Have I got your attention?

Have I got your attention?  A post about paying attention and avoiding the general trap of default thoughts or behaviour“Hey, what are you doing out here?  You must be cold.”
“No, I’m fine.”
“I can see your goosebumps.  Here, take my jacket.”
“Ok, I get it.  Chivalry isn’t dead.  But, if you give me your jacket, then you’ll probably get cold.  How does that make sense?”
“I insist.”
“Why?”
“What?”
“Why?  Why do you insist?”
“Well, I don’t know.  It’s the right thing to do.”
“It’s the right thing to do to force your jacket on someone who doesn’t want it?”
“What? No! That’s not what I meant!”
“That’s what you said.”
“Listen, is this some feminism thing?”
“Are you serious? No, it’s a logic thing.  But, since you brough
t it up, would you have offered your jacket to a male friend?”
“It depends on which friend.  I mean, my jacket would never fit Josh, the way he works out.”
“Matt…”
“Ok, fine. I wouldn’t have offered my jacket to a male friend.”
“Because?”
“I guess, I’d assume they were fine or could handle it.”
“And yet, you couldn’t give me the same consideration.”
“…”
“What?”
“Well, now I’m feeling kind of dumb.”
“Don’t feel dumb.  It’s just a matter of listening, or of paying attention, maybe.  You figured I’d be cold, I said I was fine. It ends right there.”
“Makes sense.  So, can I have my jacket back?”

Are there situations where you fall victim to default thinking or behaviour because ‘that’s the way it’s supposed to be’?  Or because ‘that’s the way it’s always been done’?  Are there times when it makes sense?  What opportunities for growth or innovation could you be missing out on, if you just do or say the typical thing?  Are there things or people in your personal life or at work that could bear more attention?

Choose your own adventure

Choose your own adventure www.theredelevator.comYou’ve just got some bad news.  You didn’t get the job or the promotion you really wanted.  The love of your life doesn’t love you anymore.  Your business is officially failing.  Do you:

A) Shit on yourself?  You feel like the world is against you.  You weren’t good enough for that job anyway.  Why would she still love you? You’re obviously not marriage material. Why did you think you could succeed at your dream?  Now, what are you going to do to pay your bills?

or

B) Believe that better things are on the way for you?  You weren’t meant to get this job/promotion.  You’ll figure out what’s next.  You’re heartbroken, but you know that you’ll find the person who’s right for you when it’s the right time. You’ve experienced what’s not working, now you need to explore new ways to succeed in your business.

Please note: I’m not implying that person A doesn’t realize at some point that there are good things that come out of losing out on the job/promotion or the love of their life, and learning what not to do in their business.   Nor am I implying that person B skips along in sunshine surrounded by butterflies every day, and won’t feel anger or frustration or sadness or loss.  I’m simply asking about your initial reactions, thoughts, and feelings.

If you choose A, please skip to “I’m going to give it to you straight”.

If you choose B, please read below.

You know that acknowledging the bad, letting yourself feel your feelings, accepting the situation,  analyzing the whys and coming up with solutions are the steps to come out the other side better than you were before. And during that process, you are allowed to smile, laugh, feel good, have a day off, and take care of yourself.  Feel free to give yourself a pat on the back and stop reading here. Go and check out my facebook page for some interesting articles!

I’m going to give it to you straight:  getting down on yourself doesn’t make things better.  Worrying doesn’t motivate you to get out of your bad situation. In fact, it does the opposite – it keeps you there, viciously cycling through what he said, what she did, how this and that happened and what should have happened instead.  It takes you a lot longer to push through the feelings of shame and embarrassment to where you are able to look at things clearly.
Do you scoff at those people who say that the Universe wants them to succeed?  Do you think that people who think things are ‘meant to be’ are deluding themselves? Have you ever kept up with those people to find out what happened after they went through their bad situation?  Have you found that, in fact, they are happier and more successful?  They got an even better job/promotion, they met and married the most fantastic person or their business made seven figures last year?   What do you put that down to?  Good luck? Actually, it’s due in large part to their positive attitude. Their belief that they deserve good in their lives and they will get it. I’m not saying you have to start believing in the benevolence of the Universe or in destiny, but you do have to start believing in yourself.   It’s likely you generally do, or you wouldn’t be here, but do you realize that even initially assigning blame to yourself or your personality instead of your behaviour or your thinking means that deep down, you don’t believe you deserve all the good things that you want?  When things are going well, you are confident and sure.  But when things go sideways, you get lost for a bit.

Instead,  stop for a moment and acknowledge that what’s happened really sucks.  You really wanted the job, the girl, the business to be profitable by now.  Rage, cry, get drunk, watch Love, Actually on repeat.  Feel your feelings.  You are allowed to feel bad.  Just don’t make any permanent decisions here.  Once you get those feelings out of your system, notice how much lighter you feel.  You’re ready to accept your situation for what it is.  An impermanent occurrence.  Figure out why it happened.  Be realistic and honest with yourself.  Understand that not everything is under your control, but that now you get to make decisions about the things that are under your control.  Namely, what you’re going to do next.  What are your next steps to getting that promotion?  Is it possible to talk things out with your loved one?  Who can you ask for help with your business?  Make a plan and implement.  And while you are going through this, take care of yourself.  Talk to friends, go out and let off some steam, feel good about your progress and the good things in your life.  The next thing you know, you are moving up, moving on, and moving forward.  And the next time something bad happens, you’ll choose B because you know you deserve good things and you know how to get them.

Photo credit: S. Bailey

How did I get here?

How did I get here? A post on disconnectionLila Duchesne was one of those people who didn’t remember her dreams.  She was unable to commiserate with her friend who couldn’t figure out why she kept on dreaming she was naked at work or join in dream analysis discussions with her colleagues.  She just fell asleep at night and woke up in the morning at her alarm’s insistent beeping with blankness in the hours between.  It didn’t use to be like this.   She used to have vivid dreams about flying and fantastical creatures.  She’d once had a philosophical conversation with a tree where she seemed on the cusp of understanding the meaning of life until the alarm dashed her hopes.  But in the middle of college, her dreams just stopped coming, and 20-odd years on, nothing had changed.   She was musing about this on her way to work because just last night her mother had reminded her that she used to have such a wild imagination when she was a child, always acting out little skits for ‘her audience’, making up songs about people and singing each person their own special song to make them feel better, and she used to draw out all her dreams, papering her room with the drawings.  Her mother had kept all the drawings as a reminder of her “little artist”.   Lila sighed and shook her head now, thinking that she should probably visit her parents.  It was obvious her mom was missing her.  All of a sudden, she felt an arm across her chest, pushing her back onto the sidewalk.

“Hey, Lila!  You almost walked in front of that bus!  Didn’t you see the light change?”  It was her co-worker, Steve.

“No.  Thanks for saving me.”  Lila was feeling a little shaken.  She was usually so cautious.

“Can you imagine if I hadn’t been late leaving my place today?  You’d be splattered on the front of the bus and the road too, probably.  I’d have to write your obituary.  ‘Lila Duchesne, 43 years old, a senior financial analyst with Fastech Industries, a Fortune 500 company, leaves behind her dog Samson, and …”

As Steve enthusiastically went on describing her life and death, Lila felt like she’d just done a sidestep, like, if this was a movie, everybody would be paused, and she’d be looking at herself from outside her body.  I’m 43 years old.  I’m a financial analyst.  How did I get here, how did I get to this life?  I’m Lila, the girl who could run faster than all of her friends, the girl who couldn’t wait to get up and see what adventures she could embark on.  What happened?

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When this happened to me, it wasn’t dramatic like Lila’s situation at all.  I can’t even remember what triggered it.  It was just a little shift and I thought to myself, I’m a software training team lead. I felt momentarily unreal; like I was reading about somebody else in a book.  It was rather neutral too.  I didn’t feel dismayed at the realization, so to speak, it was more like a quiet jolt. And wouldn’t it make a great blog post if I could say that was the moment I realized I wanted to do something else?  Nope. I shifted back into myself and continued working.  But, I do think that it was a catalyst to thinking about what was out there for me.

Have you ever had this happen to you?  Where you suddenly and temporarily had a bird’s-eye view of your life?

What realizations or home truths came about as a result?

If this hasn’t happened to you (or you’d like it to happen again in a more controlled fashion), what could you do to manufacture this shift process to gain knowledge about yourself?  I sometimes have daydreams about being interviewed on a talk show (doesn’t everybody?), and when I start talking about how I got to where I am or did what I did it gets me seriously thinking about why I made the life choices I did.  Other times, I’m watching a procedural and I wonder how I’d behave if I was being questioned in court.  How would I explain my actions?

Now it’s your turn.  Let me know your story in the comments!

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Do you want even more helpful questions?  Click on Work With Me to find out more about what I offer and contact me for a complimentary chat.

Oh, the lure of easy money

Picture this:  You wake up to the alarm in the morning.  You know you can hit the snooze button twice before you really have to get up.  When you do get up, you are on autopilot.  You brush your teeth, shower, change into your work clothes, grab breakfast, and you’re out the door.  On your way to work, you are either totally immersed in your to-do list or you are trying not to think about work.  As you walk up to the door to your office suite/building, you pause and take a deep breath, and then walk in.  After that, it’s the usual – checking emails, chatting, working, prepping for a meeting, having the meeting, breaking for lunch, and repeat.  Toward the end of the day, you either scramble to finish off the urgent matters, and get out after exactly 8 hours on a good day, or you get most of your work done after the majority of your colleagues has left, and walk out after 10-12 hours.  On the way home, you are either totally immersed in that thing that happened at work (that email that took you 2 hours to write; the 3 meetings that prevented you from getting anything important done; the colleague who dumped their work on you, took credit for your work, or just made your day harder; etc.) or you are trying not to think about work.  You get home, and depending on what kind of day it was, you either do your evening activities with relief and enthusiasm or you sink down onto the couch and don’t get up till you have to go to bed. And then it starts again till the weekend, which feels like it just speeds by.

Do you recognize yourself?  If so, you’re making easy money.  I’m not talking about the quality of your work or saying that you’re lazy.  I’m talking about just getting pulled along by the current of your life. If you do have thoughts about what you’re doing with your life, you get caught up in the fact that you have to:  make a living; support your family; support your lavish lifestyle, etc.  Your job is a necessary activity so that you can do, and have other things, like status, high quality possessions, relative financial security and freedom.   There’s nothing else to be done and off you go back into your life flow.

Except, you can do something.  You can change that perspective.  You can add more value to your life with rewards that may be a little less tangible, but are just as important as the ones mentioned above.  Rewards like being more productive, being able to use the most of your strengths and skills, being able to meet challenges head on and overcome them and, at the end of day, feeling pleased with what you accomplished, relaxed, and ready to enjoy the rest of your evening and face the next day with equanimity and focus.

Answer the following questions with honesty and consideration:

Why do I like my job?
Why don’t I like my job?

These questions help you remember why you chose this job (or why you’ve chosen to stay at this job) and the specific reasons you dislike the job.  These answers can be anything — the people (I once didn’t go after a promotion that would have taken me to another branch because it was more important to me to continue working with my colleagues at my branch – they made the job easier and my days much better); the money; the boring administrative part of the job; the location, etc.  Take your time and put down whatever comes to mind.

What can I change about my daily responsibilities that will allow me to do more of what I like and less of what I don’t like?

With this question, you get to see how you can take the initiative to improve your workday.  You may not have total control over your daily responsibilities, but there’s value in answering this question even if it’s just about what you would change.

And, lastly:

What are the important duties vs. the urgent duties?

This is quite critical.  So much of our time is spent answering emails; having impromptu discussions; dealing with obstacles that come from other people/departments that it can seem that all we are doing is reacting to everything rather than being on top of everything.  By splitting up your responsibilities into two categories, you can spend your time more effectively.  Ideally, you should do the important duties right after you get into the office, when you are at your best in energy and brainpower.  These are the obligations that will have the most positive impact on the bottom line/the ease of your near future work/your value to your boss, department, and/or company.  Likely, these duties will be weighing heavily on your mind, and you’ll use a lot of energy trying to avoid them because you think they are going to be difficult or time-consuming.  Once you get those out of the way, you’ve already accomplished the most valuable work of your day.  Next come your urgent duties, like answering emails and making phone calls, and you should get through these as fast as possible.  You’ll need to create your list and schedule of important and urgent duties everyday depending on your calendar, but if you choose to be proactive, you’ll be able to be effective and efficient in spite of the typical interruptions of a workday.

This is just a start to changing your mindset about your work and life.  But, just by being aware of what exactly you are doing at work and why, you’re halfway to taking back control of your life.  If you act from deliberate thought and therefore effort, you stop making ‘easy money’ and start earning your just rewards.

Let me know your thoughts!