February 8, 2011
Happy February! This is the month of love (thanks to Valentine’s Day)! Everywhere you’ll find hearts, cupids and other symbols of love. When I see hearts this time of year, I use them to remind me to take a deep breath and to feel my own heart. It is a sweet time – with reminders to feel love and gratitude everywhere.
And, although this is a month of love, there may still be times when disagreements pop with your partner. For Lifework readers think of those business relationships in your life. A boss. A co-worker.
You know those irksome topics in those relationships that just keep popping up over and over (and over) again? Those topics that you just can’t seem to resolve or see eye-to-eye on? These topics are like the moles in that Whack-a-Mole arcade game. You know that game where the moles keep popping up and no matter how hard you try – even if you think you’ve knocked ‘em down for good – they just pop right back up.
When tricky moles rear their head in your work life it can feel impossible to get rid of them. They may very well bring with them arguments and tension. There will always be things that you disagree with people on. The good news is that you can move from conflict to calm in those relationships by putting the 4 steps below to work.
4 Steps to Move from Conflict to Calm
Time Out: When that mole pops up instead of holding on tightly to your position and talking it to death, take some space to be silent and reflect. Take 30 minutes or even a day to not talk about the issue while getting clear on your perspective, as well as the other person’s.
Trust Yourself & Your Partner: Instead of assuming that one of you is wrong trust in the goodness each of you brings to the table. Try to see their point of view as just that – a point of view. Trust that each of you is wise in your own way and has a valid and important view to share.
Be Clear and Open: Create a space for the two of you to come back together (don’t forget to breathe). Share point of view clearly and openly. It is okay for you to both to have different points of view. Share your understanding of the other person’s position, too. Be open to change, compromise or even agreeing to disagree.
Design What’s Next Together: Literally say, “Now we must figure out how we are going to come together on this issue even though we disagree.” From there, talk about what each of you wants and what the common, middle ground would look like and feel like. Get creative here and find a solution that you both can live with, for now. Try it out and then redesign down the road if your first design didn’t work.
So rather than playing a game of “Whack-a-Mole” when the tough topics pop up, use these 4 steps to help you move from repeat conversations into a calm and collaborative space together.
January 25, 2011
Have you ever stopped to think about all of the things you rely on every day that you plug in – your computer, cell phone, printer, lights, TV, etc.? If they aren’t plugged in or recharged, then they just don’t have the energy to work.
Now think about all of the things that you are metaphorically plugged into in your work-life. Think of all the mental energy you devote to your work. Think of the various physical activities you engage in during the day. Step back even further, and think about your beliefs about yourself, the world, and the people in your life.
Are you plugged into the activities and thoughts that get you what you want, or are you wasting energy on things that lead to frustration and exhaustion? We all have a finite amount of plugs and energy.
Here are three ways to help you stop wasting your energy this month.
1. Unplug. Literally unplug your computer, cell phone, TV, lights and anything else electric that you use for 12-24 hours. Unplug metaphorically as much as you can from all the other things that get your energy and attention. Live simply. Use this time to explore what is most important to you. See what you miss. Create some quiet, introspective down time for yourself. Don’t forget to take some deep delicious breaths. If 12-24 hours seems too long then try it for just an hour or two.
2. Plug Back In. You are probably not going to choose to stay unplugged forever. So, when it’s time to plug back in, do it consciously. Think about what you want to plug back into or what you really missed. Use a rating scale if that helps you to think about each item, activity, thought or belief in your work-life. How important/helpful is it to you to plug back into ________? 0= least important, 10= most important. Plug back in to only the most important and energizing things first – the things you rated with a 9 or 10 and then see how many plugs and how much energy is left over/. Experiment and let some plugs hang loose.
3. Choose. Even when things seem daunting and impossible, remember that you have a choice. In any and every moment you can choose where you are going to put your attention and focus. Are you going to put it on thoughts or activities that deplete you or are you going to put it into the places that energize and enliven you? At any time you can unplug cords that are frayed or no longer serve you and you can plug in new ones or untangle old ones.
Here is an example from one of my clients:
For months Jeffrey was plagued by his messy home office. At times he felt like a failure for not making the time to clean it up. This month, he unplugged for a day and realized that he had a choice to plug into:
1. Beating himself up about his messy office.
2. Whole-heartedly choosing to keep his office messy, for now.
He decided to plug in to the mess – letting it be messy, instead of plugging into beating himself up about it the mess. What a refreshing shift! This freed up energy so he could focus on other tasks that were much more important to him.
What are you going to consciously unplug from and plug into this month? When you use your energy to plug into what is most important to you, you’ll stop wasting energy and may even have some extra left over to plug into you.
Illustrations by Jordan Awan
December 24, 2010
The holidays can be a wonderful time to slow down at work, spend time with friends and family and to drink in all the joy and festivities of the season. It is also the perfect time to do a year-end ritual. As December turns into January something special–almost magical–happens. It’s as if a door to the old closes and new doors and opportunities invite us in. It is a time of hope, possibility, and fresh starts.
Even though it may seem challenging or even impossible to set aside an extra minute, this is exactly the right time to slow down, take deep breaths, reflect, dream and create. Below is a five-step ritual that will help you to say, “Goodbye!” to 2010 and say, “Hello!” to 2011 in a powerfully conscious way.
The year-end ritual below allows you to reflect on the past year and drink in the glorious memories and learnings from your professional and personal life. In a mere 15 minutes, this ritual gives you the precious gift of intentionally setting the stage for the year to come. It can be done alone, with your partner, with colleagues, or even with friends or family. It can also be a wonderful New Year’s Eve party activity. Or, carve out some deliciously sacred time and space for yourself, alone, to review the questions below.
Keep a copy of what you write down this year so that as 2011 unfolds you can reference your goals. And next December, take a look back; see how far you’ve come. Repeat this powerful and sacred ritual from year to year.
Everything and anything is possible for you. Let go of any self-limiting thoughts, beliefs, and old patterns and envision and create a 2011 that you absolutely love! The ritual below is just the beginning.
Year-End Review & Ritual
List your top 10 events/memories/moments from 2010.
What did you like least or what was the most challenging about 2010?
What have you learned in 2010 that you want to remember in 2011 and beyond?
Imagine it is December 2011. Write a list of at least three breakthroughs, wins and/or accomplishments as if they have already happened or occur regularly. Get as specific as you can.
Give 2011 a two or three word name that reflects a theme, what you anticipate, or plan to create in the upcoming year.
Illustrations by Jordan Awan
December 14, 2010
Jealousy. We all experience it. That wish for someone else’s work-life. Instead of spending time and energy coveting someone else’s job and all the trappings that come with it, let’s focus on reaching for the things that enliven you. This is the season for shopping so put your career on your holiday shopping list. Here’s a way to shop for a work-life you’ll love.
Name it Window shop all you want – give yourself full permission – you probably do it anyway. You might as well enjoy it or use it to help you get what you want in your life. Get curious about others who have something in their lives that you want more of. Name it! Get specific. What do you want more of in your work-life?
Work Truth When you think about what you are coveting in someone else’s work-life see what excites you and enlivens you. Now, take the attention off the other person and bring it back to you. Is this something that you’d really like to have in your life? Does it bring you joy, excitement or peace when you imagine having it yourself? If so, great. Then head to the next step. Don’t just stop here.
Choose It, Create It, Visualize It You too can have what you thought looked fabulous in the window. What can you do today, next week and next month to choose and create an energy, environment or situation for yourself that will help you get what you desire? What are you willing to change and do differently to get what you want? If you really want it, you absolutely can choose it and then create it. Visualize yourself having, doing, and being it!
Fears Aside Keep moving your fears, doubts or negative self-talk aside. They are just there to keep you feeling miserable, jealous, like a failure or ineffectual. Their job is to keep you away from living a life you love. Send them to the moon, put them in a box, bury them or just ignore them and keep enjoying that window shopping.