There are only so many tomorrows

Procastination

I am a victim of procrastination and I do it often. In fact, there are small things which I put off attending, only to realize I should have completed them on time.

During my school and college days, I would put off studying subjects that were boring. A week before the exams I would open my books just to realize that I should have studied them earlier. I would then get stressed up, as fear of failure would loom large for me.

This would sound funny to you. But writing this post on procrastination was on my list for a long time now. Each time I would look at it and put it off. Today, I was reading the negative impacts of procrastination and decided I had to start with my post.

What is Procrastination?

In plain and simple language it is an act of delaying or postponing a task, or maybe a set of task. All of us do this in time and some of us are active procrastinators.

Why do we procrastinate?

Behavioral psychology review suggest something called “Time Inconsistency”

There is a tendency to search and act for immediate benefits of our action and postpone those that would give results at a future date.

While we were in our 20’s and 30’s, our parents advised us to save money for the future. While the reason for this is clear, none would have attempted to put away some extra cash for the rainy day. We procrastinate and take action only when we know that the period to save cash for later life is reducing gradually.

Your immediate need has been a smartphone, a jazzy car which you would have fancied for a long time. The positive impact of buying all these goodies is now, whereas the positive impact of saving will only happen, close to retirement. So you never think too much and procrastinate about buying these items.

Most of us would have come up with a list of goals for 2018. Being an active procrastinator, I went to bed on the night of 31st Dec feeling all motivated to pursue my goals. But next day morning, motivation had disappeared as a closer look at the 2018 goals had none immediate rewards. They were goals which when pursued would show rewards towards the end of the year or a few months later. For example, going to the Gym.It would not show result immediately in the next month or so. Have to wait.

Fear of unknown.

One of the basic reasons for procrastination is also the fear of the unknown.I would not be tempted to take up a task if there is no surety of the results or if it is found difficult. I would keep postponing it until such time, no alternative exists.

This morning I was trying to motivate myself to work on a project that was on my to-do list for a long time now. It is a difficult marketing project and has never worked on anything similar before. But it needs to be done as it has larger benefits for my business. With great hesitation, I made the first move. Two hours in the work, I realized it was not as difficult as I had feared it to be. I could still do it. May not be perfect, but I made a beginning. That is important.

Procrastination can become bad if you think too long about certain crucial decisions. A decade earlier, I had a job offer with a company that was in a different domain.I took time to decide, but it was too late by the time I made up my mind and had missed the bus. The window of opportunity was lost.

 

The really happy people are those who have broken the chains of procrastination, those who find satisfaction in doing the job at hand. They’re full of eagerness, zest, productivity. You can be, too.”– Norman Vincent Peale


Are you ready for a better tomorrow? Then stop procrastinating and clean up your to-do list for a productive 2018.

Wishing all my friends Happy, Healthy, Productive 2018.

 

One important thing I learned on how to celebrate life

At the end of life, what really matters is not what we bought but what we built; not what we got but what we shared; not competence but our character; and not our success but our significance. Live a life that matters. Live a life of Love. — Unknown

Many of us live a life with no goal in mind. We are just drifting through life as if we find pursuing a goal and living life a big effort. We are living dead. No passion, no purpose, no destination in mind.

A couple of years back, I went through this phase. A disconnected Zombie. I had lost my sense of direction. Was working in an auto control mode. Would start my day, go to the office, work on the project, get back home, have dinner and sleep.

Until One day, while I was struggling with this state, Anita, our domestic help, showed me how to celebrate life. What she said, made me come out of my disconnected state of mind. She taught me how to Live a life with purpose.

Is it enough to just Live?

“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Anita worked in a few homes in our locality, earned roughly around ten thousand rupees per month. She was married and had two lovely daughters. Her husband was a drug addict and never contributed to the household expenses or to the children’s education. Anita paid him a daily allowance for his alcohol, just to avoid facing the domestic violence at home.

Despite her difficulties, Anita always looked happy. She would never complain and make excuse for the situation at home. She carried a satisfied look. Curiosity forced me to ask her one day. What keeps you so happy every day?

Her response shook me. She said she had a purpose in life. She wanted to make sure that both her daughters went to school, had a good education and gained financial independence.

For making sure that her children had two square meals a day and went to school, Anita worked extra hours. She loved knitting and candle making. Anita learned these skills and in her spare time, knitted for her neighbors and made candles and sold them to the shops in and around her home. Her struggles were huge.

Here was a lady who had her destination clearly marked and had a sense of direction. Her purpose in life was so clear, that she could take on any challenges that came her way. She was in a flow state and could connect with what really mattered to her. She was in full control and never took life for granted. Anita had no formal education, but she was full of energy and dreamt big for her daughters.

Living in a flow state

“Of all the virtues we can learn no trait is more useful, more essential for survival, and more likely to improve the quality of life than the ability to transform adversity into an enjoyable challenge.”
― Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness

I was certainly not in a flow state. The passion and purpose that had brought me to my job and the project had gone missing. I no longer connected with the project. Even the small easy task of the project would give me nightmares. Small chores in the house made me stressful.

Anita’s story was enough to push me out of the comatose state.She was in a flow state. Even if she had to swim against the rising currents in her life, she was unstoppable. She was working to achieve something in this life. Her story changed my perspectives on life forever.

What is a flow state? positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi has defined it as an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best.”

Ask for help

“Never let your ego get in the way of asking for help when in desperate need. We have all been helped at a point in our lives.”
― Edmond Mbiaka

Anita’s response to my question really had me thinking. It was as though she had thrown a challenge at me. I took the help of a coach to help me uncover my passion and purpose. I knew I had all the resources within me to address my problem, but I needed someone to challenge me, provide me with perspectives and be a sounding board.

The coach helped me to see things within myself, which I had overlooked and never thought of before. I was able to connect back to my passion and purpose in life. I realized that to have a purposeful life, I needed to find a purpose in what I was doing. It wasn’t easy. It was a roller coaster ride.

For cutting through all the chaos, I needed help and I was not hesitant to ask for it. My coach held me accountable to my goals. As I kept moving and grinding towards my goals, my coach stood by me.

“The path to our destination is not always a straight one. We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back. Maybe it doesn’t matter which road we embark on. Maybe what matters is that we embark.” ―Barbara Hall

Thank you for reading my post. If you like it, please share it.

What I learned when I quit the rat race.

“A version of this post originally ran on the Lead Change Group site on 18th September 2017 and can be read at www.leadchangegroup.com.

 

“The future is called ‘perhaps,’ which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you.”
Tennessee Williams

For thirty-three long years, climbing the corporate ladder was my only goal. Success to me was always being in the spotlight and reaching the top. To achieve my goal, I had worked hard and grown through the ranks. I had relentlessly pursued the dream of reaching the top. Yes, I did reach the top, traveled a lot, could make decisions, had power, influence, money, and everything that I had dreamt of. I loved my career.

But one day it all changed. After 33 years, the luster wore off. My job was no longer interesting to me. I felt trapped in the rat race.

I knew it was time to redefine my life and look at pursuing work that was more fulfilling. I decided it was time to call quits.

Transitioning to a New Way of Life

“20 years from now you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

So, I  sailed away from the safety of my corporate job and was ready to explore and discover the new world. Once I had made the decision, I had peace with myself and finally felt in control of my career again. I had to redefine what success meant to me and found that it is not always about the money you make, but is also about the happiness in life you gain.

What happened in my case is not unique. Many would have gone through similar experience. Once we quit the rat race,  we find a lot of time available to us.  However, after the initial feeling of being a free bird is over, concern takes over. The thought of nothing to do can be quite daunting. Not having a clear idea of what you plan to do next, can be even more terrifying.

In my case, I had thought about this day for a long time. I had a plan. I was not sure about the robustness of the plan, but I was ready for the new adventure. During this transition phase, one also requires remaining optimistic. Having a plan to start something new can help maintain optimism.

The Adventure Begins

The security of the corporate life when enjoyed for a long time tends to make us risk-averse.  It is normal to miss the comfort zone of the corporate life.  Unfortunately, it does not prepare us for the big change in life when we transition from its warm comfort to a life which is full of adventures.

Many things that I had planned did not work the way I had dreamt of. I had to redefine not just what success would be, but also the way I work. I was always passionate about coaching and mentoring. Equipped with my three decades of experience in the industry and a Coaching certification, I decided to help women grow in their career. Help them follow their dreams, align with their values,  and enjoy their work and career.

I had to develop new relationships and leverage existing networks to get projects that I was passionate about. After many falls for several months, I finally managed to get work that was fulfilling and gave me immense joy.

Lessons Learnt

Thinking back on my journey of last two years, I learned the following important lessons:

  • Plan this day well in advance. Be absolutely clear about what your goals are for the next phase of your career. Do not make any rash decision.
  • Clarify what is important to you and what is your priority. Money, happiness, fulfillment.
  • Think about your key skills and strengths which can make you successful.
  • Choose work that you are passionate about.
  • Be agile. You would have to try several things, build new relationships, redefine your plans till you hit the jackpot.
  • Be prepared for all the obstacles that would be thrown your way and the many discouragements that you would receive.
  •  Most important stay optimistic, as that will see you through.

If you are working on achieving your goals and leading a life you want, then don’t let fears get in your way.

      Life is a one-way street. No matter how many detours you take,
none of them leads back. So enjoy life’s every moment as none of
them will happen the same way again.
— Unknown

Are you stuck with a bad boss? Do you know why…..

“The More choices you have the more your values matter.”- Michael Schrage

“Lasting change is a series of compromises. And compromise is all right, as long your values don’t change.” – Jane Goodall (1934 – ), English Anthropologist

As a coach, I often hear clients complaining about how things are not working for them and they get stressed. Many times in one’s career and in life we go through a feeling of disgust, frustration at something which is not in tune with our core values. It could be a bad boss or a toxic company culture.We then get into the blame game but we do not understand the real reason for this frustration.

Considering that we spend many hours at work, it becomes very important that the core values of the organization match with our personal core values. If it does not, then we will always be in a frustrated state of mind. You may do the job, but it would not be for the love of doing work, but the money that comes with it. The same is true if your values are in direct conflict with those of your boss. This causes stress and all the related symptoms that go with stress.

Conflict of values

” It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney (1893 – 1971), Walt Disney’s Elder Brother and the Financier of his Effort

An example of how hard it is to have corporate values embraced is a personal one. In one of my jobs, I experienced the biggest conflict of values which left me completely stressed. The organization that I worked with had signed up for a major transformation program with one of its clients. This particular client had the most complex technology platforms for which my organization had no skills and therefore was struggling to meet the client’s expectations. The conflict of values came when I realized that my boss and his superiors have been making all false promises to the client. There was absolutely no honesty in their dealings neither with the client nor the internal teams. My values for honesty and transparent behavior felt completely violated.
I decided it was time for me to look for more meaningful work elsewhere.

Are you living your core values or are you fulfilling someone else’s values?

We are familiar with work-related stress. It is often referred to as a part and parcel of having a career. But if you think deeper and look at what is causing you the stress, it may be because of the disconnect between your core values and the values of the company that you are working for. If money is the greatest motivator for you, then probably you do not have a choice but to continue working under stress. You are then working towards fulfilling someone else’s values.
Marshall Goldsmith in his book ” Mojo” explains how some people do nothing to change the status quo. They prefer to remain miserable rather than be happy.
Having your personal values persistently ignored is not good for any individual.

Respect your values.

“Ideas are a dime a dozen. People who put them into action are priceless.” – Author unknown

Focus on your core values to be more effective in life and career.
Identify your passion and purpose in life. Ask yourself what is more important to you. Once you know what your passion is and what is your purpose in life, you will launch yourself on the path to success. Your values will provide you the required drive to work and be satisfied. It is very important that you respect your values and be true to your values. This may at times be difficult because your passion and dream may drive you to achieve something which is not always acceptable to everyone around you. But if you are true to your self, then this may not be a bigger hurdle to cross.

Shifting from apathy to being happy is completely in your control. It may look difficult at first, but there are several real inspiring stories which narrate how people have done it.
Hire a coach who can help you navigate the turbulence, challenge your thinking, provide you with different perspectives. Take control of your life and career and up your Mojo.

Marshall Goldsmith in his book ” Mojo” says the following
“It is your life. If your Mojo is suffering, no one can make the “you vs. it” decision for you. My only suggestion is that you become clear on your own values and make a thoughtful decision”

Are you clear on your own values? Ask yourself the following to identify your personal values
1. What is most important to you in your life?
2. What do you need in your life?
3. What motivates you in life?

Your insights may surprise you!

Why do I need Coaching?

 

” Who, exactly, seeks out a coach?…. Winners who want even more
out of life.” Chicago Tribune

Last week I received an email from one of my clients. Here is what she said,” our coaching sessions have been very useful. It made me look at my work approach in a different way and gave me new insights and perspectives of handling my role effectively.”

My client is a senior leader with one of India’s largest Insurance company. A dedicated, hardworking, result oriented person.She is a consistent performer.

Looking at her credentials and her performance one may wonder why she needed a coach.

Why do I need coaching?

Her managers brief was simple. He wanted to ensure that Revathi( actual name changed) could scale up, as her responsibilities grew.

Revathi herself was also concerned when her manager proposed coaching for her. She was consistently performing and achieving all her targets. Her team was happy with her, her stakeholders never complained.

Revathi’s performance was good for the role that she was in. She worked hard, managed her team well, led from the front. But if Revathi went on a holiday, the team found it difficult to manage in her absence. Performance would plummet immediately. There would be a huge backlog of work that would wait for Revathi’s return.

This was noticed by her manager. Revathi was not good at delegating appropriately. She would delegate, but would often look over the team’s shoulder to see if they did their job. This had, to some extent impacted the confidence level of her team.

Revathi defended her inability to delegate. She feared that the team’s execution may not be perfect in her absence.She liked training her subordinates but would prevent them from making mistakes. This resulted in Revathi working round the clock to ensure the team met their deliverables.

Self-Limiting Belief

“You begin to fly when you let go of self-limiting beliefs and allow your mind and aspirations to rise to greater heights”- Brian Tracy

In her current role, she was probably considered an efficient manager. She would meet her targets and was considered having excellent delivery skills.

But her inability to delegate effectively was blocking her growth. Her manager had seen it coming, but Revathi held on to the belief that she cannot risk leaving everything to her team.

Her limiting belief had to be challenged

How Coaching helped

“I don’t look to jump over 7-foot bars. I look around for 1-foot bars that I can step over.” — Warren Buffett

The role of coaches is to support and challenge clients to be their own experts. I had to partner with Revathi and help her address her emotions.I had to challenge her to evaluate the losses of holding on to such beliefs.

Through our regular coaching conversations, Revathi’s perspective towards delegations changed. She finally understood that through effective delegation she can improve productivity and at the same time help develop new skill sets within her team.

As a coach, I had to encourage her to pick up courage and bring the new learning into action.I continued to support her through this transformation. It was not easy for her.

She took small steps to reach her goal. She was committed to the coaching process. With practice and self-awareness, she overcame her barriers to delegation.

Do you have any such belief that is blocking your growth? Then take action.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” _Tim Gallwey