“I just need help.” I usually hear that at least once in every consultation that I have with a prospective client.
And as I start speaking with them, and ask a lot of questions, I often find something else out from them:
“I don’t really know what I need, actually.”
It turns out, since starting as a Professional Organizer, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to ask for help, and that I have a role in getting people to be better at it. Why?
Because if you’re not good at asking for help,
you might not get the help you need.
For all of us, not just my clients, we all know that “asking for help” is the last in a loooooong line of steps on frustrated paths. There have been countless days of “It’s not that bad“ or “I can do this on my own” or “I’ll start tomorrow” or “I’ve lived with it this long, what’s another day?” that go into so many of our own stories. For some, raising our hands for help from someone may feel like such a drastic move; having to turn to an outside resource or expert can make some of us feel like we’ve failed, when, in fact, it’s often the MOST promising step we can take to be successful!
Asking for help, I mean, just plain ASKING, can be hard enough. But it is more important to keep in mind that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We want to invite in the RIGHT KIND of help, and we have to do some work on our end to get it.
When we haven’t done a good job of figuring out what we need, or finding the right resource, or setting up the right expectations on both ends, we can feel like “help” didn’t help at all.
So, how have I worked with people to get better at asking for the right help? In trying to find out what will truly move my clients forward, in the direction THEY want to move (not just my thoughts), I walk through some questions. I want to make sure I understand where he or she is at, and sometimes, I’m helping that person put their needs into words for the first time, when just thinking just hasn’t gotten there yet.
I thought I’d share with you some of the questions you should consider when facing a challenge, one where your efforts alone haven’t done the trick to surpass it, and moving on to get help may be your best next step.
To help determine WHAT YOU NEED and WHY YOU NEED IT:
1) What’s not working for you right now?
2) How is that pain or frustration impacting your life?
3) What have you tried before?
4) What would HELP look like and feel like to you right now?
5) What DON’T you want? What may sound like help to someone else, but NOT to you?
6) What’s the right resource you really need? Is it a person to guide you? A tool? Support? A plan? Just someone to listen and share ideas? What would be a good fit right now?
7) How will you know, after receiving help, that you’ve been successful?
Things start to become a lot clearer, not only for what they need, but whether or not hiring ME is really the right answer. I’m not the right organizer for everyone. Sometimes, we can figure that out up front, and I can point someone in a better direction. Because the last thing I want to be is the WRONG help.
I know I speak with clients who have had the wrong help before.
“My mother came to visit and reorganized all my stuff because she didn’t like where I put it.”
“My spouse hates all the piles, so he just shoved them in a cabinet.”
“I thought I just needed a house cleaner, but now everything is cleaning, but I can’t find anything.”
“I talked to an organizer once about helping me, but she seemed to have strong ideas about what I should do, and I didn’t agree with that plan.”
“My kids are frustrated with me and just want to rent a dumpster and get rid of it all.”
I hear pain, frustration, and most importantly, the sense that they don’t feel respected and understood. And I think to myself, “if you were better at asking for help, would you get the help you NEED, just the help that OTHERS are willing to provide or think is best for you? Can we work together to get you there?”
And sometimes, people don’t hire me after we speak, for the right reasons. We have a consultation, they realize a ton of things about their situation just because we walked through this conversation, and it turns out, the only help they needed was to figure out… what help they needed. And they feel relief, and find that they really could help themselves all along. Honestly, I don’t mind those sessions, even if I don’t get hired. I helped, the right way.
If you think you are ready to ask help… and you’ve figured out that the help you need is to work with a professional, someone can get you through some of your challenges with expertise and experience, maybe it’s time to find a professional organizer near you. Check out the NAPO directory to find some help today! Remember, we’re not all the same; when you’re better at knowing what you need, you’ll have a better chance of getting the right fit!