Monday, February 22, 2010
We lead very busy lives and are quite skilled, for the most part, at dealing with a never-ending stream of deadlines. But every once in a while I get overwhelmed (God forbid!) with all the projects I am enjoying but have looming deadlines. This post recognizes some of the symptoms of being overwhelmed. But more importantly, recently I had a huge realization that really helped me see the cause of this overwhelm, thereby providing the solution for it.
Some of the symptoms when I feel overwhelmed are:
Frozen: In moments like this I feel like I can't move, "frozen" is a good metaphor I recently heard someone use to describe this state.
Distracted: Another symptom of being pulled in different directions is that I loose focus completely and start flitting from one unnecessary task to another and not doing any of the tasks I should be attending to.
Emotional distress: All kinds of emotional reactions such as anxiety and stress can result from being pulled in different directions. For the most part I go into “no motion” mode but I have seen others around me get pretty stressed.
Physiological symptoms: Again, this doesn’t really apply to me, but some physiological symptoms include headaches and loss of sleep. I am tempted to blame any weight gain to this. However, I think weight gain may be more due to the next point.
Overeating and other negative consumption behaviors: Very often when I am working to meet several deadlines, food is the only entertainment I can have without stopping to work. So dark chocolate. Yes that’s an addiction. But I think it is a good one because it has anti oxidants and I am learning to make my own chocolate with raw cacao etc. But that’s another story. I am sure others may fall back on other addictions during times of stress.
The BIG Insight that may be your solution to dealing with Overwhelm
Ok here goes. Ready? This is really cool.
Recently I started several projects at the same time along with many deadlines. Result I am “frozen.” So I am in the kitchen cooking (that helps me distress and nurturing my family is a priority) when I realized I am feeling stuck and overwhelmed, not because, I have multiple deadlines but because, I was putting priority on the wrong things. Let me explain this a little more because it is a very important point. Lets say I have external deadlines for tasks A and B and C is important but is a self imposed deadline, so more flexibility there. Because I had external deadlines for A and B, I was focusing on those but not feeling like working on either. Don’t get me wrong, these are things I love and very close to my heart, so its not like I was undertaking tasks I don’t want to in the first place. When I realized that I was not moving forward on any of the tasks because the order was wrong, I felt so much relief and the next time I was at work I started with task C and found I was moving forward with such focus and speed, completely shifted the frozen energy.
Here is a summary of the guidelines based on the realization that can set you free from ever feeling overwhelmed again
1) Listen to your body wisdom. If your body is hesitating in the direction of the tasks you are currently working on, there may be a good reason for that. If you feel overwhelmed or stuck, pay attention to the tasks you are focusing on and if there is something else you should be attending to. You will Know when you are working on the “right” task because work will flow easier, despite the many deadlines.
2) About multiple deadlines. So you know what is the right task now to attend to, but the mind is still playing its games and every now and then it will creep up to remind you about all the other deadlines you have. At that point remind your mind this, after taking long deep breaths:
• There is only one of you
• There is only this moment, here and now
• The one you is doing the best it can in the here and now.
• Nothing more can be done.
• So why worry?
No really, nothing more can be done in this moment, more than you already are. This is a logical and biological fact of life. Why do we create resistance and stress about something that is so obvious: you only have this moment and you can only do what you can do in this moment. If something else didn’t get done because you were working on what’s more important in the moment, then there really isn’t anything you could have done anyway. The stress will probably slow you down further.
Of course, you can learn from the past and choose differently in the future. Maybe be more careful when undertaking projects, etc. But what I am talking about is cases where we can finish the multiple projects within the allocated time, but we don’t because we are focusing on work that is not a priority at the time. This creates resistance within and you slow down or loose focus. But these are all signs that you are NOT doing what you should be doing.
Next time, when you feel stressed about multi tasking, ask yourself: Am I doing what I should be doing right now? When you find out what it is you should be focusing on, you will be surprised how easily work flows from that place. So listen to yourself very carefully. This insight can help you move in life with more ease and get more done.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
In our last iAM Woman in Business Circle Meeting someone asked a very good question in the context of what we should be sharing through the social media channels: In addition to products my customers are buying I have expertise in other areas. Should I keep that separate from information about products my customers are buying?
In other words, should we be sharing information only that is related to our work when we are building our brand using social media channels?
My advice is to let people know you as a multidimensional person. It is good to speak about things you are passionate about so people know who you are as a human being, as long as it is consistent with who you are and what you want to convey to people. E.g. I am a mindful marketer and I speak about the mindful use of social media and marketing. But I also speak about mindful eating and other aspects of mindfulness, I also speak to causes and events I am passionate about, I speak to movies and books that move me - and the idea is to share my insights and my being with people so we can connect at a deeper level than just a superficial understanding of what I do.
Another question that often comes up is whether the channels we use for personal relationships should only include personal content and not professional content. Facebook, which can be used for personal and professional reasons is a good example of this. Of course the answer to this may vary from person to person. My response is to do what feels most authentic to you. To me sharing who I am in all dimensions, spiritual, professional, relational, and intellectual, comes very easily. This is who I am. And I have ended up having very deep conversations in my personal circles around my work. Such dialogs would never have taken place if I didn't share myself fully. I have also built clientele from sharing myself in authentic ways in personal channels, which have led to professional relationships. But don't use this as a rule of thumb, based on different situations and people, you make choose differently. Just remain open to different ways of being and communicating.
A related point is sharing different facets of yourself consistently. I often receive emails from random people to attend their events and I am like "why?" And these are very well crafted professional emails. But I knew nothing about them before and after the email other than what they do. Why should I want to attend their event when I have so many other choices to spend my time and money. On the other hand, if this person was already in my radar because of the cool things they have been sharing about themselves, because of their cool insights, or humor or whatever it is that makes them unique, then I am more likely to pay attention to what they are offering. It is useful to stay in touch with people on a consistent basis. Express your uniqueness. It is about building your relationship slowly so that when you do have an event people will listen and then if they have a need they will respond, but atleast they will listen. Mostly, everyone is so busy that they will not even notice if you try to reach them once in a while only for your event.
To summarize, be authentic in sharing your multidimensionality and be consistent in your communications.
What do you think?
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Some of the things discussed in this regard:
1) To know you are not alone in having these thoughts - even those big, better business people have these thoughts, makes us realize that we are all human and we are not alone in our fears. Once we recognize our fears, what can we do about them?
2) Connect with your purpose - you are unique and there is no one like you. If you are following your highest purpose and doing your best, life will support you - that is a natural law of life.
3) Instead of shying away from competition, learn what they are doing that you can adopt and ensure that you have a unique positioning, in terms of your service or expertise (I will discuss this next in another post on personal branding).
4) Explore further, what is it in you that you are really fearing here? Strong emotions are a signal that there is more to what we are experiencing that what we see at the surface. Read my Blog posting on hidden beliefs:
Ways to identify hidden beliefs
5) Tapping into hidden beliefs through creating distance from yourself - becoming the observer of yourself. You can can do mindful meditation - silent, non judgmental observation of what you are feeling and that in itself will surface issues and dissolve the issues because you are now the observer and not caught in the drama.
6) If you have trouble with mindful observation, try visualization. Sit comfortably with eyes closed softly, your palms open on your thighs. Breathe deeply as you settle in. Go into your happy place, and snuggle in your favorite blanket, with every breath in you are becoming more comfortable and every exhale you are releasing any stress. When you feel ready, you turn on your inner movie channel and watch your favorite movie that is starring you. Notice what you as the main star of the movie are doing, how do you go about the day, notice how the star is feeling....notice any challenges that she is faces....from that place of quiet distance, what advice would you give to her...take a few deep breaths, end the movie in whatever way feels complete to you and open your eyes when you feel ready.
I have found this visualization quite helpful in creating a distance and watching myself go through stuff that I cannot see when I am caught in it. Many people who tried this exercise have also confirmed that this really works in bringing awareness to blocks they were not able to identify earlier and other insights about issues hidden at a conscious level.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
You mission statement needs to be authentic and yes truthful, but truthful to the vision you have for the future - so what you are saying is not maybe happening today but it is what your purpose is and your activities and energy are directed towards meeting that vision. So, it does include your over all purpose, some idea of how you are going to achieve that, and what is unique about.
I do not believe there is one format for all organizations - profit and non profit. Each organization needs to communicate its authentic voice in how many ever words they choose, as long as it is meaningful and clearly communicates what difference you are making to this world in your unique way. For example, if you look at 350.org's mission, they have a video and then a text version which runs pretty long, but it conveys what they are about - some of it through the words they use and also using a video shows they are innovative in their approach - so some of what gets conveyed is through other symbols, images, and other ways of communication.
Check out 350.org's Mission
Women's Fund of western Ma defines their mission and then states their vision and how they are going to get there:
Check out Mission of Women's Fund
And then Bioneers has a full page to describe their Mission and point to how they intend to reach their goals.
Check out Bioneer's Mission
I think it is important to communicate your authentic story, what is your vision, and how you as a unique individual/organization will work towards that vision - say it your own way - get ideas how others do it, but it has to be your voice and your own way of communicating as long as it clearly highlights your purpose, unique qualities, and how you will get there. It should be written keeping the long term in mind, but this is not to say you can never change it. Especially, when we are starting out new, we may start at one place but as we start talking to people and studying the environment, we may find there is a greater need for another related area and that may become your mission or at least contribute to the mission.
Think long term
Share your unique strengths
And share how you make a difference
Can also refer to the article translating inner purpose into an authentic mission statement and that exercise will also help to identify key words that are important to you and should come through in your mission statement.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
But I do not need to change...
There are many reasons for not noticing the opportunities and threats that changes bring. We often speak about people who stand out as being very lucky for being at the right place, at the right time. What if it is not luck at play here. What if you too are given the same opportunities, except, you do not notice them. What is it in us that stops us from noticing these windows of opportunities that open for us from time to time but we fail to look out? One legit reason is that we are all very busy. People would argue that when it is so hard to keep up with everything on our plate already, there is no place for more, so we do not even look. The other factor is complacency. When we get set in systems and thinking patterns, especially if they have worked for us in the past, we will be less likely to explore new possibilities. There may be many other reasons for resistance to change but the one I would like to focus on pertains to hidden variables creating a silent resistance to change.
95% of your behaviors is driven by the subconscious mind
According to Dr. Bruce Lipton and many other scientists, up to 95% of our actions are determined by our subconscious mind. This suggests that many of the reasons inhibiting us from growing into our highest potential are also hidden. For example, I may have a resistance to technology, which is intimidating to many women. Underlying this resistance may be another belief that I am not competent in areas related to technology. And on the surface what the conscious mind portrays to the world is a vehement dislike for the technology under consideration because of carefully constructed reasons that have nothing to do with the hidden beliefs. So I may say that I do not want to use Facebook because it will invade my privacy. That is a perfectly legitimate reason. Mind you, there may be many ways that I can use Facebook while protecting my privacy, but I do not know that because I have not systematically examined Facebook because it is not privacy but my own hidden fears that are driving my dislike for Facebook
If they are hidden, how do I identify my limiting beliefs?
Strong and Immediate Reactions
One way to notice that you may have a hidden belief operating under the facade of logical reasoning is being cognizant of extreme emotion when being asked about something related to that belief. If you have a strong reaction and especially if it is immediate, there is certainly a hidden agenda operating here.
For example, if you are a person afraid of technology, lets say, and if a friend suggests that you join Facebook (assuming that you are not on it yet), and you immediately say no, without even thinking through, most likely you are being driven by hidden beliefs that you may have related to Facebook. Think of something that is not driven by hidden beliefs and you will notice that you do not have a strong and immediate reaction. For example, if someone asked you to join a book club, you may disagree but notice the difference in how you feel inside when you respond. Assuming there are no hidden fears related to book clubs, you are likely to evaluate the situation rationally and then make a decision. Certainly, in situations involving hidden beliefs there are stronger emotions and less rational evaluation of the situation. Your feelings and any strong sensations in your body are a clue that there may be some hidden beliefs pulling your strings.
Elaborating your conscious limitations
Very often underlying a conscious limitation is a subconscious belief. So examining a conscious belief deeper will reveal the hidden beliefs. For example, take a limitation that you are aware of. For example, you may say, “I am not good with technology.” Further investigation into this statement may reveal other fears driving this apparent resistance. So journaling about limitations will bring to light the hidden issues. So you may want to elaborate with further questions such as:
• What specific aspects of technology do I not like about technology?
• Why do I not like technology?
• What do I have to lose if I fail in technology?
Write down your answer for each question, stay with your answer, and then honestly ask yourself if that is so. When you ask yourself if that is the truth, allow yourself to see the truth in the situation. When you investigate deeper, you may find that it is not technology that you fear but a belief you carry that you are not smart enough or that you can never be a savvy business person, etc.
Why have I not been able to achieve my goals?
Another way to tap into hidden beliefs is making a list of reasons for not reaching your goals. Just jot down every thought that comes into your mind about not reaching your goals. Do not think too hard. Just allow all thoughts, even random thoughts to come up. You can slash them out later if they don’t feel right, but if any thought does come up, put it down.
Other resources on Resistance to Change