that really matter. Here’s how to truly, really “get your shit together in 2020”.
(I apologize for the number of times I am about to say “get your shit together”.)
Step 1. Acknowledge that you will never have 100% of everything “together”.
…and that this kind of goal simply doesn’t matter. I know, I know… and before you roll your eyes and click away, hear me out. If your impulse is to stop listening, you need to hear this more than anyone else.
This imaginary finish line you’re trying to cross? It simply does not exist. I’m an unflinching advocate of passionate goal setting and hard work, but it’s time to call a spade a spade:
Life doesn’t grind to a halt and hover in a state of perfect Paris brunch-worthy stillness once you’ve crossed that final to-do off your list. No one shows up at your door with a solid gold plaque that reads “She’s got her shit together” and bouquet of peonies.
You do not escape the grey areas of life where things are confusing and messy once you up-level to a certain point. Face it. Instagram has made you feel bad about yourself, so you’re scraping for strategies and hacks to pull yourself out of the funk and feel good again. But what are you really agonizing over? What is this edited life you’re chasing?
It’s definitely not real life, so chasing it is wearing you down day by day.
Even the most streamlined woman has incoming emails that stress her out, a separate to-do list of stuff she doesn’t know when she’ll get to, and other unattractive parts of her existence that she doesn’t want to highlight on the internet.
This is normal. This is human.
Ah, you forgot you’re human? Well, don’t worry. Instagram will do that to a girl. And that brings us to our next point:
Step 2. Accept and embrace the glorious mess of being human.
Being human is messy sometimes. Shocker, I know. But why do we deny it?
When I was growing up, perfection was never a concept I clung to or held as an ideal. Maybe it’s because 90s sitcom protagonists and ensemble casts are infamous for blundering just about everything in their lives—or wearing two different shoes and messing up job interviews and accidentally losing someone else’s cat.
I feel like pop culture used to celebrate how messed up we all are.
(And maybe I was just a happy, messy kid.)
Sure, we had our unreachable idols—that’s also human nature—but we’ve reached a sick new level of digital perfection that has no place in real life. Technology has only recently allowed for every day, limitless application of feature-enhancing CG or real-time filters that let you look like a flawless cartoon behind the camera.
Why are we so obsessed with tossing out the first draft version of ourselves and only showing off the final edit? What’s wrong with being human? Nothing. But our gritty humanness can feel like a problem when we hold ourselves up to the impossible standards of a painstakingly curated, digitally enhanced lifestyle.
So again, I ask you: what are you really chasing? Is it happiness? Joy? Artistic fulfillment? Bliss? A beautiful home? A perfect bullet journal layout? Personal style that makes people gasp with glee? Are you chasing things you’d still be chasing if there was no grid to post to? No feed to fill?
Are you doing things that make you feel whole, or are you clinging to the fleeting ecstasy of receiving uplifting comments from strangers? Feeling validated and good about your life for the next twenty minutes (until that dark feeling of “not enough” sets in again)?
It might be time to ween yourself off the social media beast, which has turned your attention into a product and any genuine efforts to better yourself into an endless treadmill jog into nothingness.
You’re adorable, you’re beautiful, but you’re not a doll, nor a robot. To lie to yourself or try to embody these empty archetypes will burn you out while distracting you from life-enriching goals.
Because, spoiler alert: if “getting your shit together” is your only goal, you will never hit it. Instead, you’ll just burn out wondering why you’re so bad at life and why you don’t feel like your IG feed looks.
We need messy, uncomfortable realness, at least from time to time. We need to skin texture (yes, pores!) and bad days and messy desks. We need boring dinners that aren’t photogenic and comfortable, scruffy clothes when we’re sipping wine and reading a favorite book.
You get it, right?
We need to live our lives as ourselves and not some IG-oriented version of who we wish we could be. Because as far as I can tell, that fantasy has nothing to do with the actual human experience.
Step 3. Identify the real things you want in life.
I want you to try this little exercise with me: Put your phone down for a second. Let your limbs relax.
Try envisioning in your mind what “have all my shit together” looks like. Try to step into that blissfully elusive moment. What does it look like? How does it feel? What are you doing? Who are you with?
Maybe your anxiety levels are at a record low. You’re sitting on a floor cushion in yoga pants sipping tea and sighing happily. Maybe you’ve launched your business or closed out your first 6-figure year—or just made your first $100 sale.
Maybe your closet is curated and you’re headed to the gym because you finally made your health a priority. Afterward, you’ll be laughing with friends at a gorgeous little bistro, or sketching whimsically in your notebook on your front stoop.
Maybe your skin is glowing because you’re hydrated and eating well. Maybe you’ve repaired a relationship that’s been hurting. Maybe you’ve gotten a promotion at work (Post-COVID-19 note: Many of the examples above may not come to mind while we’re all on lockdown, but remember that this is temporary. Allow your mind to wander as far into the other side of the pandemic as possible.)
Whatever you’re picturing, hold that frame in your mind. Savor it. Sink your teeth into it. And now, here’s the punchline:
None of these things require you to “have your shit together” to experience. None of these things require you to have every single thing checked off your list to indulge in. None of these moments exist in some faraway universe, exclusive of you getting every project in order, all of your rooms clean, your debt paid, or your mental blocks completely in check.
…or whatever you have on that long list of reasons your life isn’t “perfect” yet.
It’s so sad that we’re robbing ourselves of moments like these in favor of scrolling through social media wondering what’s “wrong” with us, why we’re no good at “adulting”, or whatever things we’ve found to compare ourselves to on strangers’ feeds.
Whatever is truly important to you in life—friends, family, health, joy, creativity, whatever—is what you need to prioritize. Those things are the essence of life and they should come before getting your elusive ducks in a row.
Why? Because life is not going to pause so you can “get your shit together” and then rejoin the party. The party is going to end. The world is changing. Time is ticking. I mean, look at what’s unfolding right now. It’s awful to imagine but you can bet many of the thousands of people who have died during this pandemic thought they had more time to enjoy life to the fullest.
Time just isn’t promised.
People you love don’t care if you have your shit together or if you’re photo-ready. They just want to make memories with you. Perfection isn’t required to achieve anything in life. Just look at some of the against-the-odds stories out there. If anything, an utter lack of perfect circumstances is often what gives way to the most unlikely miracles.
Life, imperfect and in flux, is happening out there, my friend. Things are happening while your head is buried in your to-do list and in those social media feeds, while you’re agonizing over not having a perfect life or a perfect body or a perfect relationship, apartment, morning routine…
Life is happening anyway, with or without you. So why not decide to live as fully as possible in tandem with “working on yourself” or “streamlining”? Why not accept and embrace the fact that neither of those things will be complete until you’ve reached the end of your life’s journey? Why not go easy on yourself and treat your life as the dynamic, complex experience that it is, and not a curated feed?
To me, that feels like the only way to make sense of the chaos. To make peace with it, maybe even enjoy it rather than feeling like you’re always behind.
Step 4. Take stock of how far you’ve come… and appreciate where you are.
Here’s something we forget regularly: Your messy life looks like someone else’s dream life. Your small apartment is someone else’s ideal cozy nook. That career, business, or side-hustle you’re feeling “behind” in is #GOALS for someone else. Your “I have nothing to wear” situation is someone else’s dream wardrobe. Your “not curated enough” feed is probably making someone else feel little pangs of jealousy.
You get the picture.
“The grass is always greener on the other side” is a human condition rooted in wanting to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and wanting to identify with and keep up with our tribe. But, come on. Let’s get real. A few years ago you probably couldn’t have imagined you’d make this much progress or show this much strength. You’ve overcome hurdles and solved puzzles and made a lot of progress so far.
If you really look at yourself and how far you’ve come, your current life may even look like your previous self’s dream life, and you didn’t even realize it!
That doesn’t mean you’re going to hang up your hat and stop trying to evolve. It just means you’re giving yourself credit for the evolution you’ve endured, whether you were consciously aware of it or not. As products of our environment and experiences, we are always shifting and changing. It is not possible to stay the same.
Right now we may not think we’re “better” than our younger selves (or as thin, pretty, creative, brave, whimsical), but we have evolved, become wiser, and have more skin in the game than before. We’ve been through more. We’ve processed more. We’re ready for more. That is simply how being alive works. Wild, right?
And no before you @ me, that doesn’t mean age is a deciding factor when considering someone’s credibility or wisdom. We all lead wildly different lives and our paths look nothing alike. But when you’re stuck in that mental cycle of feeling behind, or like everyone else has some secret to life that you missed out on, it’s worth taking stock of just how far you’ve come.
“But… what if I feel worse now than I did before? What if things aren’t going well?”
I’m so glad you asked. Yes, the present might feel worse than the past. You may not feel like a better version of yourself or that your circumstances have improved. You may have new anxieties and problems to deal with that you never saw coming.
(*Points to pandemic*)
But this is the very nature of life itself. Everything is figure-out-able, as Marie Forleo says. All things resolve themselves, this too shall pass. And no matter what we’re facing now, we shouldn’t let current circumstances overwhelm our appreciation for our journey thus far.
So, take a minute and write down every great thing you can think of that has happened in the past year, that was a result of you taking action in some way—or just not denying the experience. It could be having lunch with a mentor that changed your worldview (that you almost chickened out of, but didn’t). A trip you almost backed out on but went for, despite your fear of flying, and as a result, learned something new about yourself.
Maybe you published your first blog post (or a whole damn novel), even if no one read it. Perhaps you’ve finally cleaned out Google Calendar and got a bit more organized, allowing you more time for creative hobbies. It could be that you went to a march, donated to a cause you believe in, or held space for people who needed it. Maybe you scheduled an appointment you’ve been putting off, launched a business, or got the tattoo you’ve been wanting, despite your nerves.
Maybe you did something small and brave no one knows about. Maybe you just made it, maybe you just survived and decided to stay here.
It all counts.
You get to celebrate your life. You get to be proud of yourself. You get to feel good about yourself separate from any standard of “having shit together”. Please let that sink in. You’ve come a long way and you’re capable of achieving your goals. Your very own life is proof of that.
Step 5. Okay, now… get your shit together!
I jest. But I couldn’t let this post end without sharing some actionable tips on what we all crave and dream of: having our shit together. I don’t, by the way. But I have made peace with the journey and am more focused on creation and output than streamlining (at least for the moment).
I’ve studied productivity, result-causing, resistance, procrastination, and manifesting like it was my job this year. I was introduced to the world of quantum possibilities by my mentors and dove deep into this realm. I found it fascinating how some people appear able to create results for themselves and sail forward in life, while others are left stuck in an endless cycle of lack and want.
Of course, there are many reasons people do and don’t have what they desire, including entire communities lacking basic human needs due to systems that are stacked against them. But every once in a while you hear a remarkable story about someone who beats the odds and rises above their seemingly predetermined fate to shock the world and accomplish wild things.
Usually, these outcomes are rooted in identity and focus.
This is a layered, complex topic, and I’m about to make some broad statements that may not apply to everyone (alongside some very real universal truths). You’re welcome to do some reading on it yourself, but to go into that here would make this post a ridiculously long ride that you didn’t sign up for…
The gist of it all, however, is that we ultimately get the life we identify with and receive what we are most focused on, for better or for worse.
There are two truths to absorb here:
The first is that you will always take action on your subconscious identity and that identity’s priorities. No matter what habits or goals you’re going for in life, if you don’t align yourself on a subconscious level, you won’t find that full potential success. (For more information on this, I recommend checking out Jim Fortin.)
The second truth is that—and this is a well-documented scientific fact—the universe moves energy to meet your mind halfway because your mind is where universal energy originates. It’s called QUANTUM energy, and it’s powerful as hell. Wherever our energy is directed, that thing multiplies and/or manifests into more of itself.
This is why addiction to scrolling through social media and pining for what we don’t have only seems to lead to more lack. It’s because we’re hyper-focused on the lack.
Now, you might ask “why would it lead to more lack if I am staring at the things I want all day, every day?” And here’s the answer: You’re not focusing on those things in a way that says “I am a person who has these things or lives this experience”, nor are you focusing on the joy and beauty of things you desire (or the happiness being experienced by the influencers you’re focusing on).
Still with me?
Your energy is focused on those pangs of jealousy and longing, of the “missing out” and the “not having”, perpetuating the idea that you lack the things you’re witnessing. So, lack is what manifests in your life.
Additionally, your subconscious identity isn’t prioritizing that thing right now, or else you’d be setting all other things aside to have it. Whether that means you have an identity misalignment or you are simply addicted to shiny objects under the false pretense that they’ll magically improve your life… Well, that’s up to you to figure out.
In order to “get what you want”, my mentors (check out Jill Stanton from the Screw the 9-5 podcast) have advised removing the term “want” from your mind and doing two things :
1. “Blessing” the things you desire when you see them instead of reinforcing the idea that you lack them—and “blessing” the people who have them (being genuinely happy for someone is a wild concept, I know)
2. Mentally aligning yourself with those things as if you already possess them (whether we’re talking about the potential to have your shit together or a yacht)
That is the mental place you need to be in if you’d like to use quantum energy to achieve your goals. And from there, you release the outcome, trust the universe, and get to work (small, logical steps) on the things that matter to you.
To do this, you’ll need to figure out what matters to you.
Remember at the beginning of this blog post, when I asked you to imagine what “having your shit together” would actually look like? Spend some time considering what’s most important to you right now, and then make the decision to tackle it rationally.
That means crossing off stuff you added because it felt like you “should” do it. For example, perhaps your list is full of goals that sound good on the outside… but that you’d rather eat glass than tackle this year. Cross them off. You can always come back to goals in the future, so don’t hoard them if they don’t feel aligned right now.
If you overload yourself with “ideal” sounding goals, you’re going to spin your wheels for yet another year and end up with a false sense of incapability. Say no to goal gluttony. I used to be the queen of too-many-goals, and it taught me that focusing on one thing at a time is the most efficient and satisfying way to get things done.
Just pick something and start. It’s all about small, reasonable steps and everyday progress.
Well, you made it to the outro, and for that, I’m both grateful and very proud of you. Your reward for reading this far? A few closing thoughts to land this get-your-shit-together plane:
Breathe, clear your head, and work toward your various milestones at a steady pace. It’s easy to think of “getting shit together” like waving a wand and having a perfect life with nothing pending in your outbox. But the way people really achieve a state of having it together is by consistently taking action on what needs to be done—and often, the simplest way to do this is one thing at a time.
As Seth Godin says, drip by drip. That’s how coffee is made. So, why not try a similar approach? Organize your to-do list based on what you know about how you work best. Pick one thing, and go.
Also, as a bonus tip, you can also take your own knowledge of your workflow habits and triggers and apply that to how you organize tasks:
If you get overwhelmed by housekeeping or doctor’s appointments, either schedule it all in one day to rip off the proverbial bandaid or space them out so you can protect your nerves. If you have a ton of work to do, you can either close all browser tabs and haul ass all morning or create a chill nocturnal working playlist and get into the flow of working while others are sleeping.
You get the idea here. Only you know what’s on your list. Set yourself up for the best outcomes based on your own habits and needs. You only need one little step to get the ball rolling.
And that, my friends, is how you eventually “get your shit together”, in the sense that you’ll keep taking these small steps forward and performing “life maintenance” regularly.
I truly hope this brings some clarity to your quest to have it all together, my friend. I hope you’ll be patient and honest with yourself as we enter a new year, and that you give yourself the best possible chance of making life a victorious, fully lived adventure. Now, more than ever, we need to be kind to ourselves, reject the toxic comparison traps, and tap into what’s truly important.
And just remember: It’s natural to crave growth. That’s our path as humans. But don’t let that fight for growth overshadow your progress or your peace as you move through life. Take time for gratitude and to honor your path thus far.
Thank you for reading… and have an incredible 2020, despite everything. I believe in you!
Stay safe out there, and don’t forget to come and hang out with me on IG!
P.S. Further reading for those who are interested in setting mindful goals right now: