I was in private practice from 2001-2010 working as a Psychoanalyst treating clients who wanted mental health treatment. In 2008 during the economic collapse clients came in complaining about losing their homes and jobs. It was a difficult time financially for many of my clients. A good percentage of the cliental expressed grief, rage and despondence due to losing their way in life. People were giving up hope, and having difficulty figuring out what they wanted in their personal and professional life. Some thought they had no future at all.
One of the favorite sayings during those years was "Think outside the box." Everyone believed that if they thought outside of a box they would gain more clarity and solutions. Instead I believed quite the opposite. I stated "Don't think outside the box, get rid of the box." One by one each "lost sheep" was directed to a local junior college career center to take extensive personality and career testing. One by one each of them recognized new career options, even better opportunities then they had ever imagined. Instead of sheep of doom they were more like excited kangaroos hopping back to the playing field. I couldn't help but catch some of that miraculous tailwind. I asked myself, "Who do I want to be when I grow up?" I realized 17 years of having a therapist hat on was my "box." I wanted to experience change also.
I stopped practicing in March 2010 and started a journey of self discovery. I first jumped into acting, something I hadn't done for many, many years. Oh what fun I had. I did four films, a handful of commercials and even a play. Imagine that; I was cast as a lead in the "Dixie Swim Club" after not being on stage for 25 years. I also had the great pleasure of meeting Henry Jaglom, a famous filmmaker and was cast in "The M Word," a film about menopause, which I realized I was experiencing. So "change of life" was an appropriate theme for me. Simultaneously to a budding acting career I took lots of classes to test out new careers and businesses.
While driving back and forth from Orange County to Hollywood I enrolled and took paralegal courses. I explored opening a restaurant. I took interior design and feng shui classes thinking I would open a design company. When I found out how much schooling and sitting in classes there would be I realized that years of schooling would not be a great option for me. I had been sitting for 17 years treating people and the thought of sitting years more was more than I could bare. So, if I couldn't be an attorney, restauranteur or Nate Berkus what was I to do? One day I was going to open a restaurant and the next I was going to Law School. Each box I tried on did not fit. I checked off one box after another. Finally after a lot of soul searches and screeches I found the Professional Organizing industry and realized this was a business I could enjoy and use my mental health background.
I met with Professional Organizers in Orange County. They were happy helping people de-clutter. I noticed they were like "old fashioned" social workers, the kind back in the 1800's. They were going in homes, businesses and helping not only with clutter but they were life coaching as well. They seemed happier than interior designers and not quite as happy as realtors, but indeed they were working and earning a nice living. The organizers were friendly, kind and gave me information to help me get started. I designed and built a website and wanted to know everything about social media. I learned search engine optimization and started writing a blog called Self & Space. I posted a lot about "Getting rid of the box," for people who were stuck in muck and literally living out of boxes. I started unpacking, packing, de-cluttering, decorating and coaching people to a more organized self and space. I realized quickly for the sake of clients not having conniptions that it was better to focus on what to keep and not what to get "rid" of. Although people are enthusiastic about purging some, more than others cling on to their useless items.
I named my company I-Deal-Lifestyle since I was helping to "deal out" how to live a more ideal lifestyle. The goal has always been and until today to help people get rid of their "boxes," whether physical or emotional with methods, exercises and techniques I created along the way. We want people them see themselves, their lives, their space and their objects clearly. The lifestyle coaching we do is to help create a better way of life, un-cluttered and organized long-term.
We recognize that the first step in clearing out your life is to figure out what you value. The next step is to recognize that nothing in your space is a "need." The only NEEDS are:
You may think that "wants" are "needs" but this is a lie to the subconscious process of life. By having unfulfilled needs and unfulfilled desires life becomes robotic and mundane and the "box" gets tighter and more stifling. You may cope by buying more stuff.
Organizers see what you collect. We see stuff that goes unused. We see people living in unhealthy relationships, jobs, careers, health and clutter. We see people living in their boxes. Each box contains different elements including confusion, procrastination, doubt, frustration, personal challenges, health issues, decreased motivation and lack of follow through. Organizers are there to help every step of the way to help you clear the floor and gain clarity about how to live a more organized lifestyle.
The box is symbolic of what you cannot see, or have or taste or touch. The idea that "thinking outside the box" was a great and amazing idea still perplexes me. When the box is hanging around or even in your peripheral vision, how do you see your dreams and goals clearly? Why is the box necessary to think about things? Why is the box still hanging around? Why was the box there in the first place? Is the box some kind of inspiration, like a new friend you hardly know but whose charisma is catching?
My idea of "getting rid of the box" instead of "thinking outside the box" is about internal inspiration, clarity, joy and ultimately an ideal lifestyle. So remove the boxes from your self and space and think all on your own about what you truly want in your Ideal Lifestyle.
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Marla Stone, MSW, Lifestyle Expert, Business Consultant
Marla is known as the Declutter Your Strategy™ expert. Marla earned her BA in Psychology and a Master's in Social Work and is the founder of