Sometimes, designing our life and work to be more fulfilling and fun is a challenge. Often, though, the biggest challenge we face is ourselves.
First off, we (all of us!) talk a lot about “getting what we want” and “having it all.” Think about that language for a second. (Hint: It’s passive.)
Designing is an active process. And it requires us to show up.
I experienced this recently while taking on a search for a new home. We wanted it to happen in a short timeframe. It’s not exactly a “buyer’s market” in Portland. We wanted seemingly opposing features. Inventory is low.
The first step in “getting what you want” is a willingness to step up and create it.
I was optimistic. I know from experience that there is a lot we can do to influence the experience we’re having — and the results we’re getting.
I like these four strategies for a start (and put them all to work):
The clarity factor. Far and away the most difficult part of creating more of what you want is to be really clear on what this is. It sounds like a no-brainer. And yet, it’s not. I find that few people are all that clear on what they want– and more importantly, why they want it. “I don’t know.” is not an acceptable answer here. Neither is “it doesn’t matter” or any other avoidant answer.
The truth is that there is a part of you that does know, and making friends with that piece of you and really listening to what she has to say — that’s the work that will pay off big.
Instead of “I don’t know,” you might ask what you are sure about.
Instead of “it doesn’t matter,” you might ask what does matter most.
Instead of vagueness, you might ask yourself to get more specific.
Instead of setting the bare minimum, you might ask what would be perfect.
The flexible big picture. One of the biggest stumbling blocks in actively creating what you want is not noticing when it’s right in front of you, knocking on your door. It’s easy to become so narrow-focused and attached to details working out in a specific way that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Sometimes, it’s the very attachment to those details that prevents us from seeing that what we are trying to create is unfolding right in front of us.
Do you want that promotion, or do you want meaningful work that challenges you and provides a leadership opportunity?
Do you want to start your own business, or do you want to be home to support your family while contributing to the bottom line?
Do you want a home on that street, or do you want a nurturing environment that feels like home and is close to work?
The tsunami of positivity. Recently, I mentioned “the tsunami of positivity” as one of my strategies for finding our new home, and was asked to elaborate. Positive thinking and optimism may get cross-eyed looks from some quarters, but there is plenty of research to support its effectiveness.
Really, though, it boils down to something much simpler than all the research: you can choose a thought that will empower you to move forward, or choose one that feels defeating and will hold you back. Fine-tuning (and bringing others on board) may take practice, but it’s your choice (and mine).
Instead of expecting the worst, what if you expected the best?
Instead of complaining to friends, what if you asked them to support your vision of everything working out for the best?
Instead of paying attention to those who will tell you why not, what if you focused on the success stories?
Instead of getting bogged down in negativity, what if you choose to believe in (and commit to) your creation?
The five-minute momentum. While it might feel good to blow off steam, complaining doesn’t actually accomplish anything productive. From a philosophical perspective, one of the quickest antidotes to anxiety and stress is to take positive action. From a purely practical perspective, five minutes is plenty of time to take a step forward. And steps add up.
Five minutes of brainstorming with a friend, colleague or coach can go much further than five minutes of complaining about the problem.
In five minutes of groaning about the ever-growing to-do list, you might have knocked off (or delegated) a simple task.
Five minutes of chopping up vegetables or blending a smoothie just made it easier to nourish your body.
Five minutes of meditation can help re-set your focus.
Five minutes of doing anything consistently builds a habit, starts a project, creates forward movement (and helped us find a new home).
Which strategy will you put to work? I’d love to hear about it.
photo credit: Create With Us via photopin