Balanced and Organized for Healthy Living
This article is written by guest blogger Paula DeCuir; founder and CEO of Balanced and Organized. Paula is a CPA by trade with over 30 years of experience in accounting and finance. She began organizing before she knew that it was considered a skill, but it certainly came in handy when her family moved more than 20 times during their 32-year military career. In her work with clients, Paula noticed a direct correlation between the amount of "stuff" and the amount of debt that people accumulated, and the physical and emotional effects that go along with that. She now helps people get organized, get debt-free and get healthy and has most recently accepted a position with Weight Watchers. You can reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is the time of year when, after the frenzy of the holidays has died down, people begin thinking about changes they’d like to make in the new year. Improvements in health, finances and organization rank as the top resolutions almost every year, and interestingly, they are all closely tied together. Our daily choices in each area are key to being successful. Also, very strong emotions are involved in making lasting changes and the stress we feel when any of these are out of balance can affect every other area of our lives.
The real value of taking care of our health is, simply, to feel good - strong, flexible, energized, able to meet day-to-day challenges, and to continue to experience wellness as we age. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t spend hours on the elliptical and doing endless squats! And we know that our choices each day play a huge role in accomplishing the goal of good health: exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and eating more fruits and vegetables.
Healthy financial habits are no different from the healthy habits we make each day for our physical health – they lead to an overall healthier and happier life, because good money practices are an act of self-care. The real value of money is its capacity to enable us to feel good. It has no actual value except what we ascribe to it, only what it can do for us – the things and experiences it allows us to acquire - because most of the value of any purchase is not monetary, it’s the feelings that we associate with the transaction.
When people have acquired the basic necessities of shelter, food, and clothing there is a feeling of safety and security. Once these basic needs are met, bigger and more expensive shelters (homes), more expensive food and more expensive clothing are just a way to continue to feel those positive feelings. We can then easily fall into the trap of thinking that “more” will make us feel good all the time. But wanting more necessitates earning more (or incurring more debt), which makes us more stressed so we turn to acquiring more to make us feel better. This puts us on a treadmill (and not the good kind) where we’re constantly trying to find that good feeling but instead dealing with enormous stress, which affects our overall health.
Financial fitness begins with realizing that we all have choices in how we spend our money – Porsche vs Kia, steak vs hamburger, Starbucks vs 7-11. We each can define our own “needs vs wants” that fit our lifestyle, but the key is to make those decisions based on the things that we value most in our lives so that our money is working for us in ways that bring satisfaction and happiness.
Acquiring “more” affects us in other ways, too. Clutter in our homes and offices can affect our mood and energy level causing stress, fatigue and even depression – who wants to exercise or prepare healthy meals when staring at mounds of papers, clothes and dirty dishes?
Being organized isn’t some unattainable idea of perfection. Actually, just like with physical and financial fitness, each person defines what “organized” means to them. A messy desk is not necessarily a sign of disorganization – some people work best when their work is laid out in front of them. Disorganization becomes a problem when the stress of too much clutter affects your daily life and prevents you from pursuing other goals.
Trying to organize the whole house in one day would be overwhelming, just as trying to lose 50 pounds by Spring or run a marathon next week. In organizing, simple steps are best. Make the bed first thing in the morning. It can set the mood for the rest of the day. Take 15 minutes to organize one kitchen junk drawer. Set a timer for 30 minutes to pay bills and organize paperwork (when the timer goes off, keep going if you’re on a roll!). Make an “appointment” with yourself for exercise and keep workout gear in plain sight.
Our daily choices in one area of our lives almost always have an impact on other areas. Making those choices mindfully and in alignment with our values increases our sense of well-being. With a change in mindset, ‘feelings of deprivation’ (whether in time, money or food) become ‘consciously making a choice’ for a better life.