Updated: Dec 4, 2018
Many of us have a tendency to keep our head down and grind things out, perhaps driven by our values of productivity and accomplishment, or by habit or training. Discipline is seen as a core competency to build early in our careers. Current buzzwords include “resilience” and “grit.” If we don’t stay focused and committed when we’re working on deadline we may be looking for another job.
But how do we know when this ‘head down, grind it out’ approach starts to get in our way?
Recently I found my energy lagging, my thinking linear, my body tight and my accomplishments stalled. I wasn’t burned out but there was dissonance. I had my to-do list but my enthusiasm to take on significant tasks wasn’t there. I needed to take charge and not fall back on my tendency to ‘push through’, albeit not at my best. I had to take a pause to recover my focus and energy.
What I hear from my clients is: “I just need to make it to the end of this…” take your pick: project, quarter, reorg. It sounds good, but it’s not convincing. One urgent project is replaced by the next, or there’s a sudden pull towards a family or health issue, and the cycle of ‘keeping at it, grinding it out’- continues.
Take a moment to reflect what it’s like for you when your mind and body are signaling that it’s time to take a pause and change things up?
Is your creative work taking longer than it should, or are you blocked creatively?
Are you avoiding big projects in your work and your life?
Are you spending more time shopping online or on social media?
Are you distracting yourself more than usual tidying up your home or your inbox?
Is your mood less positive?
Is there miscommunication at work or in life?
Are you more critical or judgmental of yourself or others?
Are your relationships tied up in knots?
If so, these may be signs you’ve ended up in a Cul de Sac, with diminishing returns.
In which case, it’s time to change things up.
First, give yourself permission. Without permission there will be no healthy, intentional detour.
Once you’ve opened up the space, let your mind wander, breath and get down to planning.
Here’s some inspiration based on the experiences of my clients:
Open space on your schedule to be spontaneous
Set time aside to be with friends in creative ways
Carve out alone time or more time for rest, exercise or meditation
Connect to your values, ask yourself which values you need to be living more
Accept an invitation you may typically pass over
Take command of your calendar so your most creative hours are spent creatively i.e. thinking, writing or designing vs being in meetings
Say no to something or someone that doesn’t enhance your life
Do something you’ve never done before
Take a different route on your regular commute, say your walk to or from the station
Try somewhere new for coffee or lunch and be mindful as you taste
What emerged from this exercise for me was a ‘Marianne day’, which connected me to some of my core values of fitness, friendship, beauty, creativity and learning. No surprise, I’m reinvigorated. My energy is good, ideas are buzzing, my confidence has taken a boost, my outlook is more positive.
If you’re someone who tends to keep your head down it may be time to change things up and move forward from a new perspective. Consider making one shift--what will it be?
If you get stuck, contact me to set up a ‘changing things up’ coaching session!