Is Life Too Chaotic? How About Streamlining for What Counts?

Is Life Too Chaotic? How About Streamlining for What Counts?

This is a big one, right? You know that getting clear on one part of life will positively affect every other part…but it takes time, effort and focus which you would rather spend on something more productive. A smooth life design doesn’t happen overnight, especially when you have a partner, kids, pets, maybe a business or two and myriad other responsibilities.

If you are new here, looking at the whole picture is a recipe for overwhelm and will probably send you hiding under the duvet, hoping it all goes away. If you have been following along, you have already taken some steps to reduce the sense that you have to do it all at once, or that you are the only one to do it all. You are able to see things more objectively – i.e., take things less personally – and know that baby steps are often the best steps.

Life design is about systems thinking. What do you actually need? What are the basics? This applies across the board, from meal planning to choosing your work hours to coordinating extracurricular activities. Sure, sometimes sacrifice is required, but that is a two-way street. Many of us are under the impression that what we want is what we need and we will forgo our needs for the shiny thing, often justifying that as being of benefit to the whole.

Making life work for all involved means compromise and that can be hard when you think you have to do and be everything you want right now…and your partner is the same…and you think your kids have to be that way. Slow down! Sometimes the best way to make things happen is to take your attention off of what you are trying to do and allow it to take shape.

Just for today, take one thing in your life that is taking up more time, energy and effort than it needs to. Choose something that you actually enjoy, or don’t mind doing. Meal planning often comes up. Many people really enjoy cooking, and have great ideas of what dinners can be like, but when push comes to shove, they don’t have time to make the fabulous spread and ingredients go to waste as it becomes another night of takeout. This spins into kids not even learning the basics of cooking so they can help out.

This may not be fun, or even interesting, but how about spending one day on meal planning and preparation? That is what freezers are for…and crock pots. Too much? How about making one big batch of something per week so you always have a delicious and nutritious standby in the freezer? Yes, I have tried this while starting a business in the midst of caregiving for my parents and found option number two to be a great start. Preparing large batches of three different things in one afternoon equaled 17 meals for the days that I worked late, had an event or was just too wiped out to cook. Whew! Life hack.

That is what I mean. How can you take those aspects of life that you want to be more than you can give and create some space for what you actually need. Look back at your purpose, your roles, your expectations and work on ways to make life more manageable. That is what Life Design is all about… you’ll find an exercise and video link in Day 6 of the 7 Day Challenge.

Communication: It’s not just words, it’s energy.

Communication: It’s not just words, it’s energy.

How do you come across? Have you thought about it?

 

I think most of us are familiar with how non-verbal communication works, whether through education or observation, but what about the energy component? What is happening behind the scenes? Is there a power play or control game going on?

Most of us don’t even know we’re doing it, while some of us are masters at it and we all learn to play along either to get what we want or just to get through the day. I have discussed this in two previous blog posts – How Not to Be a Power-Trippy Control Freak and Clear Communication: What did you say?  – the first being the introduction to the Conscious Leadership series and the second being directed towards workplace wellness. No matter what your situation, this energetic communication is learned behaviour, often deeply ingrained from our early years. It follows us wherever we go until we recognize it and begin to neutralize it.

This component of Leading From Purpose is based on the 4th insight of The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield, which teaches about control dramas. Every component of Leading From Purpose is about energy and connection; however, this one is quite possibly the most effective in understanding interpersonal dynamics.

 

Am I communicating or controlling?

 

 

True communication is mutually respectful, seeking the best good for all involved. There may be arguments, negotiations or conflict to be resolved. There may be negative emotions expressed…if there are negative emotions involved, getting them out in a conscious conversation is the healthiest way to deal with them.

The easiest way to tell where you are coming from is by paying attention to the way you feel. How are you reacting? Do you enter a communication set to get your point across no matter what or do you feel resigned and perhaps anxious about what is to come? The former is an aggressive approach while the latter is passive. Both are examples of an energetic imbalance that closes the communication to alternative outcomes. The first is taking power from those involved while the second is relinquishing power to others.

It becomes a habitual pattern. Interestingly enough, both examples come from fear and disconnection to personal power…to source energy. Does that sound a bit harsh? Don’t beat yourself up about it if you recognize these patterns in yourself. As mentioned earlier, these are deeply ingrained, but they can be addressed and overcome. Listen to your gut on this. It knows that things don’t have to be this way.

 

An Exercise in Energetic Discernment (Part 2)

 

Part 1 is from this previous post: How Not to Be a Power-Trippy Control Freak.

Try this tomorrow: For the whole day, pay attention to your interactions with everyone who crosses your path.

At the end of, or even throughout the day, make notes on how you felt with each person. Did you feel:

  1. Intimidated, as though there was an obvious or underlying threat?
  2. Undermined, as though you were doing something wrong, or as though there is something wrong about you?
  3. Sucked In, as though you were pulling teeth to get the simplest response or information?
  4. Guilty, as though you felt personally responsible for someone else’s outcomes, that you couldn’t do enough?

 

For Part 2, try this on another day. Do you feel that you are:

  1. Intimidating, as though you need to push people to do what you want?
  2. Undermining, as though you need to judge or criticize?
  3. Withholding, as though you feel people should effort for your attention/involvement?
  4. Put upon, as though you are the victim of circumstances out of your control?

 

It’s no fun to recognize any of these patterns in ourselves; however, naming the thing is the first step in neutralizing the pattern. As Carl Jung contended: What you resist persists. Once you see and accept the thing that is being resisted, it can be resolved.

 

Feeling Overwhelmed? Identify Unrealistic Expectations.

Feeling Overwhelmed? Identify Unrealistic Expectations.

Where does overwhelm come from?

 

Too much to do, too many demands on your time, unrequited hopes and dreams, wanting to be everything to everyone (or even one person/situation), feeling like you’ll never be able to be or do enough, information overload…the list itself becomes overwhelming.

All of that stuff comes from expectations we take on for ourselves and we’re afraid to let them drop because of some kind of repercussions that are real or imagined. It’s kind of hard to maintain good vibes and a clear mind when fear lurks in the background.

 

What do you do about it?

 

This is where it gets interesting. I know people who carry their overwhelm around like a badge of honour. Others carry it like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Still others swim around in it, helplessly waiting for someone to lift them out. Usually when I have been overwhelmed it was more from martyrdom than anything else. Of course I can do everything. Of course I will help you. Of course I will step in. For what purpose? So I can burn myself out for your benefit? That’s kind of crazy.

Get to the source. This may be hard to hear, and maybe you’ll stop reading after this sentence, but overwhelm is something we allow to happen. It’s kind of a victim mentality. The great news is, that once you accept that your overwhelm comes from your own victim mentality, you can change it if you want to.

 

So how do you stop this overload?

 

Some people can pull this off quite easily, while it’s a little more difficult for others. Allow me to temper the “victim” concept. In a sense, we’re all victims in one way or another – of capitalism, of racism, sexism, religious dogma and more. As individuals, approximately 85% of us came from dysfunctional homes. So yes, we are all pretty much victims of something.

Remember that our parents were victims of the human experience as well, so there’s no point blaming them because they were carrying the expectation torch from their parents and their parents and so on and so on.

When you go to work, you’ve got a bunch of new expectations to deal with – spoken and unspoken.

Wherever you are, whatever your situation, you know that if you lived by your intuition, you would not be overwhelmed or sucked into unrealistic expectations, and you would not hold them over other people.

Name the expectations, determine if they ring true and ditch the ones that don’t.

The point here is to name the expectations, determine if they ring true and ditch the ones that don’t. If you can pull off the down and dirty exorcist approach to clearing these up, fantastic. If you are single you may want to check out this TED talk on YouTube, The Magic of Not Giving a F*** by Sarah Knight, which is chalk-full of F-bombs. I don’t know how well her approach would work with a partner and kids in the picture.

Personally, when I feel overloaded, the journaling approach works for me, followed by some kind of meditative activity, followed by more journaling. If you like self-exploration and making lists, this is perfect for you.

If you would like to take a deeper dive into the expectations that you carry around, sign up for the 7-Day Challenge. We cover this on Day 4.

 

Who Am I In Relationship To This? The Roles We Play

Who Am I In Relationship To This? The Roles We Play

What do you reply when someone asks, “What do you do?”

 

The answer will likely be a label for a role that best suits the situation, usually one that tells people how you make money. I am a (pick your label). We usually pick the one that sounds most impressive to our audience, then we’re kind of stuck on that identity within the context of the new friendship or business relationship that is forming. Yes, I used the word stuck. You now fit into a comfortable box in the minds of others in relation to your monetary usefulness.

Everybody plays a number of roles in life – some more joyous than others. Do you know what I mean by roles? Our roles are really the labels we use to describe what we do and who we are in relation to everyone else. Entrepreneur, artist, parent, partner, friend, accountant, teacher…there is so much more to us than just one role that we advertise!

 

The opportunity for expansion

 

Over the years, I have experienced a lot of frustration with this need people have to fit me into a box that suits their purposes, or their world view. Pick a label and suddenly there are all kinds of rules, judgments and expectations about who you are, how you should act and what you should do. It’s rather limiting, don’t you think? So why do we do this to ourselves?

For example, I worked in an accounting firm for four years and as soon as I started, I was suddenly “a bookkeeper”, even to some friends I had known for years. Everything about me that was fun, artistic, creative and lively didn’t seem to count any more. Recording an album, writing a book, having adventures…poof! On the flip side, being a songwriter or an author or living in a cabin in the woods didn’t fit with having business sense or logical capabilities. Fitting into a box? There is no damn box big enough to hold the fullness of who you are, what you do and what you want to do.

 

Shake things up.

 

The only one who can do this is you. When you have those awkward introductions, why not say what you really do, not what your label is. Ask more of the new people you meet, not just about their job title or relationship to someone. They have the same issue of being boxed.

Do you want to stay in the box or do you really want to shake things up and feel more alive? Day 3 is all about Roles: Who am I in relation to this? Sign up below to take the 7-Day Challenge.

 

Are You Stretched Too Thin? Purpose: Why Am I Doing This?

Are You Stretched Too Thin? Purpose: Why Am I Doing This?

Stretched Too Thin?

 

Burn out sucks. Sure, “It’s better to burn out than to fade away”, but only if you are choosing it from passion, from being so fired up about it that you never want to stop, from feeling like you are living the life you were meant to live. I can’t really fault that line of reasoning because I’m a creative living activist (subscribe to my podcast if you’re curious about that). Living from creative passion and letting it consume you has far more appeal to me than watching people fade away in a cloud of remorse or regret over things they never tried.

What does suck is when you devote a lot of time and energy to something that serves no meaningful purpose for you that detracts from your well-being. You could be spending that time and energy on something that makes you come alive.

 

Why Are You Doing It?

 

Of course you do things because you need to make money, or care for loved ones, but what about the other stuff? You know, the things you do out of a sense of obligation or to not rock the boat or to please others or to feel important or needed. Do you give yourself time to do things that serve your soul or your own physical self? Do you let yourself do things that make you happy?

Sometimes it’s all you can do to go to work and accomplish the bare minimum in the rest of your life. Is there a way to make the work part a more positive experience so that you have more energy for living outside of it?

 

Gaining Clarity on Purpose Makes Everything Fall Into Place.

 

‘Falling into place’ doesn’t mean perfect. That means that instead of being buried in it, you have a bird’s-eye view. It doesn’t matter what it is that you are doing, being clear about the purpose it serves for you goes a long way towards feeling more empowered and having more energy to explore other avenues. It also makes it a lot easier to let go of things that no longer serve a purpose for you and that may be holding you back from better things on the horizon.

Are you interested in pursuing this line of thought a bit more? Try out the 7-Day Challenge…Day 2 is Purpose: Why Am I Doing This?

 

 

What Drives You? What Does Personality Have to Do With Motivation?

What Drives You? What Does Personality Have to Do With Motivation?

Personality & Motivation

 

You know how we all seem to think that the world would be a better place – certainly easier – if everyone was more like us? Sure, it would be easier in some ways, but we wouldn’t last very long as a species. Think about it. If everyone was just like you, what would that world look like? Is there music? Gardens? Computers? Airplanes? Houses? Children? Plumbing? Electricity? Are you personally capable of creating a world that you want to live and reproduce in until the end of time?

It can be very frustrating to communicate with people who are coming from a completely different point of view, especially when you need to work together, collaborate or come to some sort of middle ground. What if you – and they – could see the big picture about how your differences are complementary and that maybe, you could minimize that frustration and uncover core motivators that take your work to a whole new level?

I would be quite surprised if you haven’t explored some sort of personality testing. It could be Myers-Briggs, Right-Left Brain, Astrology or something else…there is quite a wide range of self-exploration tools out there. The thing is that we generally use these tools to label ourselves or others to add to our concepts of who we are, but rarely do we use them to understand one another and frame our conversations with them in mind.

 

What Drives You?

 

At work, or in any group setting, we know very well who the introverts and extroverts are…and some of us use this knowledge to drive one another crazy. I’ve got a theory about this that I’ll cover in a later post on communication. For now, what if we took it further, forgot about the intro & extro labels and thought about what actually motivates people? Of course, money is usually the prime motivator for having a job or running a business, and the ‘higher purpose’ is generally the motivator for a non-profit, and the ‘public good’ is the reason for government agencies.

So why is it so difficult to make things happen the way we want them to? Why are people disgruntled, averse to taking on certain tasks or reluctant to jump on board with every idea? Why don’t we all just act the way you want?

We have different core motivations. Some people are motivated by money and material possessions. Some people are motivated by using their minds and seeing everything fall in to logical sequence. Some people are motivated by personal connection. Some people are motivated by a sense of accomplishment or creative expression…the list goes on.

If you want people to fit into the box you’ve made for them, you are missing out on a world of opportunity to tap into an interdependent mastermind network that can make any group situation flourish.

Would you like to explore this further? Take the 7-Day Challenge to Create Healthy Boundaries & Lead With Confidence. Day 1 is all about Personality: What Drives You?

 

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