Sounds easy, but we so often take it for granted. Being busy can be seductive, having lots to do, people to see and places to go is great. But there are always comes a point where its just as important to recharge your own batteries. As the saying goes you can’t fill someone else’s cup if yours is half empty.
There’s also a darker side to this as well. Sometime when things aren’t going well, we have had a shock or a trauma its tempting to just throw ourselves into something else as a distraction. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Idle hands are dangerous and throwing your time and energy into something productive is a great way to put your time to good use. It keeps you focused and helps create those small wins you need to get through the day and take pride in. As long as it’s not purely a distraction that prevents you from facing your problems and really dealing with them.
The biggest challenge I find is that once your stuck on that wheel, you cant see the forest for the trees, you’re so frazzled with everything you need to do , you don’t stop to consider if the way your doing it is really getting you the best result or being completed in the most effective way. The problem being that you’re just plugging away, from task to task to task and don’t see the forest for the trees. There are times when this is necessary to get a job done, but its not a permanent approach to life.
I need a way to explain this and it reminds me of a story that I love and I think makes the point brilliantly.
“There were two woodcutters, they were often at loggerheads over who chopped more wood. One day, they decided to hold a competition to determine the winner. The rules were simple—whoever chopped the most wood, would be the winner.
The next day they started chopping. After an hour Peter suddenly stopped. When John realized that there was no chopping, he thought: “He must be tired already!” And he continued to cut down his trees with double the pace.
15 mins later Peter returns. John was starting to feel weary, but an hour later Peter stopped again. So, feeling motivated, John continued with a smile on his face.
Every hour, Peter would stop chopping for fifteen minutes while John kept going. When the competition ended, John was confident that he would be the winner.
To Johns surprise, when the results were announced, Peter had actually cut down more wood. How? “How could you have chopped down more trees than me? You stopped every hour.
Peter replied, “It’s simple. Every time I stopped, while you were still chopping, I was sharpening my axe.”
It sounds simple, but in his tunnel vision and fixation with winning John completely overlooked this simple fact. Taking time out not only lets you focus, in the long run it probably means you don’t work as hard and get a better result in the end.
Whatever it is, a day in the house with a good book or movie, a break from social media, going for a run or joining the gym. While it may seem these things take time away from a hectic schedule, they may actually be the thing that helps you get closer to your goals quicker and with a little less stress and frustration. You just have to take the time to make time for yourself. So, how do you wind down, what works for you?
Say Hi to your Family, Tell them you love them and for now…It’s Goodnight Jonboi
“Change is painful, but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong”
New years eve, end of the year, start of the next one and traditionally the time when most of us reflect upon the past and make resolutions to do things differently. You know, those things we keep saying we’ll do, but put off, or ann opportunity to make a promise to ourselves, to stop dwelling on the past and move on.
It’s good, it’s healthy and thinking about it fills that lull between Christmas and New Years Eve. That bit where no one really knows what day it is or what’s going on and everyone’s fed up of eating and watching made for TV movies.
Having a goal is positive, I won’t knock it, but I’ve always believed that if you’re not happy, why wait? It doesn’t have to be NYE for you to make a change. Change things when you need to make a change! Don’t wait.
New year resolutions cover a multitude of sins, diet, exercise, relationships, work. We’ve all made that mistake of putting things off or outstaying our welcome. Often, it’s something we know we should have started or left behind a long time ago, but why do we wait? We do it with friendships, relationships and work.
This brings me to my point and a confession; I’m not sure who this is for – you, or me? I enjoyed 2019, I can’t complain, it’s been a massive learning opportunity and I would do it all again given the chance. But I wasn’t always so optimistic. I was at a strange cross roads which I hadn’t experienced before, it could have gone either way. Someone mentioned journaling to me, but a blog was a good way for me to get thoughts out of my head and onto paper, on those nights where I wanted to sleep, but my brain won’t let me.
I started NYE 2018 into 2019 like everyone else. A beer in my hand a pool cue in the other and absolutely no idea what I was going to do! The thing was, 6 weeks before Christmas last year I handed my notice in. With no job to go to, a mortgage to pay and car to run. My parents didn’t know, they would have freaked. That experience kicked off a series of events I couldn’t have expected and led me to a path I wouldn’t have found. I’m thankful for the courage of my convictions.
At the time, only my closest friends knew what i was planning, and their advice “stick it out until you’ve found something else, don’t walk.” The problem was, they knew what I was planning, but they weren’t experiencing what I was experiencing. Their first reaction, “…its risky” believe it or not, I told them “…life’s risky, none of us are getting out alive!” (I stole that from Jim Rohn.) It seemed apt at the time and I still believe that now.
On paper I had everything I wanted. In the summer I’d taken a new role closer to home, paying a higher salary and thought I’d cracked it. On paper it had looked perfect, their marketing was top notch. As the saying goes, all that glitters isn’t not gold. It was far from gold!
I don’t want to dwell on it too much; it was what it was, but needless to say when a family emergency came a long, 65 hrs + a week, working evenings and weekend and no social life suddenly didn’t seem that important. It will come as no surprise that it wasn’t sustainable.
When members of HR team start leaving, because in their own words, they are being bullied out, it was clear there were too many red flags. This place was broken and it would take everyone down with it, if you let it. In a relatively short space of time, I was already feeling it take its toll.
The irony was, it was only after leaving, that it really made sense and I could see it for what it was. While I was in this place, I was pointing the finger at myself, feeling guilty about being ill, falling asleep at meals in the evening, missing out on socials and never feeling like I’d finish anything. I’d been questioning my own abilities and wondering what was wrong with me. I was seriously questioning if I had the longest running case of impostor syndrome in history, had I been a fraud for the last 10 years of my career?
I don’t know if this is the best analogy, but alcoholics talk about having a moment of clarity, I had that. Although, it took taking a kicking, a shock to the system and then life to throw a proverbial curve ball, and family had to come first. When it’s all said and done, there was more to life. Thinking about it though, it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
The strange thing, it was a relief to leave almost straight away. Despite the magnitude of what I’d just done and the massive potential down side, it was literal weight off of my mind almost instantly, I was happy about what I’d done. I’d work the rest of it out later.
So 2019 started, I dusted off my CV, sending it out and preparing for interviews in January when Christmas was over. I needed to take stock of my finances and work out how long I was able to run for without having to switch my tact on the job front, where I would need to consider taking something outside of my field that would cover the bills until I was back in the game. I figured I had 12 months if things went badly.
I also needed to be organised, have a project to give me focus while I worked on finding a new job. Something that meant I maintained a sense of being productive and didn’t hit a slump. I figured I had time on my hands and I worked renovating the kitchen into my budget, assuming I did most of the labour and made good use of my time. I also made a point of doing all those little jobs around the house that had been neglected.
Gym membership wasn’t in the budget, but I’m surrounded by open space and a combination of walking the dog, working on the house and going for a run or two helped keep me level and stay focused. It was great, it was the most time I had to myself in the bets part of 20 years so, I was making the most of it.
Things started to fall into place, I wont lie, I did burn through savings a little quicker than I expected, but it was under control. The process of having to work through finances, made me approach money differently. Rather than just spending and not think thinking about it. I learnt a bit of discipline. (That cant be a bad thing.)
As the new year settled in I started going to interviews, sifted the wheat from the chaff and at the same time I was a little more considered in selecting my next role. Rather than me jumping at the first offer I got out of desperation. In fact, I found a great role and a great team, it was actually the last interview I had and by time I met with them, I already had another offer on the table, which I was able to use to leverage my T&C’s. I was glad I held out.
What’s more it gave me a rare opportunity to set up a new team from scratch. I’ve been nominated for “Manager of The Year” in one of the national awards for 2019 (I’ll find out in March if I get through to finals.) My own year end appraisal read “John is the Glue that holds the rest of the team together” and off the record and after copious amount of alcohol, I was even told I was someone’s hero at the Christmas party this year. I couldn’t ask for more. The end of 2019, was a stark contrast to how it started. It also proved a valuable lesson.
Change is hard, you won’t have all the answers, you will doubt yourself, but stay the course. You don’t know what’s out there until you go looking. My friends thought I was crazy. But, in doing it I found something I wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. I learnt about myself. You don’t have to follow the same path as everyone else, you can create your own. You just have to take a leap of faith.
Say Hi to your families, tell them you love them and Happy New Year! Write your own story in 2020. For now, it’s goodnight JonBoi.
I’m going to be honest from the start, I got this so wrong, for so long! I overlooked or underestimated the importance of feedback. I’d rather go it alone and take my chances, thinking I always knew better. Ego got the better of me and therein lies the problem.
There’s nothing wrong with knowing your own mind, being committed and just going for it. There are times when it’s called for, it’s served me well, but it can also give you a false sense of security. You believe your unstoppable, always right and that if you want something doing, you must do it for yourself! This is a massive error in judgement.
When you only listen to yourself, you’re in danger of only hearing what you want to hear. Conformation bias kicks in and you will ignore the signs or opportunities that could have made something good, great. By ignoring it, you’re almost guilty of self-sabotage.
Also, if you are the only person who can get the job done properly then –
A) You’re depriving someone else of the opportunity to grow through the experience by doing it themselves, while also having you as a reference point for help and advice if they get stuck.
B) If no one else can do it, what does that say about how your communicating or explaining to other people, if they can’t replicate your work? (Sometimes you’re the problem.)
C) It’s a self for filling, self-sabotaging prophecy. You’re the only one who can do it, so you’re the only one who does. You stunt your own growth because you never have any time left to develop yourself, you’re too busy doing the job. (Refer back to point B – Sometimes you’re the problem!) In more ways than one.
Like they say, two heads are better than one, get past your ego, hear the feedback and do something with it. You never know, there might just be something you have missed.
Asking for feedback isn’t showing weakness. It’s not saying I think this is wrong, I can’t do it. Asking for feedback is a way of polishing what you have already achieved. Having more than one voice in the room and sometimes to challenge you. But Yes, ITS SCARY! You don’t want people to hate what you have done or tear it down.
It’s about taking that first step. For the same reasons we don’t like to ask, not everyone is comfortable giving open and honest feedback without first having permission to speak. Unfortunately, sometimes the ones who do feel empowered to speak, aren’t always the ones you need to hear, and it doesn’t always come from a well-intention place. (TIP: Learn to spot the difference.) Not everyone has your best intentions at heart.
Here’s the amazing bit. In asking for feedback, you are showing vulnerability and a maturity to listen to what’s said and take it on board. Don’t listen to respond, just take the feedback and time to consider it. Remember you might want to go back for more at a later date.
You’re telling that person that you respect and trust them, without literally having to fall on your sword and come out and speak the words themselves. When you give the right people permission to speak, if their hearts in the right place, they will reciprocate that in their feedback. To tackle your own confirmation bias, you need another perspective.
In day to day life we all do or say things that we don’t even consider. It might be our tone, the language that we use or the way we greet people when we meet them. Things that might be small or insignificant to us can have a big impact on the people around us without us even noticing. They might be so small, that people never thought them worthy of raising.
If there are small opportunities to polish your game, things that are easy to do which make a difference to the people around you, wouldn’t you want to change them?
For example, take sitting at your desk, head down concentrating. Your about to create world peace with an email and a colleague walks in, you don’t raise your head. Now, unless you are really about to create world peace, is that email so important that you can’t raise your head, say Hi and ask them how they are? Or is that email so important that the other person leaves thinking you’re always busy, never smile, and you barely acknowledge their existence?
Those are the small innocuous things, the micro-inequities that you don’t even acknowledge happen that stick in people’s minds, even if they don’t tell you to your face. Perception becomes reality and you’re the miserable so and so in the corner who they might not bother with next time because its too much like hard work!
We all do it and all to often we make the same mistakes in our personal lives. Something changes or you know something’s wrong, but you can’t put your finger on it. It might be a call or a text. “How are You? Reply:” Good.” or “…OK”. We’re so accustomed to quick and immediate access to everything, we stopped reading the words, hurry to respond and overlook what the words mean.
If some asks – How are you? Take those few extra seconds to write your reply. They have stopped what they were doing to see if you were alright, don’t let perception become reality, give back what they have invested in you. How are you, is an invitation we don’t always get, when we need it most.
So, people buy people. Don’t get to caught up trying to fit in, when it’s so much better to stand out. Go ask for feedback and if you’re asked to give it, do so in the spirit it’s intended and be proud that your opinion matters to that person. Go find your polish!
Say Hi to your family, ask them how they are and for now, it’s goodnight JonBoi.
“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.”
– Walt Disney
The hardest part of any journey can be simply starting. Having potential is one thing, lots of people have potential. But how many people do nothing with it? Ideas, skills and talent are great; but the cemetery is full of people who had potential.
It’s here that I always think of the classic movie cliche… “I could have been a contender!”
However you got here, choice or accident, thank you! Please have a read, share a comment, let me know what you think. Its community that keeps the idea alive.
So, starting something new can seem scary. But you don’t have to change the world, reinvent the wheel or run a 4-minute mile. Whatever your goal is, starting is what matters, but it’s hard. It’s a lot easier to have another drink or raid the fridge and see whats on TV tonight!
Also, It can be seductive to fall in love with the initial idea, vision or goal. But as it starts to grow, it might get scary and you might start to doubt that you will be able to do it. It’s easy to talk yourself out of things and your family and friends might try as well because they’re scared for you. But, as long as you start, you’ll have achieved 100% more than those who never do. (This is something I have to keep reminding myself.) What works for me is to start by making small changes, being consistent. I believe consistency beats talent every time and Rome wasn’t built in a day!
You don’t have to be naturally gifted, especially talented or have grown up with a wealth of resources to achieve something exceptional! Small wins will reinforce and combat those negative thoughts and beliefs that try to hold you back. Small wins will help sustain your motivation and create positive habits that get you one step closer to overarching goals. Start small, think big.
So what is it? Want to write a book, lose weight, earn more money or improve your time keeping and turn up on time occasionally. Don’t just talk about it, because if you change nothing, nothing changes.
Naturally, you spend more time in your own head, with your own thoughts than anyone else. Like it or not, your brains wired to protect you if something seems scary. Your brain will try to find a way to protect you, a reason or an excuse not to do it. That’s where the small wins come in. Until something happens or changes your friends, family and you have no evidence that its going to be OK. Your brain doesn’t like this, but without evidence (the small wins) it stays scary. Trust your gut, push through it and ignore the negative self-speak, or the well intentioned family member that might try and talk you out of it. You wont know unless you do it. If it doesn’t work out, you learned something, so there is no FAIL. It’s only a loss, if you never try.
Don’t get me wrong, the protection instinct is natural. It’s the thing that kept us alive. But in a modern context knowing when you really do need to run from a bear Vs. managing your anxiety about a new adventure and not being talked out of it is key. Just recognise it and be aware of it. For the most part, it comes from a good place. You want my advice, love losing! It’s only a fail if you give up. So change your perspective, when I say love losing – I mean see each step that didn’t work, as one more thing that your learned along the way. It’s a process, knowing what doesn’t work, is getting you closer to the thing that does work.
Sounds easy, but in reality, it’s practice. Take risks, but don’t be reckless. You don’t need all the answers, you’ll work it out on the way. If you wait to have all the answers, it will never happen. But, be prepared to make changes along the way, go for it, take a leap of faith.
Here’s some of the things that work for me, lets see if you agree? –
Have a passion – be hungry. If you want to sustain your motivation you have to be passionate. You can’t do it because someone else wants you to. You have to do it for yourself. If you’re hungry you’ll get up early. You’ll put in a few extra hours after work, you’ll begin to live it rather than just talk about it. Small wins = big changes.
Take action and deliver on it. If it doesn’t work, try again and keep trying. If you hit an obstacle don’t quit, find a way around it. Don’t let your brain try and talk you out of it again, it will try. The value of your goal isn’t the goal, its what you become and the changes you make and the challenges you face to get there. Even if you never reach the final goal, the journey forces you to grow. It’s your passion that will get you through it. You’re doing it for you, no one else.
The harder you work the luckier you get, each road you take will lead you to something else a new idea, a new approach, opinion or technique that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered if you never started. Be open and prepared to make changes. Don’t follow the path everyone else has already walked, carve out your own and lead others through it.
When it gets tough – remember why you started. Fight back, your the star of your own show, not an extra on someone else’s! Have a GOAL, keep it in mind. You’re not there yet, but the things you are doing are moving you closer. Your not there yet, so what? Look at the progress you are making and know that what your doing is working.
Remember, the goals important, but what you become in order to achieve that goal is key. It’s about what you become along the way. Everything you own, your house, your car, your money or status can be taken or lost. You are not the car you drive, the phone you use or the street you live on, you’re you. Those skills and the habits last for a lifetime. A little pressure now, will pay dividends over and over gain in all walks of life.
So, here’s to starting!
Say Hi to your family, Tell them you love them…and for now it’s Goodnight JonBoi.