Every once in a while the wheel of life turns in an unanticipated direction. What seemed like a good thing goes sour; what began as a disaster turns out great.
A few months ago I lost all of my email, an event I was sure was a catastrophe. In fact, though, it turned out so well that I’m actually glad it occurred. It was also a good reminder of one of the principles of letting go that I’ve been teaching my clients for years.
It all started when I made a few small technical adjustments to my web site and email accounts.
Things could – and did – go wrong: a few weeks later I lost six years worth of email: all the mail I’d sent, received, and put in the trash. My email address book was gone, too. Needless to say, I felt completely at sea.
It was worth it to invest in professional help; in fact I’ll put in a plug here for IvanExpert, a wonderful small company in Manhattan that specializes in helping Mac computer users. Over the course of several hours, Ivan delved into my computer, found the missing files, and re-installed what he could (thanks, Ivan!).
At the end of the day it was crushing to discover that only 25% of my email (and associated email addresses) could be retrieved. The remaining 75% was corrupted and would need more work. I decided to take my chances with the 25% and come back later to re-install the missing material if I found I couldn’t live without it.
Back in my office, I expected uphill work, searching for missing addresses and emails. But as I revved up my correspondence again it turned out that only one necessary address was missing. And in that person’s case, he wrote me shortly thereafter, saving me the trouble of tracking him down!
Ultimately I discovered that most of the email I send is to a well-defined group of clients and colleagues, while much of what I receive is in the form of newsletters and solicitations to which I can respond if I need to.
Pretty much everyone I needed to get in touch with, and all the email information I needed, was in that key 25%.
This seemingly devastating event wasn’t a tragedy or burden at all. In fact it was a win: my email inbox became sleek, streamlined and easy-to-use, all in one fell swoop!
Even better, I was reminded to practice what I preach: to let go of the things I don’t use, love or need. Did I really need all those old newsletters from Vendor A? Or the long string of correspondence from Colleague X, when her most recent note contains the entire conversation?
Keeping the Faith
The loss of my email motivates me to keep “inbox clutter” to a minimum, and have faith that what I need will show up when I need it. And needless to say, clearing unnecessary stuff out of my life is just another way of bringing good Feng Shui into it.
While I don’t recommend throwing all your email into the trash (!), I definitely suggest clearing out your email account to the greatest extent you dare. One easy way to tackle this is to sort it by sender or topic; this will show you where the repetition is and help you make the wisest decisions about what to delete.
But the larger lesson is to have faith that what you need will appear when you need it.
It happens every time.