Organizing Principles

Posted on April 2, 2012


Spring, as we know, represents renewal and new life on both the physical and figurative level.  It’s a transition period not only for the earth but also for ourselves.  Last year, transition meant for me the initiation of new projects and pursuing exciting dreams.  This year my spring transitioning is taking on the form of increased focus.  That is, prioritizing all those projects and dreams by directing my energies on the purposes and lifestyle that I truly desire inform, define, and inspire how I live my days.  Cutting back on certain activities that I love in order to more fully dedicate myself to those activities I love most, it has been a process of specifying my superlatives.

Transitions, I find, function best when realized in a methodical way.  At this time of year, such organization comes naturally (in the literal sense). Organizing principles are found all over in nature, guiding step-by-step changes.  First crocuses pop through the soil, then cherry trees don their blossoms, and later will come the lilacs.  Here in El Salvador, mangos have matured from their sour green (baby) stage to sweet yellow firmness, and will soon move on to squishy orange over-ripeness.  Northern Hemisphere days grow incrementally longer, and following the recent equinox, the earth’s tilt is quite literally pulling us toward the sun.  Harnessing these spring transition energies, this magnetism, I too am ready for incremental change.

Thus developed Jenny’s Plan for Pursuing Personal Goals.  I’ve approached it, paralleling Spring’s step-by-step transition, by mapping out my weeks.  Week 1 involved savoring quality time with a visit from my brother.  Week 2 was Health Week, in which I umped my yoga practice, scheduled all those dental, gyno, etc. appointments I’d been putting off, changed my contact lenses, and generally booked time for relaxation and self-care.  Week 3 was Restaurant Renovation Week, dedicated to firming up designs and fixing dates for a business remodelation.  I’m in Week 4 already (wow that went fast), which is Writing Week. In the coming month, I have weeks themed on home decor, client expansion, and so on and so forth. Planning out like this, I’ve got a pretty clear idea of how the coming months will look and what I hope to accomplish in them.

You can apply this type of thinking to so many scenarios.  For instance, spring cleaning (Week 1: Kitchen, Week 2: Bedroom, Week 3: Living room, Week 4: Exterior).   Instead of agenda-izing personal goals like I did, choose any aspect of life and align your priorities respective to it.  This could mean focusing on career enhancement (Week 1: Update your resume, Week 2: Read trade journals, Week 3: Networking, etc.), personal care (Week 1: haircut, Week 2: mani/pedi, Week 3: massage, Week 4: facial), or even relationships.

What might that last one look like for you? An intention-mapping system can definitely be applied to your marriage or partnership, helping you highlight your priorities in the relationship.  For example, if you and your partner have been so busy you haven’t seen much of each other, perhaps you need a Plan to Make Room for Quality Time.  Sample schedule?  Week 1: Commit to more face time, starting each morning with a quick breakfast together or having a simple debriefing chat at the end of each day.  Week 2: Cook dinner together.  Week 3: Plan an awesome, day-long date.  Week 4: Spice it up in the bedroom.

Maybe your priority is improving communication.  Your transition for getting there might include sticking a love note in your partner’s lunch box the first week, sending daily encouraging texts and emails the second, purposefully asking about your partner’s day (and listening actively to the answers) all through the third week, and having a movie discussion over dessert the fourth.

If your relationship priorities are more deep-seeded, perhaps you need a plan to reconnect.  In that case, Week 1 would best involve a self-evaluation, in which you reevaluate all the reasons you’re with your partner, and asking yourself what your priorities are for your relationship.  Week 2 you might check out a book on relationships from the library.  Week 3 you choose to drop it instead of fight it whenever an argument arises, to see what happens.  Week 4 you could have a heart-to-heart with your partner, talking about how each of you feels in the relationship and what the other could do to make things better and have a fresh start.

As you see, relationship transitions aren’t a one-size-fits-all deal, but rather are as unique and varied as the individuals that comprise the relationship. It’s the idea organizing principles, however, like setting weekly goals (and making good on them), that will cause your relationship, like spring flowers or ripening mangoes, to flourish.  Just by following a plan, i.e., putting purposed energy into something as important as your primary relationship, you’ll automatically see improvement and growth.  Happy springtime!

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Posted in: Relationships, Tips