Lost Your Job? 5 Things to Do Today

Photo by eflon on Flickr

Photo by eflon on Flickr

Pam* lost her job on Monday, and she wasn’t sure what to do. Despairing, angry, and cynical, she wasn’t in any mood for chirpy platitudes like, “This just opens to door to your next big opportunity” or “When fate closes a door, it always opens a window somewhere.” No. Pam is a realist, and she didn’t need a cheerleader. At least not that first day. Pam needed some help adjusting her mindset.

Have you just lost a job? Here are the first 5 things to do:

1. Allow yourself time to grieve.

Losing a job is tough. You had co-workers you enjoyed, an office culture you were used to, the security of a place to go every day and a regular paycheck. You are probably in shock, too. Give yourself time to go through the grief cycle. Everyone swings like a pendulum through a range of thoughts, feelings and behaviors after an emotional shock before regaining a bit of equilibrium. Sometimes it takes a few hours. Sometimes a day or two. Give yourself permission to go through it, and don’t try to rush it.

While you can’t wallow and linger in depression and grief, you can’t shut yourself off and refuse to acknowledge the emotions either. They will come back to bite you later.

2. Don’t make any drastic changes in your appearance for 24 hours.

Don’t head to the stylist for a radical new haircut or color. If you usually wear a beard, don’t shave it all off immediately. Don’t get a tattoo. When you make decisions in the throes of emotion, you often wind up regretting it later. In the case of your appearance, you will need every ounce of self esteem and normalcy in the coming weeks. Looking at a stranger in the mirror won’t help.

3. Keep your head in the current time, not in future visions of woe.

“I’m unemployed,” Pam moaned, “I can’t believe it.”

“No, you aren’t,” I stated, “you are getting paid as much today and you were yesterday, and you will be tomorrow, too.”

Pam was lucky. She hadn’t been fired, her company had lost a client. They had given her a 60 day notice. She had some time. But her mind was running through wild, undisciplined halls of terror. It was time to reign it in. The best way to do that was to focus on the reality of today, not the scary stories of her freaked out inner lizard.

Pam was worried about whether other companies would hire her. What would happen if she put her resume out there and received no calls? What would she do after weeks of interviewing and no offers? Pam was so busy wringing her hands over a fire in a back alley with the homeless in her own mind that she couldn’t focus on all she had today.

Today, Pam was fine. She wasn’t homeless, she had food in the fridge, she had a reliable car. Pam had everything she needed for today, and more. She would continue to have those things for at least the next 60 days, because she would have a steady paycheck for at least that long. Yes, it would be wise to stop buying non-essentials. Yes, it would be wise to not make any major purchases until she was settled into a new company. But for today, Pam was doing just fine.

4. Control what you can. Don’t try to control what you can’t.

Pam didn’t have control over whether recruiters would call. She didn’t have control over whether an interviewer would choose her for the job. She didn’t have control over how much a future employer would offer her. However, she did have control over some things.

She could make calls to people she knew and ask for a referral. She could update her profile on Linked In. She could upload her current resume to a few job sites. She had actions to take, and she had control over her own actions.

5. Reverse your needy mindset.

This might be the most important trick of all. It’s remarkably easy to feel anxious about finding a new job when you know you will be losing your current one. However, the desperate clinging energy will end up repelling job possibilities.

If you are in a situation like Pam’s, you don’t have to tell an interviewer that you have lost your job. For all they know, you are one of the several hundred applicants who are just looking for something different. A chance to grow. An opportunity to get away from a difficult boss. An entry point into a different role or job function. There is no need to let them know that the clock is ticking and you have 57 days and counting to find a new position.

Fear is not your friend when it comes to job hunting. Fight it. If you were halfheartedly looking around before this news, start thinking that you are just stepping up your job search. If you weren’t, take it as a bump from fate that will put you on a new track.

You are strong. You are talented. You are imminently desirable as an employee. Act like it.

Your Turn

Have you ever lost a job? Are you dealing with a job loss now? What is your best advice? Share it with us in the comments below!

*Names are part of a composite sketch made of real people and situations, but changed enough to protect privacy.

Dating Advice for ENFP and ISTJ Personality Types

Photo by picturepurrfect685 on Flickr

Photo by picturepurrfect685 on Flickr

Ah, the joys of that first getting-to-know-you period! I received an email recently that reminded me of my dating days. The person was an ENFP (an Extraverted, flexible green), dating an ISTJ (an Introverted, structured gold), and wondering how to make a relationship work between two opposite personality types.

I’m a definite ENFP and my husband is a definite ISTJ. So far, through definite ups and downs (and many “relationship building” discussions), we’ve been married almost 9 years. I didn’t know much at all about personality type when we met, and those insights sure would have been helpful! Here are the tips I gave the person who emailed me, based on personality knowledge and my own experience. I’ve tried to make these as gender-neutral as possible, but sometimes my own experience reflects my own female ENFP and male ISTJ situation:

1) ISTJs tend to take care of business first, and play later (if they can fit it in).

Golds thrive on responsibility and duty. The biggest complement you can pay them is to tell them they are reliable, dependable, capable, and solid. Show appreciation when s/he does things you enjoy that fall into this category. When he calls when he says he will, when she takes a chaotic situation and uses cool reason to turn it into an organized pattern, when he shows you that you can count on him no matter what. Appreciation is something we all enjoy, and complementing natural traits reassures the person that you see and like the “real” him or her.

2) ISTJs tend to, by nature, be wary and suspicious of all things new.

This applies especially when the new thing is not reliable, dependable, capable or solid, as in the case of an ENFP personality type. :) Give your Gold Beaver time to get to know you slowly. Be yourself, but show that as an ENFP you are – at best – consistently inconsistent. Rushing things will put your beloved off. This type of person is a slow burner, not a heat-of-the-moment person. Capitalize on your warm, nurturing side and your sunny disposition.

3) Your natural ENFP traits attract this type like a bee to honey (to a point).

Your enthusiastic, playful, impetuous, gregarious nature is attractive to an ISTJ because it offers an optimistic and joyful influence. However, s/he can only take so much of this for so long before it crosses into annoyance or unreliability. This type is more Eeyore, yours is more Tigger (more about personality types and Winnie the Pooh characters here). Go have fun with your other Tigger and Piglet friends and don’t expect him to tag along. Everyone needs an outlet for their true nature, and your sweetie will appreciate the quiet time alone to sort out his or her own thoughts. You will tend to want to make this person the center of your world. Try hard not to.

4) Give this person the space to grow toward you.

It is human nature to fill a vacuum. Have you ever tried to not say anything while you count to 10 during a meeting? If you do this during the whole meeting, you might never get a chance to speak at all! Just as it is normal to fill a conversational void, it is normal to try to fill a void in presence.

Hang back just a little. Give your partner space. Your ISTJ will grow toward you, but it will be at a slower pace than you want. Show this person you are independent and can get along just fine without him or her, but still appreciate and enjoy their company. DON’T try to manipulate a commitment to you faster, because it will backfire. No jealousy plays, no silent treatment, no games. Those techniques don’t draw this type in, they push this type away. Just live your own life with your own friends and taking care of your own responsibilities. ISTJ types appreciate confident partners who have it all together and can stand on their own two feet.

5) ISTJ’s need to be needed.

This type gets a kick out of “rescuing” someone, especially when that person is self-sufficient and the “rescue” is low-key. When you talk about your life and she gives wise counsel, voice your appreciation of her objective, reasonable, time-tested advice as something you never would have thought of yourself. When he helps you work through a problem, tell him that you appreciate him partnering with you because his input helps you built to a more complete solution. Tell her that your differences really complement one another (because they do!) and you should partner together more often.

My Story

I hope some of these suggestions help. I met my hubby at a time when he was going through some major life changes – a move to a completely new city on the other side of the US without any family or friends to support him. Though we connected like lightning right off the bat, it took lots of patience and maturity on my end for 3-4 months before he was truly committed. As he put it, “It takes me a while to build confidence in someone, but once I’m there I give my heart completely.” We were married a year after the first day we met. Your mileage will vary. :)

Your Turn

The trick is to give this person the room to grow in affection for you. Be a touch less eager, a tad less available, a sliver more involved in your own life than you normally are. Give him a chance to grow toward you by moving away just a little. Your person might be an ISTJ, but s/he is a human first.

Have you dated someone who is your personality type opposite? What was your experience like? Share your story in the comments!

Personality Type and Finding Passion: An Overview

Photo by bingramos on Flickr

Photo by bingramos on Flickr

“What does personality type have to do with finding my passion?”

I get this question a lot – sometimes asked with confusion, sometimes with cynicism, and sometimes with enthusiastic curiosity. The people I most enjoy working with end up as curious and enthusiastic folks, whether they started there or not.

Here’s what I have to say in response:

1. Learning about your personality type can help unlock your feelings

The key to finding your passion is opening up to feeling. Passion is, after all, just a strong emotion. So many of us are closed off to it, and other emotions as well. Have you been criticized at work? Up goes a wall to your emotions. Have you been belittled at home? Another wall. Do you try to be like someone who is your complete opposite? Another wall. Eventually, you find yourself closed off not only from hurt, guilt and anger, but from passion and happiness as well.

When you learn your personality type (and here’s a quick quiz if you have no idea what it might be), you start to accept your differences between yourself and other people as just that – differences. Not weaknesses (though sometimes they are), not character flaws, not something you’ll “have to work on” – just differences. With acceptance of those differences, you don’t have to shield yourself so much from the comments of others. You can filter out the feedback that’s valid and toss out the remarks that used to be hurtful and keep you up at night.

Once you open yourself up to feeling again, you will find more and more that brings you excitement, joy, and passion.

2. Learning about your personality type helps build your confidence

The flip side of not having to defend yourself so strongly against those who notice your weaknesses is that you can have more confidence in your natural talents. So many of us discount our natural gifts. Doesn’t everyone come up with creative solutions for problems? No, they don’t – that’s often an iNtuitive (N) trait. Doesn’t everyone keep things organized and controlled? No, they don’t – that’s often a Judging (J) trait. Can’t everyone strike up a conversation with strangers and help them feel comfortable? No, they don’t – that’s often an Extraverted (E) combined with Feeling (F) trait.

Knowing your natural talents gives you more confidence that your “superpowers” aren’t just everyday common tendencies. They are part of your DNA, and you can develop them into strengths that other people don’t have. What’s more, when you do this other people recognize and applaud you for the things you love to do! How cool is that?

3. Understanding yourself and accepting your natural tendencies will allow you to find your passion more quickly.

When you are in touch with your feelings and have confidence in your natural abilities, you will find the road to finding your passion a lot easier to travel. You’re not fighting your weaknesses, and you’re aware when you start doing something that makes your heart sing. Pay attention to that feeling, and nurture it. It will lead you to your passion.

Your Turn

For further reading about talents linked to personality traits, you can read my pages on:

What natural talents do you have that you haven’t seen as strengths before? What have you been defending yourself against that you can now let go? Have you found your passion through personality type? Tell me in the comments!

Before You Begin Finding Your Passion

Photo by tomsaint on Flickr

Photo by tomsaint on Flickr

“If I were a wild animal, I’d have gnawed my leg off by now.”

This is how I began my journal entry in March of 2007, feeling trapped in a job that had promised wonderful opportunities but now felt like a straitjacket. The trick was to begin finding a way out, but before I could start I had to set a strong foundation for myself. I floundered around for a while, but in retrospect I think the following areas were key in giving me the strength I needed to break out of a life that didn’t fit me anymore.

Accept where you are on the passion path

If you are struggling with finding your passion, accept that you are in the beginning stages. There will be a lot of trial and error, a lot of starting and stopping, a lot of swirl. It might make those close to you (especially those dependent on you) a little crazy.

When I started my own journey, I desperately wanted to find something that would excite me, create meaning in my life, and give me a sense of purpose. I leaped at several opportunities, thinking “That’s it!” and jumping in with both feet. It felt great until I got a little more involved and realized that not only was the activity not “IT”, it wasn’t even something I enjoyed. Being an extravert, I talked excitedly to family and friends about every new thing on my radar. A month later, they saw me dropping the thing I had been so excited about. I really began to feel like a flake, a failure, someone who didn’t stick to anything.

If you are just starting out, realize that you are going to go through a lot of churn at the beginning. Allow yourself to experience it. Don’t try to avoid it, even if it makes you feel very uncomfortable.

Commit to the Homework

If you are trying to find your passion, realize that it’s going to take some time to figure it out. Commit to putting in that time. Introspection isn’t sexy. It isn’t something that your casual friends will want to hear about, and it isn’t usually something you would talk to them about anyway.

If you have spent months or years burying your feelings, it’s going to take some time to rediscover yourself again. Go in with the expectation that you will try things, you will take small steps, and you will NOT rush yourself. Set yourself up for success by realizing this is a process, not a miracle moment. You’ll have more fun along the way.

Find Your Tribe

The blogging community might have initiated use of the word “tribe” in everyday language, but it applies to finding your passion too. Do you know the #1 reason most people fail in making changes that stick? They try to do it alone. If you have a supportive significant other, friends that cheer you on, or motivational family members, this might not be a problem for you. If not, here are some ideas:

  • Read blogs about others making the same change
  • Get on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other services and find a group that wants to make the same change you do
  • Listen to audiobooks that motivate and inspire you
  • Go to MeetUp.com and find others who share your interests

Your Turn

Where are you on the passion path? Have you handled the basics yet? Tell us in the comments below.

3 Ingredients of a Strength

Photo by 96dpi on Flickr

Photo by 96dpi on Flickr

What are strengths, exactly? We all have an idea that strengths are things we are good at, but is there more to it? Yes, there are actually three main ingredients:

Talent

Strengths start with a talent, something you naturally do well. That’s not to say you do always it perfectly or that you start off performing it brilliantly. When others notice that you do something well, that is a place to start. Oddly enough, we often disregard the comments of others in our areas of strength. When you begin to recognize something as a talent of yours, though, you will often recall several times that others praised you for that ability.

Drive

As Dan Pink spoke about in his book Drive (you can see his TED message here), intrinsic motivation is the most important. When you have the internal drive to do something, you want to do more of it and you are resilient in the face of challenge. Both are good qualities when you are working to develop a strength.

Experience

Experience is the third ingredient. It’s easy to attain that experience when you do something well and you have a strong drive to do more of it. Experience, therefore, is almost a default ingredient of a strength.

The sum is greater than its parts

It’s vital to recognize that all three ingredients are necessary parts of a strength. If you have talent, but it doesn’t thrill you do it and you hardly ever practice it – that is not a strength. If you have a drive to do something, but little natural talent and hardly any experience – that is not a strength. If you have experience in an activity, but no talent and no motivation to practice it – that is not a strength.

Your strengths can help you build a powerful life of meaning and purpose. Look for feedback about your talents, develop those that excite you, and prove yourself by doing it over and over. You will shine.

Your Turn

Do you have any talents that aren’t backed up by drive and experience? Experience that isn’t backed up by talent or drive? Drive to do something in an area where you are not talented or experienced in?

Share your experiences in the comments!

Two Truths and a Lie About Introverts

Have you ever played the icebreaker game of Two Truths and a Lie where you make three statements about yourself and the others have to guess which is a lie? I thought it might be fun to talk about Introverted traits and see if any of you can relate to the common assumptions about Introverts.

Two Truths and a Lie

  1. In conversation, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone has a preference for Introversion
  2. Introverts tend to keep to themselves
  3. If you want to be friendly with an Introvert, don’t just stop by to say Hi

I’ll give you a minute to decide which you think is a lie among the truths.

Seems like a good time to throw in a picture:

Photo by kelsiedipernaphotography on Flickr

Photo by kelsiedipernaphotography on Flickr

Okay, time’s up. What do you think? Let’s go over the statements.

In conversation, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone has a strong preference for Introversion

In my experience, detecting an Introverted preference during conversation is relatively easy. When you ask a question, how long does it take for the person to respond and how organized is their answer? How you interpret the answer will be based on your knowledge of the person and the context of the question, but generally an Introvert will pause before answering to process the question and their response will be more organized than that of someone who prefers Extraversion.

I consider this statement to be true.

Introverts tend to keep to themselves

There are many Introverts who hesitate to identify themselves as such because the American public seems to believe that means they don’t like to be around people. This is simply not the case. Being introverted is not the same as being antisocial. While it is true that Introverts need down time to recharge, this doesn’t have to happen in a vacuum. There are many Introverts who recharge around family or close friends, though generally not in conversation. They read, watch TV, hike – anything that gives them some time to reflect or just to not focus on the frenzied outside world. Introverts can’t recharge by interacting with people, but most will say that having a few folks around during a calm activity is quite nice.

This statement is false.

If you want to be friendly with an Introvert, don’t just stop by to say Hi

While Introverts can be quite social, stopping by to say a quick Hello just because you were in the area can derail their train of thought for some time. A Gallup study recently found that after an interruption it takes someone about 25 minutes (rounding up) to get back on task. With Introverts, it can take even longer. If you want to be friendly with an Introvert, send them a quick email or Instant Message (IM) and let them know you’re hoping to drop by in about half an hour. Don’t just drop in because they were sitting quietly at their desk. You’re relationship will be better for it.

This statement is true.

Your Turn

Do you prefer Introversion or Extraversion? Do my opinions about the above statements match your experiences? Tell me the in the comments.

PS – You can read more about 5 Ways to Guess Someone’s Personality Type in this earlier post.

The Acid Test for Limiting Beliefs

Photo by 34053291@N05 on Flickr

Photo by 34053291@N05 on Flickr

Today is my son’s birthday. He’s no longer a baby and not yet a pre-teen. Yep, we’re at that fun transition stage where he’s still young enough to want to cuddle sometimes but old enough to want his own independence.

He’s also old enough to develop his own limiting beliefs.

This morning as I thought about this, I realized I might be responsible for some of them. There are some beliefs I want to encourage. There are others I want to actively try NOT to pass along to him.

Some of the limiting beliefs that I want to encourage in him:

  • I should treat others the way I want to be treated
  • I should be respectful to adults, and also to other kids
  • When I feel shame, the best way to get rid of it is to apologize and ask forgiveness

They are limiting, but in a good way. If he follows them, he will change his behavior when necessary and will get along a bit better in this world.

Here are a couple that I recognize in myself, and that aren’t always true. These rules of thumb I want him to use generally, but realize that sometimes they don’t apply:

  • I should always do what adults and authority figures tell me
  • I should do my best to look at the bright side of life and be cheerful

Here are some that I fight against myself, and hope he doesn’t inherit:

  • I need to please everybody
  • If everyone isn’t happy with me, I must be doing something wrong
  • If someone doesn’t like me, I need to work harder until they do
  • When I feel angry, depressed or frustrated I should stuff it down and cover it with false cheer and happy behaviors

The Acid Test

For each of these limiting beliefs that I’ve grown up with, the test I ran them through to see whether they were helpful or hurtful is this:

Would I like my child to believe this and act accordingly?

Your Turn

What limiting beliefs do you hold? Which ones help you get along better in the world, and which should you modify or abandon?

Find Your One Eyed Kingdom

Photo by 66176388@N00 on Flickr

Photo by 66176388@N00 on Flickr

In a meeting with my team at work, I was becoming more frustrated by the minute. I’ve used my strengths as a programmer, web developer, help desk manager, database architect, and a business analyst. I’m also an ENFP, honed in on the needs and motivations of people and keenly interested in building relationships – whether in my personal life or with a customer. However, in this group of brilliant engineers (almost all of them ISTJ‘s, honed in on the need for planning and organizing and keenly interested in how things work – not people) my ideas were falling on deaf ears. Actually, I can’t even say they were deaf ears. They were definitely hearing me, they were just dismissing everything I said.

Stung by what I took as criticism and angry that I wasn’t being heard, I stopped voicing my ideas and waited the meeting out. My strengths were useless in this situation. Suddenly, a saying I had read before popped into my head and helped me take a new perspective:

In a land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

In my previous roles my analytical and technical abilities were valued because I was working with a team of like-minded people eager to build customer relationships and not all of them had technical experience. Here, my team was technically proficient and analytically talented and my strengths were nothing special. In fact, my focus on people and building relationships was actually a detriment because everyone was focused on solving the problem with a technical solution.

In this world, I was average. I realized that if I seek out situations where we are trying to solve problems that I am well suited for and where my strengths are different than those of my team, I am more likely to be heard and appreciated.

Your Turn

Where do you shine? Are your strengths different than your team? Do you work on the kind of problems you are best at solving? How can you make yourself a one-eyed king? Share your story in the comments!

3 Steps to a Small “But” and a More Positive Life

Photo by thebusybrain on Flickr

Photo by thebusybrain on Flickr

Do you feel like you aren’t enjoying life as much as you could? Do people ever accuse you of being negative? Do you want to become more passionate about life? Here’s a tip for living a more positive life – strive for a small “but”.

How many times have you heard an authority figure – a manager, a parent, a teacher – say something nice about you or your work and you can’t enjoy it because you’re waiting for that, “BUT … ” part of the statement? Have you ever been surprised when it didn’t come, and then found you couldn’t remember the positive things they said because you were focused on defending yourself against a criticism? Here are some ways to get the “but”s out of your own discussions:

1) Replace “but” with “and”

I read once that impromptu actors practice their skills by using one rule when they get together – each person begins their segment with the word “and”. It seems like a simple thing to do, but and you’d be surprised at how difficult it is to switch that one little word in your responses (see?).

If you do nothing else this week, give this first step a try. When a friend comes to you and asks you to look over a report she wrote, try something like “This is very well organized and easy to follow AND if you changed the wording of the introduction a little it would really grab the reader’s attention so they would absorb every word.” When a co-worker has an idea during a brainstorming session, you could say “That’s pretty creative AND I think we could also …” Responding in a positive way will encourage your friends to seek you out for your feedback.

2) Receive feedback with something other than, “But …”

These points might make more sense with an example, so I’ll share an experience of preparing a speech for a Toastmasters contest. First, let me acknowledge that I am a strange animal because I truly ENJOY public speaking. Joining Toastmasters has given me an opportunity to find my voice and share my thoughts with groups of people. That is not to say that it’s an easy path. While I love talking with people and see public speaking as an extension of that, creating a planned speech that educates, inspires and entertains is difficult.

I brought my fledgling speech to a dear friend and coworker of mine, who suggested that I bring up a point that I had already included. I could have said, “But I talked about that point here, in paragraph 5 …” It was hard not to say that. Instead, I substituted it with “Great! How do I make that point stand out?” This positive response allowed my friend to continue on and give me some excellent suggestions to incorporate. If I hadn’t changed my response, I wouldn’t have received that additional info. He would have closed down, not wanting to offend.

3) Replace “But I can’t do that!” with “I’ll give it a try”

Do you greet new ideas with suspicion and worry that you’ll fail? If so, you might be cheating yourself of growth opportunities. Trying and failing gives us a chance to grow new skills. It also gives us a rich resource for embarrassing stories later, though you might not consider that a positive.

When you give something new a try, you join in the fun others are having. If you approach it with a sense of humor and tell people this is new to you, it gives you a chance to enjoy life more fully with the support of others. Those experiences can help you engage with life more fully rather than sitting on the sidelines. So give something new a try!

Your Turn

There are many benefits of having a small “but” and being more positive. Your friends will seek out your feedback more when you deliberately replace “but” with “and” in your suggestions. You’ll find that others are more willing to collaborate with you when you add to their ideas instead of criticizing them. You’ll open to new experiences that will make your life more meaningful and fun when you try new things.

Will you try one of the steps above this week? Let us know what happens in the comments.

5 Steps to a To Do List that Gets Done

Photo by robandstephanielevy on Flickr

Photo by robandstephanielevy on Flickr

I read recently that “Saying you don’t have time for something is the same as saying ‘I don’t want to’ do it.” I fought that for a minute, because it stung. Of COURSE I want to do [all the things I haven't had time to do]. When I thought about it a little more, and forced myself to be honest, I found that there might be a bit of truth in it.

What about you? Try this little thought exercise and see where it leads you.

1. Make a list of 5 things you had time for this week

Not the list of small chores you don’t think twice about and not your job, but those [almost] every day activities lasting 30 minutes or more. For me, that list was:

  • Watching 1-2 hours of TV with my family
  • Reading blog posts from emails, RSS and Twitter links
  • Writing responses on a membership bulletin board
  • Shopping for and cooking meals
  • Tweaking this site (design and features)

2. Make your case

Are there any activities that don’t help you advance toward your main goals? If so, make a case for why it’s important to do them. Some of my excuses responses were:

  • I need to spend time with my family
  • Reading other blog posts inspires me to write my own
  • Being part of a community makes me feel happy
  • We have to eat
  • My site has to appeal to readers

3. Go deeper

Ask yourself some questions about each activity and excuse response:

  • Is my response true?
  • Do I spend more time than needed on this?
  • If I stopped doing this, how would it change my life?
  • Is what I want/need to do more important than this?
  • Can I be more disciplined or efficient with this?

4. Are any of these covering up fear?

What we say we don’t have time for is often something that we’re afraid of doing or (more accurately) afraid of doing poorly. I spend a lot more time than truly necessary reading other blogs and tweaking my site design. Why? Partly because I truly enjoy it, but partly because it relieves my anxiety about coming up with a topic of my own to write about.

Be ruthless about this part, because this exercise is only beneficial if you are completely honest with yourself.

5. Fish or cut bait

Now that you’ve examined each activity and its true value to you, compare it with the things you want to do and make some decisions. Are you going to give an activity up in favor of another one? Reduce time spent in one area so you can fit the things you want to do in? Or, when you really think about it, are you truly happy just doing what you are doing?

If you decide to keep doing the things on your activity list, do yourself a favor and put the things you “want” to do on hold for a while. Commit yourself to the activities you are doing so you can enjoy them completely. Put a reminder date on your calendar for 3 months or 6 months to run through this exercise again. Your answers might be different, in which case it might be time for a change. Until then, deliberately push it out of your mind.

Guilt and “should”s can drive you crazy and waste a lot of energy. Take a few minutes to get to the truth about what you really want, and then allow yourself to have it.

Your Turn

What activities came up on your list? Which were more important or more scary than you thought? Did you change anything as a result of this exercise? Share your thoughts in the comments.