Maybe it’s the heightened anxiety of the times we are living in, but the theme of the last month has been talking clients out of the tree – helping them restore centered calm as they explore next career steps, engage in active job searches, and build their dreams into reality.
I am a born worrier. (It’s a sign of a very active imagination!) I can think of the most infinitesimal possibility and reach to the stratosphere to grab it and pull it through space into my reality as a spoken fear or a temporary hysteria. Truly, if there were such a thing, I’d win the gold in the Catastrophic Thinking Olympics.
How is that possible when I’m known for championing the reduction of thought pollution and helping people see their way to the “land of positive outcomes.” Circumstances wired me that way, and the habit is a well-worn path in my brain. It took years to tame it, but these days, more times than not, I can have the worry, see the imagined negative outcome, and move on pretty quickly.
My worry-basher of choice is one I learned from the man who trained me to become one of the first credentialed coaches in the US – Thomas Leonard. The powerful distinction that disintegrates the worry is this:
FACT vs. INTERPRETATION
What is a fact, and what is the meaning we attach to the fact? Separating the two calms the reptilian brain that otherwise desperately tries to feed on your calm and sabotage your efforts.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t some very real things to be concerned about, whether it is our political climate or the prospect of leaving a good job to have a go at your own business.
However, worry does not cause forward motion and solution. It does just the opposite.
A few people I’ve been coaching over the last few weeks have been making great progress on job searches, building new businesses and even securing a book deal. However, success, instead of building confidence, unleashed anxiety and worry.
One scenario, for example: the client landed a contract with a major publisher for her memoir she had been struggling to write for years. Instead of celebrating the win, she became imagining that having the book published would lead to wild success that would ruin her life.
Let’s look at the facts:
1. She finally got what she’s wanted for so long.
2. There is a deadline to finish that book.
THAT’s it. Those are the FACTS. The rest is projection into a future that is not here yet.
Surely, there are certain facts that have proven outcomes (favorable or not), but for the most part, the art of worry is imagination run amuck.
For our writer, focusing ONLY on the facts is allowing her to buckle down and finish her manuscript. There is no guarantee the book will be a bestseller that would change her day-to-day life. There is no evidence she’ll fail, either. The antidote to worry is to be where you are in THIS moment. In the “now,” not in the “then.”
If you’re running the worry track in your brain, STOP. Ask yourself what the FACTS are. The worry is only serving to keep you stuck, paralyzed, or overwhelmed.
How do I it? I let myself think the outrageous thought, imagine what I’d do if that crazy thing happened, and then I let it go.
It is said that worriers are good to have around. They think of the worst case scenario, come up with a plan, and they are ready if the worst happens. The key is to prepare for the worst, but PLAN for the best! Don’t invest in the worry!
Feeling unmotivated or unsure of why you’re here? You may need to get out of your own “personal bubble” to find your answer.
At Now What?® we know that your purpose is bigger than you; it needs to serve others.
Read on for some ideas on how to move beyond the personal and into a larger purpose.
In her Ted Talk, writer Elizabeth Gilbert helps us to see that creativity and suffering do not have to be inherently linked and artistry does not have to lead to anguish. Let’s encourage our creative minds to live so we can keep doing the work we love.
What might your creative genius have in store for you?
Your Elusive Creative Genius – Elizabeth Gilbert
I’m on my way home from my second annual meet up with The Super Power Sisterhood, my mastermind group of fabulous women ranging in age from 40’s-70’s.
We’re all pros in the same profession coming together for fun and focused work on each of us.
The lessons learned there, I’m putting forth to you as the holiday season and year-end is upon us. Reflection happens. Some thoughts on wants and goals come forth. ‘Tis the season for renewal.
Why go it alone? The more the merrier.
Form a group to support your career transition (or whatever you are up to):
Who are your ideal members?
What do you want to have in common and what differences do you want?
My group has a common industry but different ages and strengths.
A career transition group would benefit from different industries, for example.
Create the Structure:
How often will you meet?
We meet once a year in person and several times by phone year round.
What will happen when you are together?
When live, we give each person 90 mins. on the “hot seat” getting everyone’s attention and resources.
Establish Ground Rules:
What do you require of your group?
What are your rules about attendance?
What are your expectations for support and behavior?
Our group established that showing up and attendance is critical to staying in the group. Short of family emergencies or health issues, we expect attendance.
We put forth Commitment, Connection, and Communication as guiding principles for our group
My colleagues and I are coaches so we are good at listening, not talking over each other, and we ask a lot of questions and don’t give flat out advice.
I highly recommend that, at the very least, you avoid telling people what they “should” do. Make suggestions, offer resources and ideas but watch out for the very word “should.” It usually reveals your own agenda more than what’s good for another. And few of us hear “should” and get excited about whatever comes behind it.
Be Clear About Outcomes:
There’s no point in forming a group if you don’t get what you want out of it.
What do you want? Ideas? Connections? Guidance? Weekly check-ins? Accountability?
For us, there is renewal, clarity, focus, next steps and the surge of energy that comes from knowing you’re not alone.
Follow these guidelines and get going. The more the merrier!
P. S. The Super Power Sisterhood includes a lot of chocolate. I’m not mandating that for your group, but it couldn’t hurt.
Big career changes are traditionally served with a side of FEAR. A big, whopping, overflowing dish of terror might be accurate too. Can you do your best thinking and make clear choices while feasting on fear? NO!
In a flight or fight state, pumped up on adrenaline, our actions can be super powered in bursts, but a long inhabiting of the adrenalized state will interfere with memory and learning powers.1
One condition I have for working with a client who is figuring out next career steps is that they cannot be in a rush or panicked about their situation. Years of experience have taught me that although fear is an appropriate response when life hands you a curveball or you’re going through a difficult time, the exploration that will yield the most satisfying choice of work, does not come from extreme emotional conditions.
Effective career and self-exploration just isn’t possible in a flight or fight state.
Sidney worked in the food and beverage industry and was growing increasingly stressed and unhappy with her work. She liked her industry but not the demands of her particular job. She was being proactive by beginning to explore a career change, but her stress was so high that she had no bandwidth to make much progress. As panic grew, the process stopped being effective. It was like asking a person who can’t swim to calm down while she’s drowning.
What do you do if this sounds like you?
Change your order — If instant answers are the only thing that will satisfy your hunger for results, know that they are not likely to be long-lasting or fulfilling. Choose to make a healthy decision instead of jumping into instant satiation.
Dine instead of feast — With the intention of enjoying every course and savoring the experience, you’ll have a very different experience than a feast where the emphasis is on quantity and variety. Take your time. Chew carefully and slowly. If circumstances make it hard to do this, then create two plans: one that will hold you over and one that offers a longer term solution.
Keep temptation at bay — It’s so easy to weaken and let fear tempt you into letting yourself down. Keep fighting to uncover the truest answers that lie deep within you. If logic brings up fear and ceases all action, beware. Pause and decide again if what’s coming from this fearful place is the best choice.
This is a tall order, but it’s do-able. If you need support keeping fear off the menu, let us know. We can help get you ready to make a big change that will be healthy and fulfilling long-term.
1 Matthew Joseph Sharps, Processing Under Pressure: Stress, Memory, and Decision-making in Law