Lets Work on the Right Thing
By Dr. Peggy
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”
– Mark Twain
In August we began a series on Overcoming Blocks to Success and the focus was on misalignments. When you asked yourself the questions about misalignments, did you find anything that you need to work on? Did you get in touch with any little “white lies” that you tell yourself? I know that I personally have to work on my own denial especially in areas when I tell myself that something isn’t impacting me when it definitely is.
The focus of this month’s blog is working on the right things. How do we know what areas of our own self-development we need to work on? Many times we use the reflection of others to tell us our areas for growth. While that might work sometimes, it is important for us to spend time by ourselves-in reflection-so that we can discover what is most important to us regarding our own self-development. Where do WE want to stretch and grow?
Think back to the beginning of the year, did you make a New Year’s resolution? If so, what made you choose that goal? Had your clothes grown too tight, were you out of breath when walking the stairs at your office, were you feeling overwhelmed by too many demands? Were you thinking about what was causing you the most angst or were you responding to others’ opinions, including the media, of what you should do?
Questions we can ask ourselves to get clear on the best choice for our developmental areas include:
What problem or opportunity should I really be working on?
When I am working with clients I ask them to focus on the behavior that causes them the most distress. Even if it is a little problem, moving it out of the way can make room for the bigger issues. I often ask my clients what they are putting up with or tolerating. The term tolerations is a coaching term for things that annoy or aggravate us because they need to be finished, or eliminated, or changed. We put up with, take on, suffer and endure situations and people that drag us down and/or rub us the wrong way. It just seems easier to avoid them rather than facing them head-on. The more tolerations you have in your life, the more likely you are feeling exhausted from them. Make a list of the top 10 things you are tolerating from demands that drain you, not having healthy snacks available, worn-out running shoes, etc. Then identify which toleration, if eliminated would make the most difference in your life. Continue with this exercise until you have finished your list.
Which issue do I have both the will and courage to work on? Am I ready to face the issue?
This is a big one. Having the will and the courage means that I have acknowledged that something is an issue for me and I am ready to move into action. People go through stages of change beginning with owning the problem. Once I acknowledge the problem, I have to make sure that I have the tools and resources at my disposal to be successful. If I am not ready to change something or do not have the necessary tools and resources and I try to do it anyway, there is a greater risk of failure. When I am working with clients, I encourage them to be as clear as possible about their motivation for the change. Change cannot be something that someone else wants for us; rather it has to be something that we want for ourselves. Thus the will and courage is something that comes from deep inside of us, not from outside pressure.
Which opportunity, if developed, will help me deal with critical problems?
Sometimes we are aware of the immediate opportunity, however if we go a little deeper we might be able to connect to a larger opportunity. For example, if I procrastinate in getting tasks done, I may only be aware of my own frustration with lack of completion. I may not be aware of how it is affecting performance, relationships, and/or deeper connections with my purpose. A tool for going deeper in this area is to split a piece of paper down the middle. On one side of the paper write down the immediate opportunity for addressing an issue. On the other side, think about the long term impact of the change. For example, losing weight will make my clothes fit better and I will have more energy. However, the long term impacts include reducing health risks, increasing self-esteem and giving me more confidence.
My personal favorite in working with clients is: Move forward to a year from now. What patterns of behaviors did you eliminate to lead to your success? What accomplishments would you have that you don’t have now?
This is my favorite because I believe that we cannot solve our problems with our “today mind”. What that means is that if we base our decisions on what we think is possible today, we might miss critical opportunities that come from what is possible rather than what is real. This exercise also brings you in touch with ideas that might be buried in your sub-consciousness but haven’t been acknowledged. As a performance coach, I often ask clients what one thing they need to do differently to be more effective. I have yet to receive an “I don’t really know”. Each one of us knows what we need to do to be more effective-we sometimes don’t dig deep enough to surface it.
For those of us who sometimes get stuck, these ideas can help us to identify ways to get unstuck. Working on the right thing can deliver changes that you wouldn’t have believed possible yesterday!
This month as the end of the year draws near; consider how you might eliminate a few tolerations before going into 2010. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could eliminate just one toleration before you enter the intensely stressful holiday season? It is also a good time to think about what you need to change, decide if you are ready to change, and begin to plan for the new you! In December we will be discussing setting awesome goals for 2010.
Remember to……Go Beyond Great!