The other weekend I was struck by a compulsion to rearrange the furniture in my living room. Mind you, I had plenty of other things on my to-do list. Even with competing priorities, I was single-minded, all-in, eyes-on-the-prize determined to get my living room looking like something on HGTV.
Rearranging the furniture in my living room is a bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic—it is a tragic undertaking that will end the same no matter what I do. Objectively, the furniture fits where it will fit—which is to say, it fits where it is right now. It doesn’t look great, it just serves a function.
That Saturday I was determined to defy the limits of furniture and floorplan, and I embarked on what was an all-day effort to move heavy furniture—by myself.
Later that week, I was talking to my coach about how I didn’t get around to that thing I said was important to me and had set as a goal to accomplish over the weekend.
My coach asked me, what got in the way? I told him, “Well, I was just so busy this weekend [pause]…rearranging furniture.”
He literally laughed out loud.
It dawned on me. I had actually HAD time that weekend to do the thing I said I would do. Instead, because I live inside the story of how busy I am, my mind helped me create a reality where that was true—enter my compulsion de jour.
And here’s where curiosity and choice come in. As I started to move the sofa that Saturday morning, I thought, “This is weird. I’ve never wanted to rearrange this room before. I wonder what has me wanting to do it now?”
However, I didn’t lean into curiosity. Instead, I leaned into being busy.
And being busy is a very comfortable story for me.
I could choose to say “Well, I was so busy and all these circumstances were going on,” which sometimes is true—sometimes I do have circumstances, I mean life happens! But this time I had literally MADE UP the reality!
And really, aren’t all circumstances just choices posing as “the truth” leading me to believe that I am powerless in their wake? Choice is all that is. How I react to the choice is the differentiator.
At the end of that Saturday, my furniture ended up back in exactly the same place. Rather fitting symmetry to my“I’m so busy” narrative—a whole lot of exertion for little, if any, gain.
I’m constantly reminded that the game to play is not to get it perfect. The game to play is to get curious. To recognize when I’m at the effect of circumstances. That choice is power.
And I get to choose which circumstances and stories I empower, each day and moment.