August 30, 2012
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If you are hunting for a new job, you probably already know that the work involved in doing this can take over your entire life. You can spend hours online researching companies and developing new contacts. It can take a half a day for 1 interview. And getting the paperwork you need ready for each meeting can also consume many hours.
If you have been searching for several weeks, you already know how draining all this can be. Finding balance in your life and maintaining your motivation can be very difficult. Here are 2 things you can do to help keep yourself on track:
1. Every day do something you can do well or easily. I call these mastery tasks. These can be routine tasks like food shopping, banking, cleaning or mowing the lawn. Doing this as a break from your job hunting will help recharge you and give you a feeling that you can do some things well.
2. Every day do something that brings you pleasure. Taking time to read something inspiring, going for a walk, exercising, and eating a favorite food can also help recharge your energy and give you a break from your work. You may feel guilty about doing this, but I recommend doing it no matter how guilty you feel. All work and no play is not healthy.
I don’t think anyone is really cut out for the work that job hunting requires. So make sure you take care of yourself and maintain a good balance of work and relaxation throughout your search. This will help you be at your best when you meet potential employers.
August 23, 2012
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In my last post I talked about the importance of making small changes in our lives and how these can be more effective than trying to make big changes. It is often easier to start and maintain small changes over time, as every change requires focus and energy.
Today I want to introduce the idea of micro commitments.
Micro commitments are time- and situation-limited commitments we make to ourselves to help build up our ability to make and stick to them. They help us build our commitment muscles.
An example would be choosing to focus on doing something unpleasant for 15 minutes, rather than saying that you will wait until you feel more inspired. You make the commitment for a limited time and situation and when you keep this commitment, you start to build up your ability to keep larger commitments.
The power of micro commitments is that we can use them in situations where we don’t have the time or the energy for larger changes, but we want to start making changes. We can make them for an hour, a day or for a single situation. And each time we succeed we build up our ability to make and keep larger commitments.
I use micro commitments every day to help me manage the tasks that I would otherwise put off. It’s better to do something small to move you toward your goal than it is to either put off doing something or beat yourself up because you didn’t do something positive. Try it for yourself. Start with small tasks and gradually build toward larger ones and watch your commitment muscles grow!
August 22, 2012
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We all have things in our lives that we would like to change. Perhaps we’re not eating right or getting enough exercise. Or we are working too many hours and not getting enough rest. We know we need to make changes. And every now and then we get inspired and try to overhaul our entire life. And for a few days we feel really motivated. And then we skip a day. Then 2 days. A week goes by and we don’t keep up our new routine. And now we feel even more depressed because we couldn’t maintain our new routine.
When we do this, we set ourselves up to fail. Major life changes require an intense focus and lots of energy – two things we often don’t have when we want to make a change. If we do this often enough we will come to believe that we can’t change.
There is a better way. We can make small changes that can grow into big changes.
Rather than trying to change your entire diet, pick 1 or 2 small changes and keep them up for 30 days. For example, eat 1 less snack per day, or eat only healthy snacks between meals. Drink water instead of soda. Go for a walk 3 times a week instead of making yourself do it every day. Go to bed 1 hour earlier 3 times a week. Notice how these changes make you feel. If they make you feel more positive about yourself and your life, keep them up. If they are not helping to motivate you, try something new. Keep going until you find something that you look forward to doing, so that you will keep at it.
When you find the right combination, you will feel better about yourself and your life – and you may also find that other parts of your life start to work better. This is the bonus that comes with making small changes and maintaining them over time.
For more inspiration, check out Doug Grady’s book, The Ripple Effect. It’s Doug’s story of how 1 small change led to bigger, positive changes in his life. It’s available on Amazon at the link below.
August 9, 2012
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Which is worse – the fear of failing or actually failing?
All of us have things that we won’t attempt to do since we believe we will fail when we try. We’re not interested in finding out if we are right about them or not. We’ve decided that whatever it is, it’s not worth attempting – the potential cost of failure is too high.
Note that it’s the fear of failure and not failure itself that keeps us from trying. We don’t actually know if we would fail, and fear keeps us from finding out if we are right or not.
I’m not in favor of failure, either. It’s no fun, it can be painful, and the memories can last a lifetime. But I am very much in favor of failure when it is the result of thoughtful planning and a sincere effort to achieve something. (More players lose at the Olympics than win.) Failure is a form of feedback, a form of learning. For example, when children fall off their bikes while they are learning to ride, they get feedback, and they can learn that they need to sit or balance in a different way. Then they can try again. When we try to solve a problem and the method we choose fails, we get feedback, and we can learn to adjust our approach.
Personally, I would rather deal with failure than fear. I can’t fight fear. It’s like a ghost that appears and taunts us, but when we try to suppress it, it vanishes only to appear later. Failure, on the other hand, is often concrete. We fall and hurt ourselves trying to climb a tree. We get a D and learn that being good at math requires far more work than we thought. We lose a job due to our lack of judgement, spend money on plans that fall through, and say or do things that drive people away from us. We can correct these mistakes, which failure has made clear. But we can’t remove the fear that colors our anticipation of failure.
So for me, failure beats fear. I can learn from my mistakes, but I’ll never grow from the mistakes I’m afraid to make.