Q. I get such wonderful insights and practical ideas from being an avid reader of your column and found myself wondering if you yourself ever make any New Year's resolutions. If you do, how do you pick what you want to improve and how do you implement that commitment? I always find myself overwhelmed and demoralized when I consider how many things I need to improve on and off the job!
A. Yes, I, myself do make resolutions every year, but I never limit my self-improvement to January. Every day I wake up I do two things:
2) Fully commit to feeling inadequate about those problems while I brainstorm and try different approaches to eradicate them from my life.
The problem with only making a resolution in January is we get hyper-motivated for five minutes, feel overwhelmed and inadequate, and give up before we get uncomfortable enough to have a breakthrough.
Any problem is fixable if we can bust out of our usual problem solving. However, problems need to be baked at the high temperature of extreme emotional discomfort before they are finished. When we habitually avoid our feelings of embarrassment, inadequacy and failure, our problems never even hit the oven.
Our culture worships the illusion of perfection. Most of us believe that somewhere on the planet perfect people lead perfect lives with no problems. The idea that most people are chronically lost and struggling is far from our awareness.
The way many of us avoid our feelings of inadequacy is to lie to ourselves and others and pretend we either don't have a problem or that there is a good reason that isn't our fault! We often have a full-time hobby blaming our problems on other people.
The problem with pretending we don't have problems is that we can't fix what we don't acknowledge. The problem with blaming other people is we lose our power to find a solution as we wait for other people to shape up.
The price of an effective professional and personal life is your willingness to immediately sign up to feel annoyed and inadequate with enthusiasm. Your anger is the fuel you will need to brainstorm solutions (not attack other people). Your inadequacy is the wisdom to see that what you are doing needs to change.
You don't need to ever enjoy feeling annoyed or inadequate; you do need to graciously acknowledge the enormous power and critical value of both uncomfortable emotions.
When I wake up and gently review my yesterday and plan my today using the power of my anger and my inadequacy, I feel motivated and creative about launching into my workday. I grant myself the gift of power that even if I can't see a solution this minute, a solution is possible.
One of the most demoralizing experiences with New Year's resolutions is our sense of powerlessness to ever implement any lasting change. When you start this year, vow to make your long-term well-being more important than your short-term sense of immediate discomfort. And that, my dear reader, is the only resolution you will ever need!
The last word(s)
Q I really want to get even with a coworker who has consistently undermined me. Is there some clever interpersonal strategy I can use where I can make sure a little vengeance plan won't bounce back on me?
A Nope. Revenge is a drug with a one-time high and a permanent hangover.
(Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at http://www.interpersonaledge.com or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.)
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