Spring Cleaning — For Your Rolodex

Nature’s power of renewal is the hallmark of spring. Bidding farewell to the cold and winter layers is great too, but nothing is more inspiring to me than the crocuses, tulips and other hardy flowers working their way through soil and resisting the lingering cold. They always remind me that attaining my most important goals is going to take a lot of work. We all have to plow through dirt — and more dirt — to attain long-term objectives.

Spring housecleaning may seem a little bland when compared to the hardy, green shoots of life itself. But there is something powerful about clearing space — in your home, your schedule and your work — for new possibilities. So often I’ve found that the freeing time, space and energy benefits the present moment and serves my greater strategies.

Several years back, my goal as a financial advisor was to be working with 100 seven-figure-net-worth women, all of them working either in media or fashion. That was an ambitious goal; there would be a lot of dirt removal before I had a top quality, three-digit deep client list. But I wasn’t going to wait that long to feel satisfied.

One spring day I bought one hundred bright white, clean, sleek, laminated folders. Using my most favorite, Martha inspired office tool – the brother p touch labeler – I affixed the names of existing quality clients on some of them, and placed all 100 in the top drawer of my filing cabinet. Delightedly, I tossed out a sheaf of creased, crumpled, bargain basement blue file folders to make space for my shiny new stack.

Every time I opened that drawer, I could celebrate the accomplishment of having landed my high-value clients. The remaining empty files looked beautiful and inviting; I was eager, maybe even impatient to fill them, but they represented so much possibility. Just seeing them brightened my view of the day at hand. Who knew that a file drawer could represent such a powerful visual – a validation and recognition of what I had already accomplished and an inspiring representation of the opportunities in front of me.

I’m all for greater goals, unless they’re pursued at the expense of today’s satisfaction. Especially when we miss opportunities to clear away a little of that dirt, which often are right in front of us.

Making space for new growth is the essence of spring; it also helps us improve the quality of our pursuits and obligations. In turn, these short-term accomplishments can provide the encouragement and fuel we need to stay true to our long-term objectives.

Yet so many of us have been trained to write down the strategic goals — X number of clients, YZ dollars income they generate — which have nothing to do with the days before we hit our targets or the days that follow. Along the way we forget to ask: what kind of relationship do I have with my clients? Could I improve them? Could I, perhaps, let go of difficult, time-consuming commitments if I have more confidence in the abundance of opportunity that exists for me? Am I enjoying my work? Is quantity really the only metric for success?

Gardeners know they have to cut away old, withered growth to encourage the spring’s new buds. What possibilities are hidden beneath the ground for you? Make room for new, better possibilities and you just might find out.

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