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One morning last week I made my usual trundle down the stairs, wearing my pyjama substitutes (an old painting top and some oversized joggers), filled the percolator from the boiling water tap, spooned in my favourite blend of subscription filter coffee and walked to the bathroom. As I washed my hands I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror only to be genuinely surprised by my appearance.
Was that really me?
Wild bunned hair, puffy empty eyes and pale skin, I didn’t recognise myself. I felt strangely detached from the other very familiar, but certainly different, person in the mirror. A sudden observer in my own life, it reminded me of a music video by Avicii and Nicky Romero. A woman, stuck in a monotonous routine, wakes up every morning, bruises her alarm clock with her fist, brushes her teeth begrudgingly in the mirror and proceeds to submit herself to the same day. Watching as the dates on the calendar seem to fall away meaninglessly, like a self-induced groundhog day.
I was brought back into consciousness by the sound of the violently boiling percolator, I drank my coffee with cream in my usual spot on my staircase, got dressed for work in my usual shirt and chinos, arranged the scatter cushions on my bed – in the usual way and went about my usual day.
This epitomises my last couple of months and my lack of blogging, three months have passed and I have barely been awake and present to notice. Joshua Fields and Ryan Nicodemus describe this phenomenon as ‘the career trap’, making a clear distinction in their book: ‘The Minimalists’, between a ‘job’, a ‘career’ and a ‘mission’. On careers:
“..if you are this person, then you are the least likely to change…you feel satisfied enough to keep on trucking, and maybe “someday” before you die you will be able to retire and live a more meaningful, enjoyable life.”
Some sobering stuff.
I’ve opened with this narrative because I wanted to highlight the utility and importance of taking stock. Pressing the metaphorical reset button and sticking your head above the parapet to recognise and celebrate the progress that has been made and identify any learning opportunities.
Over the next few weeks I will be reflecting on each goal in turn, blogging about them, both the successes and the challenges and quite possibly (hopefully) standing aghast of the amount that can be achieved by doing just one thing for your goals, for Future Emma; every day.
The easier option to introspection would of course be to default to feelings of overwhelm by the perceived or real challenges of getting to success. I could hide back within the safety and certainty of my 50 hour work week and suggest that I’m just a bit too busy submitting to my usual day to reach my potential after all. But that’s not the commitment that I made to myself, and that’s not what I am going to do.
Reminder of 2018 Mission goal:
By the end of 2018 I will.. have removed anchors; anything that is holding me back. Relationships, belongings, beliefs.
- Have moved house, to a nicer area that is larger and closer to my family and transport links.
- Have decluttered my entire house, leaving only the things that I love or need.
- Be spending less time engaging in relationships with people who don’t build me up.
Stock Take: First Quarter 2018 goal achievements
Mel Robbins, author and motivational speaker, champions the idea that the only way to start a new chapter is to close out the old one. This is why so much of my energy for my mission is directed at the removal of anchors and the things that are holding me back.
House – I put my house on the market, had an offer accepted on a larger cleaner house in a nicer location, a monkey-shits throw from my family and within walking distance to town. WIN!
Getting my house on the market was no small feat. Doing so meant haphazardly re-plastering my front room, wet plaster balanced in one hand and YouTube instruction video in the other. Completely redecorating 3 rooms, on a shoestring after 10 hour work days. Amongst many other trivial but time consuming activities e.g replacing a loft ladder – according to the instructions minimum two person job. Instructions 0:1 Singledom. Though, the challenge is not over, the market is slow and the viewings are few, if i don’t sell I’ll be going nowhere.
I received a message from the daughter of the elderly man who lived in my property for 40 years, he passed away last year and having seen that the property was on the market, she wanted to see the house for one last time. She arrives later today for a cup of tea and a tour, whilst I too start my own goodbyes to this house; I’ve started ‘re-purposing’ boxes that I’ve swiped from neighbours recycling piles. And one day, hopefully soon, I will by pressing my hands flatly against the walls of the house and thanking it for the joy it has brought me, as I close the door for the last time upon this chapter of my life.
Clutter – I raised £890 for my unwanted items and created an Amazon wish list to make sure I get future gifts in keeping with my new lifestyle. WIN!
Selling retro furniture through auction houses, vintage goods through online recommerce businesses and clothing items through consignment shops; reducing my clothes count from ~900 items down to ~200. I love everything in my wardrobe and getting ready in the morning is now an absolute pleasure.
I’ve found not only financial benefits to this activity. Asking my family and friends, ‘what do you need?’ and gifting expensive and new items, watching the joy the new ownership gives has bestowed me a wonderful sense of well-being.
An item that brought me a tremendous amount of joy in selling was a collection of 1940 Air Reserve Gazettes, the buyer contacted me yesterday and said:
“Talking to my brother a few days ago, he mentioned that he had been given a pile of Air Reserve Gazettes as a small boy. Aged 8 (would have been in 1948) he came home to find that his Grandma had used them all to put under the stair carpet that she had just had laid. He was mortified and it still resonates with him. I decided to search for them and found yours. So they will be on there way to my brother in New Zealand for his 78th birthday! He will be over the moon!”
Relationships and Beliefs – I’ve joined support groups that will help me work towards some specific goals and I examined some long held beliefs. WIN!
Two of these groups being ‘Shopify Newbies’ to help me in creating passive income opportunities and learning from others and ‘Frugal Minimalists’, to help me decide how to continue to remove my anchors and live more meaningfully with less.
As for relationships, this is a tricky one as ultimately I’ll be spending more time engaging with relationships that are ‘on the periphery’ then with my ‘A’ people until the point at which I am living my mission. There’s numerous times of late that I’ve missed special time with people because I was too emotionally exhausted from work. Though I have committed to working from home one day per week – 7.5 blissful hours without having to sacrifice emotional energy for others is great news for an introvert.
I’ve let go of the belief that I have a super power of being able to intuit the intentions of others without asking. Now, I practice humility. When I meet a situation where I feel upset about the actions or words of others I look to understand from a place of genuine curiosity if I have understood their intentions by asking them directly.
It’s painful how often I am wrong.
I have given myself until the end of May to have let go of everything I own that I do not need or does not bring me joy. I have set a similar deadline for the sale of my house, if this does not complete I will look to understand how I can make my current house less of an anchor – sprucing it up during the last month made it surprisingly nicer to live in. I want to continue to be aware of how I spend my emotional energy as a finite resource and answer the question, how do I balance this with my desire to free up time to focus on developing financial freedom?