As I discussed in last week’s post, it’s helpful to make The Seven Choices whenever you have gotten off track and are mentally beating yourself up for not achieving every goal in your life perfectly. We set ridiculously high standards for ourselves, which is not entirely bad because these high standards motivate us to achieve more than we think we can, but they can also cause us to give up too soon, based on someone else’s definition of perfect. Worse yet, that definition can be completely fabricated by fear of success, fear of failure, fear of change, or any other perceived threat to our existence, even when we wish that existence were different. Our brains play some crazy tricks on us!
Fortunately, action changes the way our brain processes certain information. A temporary fear of heights can be overcome by locking safely into a harness and climbing the side of a mountain. A temporary fear of intimacy can be surmounted by sharing a painful secret with a trustworthy friend who listens, accepts, and continues to love us unconditionally. A temporary fear of change subsides when we take a class to learn more about the new procedure or tool we will be required to use. The fear might not go away forever, but it is all temporary—unless we choose otherwise.
Yes. I am asking you to choose success, however you define it. But please don’t define it by resignation and denial. If you haven’t completed an optional project that is important to you, let’s create an action plan that allows you to do so, whether before the end of the year or in 2019. Whichever arbitrary deadline you gave yourself is merely being given a “rain date”. It’s possible that you underestimated the amount of time, effort, or schedule coordination that would be required. Maybe you discovered you need more training, education, or practice. Perhaps you need a coach, a virtual assistant, or more support from your loved ones. Stay on PARR:
- Plan. Now that you have failed to achieve your desired result on the first try, you know at least a few things that don’t work. As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” You probably won’t need to actively seek 10,000 ways that won’t work. Start by identifying your top three obstacles and create a plan to work around them. For example, I wanted to complete a mini-triathlon in CA with three of my closest friends. I have at least three excuses for not doing that this year:
a) I was grieving my mother’s death (by eating mindlessly and drinking more alcohol than my normal one drink per week).
b) I didn’t know what my financial situation or schedule would be like in October, when the race was to occur.
c) My friends didn’t seem that committed to joining me.
These are all valid excuses—for someone who really doesn’t care too much when or if she completes this goal. But a woman who wants to log this achievement, there is an actionable response to each of them, and those responses don’t include what I did and know does not work: embrace them. In fact, I probably could have made my life a little better by exercising and eating like I was still training for the triathlon, regardless of whether I did or if anyone joined me.
- Act. I re-started my training on 12/26, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and I gave myself a lot of extra room for starts and stops. I know my schedule better than I sometimes pretend, even if it varies daily. I make time for what matters to me, and that occasionally includes a birthday or holiday with food and drink that aren’t on my training menu. Rather than commit to powering through with my will, I am giving myself a few extra weeks to reasonably enjoy the big events without complete abstinence. As for the other excuses, I can minimize the impact of life stresses by:
a) Allowing myself to grieve, but in more productive ways, such as journaling, reading, meditating, hiking, swimming, visiting a friend, etc.
b) Saving money and days off for the triathlon
c) Asking my friends to join me, honoring their responses, and completing the race regardless
- Revise. I’ve given myself a lot of room to adapt my program to my life, and I will revise the plan if I need to. If I miss a workout, the next best action is to start again with the one that follows. If I get sick and miss several, I might need to start over. That’s okay, too. I don’t need to do this on anyone’s schedule but my own, and I will remind myself that the people who I compare myself to don’t have my exact schedule, my life, my wants, or my needs. There are no points to lose if I revise my plan and no extra ones to gain by pushing myself to injury or exhaustion. This is my race.
- Repeat. I’ll keep planning, acting, revising, and repeating, until I complete this mini-triathlon, or decide it’s not that important to me. Even the process of training has its benefits.
Nance L. Schick, Esq. is a New York City attorney and mediator who focuses on keeping people out of court and building their conflict resolution skills, especially in business and employment disputes. Her holistic, integrative approach to conflict resolution draws from her experience as a crime victim, human resources supervisor, minor league sports agent, and United Nations representative. She is a 2001 graduate of the State University of New York Buffalo Law School trained in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and International Center for Ethno-Religious Mediation (ICERM). She is also creator of the Third Ear Conflict Resolution process, author of DIY Conflict Resolution: Seven Choices and Five Actions of a Master, and an award-winning entrepreneur, who has been acknowledged by Super Lawyers (ADR, 2018), the New York Economic Development Corporation/B-Labs (Finalist, Best for NYC 2015 & 2016), U.S. Chamber of Commerce (2015 Blue Ribbon Small Business), Enterprising Women Magazine (Honorable Mention, 2014 Woman of the Year awards), and Urban Rebound NY/Count Me In (Finalist, 2013 Pitch Competition).