Does your life feel like a raging dumpster fire of problems with no way out? Are you constantly moving around in circles unable to make real progress? It might be an issue in how you manage chaos.
It is impossible to make real steady progress towards a goal or an intention if every time you take a step forward, you get knocked two steps back. Unfortunately, this is the lived experience of a lot of people.
Perhaps you feel unable to pull yourself out of your present situation – a life stuck in unhealthy patterns with no hope of meaningful progress. You keep trying and failing to get your shit together to no avail. And while there might be real external and systemic factors against you sure, a large part of that can be boiled down to how much chaos there is in your life.
Here is the thing, if you want something, like really want it, then you would invariably orient your whole life towards it. You would think about that thing all the time, obsessing over it, eventually streamlining your time, your environment and your actions towards the goal of getting that thing.
You would take steps to achieving your goals and dreams, day by day, week by week. Ideally, you would take these steps consistently over time, letting them stack and build and take you towards where you want to be.
Unfortunately, for many of us, the journey to what we want is instead a series of false starts, detours, and failures. With days, months, years passing us by, while we make no real progress.
Because we have neglected to manage chaos effectively.
In the context of this piece, I am going to define chaos as the vagaries of life, the unpredictable factors and events that happen to us.
Chaos is neither good nor bad. It is just a thing. It can win us the lottery, leading us inexplicably against all odds into some incredible things, opportunities and positions. It can also wipe us out with sudden tragedy.
Depending on how we manage it.
And how you manage chaos is about how you organise and orient your life.
You can never completely reduce chaos to zero, and neither should you. Too much order will leave you rigid and stale. Sometimes you need to shake things up. But the better you are at managing chaos, the smoother your life would be.
If you have dreams of being successful, but you are in an environment where you can’t even think or be productive – a crowded studio apartment with too many room mates, you have too much chaos in your life.
If it is easy for friends to call you at anytime and completely derail your state of flow, there is too much chaos in your life.
If the basics of your life are not sorted, shelter, food, clothing, if survival is your main concern, you have too much chaos in your life. You have no control, and no leverage.
The path to success starts with reducing this chaos. In racking up the small wins to create calm and control in your life.
Our ability to live intentionally, to go for what we want, to have all of our life working together towards a harmonious whole, lies in our ability to manage chaos.
So, where does chaos show up and how can we manage it?
Reduce chaos in your time
Take a good look at your life. Does your day-to-day routine help you move forward or does it hold you back? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How do you spend yours? Is it deliberately and intentionally spent in the direction of values you have chosen, or is it at the mercy of forces outside your control. If you cannot have extended periods of time to be productive, to take real directed action, it will be nigh impossible to get the results you want. Outcomes that can build on each other and snowball into greatness.
We push back chaos by being organised, by planning, by managing our time, appropriately allocating it to the things we should do to get what we want.
Reduce chaos in your environment
Is your environment designed to help you reach your goals or is it a major stumbling block? I remember the times I shared living space with mates. They were boisterous, fun loving friends. Nothing against it, it was a lot of fun, with something interesting almost always going on. But it becomes hard to do the things you really want to do, to invest time in working or learning or creating when there is steady stream or activity of people around.
We have to take control in our environment, building a space for ourselves, or carving one out. A space for us. A space that allows us to do that which we must do. It is the study area, it is the quiet time, the productive space, the rejuvenation spot. They serve as lighthouses of calm in the raging sea of chaos.
Reduce chaos in your relationships
Do the people around you, the company you keep, help you be the person you want to be? Or are they a source of drama, low level distractions and thinking? We have heard the proverb, show me your friends and I will show you who you are. It is cliche for a reason.
The people around us influence us, consciously and subconsciously. And for better or worse, the closer we get, the more entangled and enmeshed we become. Entangling with the wrong people is a recipe for disaster over time.
If your relationships are filed with drama and constant conflict, that will wear thin on you causing strain and making it difficult for you to move forward in the way you should.
By mending and managing our relationships, being careful with our connections and who we align with, we can reduce chaos and move with those we can build with.
Reduce chaos in your mind
How is the state of your mind? Are you calm and collected or are you wracked by anxieties and worries, beset by a continuous stream of problems? If your mind is in turmoil, you are living in chaos. It is these stresses that make it so hard to progress. It is these storms that we must calm.
Being mindful of our mental space, taking time for ourselves, to rest, to reflect, to nourish allows us to bounce back from the troubles of life. They give us the resilience to handle strain, to practice courage, to stay optimistic and bring our best selves to life’s challenges.
Be mindful of what you feed your mind, being trapped in the news cycle or social media feeds especially in a tumultuous time like this is the path to overwhelm and shut down. Take care of yourself. Reduce the chaos.
Reducing chaos in your actions
Don’t do stupid shit.
You know those people, the ones who never seem to catch a break, the ones who are walking magnets for problems. Most times of their own volition. If there is a wrong decision to be made, they will make it.
The decisions you make and the things you do will either increase or reduce the amount of chaos in your life.
Decide to go home after a long day of work to a home cooked meal, relaxation and full night of sleep…that will give you some calm and set you up for the next day.
Decide to go to the pub instead and get belligerently drunk, and your chaos meter goes way up, with the possibility of your face being rearranged in a bar fight.
If you are able to reduce the chaos in your life, you are left with calm, you are left with empty space. The space to breathe, to think, to learn, to correct, to plan, to create, to put to action.
If you manage chaos in this way, you will build a calmer and more relaxed life. A life that is aligned with your higher intentions. You will still face problems and challenges, but they will be the obstacles standing directly in front of your goals, good problems, problems to learn and master in getting what you want.
You will not be distracted and derailed by avoidable problems, and you will save yourself from unnecessary stress.