Tag Archives: Change

20 in 20

I’m sure I’ve written about this tool, trick, hack before but it definitely is worth repeating. It is probably the most useful bit of homework that my clients enjoy. Well “enjoy” might not be the right word. Maybe “productive”.

Basically it is a free writing exercise with a few bounds. It can be used to push for creativity or for honesty. It can bring world peace. Ok, that might be a little hyperbole but it is a great tool that can help you push back limitations.

Go to a quiet place with few distractions. Put your cellphone on silent. Set a timer for twenty minutes. On a piece of paper (yes I recommend paper for this task) write across the top the problem you are trying to solve. Well it could be a problem or a challenge or an exploratory question. Then for the next twenty minutes write out as many responses as you can. Aim for twenty responses. To get twenty, you don’t have time to judge, edit or criticize your responses. Don’t put a lot of thought into any response because the clock is ticking. Remember you are not looking for quality responses, just a lot of them.

After the alarm rings, put the paper away without reading it. Let a day pass. Do things that allow your thoughts to flow. Really how many great ideas come to you in the shower or waking from a dream. Then go back to the paper. Read over your responses without editing or judging them. Set the timer for another twenty minutes. Try to add more responses or flesh out the responses you’ve already wrote down. At this point, you are adding, not editing. No criticism.

Let one more day pass. Go for a walk. Now reread all of your ideas. Circle anything that speaks to you. Pick the three best responses. Also pick the wildest response and the most “out there” response. Set your timer on last time. Now take those final five responses and add as much to them as you can. Include things you circled on responses that didn’t make the cut.

This is a great tool for “questions” like:

1.) What do I want to accomplish this year?

2.). Why do I hate my job?

3,) How could I get more customers?

4.) Why is my boss acting like a jerk?

5.) Why should I take this job?

6.) What would make me happy?

As you can see, it has a wide range of uses. It helps you tap into your subconscious and trap your underlying thoughts in writing.

You can do anything

You can do anything you set your mind to but you can’t do everything. Really.  The clue is right there in the sentence.  If you are trying to accomplish everything than you really haven’t set your mind to something.  You can have more than one goal but it definitely helps to be able to pick out a few top priority goals to work on.  The tricky part is how to determine what to set your mind to.  That is, what are your goals.

I’ve come across a great little game to help people prioritize their goals.  Take a pile of index cards and write out possible goals, one to a card.  Try to be very specific with each card.  Instead of writing, “make a lot more money” write “make $10,000” a year.  Adjust to your own income level.  You can put goals that cumulate on multiple cards, so you could have five “make $10,000” index cards or “lose 10 pounds” for example.  It helps to put a time limit on your goals.  For example, you might want to focus on goals you could achieve in the next year.

The goal on your goal cards, is to have, at least, twenty cards.  Feel free to overachieve.  Here are some prompts to help you fill out as many cards as you can:

Financial goals: making more money, saving for specific goals, increasing retirement, paying down debt

Health/fitness goals: losing weight, increasing ability (jogging more miles), lowering cholesterol, playing with the kids

Romantic: number of dates with spouse, getting a spouse, divorcing a spouse

Spiritual: attending church, praying, going on a retreat, taking a trip, meditating

Stress reduction: having flexibility at work, finishing nagging tasks

Growth: taking a class, reading a number of books a month

Joy: spending time with friends and family, getting a pet

There really isn’t a limit to the types of goals you put on your cards.

Once you have your cards all filled out, shuffle them face down and deal yourself five cards.  (If you really overachieved on the number of cards you wrote, you may want to start with eight cards in your hand.)  Look at that hand.  Is this the hand that equals goals for your next year?   Take a card from the deck and add it to your hand.  Now choose one card to discard.  Repeat with every card in the deck.  Your final hand is your hand of goals for the next year.

To really make it challenging, after you try it with five cards, reshuffle the entire deck (including the cards in your hand) and try doing it again but with only three cards in your hand.

What is your final hand?  Post it in the comments.  Sharing your goals can be a great motivator.

Pleasure with Pain

If you break motivation down into it’s simplest form, we are motivated to either seek pleasure or avoid pain.  Now I know many of you are rejecting that, saying that you are much more complex than that but stick with me for a minute.  Pleasure can include everything from a taste of a delicious juicy hamburger with tempura fried bacon on it (yes, tempura fried bacon exists, I’ve had it and I’m obsessed) to love.  Pleasure includes security and peace.  Pleasure can also include spirituality.  Pain on the other hand isn’t just limited to physical pain.  It can include fear, embarrassment, social rejection, insecurity, hungry, loneliness, etc.  The list can go on quite a while.

Unfortunately, the world isn’t so simple as that.  How do you stack up pleasure that will happen six months from now vs. pain happening today, for example dieting and exercising for six months so that you can look good for the upcoming high school reunion?  How do trade off one pain vs. another, for example my back hurts right now and I know 30 minutes of stretching will help…..but I don’t really like the stretching either?  How do you exchange one pleasure for one pain, for example spending on a big celebration when money is tight?

It is ok to allow our subconsciousness to handle these decisions of which pleasure to seek and which pain to avoid as long as we are ok with the outcomes.  Really, your subconscious is making hundreds of decisions a day and you don’t want to get stuck in trying to analyze each and everyone.  When you are not happy with your situation, whether it be financial, relationship, health, etc., stop and consider which decisions are leading you in the wrong direction and why you are making that decision.  It might be helpful to try to frame those decisions in a trade off between pleasures and pain.  You might have to ask yourself “why” a few times because most people are slow to admit what is really going on in their decision making.  Once you understand the tradeoffs, then work to enhance different pleasures, minimize different pains and (frequently) work to pull future pleasure into the moment.

Examples help.  I was telling the truth, my back is killing me right now.  It is a chronic issue that comes back a few times a year.  This one is as bad as it has gotten in probably the last five years.  Nothing to do but stretches.  My wife has a yoga video that does wonders for my back…….but I really don’t enjoy it.  So I have a literal pain, my back.  Seems like I should be able to jump up and fire up that video.  Why aren’t I?  Well, I know from experience the yoga tape won’t make my back feel better right away.  So the pain avoidance isn’t really an immediate pay off.  I find yoga to be pretty boring.  I know my yoga loving friends tell me I’m not doing it right if I’m not loving it but I don’t love it.  There is a certain level of mental pain that comes along with doing yoga for me.

So how do I motivate myself to go do those stretches, well in this case I brought in another pain, social embarrassment.  By writing and posting this, I sort of have to go do the yoga.  If I don’t, I’ll be a bit embarrassed that I let my laziness and procrastination let me sit here in pain.  Alright.  I’m going to go do some downward dogs.

Comment if you need some help affecting change.  Please share.  Imagine the pleasure you’ll get if this helps someone you know.

The Hard Work

Had an initial meeting with potential client this week.  My first meeting with a new client is really a session.  I don’t waste time and like to get right to work.  I mentioned, perhaps a bit too frequently, that I help but the client has to do the hard work.  He finally called me on it, what is the hard work, he asked.

To break it down, if you are trying to make a change, the hard work comes down to four areas:

1.) Brutal self honesty – most of us don’t like to be too brutally honest with ourselves all the time.  Actually, most of us don’t like to be too brutally honest with ourselves most of the time and really why should we?  We get to be less than our 100% best some of the time, a little vacation from our own personal perfection, and we don’t have to analyze all of our little lapses.  That’s ok but when you are trying to make a change, you have to be brutally honest to understand what needs to change.

2.) Making a change – our environment and our psyche are typically designed to maintain the status quo.  It is easier to just keep doing what we’ve always done than it is to make change.  Making a change and sticking to it is hard work.

3.) Taking responsibility – it is so easy to blame outside forces or other people for where we are in our lives.  It is much harder to own that where we are in our lives depends more on our efforts and reactions.

4.) Forgiving – to forgive ourselves and others can be very difficult.  Sure, we say “I forgive you” and might even mean it, but months or years later we still hold onto the pain.  To truly forgive someone (including yourself), you need to move on from the pain.

How were my houseplants doing?

I’m reading The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention by Pamela Mitchell.  I’m not that far in, so I can’t really give you a book report yet but there was one point that I felt was particularly poignant.  Pamela wrote about how someone, Stacey, was so excited about Pamela’s job at the time.  Stacey loved the idea of Pamela’s job but Stacey was focused on business class tickets to Japan on the company’s dime.

Pamela’s point was that Stacey looked at Pamela’s job as a fantasy, oh all those trips to exotic sounding places and not having to sit behind the curtain with the commoners as she did it.  Stacey didn’t ask the real questions about the job.  From The 10 Laws of Career Reinvention, “How long was I usually away?  How much of that time was spent working?  Did I enjoy reading through hundreds of pages of contracts?  When was the last time I had seen my friends?  How were my houseplants doing?”

You have to be careful about letting the fantasy, both good and bad fantasies, prevent you from making an informed decision.  The international travel sounds good but conference rooms around the world largely look the same.  When you are considering a change, stop and consider as many details about the potential reality as you can.  What is a typical day like?  What is a typical week like?  Will you be able to afford the things in life that are important to you?  Will you have the free hours to actually enjoy your life?  Will you be able to plan and make commitments?  Should your houseplants all be plastic?

Common areas to consider:

1.) Financial – this is an obvious one but be sure to consider both short term and longer term goals

2.) Consistency – there is no right answer here.  It comes down to whether you like to always live without a plan on one end of the spectrum or to have predictability.  If you are planning on taking classes, volunteering for your kids or even having Tuesday night bowling league, a lifestyle that requires you to travel at the drop of a hat.

3.) Variety – Even if you can go bowling every Tuesday, does the change give you enough of the spice of life to keep you engaged for the long term.

4.) Growth potential – what you are considering may seem perfect for you today but what about next year?  What about ten years from now?  Does this change launch you in the direction that you want to go?

5.) Authority – as a manager of mine told me years ago, what ever role you have must either have the authority to fulfill the responsibility of the job or the person you work for must have that authority.  If the authority necessary for you to succeed is more than one level away from you, than you probably won’t succeed.

6.) Flexibility – if you really need to drop everything and disappear for an afternoon, can you?  Can you choose which task needs to get done in what order?

Excerpt from Greater Than

Today is New Year’s Day.  It is day made for change and recommitment.  Chapter 8 from Greater Than seemed appropriate for today.  The book is available on Amazon today for free.  I hope you enjoy it.

Have a wonderful, challenging and productive New Year!!!

Chapter 8 – Today is greater than tomorrow

“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.” – Pablo Picasso

Too frequently we get stuck in analysis paralysis.  Not only does this phrase rhyme and roll off the tongue nicely, it succinctly sums up what many of us do at some point in our lives.  Analysis paralysis is when we are too afraid to move forward, we use “not having enough information” as an excuse to not take any action.  It sounds like, “I’ll start my diet once I read the book on the caveman diet.”  Of course, after they read the caveman diet, they will put it off another week because they need to go shopping for special caveman food.  I don’t know what caveman food is.  I haven’t read the book.  And then they…… I don’t know what it will be but it will be some excuse to not take action.  Of course, people say these things while eating their eighth slice of cake from their failure party.

How do you avoid analysis paralysis?  Break your goal down into small pieces.  Some pieces will require more information.  Some won’t.  Start working on those pieces where you know enough today to take some action.  Any action.  For those pieces that you need to know more, define exactly what you need to know just to take one more step forward.  Once you learn a little, take a step forward.  Learn more, then take another step.  The important thing is to take action today.

I should……

3526286848_b56018a63b_m

Finish the statement “I should….” Five or more times.  Now look at each statement. Does it have a meaningful impact on tour life?  Where does it come from?  Is it true for you now?

One of my clients is a wonderful woman who runs a small business. She impressed those who know her as strong, intelligent, competent and social. She sees herself differently. She sees herself as a girl who should do as she is told, let her betters take care of things and to basically stay out of the way.

When she did this excise, she realized that she was no longer a child. She no longer needed to listen to the adults. Her, as a child, was no longer true. She as the competent adult. She was one who’s voice should be heard.

After you do your “I should” exercise, try “I could” exercise next.

Are you still confined by what you were told as a child?  Are you still living a life you “should” live?  I would love to hear from you or share to someone who is trapped by their childhood.

 

 

(image by colibricansada on by 2.0)