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The Congruence Contract

Actual junk from the attic circa 2008.

I am by nature a list maker. I have them everywhere: on scraps of paper, on my phone, my trusty clipboard, forever synced to the cloud in workflowy. And I get a lot done. But some things seem to languish on the lists for an embarrassingly long time. Like, uh, years. Maybe most people just forget these little things they intended to do but never did? The follow-up emails they never sent, the thank you cards they never wrote, the packed closet they never got around to purging. But I don’t. All these things I should do follow me from list to list, haunting me like ghosts that whisper “failure”.

“Should” may be a dangerous word, but I believe it’s a necessary evil. Though often we feel we “should” do something because it’s something someone else wants or what we think is expected of us, other times—the ones we “should” listen to—it’s because it’s something we promised ourselves or someone else we would do, and that unkept promise lingers until we either fulfill it or officially absolve ourselves of it.

I believe this both because it totally plagues me and because I have read many a published expert with the same philosophy. Brendan Burchard’s The Charge and its concept of “congruence” may be my favorite presentation of “doing what you know to do”. Burchard’s challenge is to “follow through on spoken and inspoken promises from start to finish”. The “unspoken” bit is what sets “congruence” apart from “integrity” in my mind.

See, integrity I have in droves. I am dependable and reliable to a fault. I don’t flake, I don’t forget, and if I have to cancel or reschedule it usually involves tears of guilt. Which is exactly why everyone else’s “stuff” gets done before mine. Why magazines and TV shows that are supposed to make me happy go unread and unwatched. Why tons of posts go unblogged, and why occasionally, my husband goes unloved.

When there is no external pressure involved, there is very little congruence.

So this is my attempt to inflict some.

Beyond the mental pressure of all those “to do” lists, there’s also the physical pressure of all this clutter.

I hear it prevents the accumulation of wealth and other things one may actually want in life. How true that is remains to be seen, but I’m sure game to give it a shot. I was a packrat growing up, but thought I’d left it behind in college, until my accumulation issues resurfaced when I moved back to NY after school in LA, into the house I’d grown up in. That my mom had grown up in. That my grandparents had lived in for 50 years. It, uh, had a lot of shit in it.

And while soooo much has left in the last 6 years, by way of yard sales, donations, and our overworked garbage men, there is still a good bit to go. And it is hard not to get discouraged thinking about how oh my god, how has this… “project” consumed SIX YEARS of my life and is still dragging on?!

But. Better late than never. Better 6 years than 10. And while I don’t expect I’ll get it all done in 2 months, everything I do will be more than I’d get done without this initiative.

Which brings me to my official list, which is posted below. Anything on there look familiar? Like something you too might be putting off? It may be pretty specific to me, but surely there’s a pile of paper somewhere to be sorted, a book to be read, or an email to be sent? I know I’m not the only one who secretly doesn’t have her shit together…

If you make your own list—with your own deadline—then we can cheer each other on?! I know it’s not as glamorous as a life list, but I have a feeling it might be just as effective…

You can see that I’ve already been procrastinating this since April. Oops. 
I’ve only gotten one thing done—donated the LeBaron—which is simultaneously laughable and commendable. I’m blaming it on my poor wording of the “contract” bit. Like I’m gonna clear ALL my clutter on July 8th?! BY July 8, BY! Duh. 
Ah well, onwards!


  1. That is a list. And an admirable one at that. I would love to do something like this but right now I’m a little bit afraid to. It would be a whole lot of “remove fencing,” “burn brush,” “cut firewood” and a lot of stuff we can’t do right now: “demo old house,” “insulate garage,” etc.

    Good luck and keep us posted!

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