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The One To Zen Organizing Blog

Breathe in Calm, Breathe out Clutter

  • Writer's pictureJill Katz

4 Ways To Determine If You Are Ready For A Change


A woman lying on a bed of fall leaves with her eyes closed

Are you thinking of renovating your kitchen, moving, or switching jobs, but you aren't sure if you are ready for a change? Well, as a professional organizer, I have become a bit of an expert when it comes to life transitions because professional organizers are most popular in times of change. I receive many calls in September when the leaves are falling and the air starts turning crisp, or right around January 1st when people are reevaluating their goals. Not to mention times when change is unplanned (i.e. a job loss, empty nesting, or learning you have ADHD.


But not everyone is ready to make a transition. Please understand; There is no judgment here. Choosing to make a change may not be the best decision for you, no matter the season. But how do you determine if the time is not now?


The "Why Now" Question


A large gold question mark

In order to determine your readiness, my number one question during a discovery call with a potential client is “WHY NOW? “


Here are some of your responses to the “Why Now” question that suggest that you are ready for change:

  • We are planning on moving soon and I would like to downsize so I don’t move items I don’t need/want/use into our new home (awareness, motivation)

  • I’ve reached my pain point and I can’t deal with the kitchen clutter anymore (motivation)

  • I just found out I have ADHD, I have been working with a therapist, and I want to get organized (awareness, mental readiness, support)

Here are some other responses to the “Why Now” question that suggest you are not ready for change:

  • My Significant Other is taking over the house with his hobby - please help (no Support)

  • I want you to come and declutter my home (vague, probe more to see if awareness)

  • I want my 10 years worth of clutter gone by the end of the month and I can only meet on Tuesday evenings (lack of time)


The 4 Signs of Readiness For Change


A woman wearing a hat with a thoughtful look on her face walking up stairs outide with nature in the background

So how can you tell if you are ready for change - organizing or otherwise? Here are some guidelines I came up with based on my experience:


1. You Have An Awareness Of Underlying Issues

Awareness is integral to readiness for change. A great example- I once had a client with a shopping addiction who didn’t mention her addiction to me on our initial call or during our sessions. This lack of awareness suggested that she was not ready to change. Once this addiction was clear to me, I felt ethically obligated to point it out so we could openly discuss goals that would support her challenges. She could then decide if she wanted to continue working with me. Conversely, I have had many clients with underlying issues who have been forthcoming about it and successful in creating change.


2.You have a Willingness to Form & Practice New Habits & Routines

More often than not, my organizing sessions go beyond straightforward decluttering and containerizing. If so, I can organize and suggest new systems and supporting routines but it’s up to the client to practice these new habits. In this case, a client needs to be willing to make those changes in order for our sessions together to be a success. If a client is hoping for a quick fix, that client is not ready for change.


This willingness depends on 2 areas:


Motivation

If you have hit enough of a pain point to seek help then you have motivation. If this motivation is strong then it will carry you through the effort of practicing new habits. If you have ADHD then holding motivation is a challenge so you need to come up with ideas (I can help!) to create sustained motivation.


Mental Readiness:

Changing routines can be scary. It takes flexibility and it can feel like a risk to start something new. Jumping into this new space can cause anxiety and not everyone has the bandwidth to enter that space. You might have too much going on right now or you might be a high anxiety person who doesn’t feel that the cost-benefit is worth it. But if you are prepared mentally for this change then you are ready!


3. You Have The Necessary Support


A woman putting her arm around a loved one to show support as seen from the back

This one is super easy to identify. If you are coming to me about someone else or if your space is a shared space then the true question is: “Are all the involved parties ready for change?” If we are organizing a playroom then are all the adults involved ready to create rules for the kids and/or make decisions about what to do when the grandparents give a wagon-load of gifts over the holidays? And if you want to organize a shared space do you have the support of those sharing that space? Lastly, if you grapple with mental health issues, chronic health issues or are chronically disorganized, do you have a support system in place for you to help you with your challenges? If the answer is yes then you are ready for change.


4. You Have The Resources

You may have the awareness, motivation, and support, but if you don't have the budget, energy, or time then change might not be available to you. I have worked with people who have chronic health issues and often, those with flagging health, need to reserve their energy for more basic functions (see my post about The Spoon Theory). If you are throwing a wedding for a loved one, it might not be the time to spend money hiring a professional organizer. On the other hand, if you are a teacher that has time off for the summer, that would be a perfect time to work with an professional organizer.


In Conclusion

So if you find yourself on the phone with me and we have already discussed the details of my process. and you have asked your questions. and you are still hesitating, consider this - maybe you are simply not ready to take the next step. And that is OK. In that case, you might hear me pause, and then respond: “Why don’t you think about it? I will be here when you are ready.”


Have you recently made a change? How did you know you were ready? Feel free to leave your story in the comments.

6 Comments


Julie Bestry
Julie Bestry
Sep 13, 2023

I always ask prospective clients a two-for-one question: what has prompted you to seek a professional organizer. The front-of-the-curtain question is, "why organizing?" but the behind-the-curtain question is, "why now?" Both are essential for understanding what's going on. You've hit all of the essentials, and yes, motivation only sticks when the person is mentally ready to not only have change, but be the AGENT of change in their own lives! And yes, even then, they need the right support and enough spoons. I love how you've gently but firmly approached these issues! L'shanah tovah! I hope you have a sweet year!

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 13, 2023
Replying to

Thanks Julie - Of course we want to be part of that support system BUT we want them to know that it's OK if they aren't there yet.


A sweet New Year to you too!

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dnqsolutions
Sep 11, 2023

I love the way you have asked and answered the questions here. There are so many things to consider when making a change and as you point out many people have reasons which will keep them in a status quo for now. It's terrific that you say (as I think we all do) you will be there when they are ready.

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 13, 2023
Replying to

Thanks! In a world where people always talk about embracing change, why not sometimes embrace enjoying stasis or equilibrium without it having a negative connotation? Change is a great thing when you are ready but not when you feel it is expected of you.

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Linda Samuels
Linda Samuels
Sep 11, 2023

This is such a thoughtfully written piece about readiness for change. Being able to move forward hinges on that. But as you so beautifully pointed out, it's not one aspect, but several that indicate a person's readiness.


"Why now?" is a question I often ask. Another one is "What prompted your call?" It gives us immediate insight into what is going on (that they are willing to share,) and indicates a their level of readiness for making the changes they desire. Sometimes clients need help getting ready to be ready, and I will walk with them along that path if it seems useful. But the most magical experiences are when they reach out for help when all of their readiness…

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Jill Katz
Jill Katz
Sep 11, 2023
Replying to

Linda, I love that phrase about helping some "getting ready to be ready" - perhaps a post for another day?!

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