My last post, How to Change a Habit That Is Hurting You, Part 1 was about the first step for changing a habit that is hurting you: make a decision, a declaration and a commitment to yourself. Today, we’ll tackle step two.
STEP TWO: Surround yourself with reminders of what you are moving toward.
Though you may not have already experienced the pleasure you will gain by moving beyond your old habit and engaging in something new, your mind can help you to imagine it and make it real for you. It does this in much the same way that it can also magnify your fears and come up with all kinds of scenarios that have you shaking in your boots. Take control of your mind in advance. Envision the change you are making and what you imagine it will bring you.
If you are trying to get control of your temper, imagine what it will feel like to be able to calmly engage in discussion with someone without losing your head. Envision yourself shaking hands with people and leaving meetings feeling as though you have strengthened relationships rather than damaged them. See if you can find a symbol or image that helps you to move into that feeling whenever you look at it. And put that visual reminder somewhere where you will see it often.
Maybe you are wanting to break the habit of staying in your comfort zone rather than taking the bold actions you dream about – like writing a book, creating a new program or product, or looking for a new job. Envision what acting on your dream will give you and see if you can experience it in your mind as though it has already happened. Find pictures that evoke those feelings for you and get you excited and motivated to take steps to make it happen. Look at them every day, several times a day and feel those feelings when you do.
When you feel as though you are getting sucked back into old behaviors you are trying to leave behind, or when you are discouraged about your progress use your reminders to bring you back to your intention and recommit to yourself.
And stay tuned for step three of How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You
In my last post, Art Your Habits Hurting You?, I wrote about the things we tend to do that have been on autopilot, but reached a point where they no longer serve us. If you have identified a hurtful habit that you are ready to move beyond, read on. Over the next few weeks, I’ll give you five steps for changing a habit that is hurting you. Here is step one…
STEP ONE: Make a decision, a declaration and a commitment to yourself.
There is power in willingness. I’m talking about more than good intentions here, though that is where it all starts. People are at the threshold of change when the pain of one behavior becomes greater than its payoff. But in order for that momentum to take hold, the perceived payoff of making a change needs to be greater than the seeming pain of giving something up as well.
The trouble is, you may not really know what that payoff will be, and though you also may not know just what will be involved with making a change, your mind will be off and running creating scenarios that have you believing it will be far harder than anything you can possibly imagine. And that can become a real show stopper if you aren’t ready for it. It’ll keep you from getting out of bed in the morning. It’ll lead you to head for the hills when you are on the verge of bold, courageous action. It’ll make the old beaten path you’ve been traveling seem so much more preferable than heading into the uncertainty of whether you will be able to do whatever it is you are learning to do in place of your old behavior.
So you have to make a commitment to yourself. You have to get really clear in your mind that you will no longer tolerate your old way of doing things and decide that you will do whatever it takes to move beyond it. It helps if you write it down. And it also helps if you tell someone else about it – someone who can remind you of all the reasons you are doing it, of what you have to gain, and of what you are rising above and why.
Think about a habit you would like to move beyond. How has it been hurting your effectiveness? Your credibility? Your peace of mind? What would you gain by rising above it? What could you do if you no longer fell into that pattern of behavior? How would you feel?
Are you ready to make a change? If so, make a commitment right now to yourself. Write it down and then share it with someone who will support you as you endeavor to carry that commitment out. If you would like to make a public declaration as well, feel free to share your commitment in the comments section below.
And stay tuned for the next step of How to Change a Habit That is Hurting You.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
We all aim to develop good routines. But most of us have a few habits that cause problems too. Maybe it’s the way your temper flares when people don’t do what you want them to. Perhaps it’s a tendency to turn the other way when things get stressful – to go bury your head in the sand or find something to do that keeps you from having to address issues. Maybe it’s your inclination to take so many things on that you are running yourself ragged, or a habit of staying in your comfort zone instead of taking the bold leaps you dream about in your quiet hours.
Sometimes even good habits reach a point where they no longer serve you all that well, like the habit of diving into the details after you’ve just been made a leader of leaders who really needs to rely on others to do that for you. But we tend to hang onto those routine ways of doing things long after they have outlived their value. Not because they are particularly gratifying, but because they are comfortable and familiar.
Habits act as defaults. We do them without having to think much at all. They are ingrained behaviors that we revert to when things get stressful, and they have a way of taking over and putting us on autopilot.
There may come a time, though, when habits that never really used to be a problem start making some waves in your life. They may hurt your effectiveness on the job, or your ability to really connect with others. They could keep you playing small instead of really stepping into and realizing your potential and living your dreams. And sometimes they become painful.
I am a runner. I don’t train and sign up for marathons or anything. I just do it to clear my head and release tension – and because it makes me feel good. When I first started running, I just wanted to be able to go for awhile without getting too tired. I was happy when I managed to get off my butt and just get outside. Then I started to run a little longer. And then gradually a little faster.
But the more intensely I did things the way I had always done them, the more I began to notice that I was having pain. My hips hurt. My shins were stiff. There were periods where the discomfort became so intense that I had to lay off running for awhile until my body healed. And then I noticed it wasn’t long before I was having some kind of pain again. It was a little maddening.
Interestingly enough, one of my new clients, Nicole Armbrust, is a physical therapist who works with runners to improve efficiency and prevent injury. She encouraged me to have an assessment. I was a little hesitant. Really? Do I really want someone to tell me about all the things that I should be doing differently? Do I really want to change something that for the most part was making me feel so good? The next time I went running and began to feel that familiar stiffness that I knew would morph into throbbing later, I realized it was time for a change – even though I knew it would not necessarily be a comfortable one.
Nicole examined how my muscles and ligaments worked. She listened intently as I told her about my history and all my injuries. She videotaped me walking. And then running. And then she had me try some stretches and other exercises. Alas, many of the things I was afraid of were true. The strides I was taking were too long. I was landing on the wrong part of my foot. One of my hips was tighter than the other, causing me to overcompensate – which of course was adding to my injuries.
She gave me a metronome, which she believes will help correct a large percentage of my problems. Apparently, much of what I really need to do to correct 95% of my problems is run to a faster beat, which would lead me to take smaller strides and push off and land on the right parts of my feet.
The first time I tried it, I hated it. It was unnatural. And I couldn’t just slip into my zone and forget about what my body was doing. It was an effort to keep my feet hitting the ground that fast. And my faithful running buddy, a golden retriever named Bellissima, was thrown off too. “What the heck?” I could swear that was going through her head when she looked up at me with those big brown eyes of hers. I was right there with her.
But the more I practiced with that new way of doing things, the less pain I have had, and the faster I can run. I can run longer and more often. And I am enjoying myself again.
I think life is a little like that. Often we don’t seek help until things begin to hurt us. And though it’s kind of sad that we wait until things become painful to try something different – it is often just the springboard we need to find better ways of doing and being.
Maybe your last temper explosion led people to no longer want to support you, and you are ready to figure out ways of better channeling your anger. Perhaps the things you were avoiding came to a head in a less than optimal way that made things even more unpleasant and you want to keep that from happening again. Maybe you have totally burned yourself out and are starting to realize that there has to be a better way of doing things. Or perhaps the window of opportunity you have been carefully planning and preparing for closed before you dared to act on it and you’re tired of missing out.
When your habits begin to hurt you, you get to decide what you are going to do about them. It’s a crossroads that can be challenging – because though you might be experiencing pain and discomfort with your habit, it likely will seem as though anything you might need to do differently will be even worse. And that is the root of resistance.
But what I have found through my own experience, as well as that of so many others – friends, clients, colleagues – is that the pain caused by resistance is far worse than anything it would have you avoid.
Maybe you don’t need to wait until it comes to a head. We all have habits that no longer serve us. And you already likely know what habit (or habits) are bringing you down. So the question is, what are you going to do about it?
In my next post, I’ll write about how to change the habits that hurt you. If you want some support changing bad habits, you might want to consider working with a coach. For more information on executive and leadership coaching, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html or or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call. And if you are more of a “do it yourselfer”, check out my new video series at On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.
Image courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
My last post, This Could Be the Biggest Obstacle to Doing Your Best Work, was about the resistance that often creeps in when we finally sit down to do that juicy project or idea that we’ve been waiting for just the right moment to develop. Whether it is driven by impatience, fear of failure or a need for perfection or control, what sucks all the joy out of work that could be immensely gratifying and inspiring for yourself and everyone around you is getting too fixated on the end result at the expense of being engaged in the process.
Here are some tips for getting out of your own way the next time you feel stuck:
- Take a deep breath and relax. Roll your head around on your neck a few times. Smile. Take another breath and let it out slowly. Be right here, right now.
- Give yourself credit. You made this time. You showed up. You are still here. Focus more on what you are doing than on what you aren’t. Stay with it.
- Remember why you are doing what you are doing. What is your overarching intention? If all you can think about is the result you want to achieve, see if you can identify what having that result will give you. Even if that result is money you will earn, think about what that money will give you. In the end, it always comes down to a feeling. A feeling of well being, of satisfaction, of happiness. See if you can move into that feeling now. Have faith the results will take care of themselves. Now, come back to the process or experience itself and immerse yourself in it.
- Shift your focus from what you can get to what you can give. It is truly the only thing you really have any control over, and what you give to others has a way of giving back to you as well. This might be about sharing your knowledge with someone, or helping someone do something they couldn’t do before. It might be about partnering with others to create something that is bigger than yourself. The energy, vitality and goodwill you bring to your work will benefit you as much as everyone around you.
- Start small and don’t put a lot of pressure on yourself. Great writers often encourage other writers to start with “crappy first drafts”. Just get moving. Jot some notes down. Start anywhere. Create some momentum. Even if you are moving in the wrong direction, you can turn around with less effort than it takes to get started again. You can always fine tune and spruce things up later.
- Acknowledge your inner critic, but don’t let it steal the show. That harsh, judgmental voice may well always be there. Give it a nod and smile and then let it go – in much the same way you would screen out background noise that you can’t eliminate. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean it has to stop you – or that you have to pay any attention to it at all. Don’t judge yourself or your work. Move beyond your conscious mind to tap into your subconscious, where your intuition will guide you. Let it flow even if you are not sure where it is going and you may be pleasantly surprised at what happens next.
- Take a five to fifteen minute break every hour to ninety minutes. Stretch your body, rest your eyes, walk around a bit to keep your energy up and stay fresh.
If you need help getting out of your own way so you can do your best work, check out my new video series: On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be,available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Image courtesy of suphakit73 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
My last post, How to Not Be a Slave to Your To Do List, was written just as much for me as it was for you. So I’ve taken my own advice. I cleared space on my calendar. I eviscerated my to do list and calendared time to do the stuff I’ve been wanting to do for so long now. I cleared space and scheduled time to work on my next book. And I finally sat down to do it.
I opened a document and typed a few words. And then I stared at the blinking cursor for awhile. I took a deep breath, read what I had just written, then deleted it and typed something else in its place. But I didn’t like that either.
I reviewed some notes I had scribbled down a few days prior to see if I could get any inspiration. It didn’t help. My gaze went from my screen to my keyboard, where my hands were perched, ready and agile. Still nothing.
I saw an email notification in the corner of my screen. Resisting the urge to check my inbox, I closed my Outlook program.
And I sat for several more minutes. Stuck. Maybe this isn’t the best time. Maybe I should go do something else for awhile. At that moment, anything sounded preferable. I could trim my fingernails, reorganize my desk drawers, mow the lawn. Or the neighbor’s lawn.
But no. I am committed to this. It is something I have been wanting to do for a really long time. Why is it so flipping hard?
Have you ever felt that way?
It’s no wonder that we let so many other things get in the way of taking the time to do our real work. Our real work requires us to face our deepest fears and make our way through our toughest resistance – in the presence of our worst critics.
As soon as you make the commitment to do something important – for yourself, for others, for the world – rest assured anything that has ever stopped you before will come back in your face with an exponential force.
I didn’t get a whole lot written in that particular block of time. But I showed up. I didn’t run away. And I have to say that after awhile things did begin to flow. I strung a few paragraphs together and once I let go and gave in to the experience, I was delighted with a couple of really great insights that came spilling onto the page. It went in a direction I hadn’t anticipated and began to take on a life of its own.
Talking with a friend a few days later, I began to realize what it was that got me stuck.
I was fixated on results at the expense of the process. I had become too attached to the end product and what it was going to get me. I had ideas in my mind of what it would – should – look like. And I was judging every little thing I was (and wasn’t doing). If you can envision a small child being led to a table and told to do something, while a rather large, imposing figure stood over her with a club at her head yelling in a booming voice – you have a pretty good idea of the dynamic I had created for myself. My child was rebelling. My critic was becoming more and more agitated. And neither of us really wanted to be there at all.
Perhaps you’ve heard artists or musicians talk about how they could never quit their day job to earn a living doing their craft. “It would just suck all the joy out of it,” they may tell you. The problem isn’t so much that they would be paid for doing what they love as it is that they risk having their focus go from the joy of being in the process to becoming too dependent on the result.
The irony is that when you detach from the result altogether and become immersed in the experience, the results tend to take care of themselves. Superior work is created when you are engaged in what you are doing rather than what it will lead to or where it will get you.
If you have ever played golf or tennis, think about what happens when you allow your attention to go prematurely to the target before you’ve hit the ball. You will have a crappy shot. (You may even miss the ball altogether.) But when you devote yourself to the process – when you are present in your body through every part of your swing, when you follow through and trust that the ball will go right where you intend it to – you have the opposite experience.
The same is true with just about anything. Companies that focus solely on profits often neglect their customers, their employees or both and spend more time worrying about how to increase their market share and their bottom line than on the quality of their product. Conversely, those who make it a priority to listen to their customers and employees and create cultures where people do their best work are often rewarded with a loyal following. Comedians who desperately need a laugh often aren’t all that funny or entertaining, while those who stop worrying about what people think and have a good time on stage end up captivating their audiences and leaving them wanting more. Artists who sacrifice their passion to pander to the crowd risk producing shallow, uninspiring work, while those who pour their hearts into what they do engage the hearts of others.
When all your attention and energy goes toward the end result, you vacate the process – along with all the energy, passion and unique gifts that go into creating something really special and valuable. Your end product will feel somewhat empty or hollow. And it is very likely that you will too.
The good news is that the wall created by a fixation on results at the expense of the process is self imposed. Which means that you have the ability to dismantle it. In my next post, I’ll share seven tips for breaking through that wall the next time you are stuck.
If you need help overcoming the obstacles that keep you from doing your best work, check out my new video series: On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be,available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Stay tuned – next week’s post is Seven Tips for Getting Out of Your Own Way and Doing Your Best Work.
Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
My last two posts, How Your To Do List Keeps You From Living Your Best Life, and The Dark Side of To Do Lists were born of a growing awareness that my fixation on to do lists and time management systems hasn’t been serving me all that well. That being said, with or without to do lists, there is never a shortage of things that need tending to. So how do you get things done without becoming a slave to your system? I’ve been reflecting on that for awhile now, and want to share with you some of the insights that have bubbled up over the last several weeks.
Here are some tips for how to not be a slave to your to do list:
- Write things down to get them out of your head, but don’t let them become set in stone – you are just freeing up brain space so that you can take a look at the gook in there and sort through it. Think of your list more as a collection of options than a list of things that all have to be done. Challenge yourself on whether these tasks (a) really need to get done at all (b) really need to get done now and (c) really need to be done by you. The more often you engage this filter, the more your to do list will become an accurate of a reflection what you really, honestly need to do.
- Don’t allow your list to be something that hangs over your head and haunts you. Procrastination is largely a function of avoiding a decision we think will be painful. But the resistance this procrastination reinforces and feeds ultimately becomes more painful than anything it could protect you from. So, make some decisions about the things you will commit yourself to, and those you will give yourself permission to delegate, defer, or dump.
- Schedule some time each day to do something you really love or have been wanting to do – even if it is only twenty minutes or a half hour. You know that juicy project or idea you keep waiting to delve into until all the other things get done? Don’t wait another minute. Dedicate yourself fully in these moments you designate – do whatever you can not to let anything interfere. This little gift you give yourself will make you feel good throughout your whole day, and the energy you gain by doing something that feeds you will help you to get more of the mundane things done in less time and with less effort.
- If there is something that must be done by a certain time, designate blocks of time to work on it. This is especially helpful with big projects that can (and often need to be) broken down into smaller steps. Even a half hour here and there will allow you to make progress. When you put it in your calendar you can be certain that you will get to it, and it will not weigh heavy on your mind and suck up energy that you can use to do other things.
- It is also a good idea to designate blocks of time to tend to the little things that you think will only take a few minutes but often expand to take three or four times longer than you anticipated. These little things expand for many reasons – sometimes we just underestimate how long they will take, but other times we linger over them and allow them to become avoidance mechanisms that keep us from doing what’s really important (and nurturing for ourselves and others). This could be anything from checking email to scheduling meetings to going through a pile of papers. When you set limits on how much time you will designate for these things, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get through them.
- Allow everything to be flexible so that you can listen to your intuition on what to do in each moment. As you go to undertake a task, pay attention to how you feel about it. If a wall goes up as you sit down to do something and you just can’t seem to make any progress or if you keep running into obstacles, it may be an indication that it just isn’t the best time for you to work on it. You may want to designate another time to work on that thing and in its place, do something you have more energy around. Often when you come back to what you were snagged on, you will find that things flow much better.
- Don’t let things sit for too long. If it can be done (or delegated) in the time it takes you to write it down or find another time to do it – and you are not in the middle of something more important, just take care of it quickly. This nugget applies to little things – like dropping someone a quick note or filing something in its proper place instead of putting it in a pile you have to sort through later.
- At the end of the day, spend some time reflecting on what brought you most satisfaction, rather than all the things you have yet to do. Celebrate the progress you are making and the degree to which you really brought your whole self to whatever it is you did that day.
- Rest in the knowing that you will get done that which is most important. You no longer need to run that loop in your head that has you worried that something will fall through the cracks. You have it handled, so you can devote your full attention to whatever you choose to do in each moment. Enjoy your life.
If you need help breaking free of your to do list and living the life you really want to live, check out my new video series: On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visithttp://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
Like many, I found that making lists of things to do has a certain appeal. It helps me feel organized. It keeps me from forgetting things. It allows me to ensure that stuff will get done. And it gives me a perverse pleasure to check off the boxes.
But there are some major drawbacks to these lists. Here are just a few disadvantages of to do lists that I’ve discovered:
- There is a temptation to add things to the list that just don’t really need to be there.
- You have a tendency to think that the things on your to do list all have to be done by you and you alone.
- You may feel like you cannot rest until you get to the bottom of your to do list, which never really happens… EVER.
- You run the risk of judging yourself by the number of tasks you have accomplished – regardless of whether those things are really important or meaningful.
- Crossing things off your to do list provides an artificial sense of accomplishment that fades quickly and leaves you feeling like you can’t rest until you do more.
- Your to do list can become your master. The tool you created to help you get things done is used a weapon that you end up beating yourself with when you don’t execute it as planned.
- To do lists keep you busy running from one thing to the next without checking in with yourself on what you really need or WANT to do.
- The things you really WANT to do rarely end up on your to do list – they end up getting delayed or neglected altogether (see How Your To Do List Keeps You From Living Your Best Life).
- Your to do list leaves you feeling justified for playing small and never going out of your comfort zone to try something that could ultimately be the best thing you ever did for yourself and everyone around you.
- Your to do list can keep you fixated on achieving results without really enjoying or being present for the process or the experience of what you are doing (which ironically leads to sucky results anyway).
- You run the risk of putting more importance on knocking things off your list than spending time with the important people in your life (and unconsciously communicating to them that they are not a priority).
- You fail to recognize all the many blessings you have in your life because you are so fixated on all the things you think you need to do to be happy.
If you need help breaking free of your to do list and living the life you really want to live, check out my new video series: On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Stay tuned – next week’s post is on How to Not Be a Slave to Your To Do List.
Image courtesy of Rawich at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
When I used to sit down to eat meals as a kid, I would save the food I loved the most for last. I wanted to get all the other stuff out of the way – those squishy potatoes, the chewy meat, the cooked carrots. What I really wanted to savor was the green beans. So I would grin and bear the other stuff – and often by the time I got to those delightfully garlicky green beans, I was full.
The other day I noticed that for years, I have had a tendency to approach my life that way. There are never a shortage of “shoulds” that hang over my head. Run this errand or that, take care of such and such, schedule lunch with so and so, close the loop on any number of things. And more often than I like to admit, I have lived in constant fear that one or more of these things would fall through the cracks – causing me to let someone down, show up unprepared, or drop the ball on something altogether. So I learned to make lists that would allow all these things that swirled around my head to land somewhere.
Making lists was a good thing in many ways. It did free up space for me and keep me organized. The trouble was that the lists became like that food on my dish that I felt like I had to endure before I could let myself enjoy the really good stuff. And just when I thought I made some headway and was close to experiencing the sweetness of what I really wanted to do, something else would land on my plate.
What I really want to do is play. And not the kind of play that people do when they are avoiding something and just want to escape. I want to create. I want to write. I want to think outside the box. I want to do something that scares me just because I can. I want to push my limits. I want to tap the well that has my biggest, grandest most precious ideas and visions. And I want to make them real.
I have to admit – it does scare me a little because what I’ve been wanting to do is totally unchartered. There are no predetermined answers. It isn’t finite. It hasn’t been done before – at least not by me. It’s not something I can check the box on and be done with it.
And I worry that I may not have what it takes. I fear that once I allow myself to stand in that space that I may not know what to do, or that even if I did I might get it wrong. The thought of it makes me feel a little naked, exposed, vulnerable.
But I want it anyway.
And now I see that though I am admittedly afraid of failing, of faltering, of being in a space where I have no idea of what I am doing, it seems that what I have been even more afraid of is my own joy. Because the drudge of a to do list, while not necessarily all that gratifying, is familiar and holds the illusion of allowing me to be productive, and responsible and a good girl – the kind that eats everything on her plate. And I traded that for the pleasure of relishing my green beans while I was still able to enjoy them.
I thought I was making progress when I recently did away with my to do list altogether. I busted it to pieces. Instead of having a master list that I let run my life, I decided to identify the things that I thought really needed to get done and then I just scheduled time to do them. But then I noticed that I still didn’t have any time on there to do the things I really wanted to do. There were no green beans at all.
What I was trying to do was not do away with my to do list as much as trying to get through my to do list more efficiently. I was eating faster and playing games with myself to make getting through the meat and potatoes a little less onerous, so I could distract myself from realizing that I still wasn’t getting what I really wanted.
Maybe you can relate? Do you feel like you are running in circles and even getting a lot done, but still unsatisfied and wanting more? Are you telling yourself that you can’t have what you really want until you “get through” a whole host of things you don’t really want to do? And are you feeling tired and unfulfilled at the end of the day?
When I took a closer, more honest look at my to do list – with the help of a friend who really challenged me on what I thought HAD to get done right away, I realized that I was clinging to things that no one was really going to care all that much about if they didn’t get done. Some of them didn’t need to happen in the next few days or weeks. And others really didn’t need to happen at all. I gave myself permission to hit delete on a few – whew! I moved others out a bit. And in their place, I designated time to write and create.
I gotta tell you, now that I’m doing it, it feels darn good. It’s nurturing. It feeds me. And I have a feeling doing these things is more related to my true purpose on earth than checking those boxes ever could.
So I challenge you – what is it that has been calling to you lately? What juicy thing on your plate have you not let yourself enjoy? Take a look at the things you are making yourself do first (or instead), and do an honest assessment of what really needs to get done to allow you to live the life you really want to live.
You might think letting go of things on your to do list is irresponsible. That it’ll get you into trouble. I used to think that too.
But what I’ve found is that it is far more negligent for me to hold back on the things my heart most wants to do – the work I am most invested in – the calls that beckon me to see what I’m really made of and bring more of myself into the world. And I would venture to say the same is true for you.
If you want some support in breaking out of old habits and patterns that keep you from living your best life, check out my new video series: On the Road to Real – The Adventures of Pistachio or pick up a copy of my book The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be, available at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. If you are interested in working one on one with me, visit http://www.dianebolden.com/coaching.html to learn more or contact me to schedule a complimentary coaching call.
Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
A little over a year ago, the bottom dropped out of my business. Many of my biggest contracts came to an end, and it seemed nothing I tried was getting anywhere. The programs I designed weren’t filling, or would run into major snags just as they were about to get off the ground. I had no desire to go out and drum up more business – couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do at all. It seemed none of the things that used to fill me up were working anymore. None of my old strategies had any teeth or traction. I was lost and discouraged.
The book I had published earlier in the year wasn’t selling the way I wanted it to, which made sense given that I had done very little if any promotion. It just didn’t feel right. Nothing really felt right. I spent months worrying about what was happening to me, trying to find a foothold, and making myself crazy with a huge list of “shoulds” that I couldn’t get myself to do. I beat myself up pretty bad. And then I decided the heck with it. I would accept whatever it was that was happening and just go with it.
One thing I began to enjoy was working with video. After helping my long time coach and friend Vickie Champion with a video for one of her blogs, she turned the camera on me and pushed the record button before I even knew what I was going to say. And it was fun – even though it wasn’t quite comfortable with (or very good at) it yet. We filmed a lot of little video vignettes for my blog and then one day decided to work on something a little more substantive. We had no idea what was about to unfold.
It started out as a video complement to my book, The Pinocchio Principle: Becoming the Leader You Were Born to Be. But it evolved into something neither one of us saw coming. I was tapping creative reserves I didn’t even know I had. And I was venturing out of my comfort zone – way out. I threw mainstream to the wind and got a little goofy.
Pinocchio became Pistachio, and I went into character as Jiminea Cricketesia, Voice of Intuition. I dawned a black felt hat, clown vest and a crazy white shirt with ridiculously flared sleeves. The story we were telling was my own. And it is the story of so many people I have worked with and continue to work with over the years who have hit a wall trying to play a game that cannot be won – chasing after versions of so called “success” that left them feeling empty and wanting more out of life. It is a story of the journey that ends the futile search and shines the way to true happiness and lasting fulfillment.
Today, I am thrilled to have the chance to share this series, On the Road to Real: The Adventures of Pistachio with you. For years I have wanted to provide something that would allow people to get in touch with their own intuition and find their answers in an affordable, impactful way that doesn’t require a huge time commitment. And that is exactly what this series is – in fact, we are so passionate about helping as many people as possible that we’ve decided to allow people to set their own price for it.
So, if anything I wrote about resonated with you – if you feel like you are running in circles, disenchanted with your work or personal life, or on the verge of a profound transformation that has left you wondering what’s next, I invite you to check this video series out at OnTheRoadtoReal.com/Adventures-of-Pistachio/. Let me know what you think. And if you know of anyone who might benefit, spread the word.
“Do not go where the path may lead;
go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Thin rope image courtesy of Idea go at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
“When I’m not running in circles, I’m pretty much collapsing in a heap.”
That flew out of my mouth one day when I was on a call with a few of my friends trying to find a time to get together. They told me it should be the title of my next book.
And yet, I know the importance of taking regular time to rest. Well, intellectually anyway. I can see it in my clients – when they begin to tell me the same things over and over — when all they can seem to talk about is what they have to do, or how exhausted they are. And I certainly know it from my own experience. It’s that old familiar feeling of rolling a huge ball up a hill only to have it come careening back down again.
There is never a shortage of things to do, people to get back to, and in my case, kids to shuttle from practice to sporting event to some other gathering. I know I need a time out when my surroundings begin to reflect my state of mind – becoming cluttered, messy, and completely disordered. When I am tired, I don’t make decisions very well (if at all). I tend to leave them for later, when I will have a little more energy. But then I use the piles that have accumulated around me as an excuse for why I cannot rest – at least not now – not with everything looking like this! And the cycle continues.
My head tells me this makes perfect sense. But my heart and the rest of my body is screaming for relief.
In yoga classes, there is something called “child’s pose”. You start by getting on your knees and sitting back on your heels. The knees can stay together or move wider apart. And then you simply lean forward slowly onto the ground with your arms either by your side or stretched out in front of you. Every time I get into that pose, I am reminded of how at least one of my children liked to fall asleep when they were babies.
Yoga instructors tell people that the most important thing in yoga is the breath. it is important to breathe full and evenly in and out your nose. When your breathing becomes uneven or choppy, when you start to lose your breath in yoga, you will be encouraged to return to this child’s pose until your breathing evens out again.
At the end of yoga classes, there is a pose – one of my favorites – called “shivasana”. This one consists of laying flat on your back and relaxing every part of your body while you allow yourself to sink into the floor for about three to five minutes. It’s the pose that allows your body to integrate all the work you did in the class that preceded it. And many will tell you it is the most important pose in yoga. And yet, I often see people leaving the class instead of allowing themselves to experience it.
But I get it. We are a society that is driven to do more, to be more, to be busy, and to always step things up a notch. The thing is, when we insist on speeding up when we really need to slow down, we lose touch with the wiser, calmer part of ourselves that has all our answers. We run around doing things that may not even need to get done, and creating more piles and messes for ourselves that we’ll have to clean up later. We may run fast, but it is often in a direction that doesn’t serve us — or anyone else for that matter. And it often leads us to crash into walls we would have avoided if we weren’t so tired.
Sometimes you’ll get a rush when you do that. A rush of adrenaline, maybe. Or a little sense of accomplishment or importance that comes with being really busy. But my experience is that it is usually fleeting and often replaced by a feeling of exhaustion and overwhelm and a somewhat panic induced state that leads me to believe I have to run twice as fast just to keep up.
The thing is, I used to think that in order to replenish my batteries, I needed to take a long vacation – leave and go somewhere else, sip a pretty drink on a beach or sleep for days. And while that is nice, it’s not always necessary. What I’ve learned – and need to remind myself of periodically – is that it is often a matter of simply pausing every once in a while to check in with myself. It is doing something that interrupts the autopilot nature of the running in circles thing. It’s like looking into a pond that has been churning so fast that the water is murky. Instead of continuing to make all kinds of commotion, you sit for a few moments and let the water become still until the swirling debris sinks to the bottom and the water becomes clear.
Sometimes this takes the form of a power nap for me. Even just fifteen minutes of resting my head will do wonders. Other times it’s a little walk that allows me to breathe deeply and move around a bit. Sometimes it’s grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend and getting a little distance from whatever is going on. And sometimes it means saying NO to things I really don’t have time to do. Often the clarity and the courage I need to do that comes from the brief pause I took that allowed me to realize whatever I was about to say yes to wouldn’t really have been for the best.
These little pauses shouldn’t be reserved for the times that we feel like we just can’t do another thing. We need to give them to ourselves frequently. Research indicates that people need a fifteen minute break after ninety minutes of concentration – and some studies suggest that we would benefit from a five minute break after every twenty five minutes. You might think you are losing (or wasting) precious time, but you’ll find that it is more like an investment that pays dividends when you come back from your short break and are able to do in twenty minutes what would have otherwise taken an hour.
So, if you are feeling overwhelmed or exhausted – as though you need to move faster but just can’t seem to find the energy – try slowing down for a little while. Press the pause button. Find your child’s pose and catch your breath – whatever that may be for you. Let the dust settle until you can see clearly again. Chances are that when it does, you will know just what you need to do – or NOT do. And you will meet whatever challenge or opportunity awaits you with a fresh mind and a new energy and vitality – one that allows you to access the wisdom, creativity and resilience you need most.
“You have to put in the clutch to shift gears. You have to let go to re-engage at another, more high-leveraged ratio. And when you least feel like slowing down may be the most critical time to do it.”
- David Allen’s Productivity Principles
Tired business people image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net