It was 2006. My senior year of college, and I was feeling a bit strapped, but I needed to get my oil changed. Now, my car wasn’t anything fancy (a 1992 Mercury Topaz, if memory serves), but the local garage was asking about double what I was prepared to pay, so I figured I’d take a stab at it myself. We’d learned how to change oil in Girl Scouts, and my Dad was handy enough to guide me via phone (this was before YouTube became the instruction manual for life.)
So I headed to the auto parts store and began determining which oil, filter, and other accoutrement I would need to get the job done. The total came to more than what the garage had asked for, but I figured I could use some of the supplies multiple times, so it was worth it. After getting home, I began by propping the hood, positioning the oil trap and getting my hand covered in stinky used motor oil, before determining that I had bought the wrong oil filter. After begging a ride from a friend back and forth from the parts store, I was back at it; deftly changing the filter, replacing the plug, and filling it up with new motor oil.
Greasy and sweaty, but feeling confident, I started up the engine. When I got out of the car, I panicked to see my new motor oil running in a swift river away from my car. Turns out there’s a rubber gasket that needs to be removed with the old filter that I had missed. The doubled-up gasket meant that the new oil had an escape route. Now I was down more than double what the garage had asked for, and no closer to having fresh oil in my car.
One of my first clients was a young lady named Sarah who called me exasperated that she couldn’t seem to keep her apartment in order. She always struggled with tidying and other “executive functions” such as getting the laundry done, opening her mail, even keeping in touch with friends. She always tried to organize her space herself, and spent hours developing complex systems to keep all of her things in line. By the time she was done, her space was what I like to call “Pinterest-Perfect,” but it just never stuck. In a matter of weeks, or even days, her apartment would devolve back into a mess, and she was again unable to find her favorite spatula or her keys. Sound familiar?
Overwhelm is the most common emotion I see in my clients, and I’m happy to say that we’re able to move through that emotion together as we tackle their disorganization. Sarah was able to employ the method I used to help her get organized and now only needs occasional adjustments to her routines to keep her space tidy.
As I learned with my oil change, just because you can do something yourself, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Everyone has their special skill set, and I’m a firm believer that if we’re all using our strengths for good, the world will be a better place.