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Entries in willpower (14)


Strength Training For The Ringmaster

We frequently hear the phrase, "I just find myself jumping from one ring to another, rarely getting anything done well." While our work or life situation may encourage that behavior, we ultimately have to exercise more self-control to combat this ineffective habit.

USA Today recently had an article with some good tips about improving your self-control and willpower. Read the article and pick up some helpful ideas, including:

  • Find smart trade-offs
  • Reduce temptations
  • Reward yourself with feedback

Try practicing one or two of the strategies today and build up your mental muscle. The elephants aren't getting any smaller.


First vs. Important

While perusing the news a few days ago, I saw an article about Iowa's place in the political landscape. The author of the article (not me) made the comment that Iowa was important because it was first not first because it was important. Again, I am not about to wade into a conversation about the validity or lack of basis for his comment, but it did cause me to think about how many people approach the acts in their circus.

What if, before you took on your first task, you thought to yourself, "Am I tackling this because it is important or because it is first? Too often we take on something because it is first in our mind, first in our lineup or first in someone else's priorities. It may be the first thing that seems easy on our list or the first item that won't cause us to have to do something outside our comfort zone. Sometimes "first" and "important" may be synomous, but many times they are miles apart.

My hunch is that if we all spent more of our time on the important, we'd get more of the things done that would make our circus more successful.


Setting The Elephant Aside

While the idea of "juggling elephants" is an overwhelming thought, setting the elephant aside is not the answer to the problem either. When you attempt to put it out of sight, it either grows in size (in the case of a project at work), increases in urgency (like a task with a deadline) or, pardon the analogy, withers away (consider building or rebuilding a relationship). You recognized it as an elephant because it is "big" for you, so why would you not want to tackle it in some way.

The next time you are tempted to set your elephant aside, remind yourself of the consequences of doing so. As the old saying goes, the pain of discipline and commitment is measured in ounces. The pain of disappointment and regret is measured in tons.


Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

One of my all-time favorite books is Judith Viorst's book, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." It is a children's book but it has a wonderful message for adults as well. Alexander is a young man who very simply put, has a bad day. He has gum in his hair when he wakes up, he trips on his skateboard, he has a run in with his brothers, a dessertless lunch and a cavity at the dentist. As his day continues, he faces challenge after challenge. Because of his challenges, he resolves several times throughout the book to escape by moving to Australia.

Do you ever have days like that? Days where everything seems to go wrong and you just want to curl up in a ball, take a nap or run away to Australia? Life can be discouraging at times. You have challenges that can ruin your day, week, month or even your year. I often find comfort in the quote by Mary Anne Radmacher who said, Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

Don't give up. Push through it. Try again tomorrow! As Alexander's Mom wisely states at the end of the book, "Some days are like that. Even in Australia."


The Value of An Escort Service

Got your attention with that one, huh? While talking with a client the other day they commented about their long hours at work and how they weren't taking care of their "self ring." But then they said things had recently changed and they were enjoying being at home more and actually eating lunch. What made the difference to her? Being an escort. Let me explain.

She works in a secure building requiring smart cards and a security clearance. She recently added two interns to her staff and they don't yet have their security clearance. So... she has to walk with them to the cafeteria for lunch and then walk them out at the end of their day. This forces her to at least GO to lunch and then end her day at a more reasonable hour. She said she forgot the benefits of lunch and getting home earlier until the interns came along.

That got me to thinking. What could be the triggers we put in place to help remind us of the importance of taking an "intermission" or not overexerting ourself in relation to work hours? For me it could be recording my six year old's voice saying, "Daddy, when are you coming home?" on my phone and then making that the alarm tone when I set it. It could be moving a picture of my family to a more prominent place on my desk before taking on that "one last task" at work to remind me to not work late-especially when I promised my family I wouldn't. Maybe engage the help of a co worker, who could come by your desk as they leave and tell you something fun they plan to do that evening.

What are some things you can think of that would help bring things back into focus for you so that you don't find yourself in the Juggling Elephants routine again?