The rally cries of many professionals today: “I’m so busy”. Which when pressed they can often feign that they are happy and successful. Yet deep down the silent tape running in their head completes the sentence with “but I’m not getting what I want.”
First, you have to take the time to actually truly, I mean really truly, know what it is that you want. We can wave our hands and say we do, but do you, really? Busy-ness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re driving towards your goals.
Recently a client told me about her challenges of needing to become more visible in her workplace so she could move up into another, more expansive leadership position at the company where she really loved working. But as she explained not only was it a corporate objective but her own. However, the inflection around the word “leadership” felt laden with annoyance. When I enquired, she simply said, “I really don’t want more responsibility” with a big sigh. “Well then why are you seeking something you clearly have a negative response to and don’t want?” She laughed and admitted there was an internal conflict. “Do you think that’s why I am not getting the stuff I need to get done to achieve this goal?”
There’s 3 parts to this epiphany.
- You will never really drive, whole-heartedly, towards a goal that is in direct conflict with your hearts desire, ethics or belief system. That’s what’s called a “double bind”.
- You may engage on the surface to be considered “in the mix” but often times there is not enough positive emotion (heart) in it to take you to the goal line.
- Being “too busy” is often a smoke screen to avoid having to be fully engaged in the goal and/or project which would get you to the goal causing the conflict.
This is no different than the person who says they are going on a diet and only halfway commits to the program they select. Why? It could be they don’t feel safe in the world without the extra layer of protection. Or it could be something else that causes the conflict. The desire to move forward is nullified by the internal conflict causing a stalemate.
There are a few ways to overcome this self-imposed stalemate. How we communicate with ourselves is as important as how we communicate with others in the world.
- Identify It – Identify what the conflict may be. That would mean the place where you’re not making progress and may be feeling frustration.
- Reframe It – Those of you who know me, know this is an invaluable tool I use often. If, in this case, leadership means more responsibility you really don’t want, look to what is important and valuable to you. In this case, for this client, she loved teaching. I reminded her that a leader actually is someone who inspires others to do, be and have more than they currently do. Which can translate to teaching others (i.e her team or future teams) so they can do, be and have more at work and in their lives. She perked up! Now THAT made leadership a whole lot more enticing than thinking about paperwork and filling in time and attendance types of forms. Post this over your desk as a reminder. (Lisa hyperlink this to the graphic quotecovers image)
- Reprioritize it with the Reframe in Mind – If the goal is now real and important to you and conveyed in a manner that tickles your sense of fulfillment or exploration then you will make time for it in your schedule.
I am not an organizational genius. All you have to do is look at my desk to know that this is not my best quality. However, what I can tell you is that when we are focused on a goal that is palatable to us, then break down the tasks into columns that reflect the goal with a reminder of the reframe we are using, our brains DO reorganize what is important.
Get clear what you want and why. Meaning, I want X so I can have Y. That’s your anchor. If there is a conflict you now have tools to over ride that hindrance. Never forget that there are times we will be very busy, but if this is a constant state, busy-ness may be a smoke screen to cover something else one may be avoiding.