It’s that time of year again. Out with the old, in with the new. Thinking about wins and losses. Reflection. But what is the purpose of reflection? I’m pretty sure everyone has an opinion on this. I have one too, and I also have an opinion on what it’s not. Yes, I’m a big fan of “Eyes Forward”, but that doesn’t mean you never look back. How else can you gauge how far you have come? No…reflection is necessary for change. The bigger challenge is overcoming resistance.
The purpose of reflection is not to punish yourself, it’s about knowing yourself.
The hard part about reflection is figuring out what to reflect on. Where do you start? It’s way too easy to focus on disappointments. We’ve all done this: lock ourselves in a cold, dark room and peer into the abyss, heading straight down to negative town. We let the worst thoughts and memories creep in and take over.
It’s hard to see how this can helpful. It’s exhausting. In fact, all it does is call out our limiters…the weeds that choke any hope of success. Yes…know your limiters, but please…bring your thoughts back to the positive.
This will be a challenge for most. It’s really hard to reflect if you don’t have some way of capturing key moments throughout the year. Keeping a journal or diary isn’t easy, and without one, how can you remember what to reflect on? The quick answer is, you don’t. You’ll remember the bad things…or worse…only the best things.
If you are looking to improve some aspect of your life – either personal or professional – you need to forget about secret sauces, magic pills, or formulas for success. If you really want address a limiter, you need only one thing…a fraction of self discipline. You need to improve your ability to DO when you DO NOT WANT TO DO.
I just lost half of the audience. Probably more. That’s OK…this message isn’t for them. It’s for the those who want more, because they know there IS more. It’s for people who struggle without knowing why. People who tinker and learn and find smarter ways to do things. It’s for people who don’t quit.
Pain vs Comfort
Most of our struggle has to do with comfort. We are afraid of change, because it scares us…because doing something new is uncomfortable. This sounds crazy, right? I mean…we KNOW that change is inevitable, it certainly happens all the time…and yet, when it does happen, the first thing we do is complain. The sky is falling. We imagine all the worst possible scenarios and we get scared, we freeze…we resist.
This makes no sense. Except that it does.
Every time a new member joins my team, I give them a copy of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? Seth Godin does a wonderful job of calling out “The Lizard Brain”. This is the most primitive part of our brain, where the instincts that warn us of danger resides. Actually, this lizard brain is a metaphor for the amygdala, the part of the limbic system that is responsible for processing emotion. It’s the ancient part of the brain that allows us to react to a threat in an immediate and automatic way, without the rest of the brain processing information, and it’s what gave us a split second to ensure our survival for the past millions of years. The Lizard Brain is why you resist.
Unfortunately…this resistance instinct is not evolving…and if you don’t recognize it, neither will you.
Steven Pressfield addresses “Resistance” in his book Do The Work: “Resistance is an active, intelligent, protean, malign, force — tireless, relentless and inextinguishable — whose sole objective is to stop us from becoming our best selves and from achieving our higher goals.”
Tell me this isn’t exactlywhat keeps you from doing what you know you need to do.
Resistance is the reaction of your mind every time you want to create something new or do something different. A reaction that has the same strength that you desire, but goes in the opposite direction.
We are never going to eliminate resistance, but we can learn to live with it, and overcome it.
You just learned a few new things. Ok…So what? Let’s assume you have been able to keep a decent journal or diary, that you have the ability to see the past year’s triumphs and struggles, the goals you achieved or left unmet. Look through the lens of Resistance. Can you determine when the Lizard Brain was running the show? Can you recognize the behaviors of Resistance that were impacting your progress? Things like:
- You kept postponing a task or a project.
- You’ve been overly self-critical.
- Obsession with details, never having enough information to make a decision and take action.
- Always having an excuse, or not having enough time.
- Plenty of scapegoats – spreading blame
Identifying behaviors is only the first step. What are you going to do about it?
Have A Plan
List the things that you are doing the most, behaviors that you now know are preventing you from growing…and pick one to work on. You cannot change everything…and know that you will ALWAYS struggle. Pick one thing that you can commit to, and get to work. The key is to take action. You need to have a strategy…and in order execute the strategy, you need a plan. Make it a simple plan. This won’t be easy…embrace the suck.
I cannot solve your problems for you, and I cannot write your plan. What I can tell you is how I will be wrestling my lizard brain in 2019. I will have three themes: Transparency, Alignment & Consistency and Persistence. These will guide me an all aspects of my personal and professional life.
- Transparency: If I cannot easily articulate the things that I am trying to accomplish, I cannot expect anyone to help me achieve them. I can’t even ask them for help. This means I need a clear objective and a simple message, and I need to share this message with everyone I am involved with. Everyone gets the same message…as often as required. Truly, this is for my benefit as much as it is for them, especially if they choose to help me achieve my objectives.
- Alignment: Firstly,the audience I share my goals and objectives with matters as much as having clear goals and objectives. Secondly, cannot afford to waste time sharing a message with someone or some group that will NEVER support me. Thirdly, they must also have a reason to listen to me. I need to understand my audience so that we can align OUR resources and skills to achieve the plan. This will at least help me address never having enough time. In fact, I can eliminate wasting it.
- Consistency and Persistence: If I have been successful in creating a simple message that aligns with my goals and objectives for the year, and I have identified the people/companies/resources that I must rely on to achieve my targets, then the only thing left for me to do is communicate the message consistently…and persistently.
Look – a year is a long time. Sitting here today, looking at the next365 days seems like an eternity to me. Hell, I am exhausted from just what I went through LAST year! I cannot even begin to imagine how I will feel at this time next year.
This is why I only glance at the horizon while keeping my focus on what is right in front of me. I have to break my year into chunks that I can actually comprehend. I execute my plan in weekly and daily increments…letting my strategy deal with the years.
I cannot keep changing the content of my message…all that tells me is that I did not do a good job of building my plan. Additionally, I also cannot expect someone to understand or care about my message if I only tell them once. I need to be persistent with the daily and weekly interactions…the WORK. More importantly, this means tracking the results – the inputs and outputs of mechanisms that allow me to execute the plan.
This is just me preparing for the next year. There is plenty of change coming my way in 2019, and I am butt-puckered thinking about the battles I will wage with with Resistance.
I’m eager to get to work, because I know myself. I know my strengths, and I also know my limiters. My limiters will be addressed by working a plan…and I will not battle alone. I’ll be leaning on everyone who has an investment in my me.
And I will not quit. Ever.
Shift your view.