I have invited my friend Mary for tea on Friday.
On Wednesday, I find myself in my home office plucking a book off the bookshelf and deciding that I’m not likely to ever look at again and that it’s time to donate it to the city library. Then I add another book, and another. The pile grows until it threatens to topple over. Then I start a second pile, and a third.
For a proud book lover like me, thinning out books like this is not an easy thing to do. I did buy a Kindle a couple of years ago, but I use it mostly when I travel and for the most part only to read novels, especially the classics. But as a “real book” addict, I still buy plenty of books with spines that rest in the palm of my hand as I turn the pages. Because of this, in our home there are bookcases in almost every room.
When there are three tall crooked stacks of books on the floor my office, I move on to the family room and eventually upstairs, where we keep about half of all our books. By the time I’m done, five bags stuffed with books sit near the back door, waiting to be loaded into the car. Later that afternoon, with real relief I drop off the books at the library donations office just minutes before it closes for the day. (Until those bags were gone, I knew I was at risk for having second thoughts, poking through the bags, and finding books I couldn’t let go of after all.)
So what does this story have to do with anchors? Here’s how. Weeding out my books proves to be just the beginning of a kind of catharsis. Next, I clear off my quilting table that doubles as my office credenza. The chaotic look of the long row of books there (the overflow), which has been threatening to push off the bookends at either end, has been making me crazy. After that, I thin out some files and sort through the pile of papers sitting next to my laptop.
By the time I’m done, the state of my office–and more importantly, the state of my “business psyche”–are much more orderly and calm. As a bonus, I’ve also finally found the right home for an antique quilt given to me by a close friend a few years ago.
In this story, inviting my friend for tea was, without my knowing it, the anchor for a welcome avalanche of actions that led to a happy outcome. Since anchoring is a helpful approach I use with my clients, I decided to write this blog to share the concept with you, my readers.
Inevitably, when we invite friends to our home, we do some house cleaning beforehand. (We manage to keep our home neat and quite well organized, but dusting is definitely low on our list of priorities.) I know we’re not alone in this. When I can write my name in the dust on the coffee table, I sometimes say to myself, “It must be time for dinner guests.” In this way, the invitation is an anchor for the cleaning. Another example of an anchor in my life is that I exercise in the morning right after I get up. Some people get their gym bag ready before they go to bed and place it strategically where they will see it when they get up the next morning. Since I exercise at home, for more than 30 years the simple act of getting out of bed in the morning is my anchor for exercise. Another example is the habit I have of cleaning up any mess in the kitchen before I begin to cook. Some people might find this counterintuitive, but for me the decision to start to do food prep is an anchor for cleaning up any existing mess before creating a new one.
Another important way we create anchors is to make and commit ourselves to meeting deadlines. On my calendar a reminder sits on each tenth day of the month as an anchor that this is the day for me to send my monthly newsletter. (This works at least some of the time.)
Getting back to my story, inviting Mary for tea was an especially valuable anchor that led me to clean house in more ways than one. (Thank you, Mary.)
I leave you with the question: What are some ways you could apply anchors in your life to help you meet your goals? May your anchors for action let you set sail, my friends.