Cleaning Out Your Closet

Posted by on January 26, 2022

Cleaning Out Your Closet

For the new year, I cleaned out my closet. I’m a big believer that external clutter can become internal clutter, and my closet had become a metaphor for my life: too full of stuff and fairly unmanageable.

It felt good to complete this task, especially because it had a visible, pleasing result. But as I handled different clothing, I noticed two things. First, I wear the same ten things over and over during the pandemic, and second, going through my clothes is very contemplative. It led me to think about big questions like:
– Who are you?
– Who do you think you “should” be?
– Who are you becoming?

I’m going to talk about these questions over the next couple months in the blog. Let’s start with “Who are you?”

Is that an easy question for you to answer? Maybe not. But what if I asked you “what is important to you all of the time?” You probably could at least begin to answer that.

One of the exercises I do with my individual clients, in workshops and with teams I work with is a values exercise. Values are what’s most important to you – not sometimes, but always. Your core values form when you are young (just 5 or 6 years old) and show up as themes throughout your life. While how you express a value might change over time, the values themselves don’t usually change.

A lot of coaches will let you choose your values from a long list or by sorting a big deck of values cards. I did that exercise in my late 20s. I ended up with a result that looked like this: responsibility, commitment, hard work… Well, you get the picture. The problem is, those weren’t my values. They were my mother’s values.

Don’t get me wrong, those are great values. And I do think those things are important, but they are not always or most important to me. They are not my core values.

In coaching school, I learned the technique I use with my clients to uncover their values; it’s the storytelling of peak experiences. And I learned my own values using this exercise: belonging, creativity, growth, play and kindness.

My true core values are very different from the aspirational ones I chose to subconsciously please my mom. As you consider what’s important to you – who you are – make sure it’s real and authentic to you. Don’t choose a made up version that you think will please others; that’s just confusing for everyone and can lead you off course.

Think about your core values and who you are, and next month we’ll talk more about who you think you “should” be.

And consider cleaning out your closet. Insights await!

p.s. As always, your comments are welcome on this post at