How You Do One Thing Is How You Do Everything
A few years ago when I was still in the corporate world, the company I worked for was hosting a conference.
One of the meeting rooms was changed at the last minute, and we needed to put up a sign to direct the attendees to the correct location. No biggie.
A group of us were figuring out what to do, but the computers and printers were on the other side of the building so we didn’t have time to print a new sign.
My manager whipped out a piece of paper and a black marker.
“Quick! Who has neat handwriting?”
Four of my coworkers simultaneously turned to look at me.
“How did you know?” I asked.
“Because your desk is so clean,” one coworker explained.
What does a clean desk have to do with neat handwriting?
You might not realize it, but everything you do matters, and how you do one thing is how you do everything. This is true for your personal, family, spiritual, and work life.
Your actions reflect your personal values, and my colleagues recognized that because I kept my desk tidy I would also take just as much care when I wrote by hand.
What do your actions and behaviors say about you?
And do you like what they’re saying?
You are Your Car
Think about the spaces you inhabit from day to day such as your office, your home, and your car. How do those spaces look right now?
Do you clean up your desk at night or leave a mess for you to deal with in the morning? Is your car cleaned out or is it overflowing with fast food wrappers, cups, papers, and your gym bag?
Your personal spaces are a reflection of how you treat yourself.
If you believe you’re worthy of an organized space, then you’ll take the time to clean up that space every day. But if you don’t think you’re a good person (or not the type of person you want to be), you might feel like you don’t deserve a clean space to live.
I take a few minutes at night to straighten up my desk, put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, and put my shoes in the closet. I know I’m worthy of having a beautiful place to live and work—and so are you!
You are Your Procrastination
I once worked with a guy who never seemed to meet deadlines and was always begging for extensions. He never returned phone calls, and he strolled into meetings 10 minutes late.
The way he worked made it clear that he thought his time was more important than everyone else’s.
Your work ethic says a lot about your personal values. Do you like what your work says about you? Do you take pride in your work? Do you value other people’s opinions?
Or do you procrastinate like a high school senior who writes her final paper the night before it’s due?
I set deadlines for myself, and I work hard to meet them or finish the tasks early. I’ve also asked for help when I need it because I want to keep up with my clients’ sessions and post consistently on my blog.
Get Judgy With It!
Here’s something I don’t say often as a life coach: I want you to get judgmental.
But the person I want you to be judging is yourself.
Make a list of the things you value—perhaps ambition in your job or business, healthy eating, a clean home, showing kindness to your partner and kids.
Now take a hard look at your actions as you go about your day. Actions definitely speak louder than words, and your actions are your true values.
What things are you doing that don’t align with your intention for your life? You might feel a little ashamed that your actions directly contradict the values you thought you had.
Once you recognize that how you do one thing is how you do everything, you can change what you’re doing so you become the type of person you’ve always wanted to be.
Everything matters! Don’t half-ass anything you do because those little inconsistencies add up.
If you want to be promoted, then take on extra responsibilities at your job, dress for the position you want, and exceed your manager’s expectations.
If you want your business to attract paying clients, then dress like someone who owns a business that makes money, get excited about blogging and social media, and act the part of a responsible entrepreneur.
If you want to lose weight, then throw out the junk food in your house, exercise every day, and surround yourself with healthy role models.
That day at the conference showed me that other people see how I act and then make judgments about the rest of my life based on what they see.
And you can bet people are judging you too.
Are your actions saying nice things about you?
In the comments below, share one thing you do that is not in line with who you want to be and the specific action you’ll take to fix it.
This post focuses on Step 3 of the Life Editing Process, Add Good Habits and Routines. For more about life editing and what it can do for you, click here.
3 Simple Steps to Become a Productivity Superstar
Dump your excuses, transform your habits, and become the most productive person you know.
Thank you, Sage, for this wonderful post. I needed this! My house gets cluttered really quick and I can feel it cluttering my mind, too. I will start taking my working/living space more seriously and be more organized. That’s what I want to live and work in – an organized, clean space. I feel better in a space like that. Realizing it affects everything I do puts a sharp point to it.
It’s true, but it’s so easy to forget that our outside environments reflect our inner selves. I always feel so much better after cleaning my desk. 🙂
Yes! I had a woman once tell me about her struggle with weight issues and then I went into her house and it was literally impossible to walk through her living room. There was stuff everywhere. Without knowing the whole situation, on the outside it seemed like it was not just her health that was out of balance.
You make such a true point. I suppose this is why I like certain things like making my bed to be in order so that I can continue finding order in the more complicated aspects of life.
…Or maybe I am just a control freak. Maybe a little of both! 😉
Love this, Sage!!
The one thing that I do that is not in line with who I want to be is the way I keep my work space. I tend to write a lot of notes on scraps of paper and post-its and leave them hanging around. This quickly starts cluttering my area, making it difficult to work and find things.
I’m going to start writing my notes in specific locations (i.e., on a computer document) and if I happen to write notes on paper, promptly put them away or trash them!
Thanks so much for the kick in the booty!
This is so true Sage + I love how you framed this – I never thought of it in this way before. Such a timely post too – I can be a terrible procrastinator sometimes (not all the time) and is one thing I’m getting better at – especially now that I’m working for myself and need to manage my time efficiently. Thank you for such a great post!
I love a well organized and tidy space but fully admit, most of the time my space isn’t. I take a few mins every morning to tidy up my office, and the kitchen before I really start the day. With a fiancee who says up later than me even if I clean up before bed there’s stuff all over the counters from his snacks and new piles of stuff placed on my desk.
I just got the car set up for my daughter can help me keep it clean and organized while still feeling like she has her own space.
This is such an interesting post and so true! I’ve never thought of it that way and I think it’s so interesting how your co-workers knew you had neat handwriting from your clean desk! You do have beautiful handwriting by the way 🙂 I’m such a time freak and I find it really disrespectful when people are late for exactly the reason you said… my time is just as important as yours! I’m compulsively early 😉 I used to be really really messy and I’ve been working hard to keep it under control. I’m not completely there but I’ve made a huge improvement and I’m really proud of that.
It’s so true! I think it can be a blessing and a curse – sometimes how you do one things looks effortless to everyone else so you keep getting more of it when in fact you want less. Sometimes I do those things really well just because I’ve figured out how to get them off my plate fast and get to the really good stuff but what I want more of is the good stuff! I’ve gotten much better at finding ways to say ‘no’ (in all the right ways) to things I do really well but don’t want anymore of them.
So true! This idea is expressed in many ways, but the core of it is that we act consistently so how we choose to act is reflected in both small and large things. I know that, for myself, I learned to summon my courage to overcome shyness in little matters and found myself braver to tackle the bigger ones.
Your advice is always so smart. I love reading your blog.
Oh my gosh! You’re so sweet, Ally. Thank you for the kind words. You made my day! 🙂