Rebel ideas, inspiring words, people, and motivations all wrapped up with a wee bit of sass. I’ll share what I’m thinking about, what I’m reading, and a bit of everything else.
Everybody makes excuses for themselves they wouldn’t be prepared to make for other people.
As an Ontological coach of business leaders, I often hear the following:
- Best to wait till we exceed our sales goal next quarter to ask for a promotion/raise.
- I’ll stay in this relationship until ___ and then I’ll make my move.
- I need to wait until I have X amount of money saved up to start my own business.
- I don’t have all the information, so I’ll hold off on making a decision.
- It will make more sense if I stay one more year prior to leaving my job.
- I’ll hold off investing in my leadership/team/self until ____ happens.
I’m sure you can think of many instances when you told yourself “the pieces don’t seem to fit together” or “I’m going to wait until the pieces align and then I’ll make my move.” Don’t worry, procrastination is more common than you think. According to brandongaille.com, 1 out of 5 people procrastinate so badly that it may be jeopardizing their jobs, their credit, their relationships and even their health.
What do all the statements above have in common? A heck of a lot of tolerating and suffering.
And what does procrastination create? A waiting game of sorts – hold off until all the puzzle pieces show up and fit seamlessly together.
The bad news first: there is no puzzle
Waiting for circumstances or timing to be “perfect”… for the stars to align and signs to show up… is a way our minds rationalize not taking chances. We look at life like a puzzle and frame it like a game: given enough time, we know we can figure out the next move and protect ourselves from the potential fall out (aka, failure) and WIN. And to some extent, we’re smart enough to do so. Humans have occupied Earth for over 200,000 years, and we deserve some credit… we’ve survived some major shit. We’ve been conditioned to protect ourselves when opportunity arises. With the potential for pain… we choose to protect ourselves with safety, comfort… and the ever so powerful excuse (translation: lots of time and rationalization).
Rationalization is a process of not perceiving reality,
but of attempting to make reality fit one’s emotions.
~ Ayn Rand
The things is… we’re just… human
It’s normal to feel frustration and confusion when life throws us a curve-ball. The key is to recognize our rationalization.
It may sound new age-y and ‘soft’ to some – but turns out, it’s difficult for many people to ‘feel’ their feelings. It’s not exclusive to what Hollywood actors portray in the many films we watch: feelings are messy and complicated. Often it’s easier to put them in a box and throw them into the back of the closet or to reason with yourself: you’re being ridiculous, your feelings aren’t justified here, there’s no way I’ll make partner, get the promotion, win the business, start the business – I don’t deserve it. Many find it’s simpler to get on living our lives, leading our teams, building our businesses and… wait. “The pieces will come together eventually.”
While we’re waiting for those pieces to magically appear, we don’t have to make a choice, take the leap, move things forward. We can stay in… limbo.
And trust me when I tell you, ain’t nuthin’ going down in limbo-land.
The good news: life is a playground
Turns out – building a business, leading a company, building a family, creating a lasting partnership – these are never ending, arduous journeys. Journeys of shifting, evolving storylines complete with dimly lit alleys, devastating edges… the unknown around every bend. There is no “end game” to life, no magic time when we fit that last piece in perfectly and ta-dah – we’re finished! Que balloons and fireworks!
Imagine constantly trying to pull together a puzzle where the pieces keep changing. There is simply no chance of ‘figuring it out’.
You get to create how this plays out
As human beings we desperately want to see the whole, the end game. We want the answers. And we want it all to play out perfectly.
Life, leadership, love… isn’t mapped out that way. The pieces we so desperately desire? YOU get to create and mold them.
So, what do we do?
- The first step is recognizing the context within which we hold ourselves. Do you feel there is a ‘right/wrong’ way of leading your company or living your life? Are you waiting for someone or something to tell you what to do? Who to be? How or when to leave your current job? To ‘give’ you the promotion, the ‘out’, the opportunity? Notice this way of being… stop choosing to be a Victim on YOUR own Playground.
- Talk it out. It can feel lonely in Puzzleland. Make a phone call to someone you trust – who will be a powerful listener and provide ‘no strings attached’ support. Release the fear. Ask for what you need, Acknowledgement? A nudge? Support in making a pro/con list? A good glass of bubbly? You’re not alone.
- Finally, accept that The Land of Unexpected exists. This is easier said than done, I know (seriously). But every day you step out into the Land of the Unknown when you leave your home. And every day you return. Playing in the Unknown is something you can work on every day, a little at a time. Simply taking a couple deep breaths not only lowers your blood pressure, but it helps clear your mind before taking that next step.
Ready for more play less stress? More flow less force? I’m game. Send me an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please connect with me on my website or on Facebook to ask a question or inquire about powerful coaching opportunities.
Molly Rudberg is an executive coach and mindfulness junkie for high performing human beings and teams looking to get out of their own way. Co-author of FROM THE YOGA MAT TO THE CORNER OFFICE – A MINDFUL APPROACH TO BUSINESS SUCCESS
I don’t know about you, but the beginning of the year always pumps me up — come January 1st, I have a million pans in the fire and am raring to go on each and every one. I feel energized, creatively uplifted and ready to kick some serious ass.
Fast forward ten weeks
Welcome to overwhelm city: Projects (personal and professional) are stalling as the little things — emails, meetings, networking events, that never-ending to-do list — edge out the big ideas and time to rejuvenate. What happened to yoga? How about the 10 minutes of meditation? How about that creative time for the book I intend to write? It becomes more important to finish the things I can (the familiar way of doing life and work) than worry about the things I have yet to start (“Screw it, I’ll start next week. But first let me beat myself up about it for a bit”). Sound familiar?
Balance is a made up story
It’s difficult to find balance when we’re constantly in reaction mode — living from the outside, in. Life is moving and changing around us at warp speed… as we desperately try to keep up. We even receive acknowledgment for the hustle of over committing, over performing, overproducing, staying late, being the first to arrive at the office — the list goes on and on.
If you close your eyes and think back to the past month or two, do you remember saying any of these thoughts to yourself?
- “I am overwhelmed with work.”
- “There’s no time for me to do the things I want to do.”
- “I feel like my life is no longer mine.”
- “Work owns me.”
It seems most conversations I have these days is with an overworked, exhausted, depleted, on-the-edge-of-a-breakdown, professional. And we’re barely 30% into 2017!
Time officially owns you
Consider this: In the U.S., 58% of managers and leaders work more than 40 hours a week — sound like you? — and so-called “flexible hours” actually lead to employees working LONGER hours, not fewer. On top of that, the economy has had a huge impact on job-related decisions in the past few years — meaning employees work harder, for longer hours and less pay, for fear they won’t be able to find a better opportunity. The kicker? Being a working parent in the U.S. is harder than almost anywhere else in the developed world.
What’s the payoff of living and working this way? We get to look good. Compete and win, buy the big house by the lake, get that promotion, snag that job, make a certain amount of money, receive the award, drive the fancy car. We get to finally – FINALLY – prove we’re worthy. The thing is, when we have all the “things” that “complete us”, we’re onto the next idea… the next thing. We spend so much time working to fill that gap – that in essence… don’t truly change or generate our happiness. Instead, we find ourselves depleted from trying to keep up – instead of making choices from our own internal values (aka, balance).
I Know, Easier Said Than Done
I see you shaking your head: “I don’t have the time.” Trust me. You do. You see, you created this scenario – so you get to uncreate and create again if you choose. The key is to stop making choices from ‘reaction’ mode – and get intentional. Allow door #1 to close behind you — and watch time expand to create the space for the book you want to write, the yoga you want to take on, the nonprofit work you’re committed to. For what’s waiting for you on the other side of door #2 and #3.
Cultivating motivation when everything — i.e., life — is moving and changing around us can be incredibly challenging, which makes it more crucial than ever to give ourselves the opportunity for new ideas and the space to pursue our big dreams. Want to cultivate that January 1st fire all year long? Not every minute of every day — because, for real, who needs that? — but at least once a week?
Here are some (simple) options:
- Be intentional. Just like fad diets don’t work, fad lifestyle changes won’t work either. You have to cultivate real time in your real life. Look around: free 20 minutes after the kids fall asleep? Free moment in the car before work in the morning? Use it – intentionally – or lose it.
- Fill your cup with good juice. What and who gives you energy? Is it a 3 minute meditation? A latte or a great glass of pinot? Perhaps journaling or checking out the new restaurant that opened with a friend. Find the stuff that gives you energy and remove the stuff that doesn’t (negative people – why you hangin’ with them anyway?!, negative experiences, etc.). Choose things that feed you.
- Fill in your support group. Too many big ideas and dreams vanish because we don’t speak them into the world. State your intention to friends, family, and your supportive community. They want to help you out! And they’ll keep you accountable when you falter.
How do you define balance? What is exhausting you? What fills your cup? I want to know! Send me an email at email@example.com.
Do you know where your phone is right now?
Have you missed any calls? Texts? Facebook messages, Snapchats, Twitter fights, Emails, Gchats… the list is endless. We’re not just “plugged in” anymore — we’re desperately clutching the plug to the wall. Because if we lose contact for one moment… we’re missing out.
56% of all social media users (yes, that includes me and you) suffer from FOMO. This doesn’t include the 27% who check some sort of social media site immediately upon waking.
And why? Addiction.
We have to know. Because knowing, being involved and connected is better than not… or so we’ve told ourselves.
There’s a lot of research out there on FOMO right now (we’re even obsessed with our obsessions). But no one is under the illusion that social media representation is accurate — and you shouldn’t be either.
Pop psychologist Alain de Botton has said this about Twitter:
“It denies us that precious non-specific time in which you can daydream, unpack your anxieties and have a conversation with your deeper self.”
And therein lies the cost.
We’re missing out on our self — the one thing we can count on as real in a world of online smoke and mirrors.
And… it’s not just social media. There’s no shortage of vices to keep us from thinking and reflecting too much on ourselves.
Let’s look at this in the real world.
When work is hard or life is challenging my default is to pick up my phone and distract myself with the online world. What I notice is that filling my mind up with an endless stream of distraction porn is… well, boring. But I still do it. And in doing so, I prevent my mind from the bliss of true boredom — from the wandering space of free thought.
Boredom can be remarkable.
True boredom can be a form of meditation, freedom, space — and a key ingredient to be our most creative, inventive, and authentic selves. So why do we incessantly fill our days with superficial connections and storylines?
FOKO. Fear of knowing ourselves.
So, what can you do about this?
- Acknowledgement. For me, the first step is sayin’ what’s so… that I may be using social media (in that moment) as a tool to distract myself from real life (AKA, my own reality).
- Give yourself space (even if it’s just a few seconds). Put the phone down. Turn off your computer. Take three deep breaths. Go for a walk. Stretch. Journal.
- Create a quick list. Utilize the space and quiet. Write down whatever comes to mind when you think about the New Year. What is this year about for you? Post it somewhere you can see it daily.
Will you (or I) stop visiting the online world? Of course not.
As an entrepreneur, leader, and lover of life, I want to care more about everyday authenticity than every second artificiality. And the simple awareness of why I’m defaulting to the online world has shifted my relationship with myself — and social media. It’s not going away. But it is taking a back seat. I’ll be more mindful of when I’m choosing to connect — and what for. I’ll use social media smarter – and less.
I’m committed to a deeper relationship with myself this year.
I have a feeling Twitter can’t create that for me (yet).