The world’s oldest annual marathon is taking place in Boston today. The thousands of runners who take part in this extraordinary race will pass through eight cities and towns, crossing the finish line in the Back Bay. I think it’s safe to assume that almost all of the runners have practiced for today – in one way or another – demonstrating their dedication to every aspect of this race. And their efforts have prompted me to consider a question all organization enthusiasts should ask themselves: if someone is looking to enhance their organization skills, is their learning adventure a destination or a journey?
While I can’t speak for all Boston Marathon runners, I can say that the few who I know all seem to have taken on this adventure as an invigorating journey – not simply a destination. They’ve run uphill and downhill (figuratively and literally) as they’ve prepared for the big race, and they’ve learned a lot about themselves in the process.
The same is true for organization-related marathons, those proverbial races we may feel we’re running in an effort to achieve our organizational goals. And that’s the beauty of an organized life. At any given point, we learn something new about the joys of being organized. These situations are our version of practice runs – not unlike the conditioning exercises embraced by our marathon friends. During our organization practice runs we may uncover an area where we’d like to see more logistical bliss, or we may discover a nifty new way to accomplish a routine task. We realize that something we’ve been doing for years can be modified and improved. And we train for our organization marathons just as runners train for Heartbreak Hill. We declutter our rooms one pile at a time, and after a few days, we take on multiple piles before calling it quits. Our stamina and enthusiasm grow as we continue to work hard to jog past our various mile markers – goals that enhance our respective versions of organizational bliss. And so we run our own organization-related marathons. These experiences lead us through a variety of situations – some planned, others unforeseen.
And through it all we learn a lot. A whole lot. While we may not go through a few pairs of running shoes during our training processes, we very likely will go through several varieties of organization bins until we find ones we actually like. We’ll try out a variety of routines until one jumps out at us as workable, and then we’ll have those glorious moments when we feel like we’ve crossed the finish line. Those are the moments when we feel that surge of logistical satisfaction and organizational bliss, like when we stare into a perfectly organized bathroom cabinet.
Today I commend all of the Boston Marathon participants for their commitment and perseverance. Their examples of dedication are yet another reminder to me that living an organized life is a journey, not a destination. It’s what we learn in the process that makes our individual finish line moments that much sweeter and more satisfying.
* Photo by Jonathan Eggers