We all have to-do lists, project objectives, metrics and planners to help keep us on track in our daily lives. Each year we set high expectations and even with these tools we find ourselves frustrated because we don’t have the structure, systems, or accountability in place to achieve our goals. Couple that with doubt and indecision and you have a perfect recipe for anxiety. In the worst case this leads to action paralysis.
Let’s talk about the best case. Most people know what they need to do to be happy, effective and thrive just not how to do it or what to do with doubt and fear. We spend enough time telling ourselves how we are not equipped to succeed and armoring up against failure by being risk averse. We wallow proficiently on what it is we need to do but spend less time feeling what it would be like to actually live the dream and executing a plan to get there. Guarding against danger is how we have evolved as a species and not become extinct.
We are Jedis at searching the environment for danger. We are not innately good at promoting ourselves into opportunity. Opportunity isn’t essential to stay alive. Staying safe is. Let’s reverse the pattern.
The purpose of creating this list is: 1) to give you definition around the areas where you thrive so that you can spend more time there especially when challenged, and 2) to build self-awareness around opportunities for growth that increase your executive presence and effectiveness.
The best list you’ll ever make to be more effective
Create two columns, side by side, on a sheet of paper numbered one to 10. A word document is good for this exercise so that you may modify it as time goes on.
FIRST COLUMN: Label this “I AM THIS”
- Think of a time from your childhood when you were at your very best – happy, included, a star. Write down 3 words that describe who you were in that situation. What were you doing, thinking and feeling and how were you behaving? Examples: Listening, Planning, Being Vulnerable, Compassionate, Gentle, Strong, Tenacious, Resourceful, Confident, Capable, Open.
- Think of a time professionally when you were at your very best and write down 3 words that describe what you were doing, thinking and feeling and how you were behaving.
- Think of a peak personal moment where you felt appreciated, respected, effective and write down 4 more words that describe who you were in that situation.
SECOND COLUMN: Label this “NOT THAT”
- Next to each entry in Column 1 write what you are doing when you are NOT at your best specific to the corresponding behavior beside it. This should reflect what you exhibit or the feel when you are NOT leading from that point of strength. If your point of strength is ‘Tenacious’ what are you doing when you don’t feel that? Weak? Ineffective? Examples for NOT THAT words are: Threatened, Criticized, Afraid of ____, Distracted, Losing Control, Abandoned, Disappointed, Challenged.
The list on the left is who you truly are at your core. This list on the right is what happens to you when you don’t feel that way. Knowledge is power so be honest when you create the list. Now when you feel one of the negative feelings or exhibit one of the negative behaviors from the second column revisit the first column to see precisely what you need to focus on to get back to a position of strength. For more career strategies get the FREE report: 31 Success Practices for Leaders in the High Stakes Corporate World. https://www.maryleegannon.com/
Challenging situations occur in everyone’s lives that often impart feelings of despair. Fear can set in followed by repeated defensive behaviors that draw you away from your ability to thrive in your career, goals and relationships with confidence. Post this list where will you will see it every day to remind yourself of where your strengths lie and what to focus on when negative feelings or behaviors surface.
Next time you are feeling anxious look at this list and the correlating positive word that is at your core. That is the very thing you want to reflect on, meditate on, create a plan around. Now you have an actionable strategy to reverse the negativity!