Every New Year brings with it a shift of focus and energy. Regardless of your personal stance on New Year resolutions, most organizations operate on a calendar year. Like it or not, business tends to set the pace – and business shifts every year. Our individual sense of worth is typically entwined with our professional success, therefore, when work shifts, we shift.
This is no way to bring any personal resolution into fruition. Turning your sense of wellbeing over to outside circumstances (work) or the opinions of others, more often than not creates anxiety. It doesn’t matter if someone is the newest hire, just learning the ropes, or is the highest-ranking executive in the organization – the anxiety of displeasing your new boss carries the same level of stress as disappointing your investors. Ultimately, the individual’s wellbeing feels threatened – and that happened because they turned it over to something outside their control. Of course we have some influence, but we cannot actually control or manipulate what another person does or thinks.
Happily, we can own our own shift. Rather than shifting in reaction to something outside us, we can claim our true power, and shift from the inside instead. Here are the five most effective approaches you can take to “own your own shift” in 2019, and make it your Year of the Shift:
Shift-Starter #1: Trust Your Intuition.
Intuition is how you get crystal clear on what shift you truly want to make. I can’t tell you how many individuals (and businesses) I work with who really cannot articulate what they actually want for themselves other than “more money” or “greater freedom/creativity/joy”. They’ve been living up to what they think they are supposed to want, and not really listening to their inner guidance system for clues on what they want. The result is a vague dissatisfaction or confusion that lingers.
Let’s face it though, intuition is a dirty word in business. We prefer logic, reasoning, data, facts, and research as business’ primary language of decision. The irony here is that research has proven that 90% of decision-making is not rational.
In fact, reasoning, data, facts and research often are collected to support a belief that is not rational at all. Stories such as New Coke’s infamous consumer research study that proved the product would be a success and then instead it became a disaster are legendary. More recently the election polls proved to be unreliable for predicting national election outcomes. These examples simply illustrate the fallible nature of data.
But since we love our research so much, it has shown that when the part of our brain that governs intuition and non-linear thinking is damaged, we can’t even decide whether to brush our teeth. So, the very part of our brain that governs creativity, innovation, problem solving (yes, problem solving!) empathy, and interpersonal connection is dismissed as unreliable and nearly useless.
No wonder so many people, when asked what they want, have no idea. The mere thought of listening to and trusting an intuitive impulse is shut down before it even reaches the level of consciousness. It’s not that logic has no place, but intuition allows us to bridge the inevitable gaps in information so we don’t become stuck.
Next week I will share some key ways to build your intuitive muscle so you not only can recognize it, you will have clarity about how to take action when it gives you important, meaningful insights.
Shift-Starter #2: Surrender to the Process.
Shift, by its very nature is not a “one and done” proposition, and we are impatient.
In a world filled with promises of spontaneous fulfillment of desire (fast food, instant messaging, immediate weight loss, instant financing, and instant relief medications) it’s no wonder we can’t stand to wait. Why should we? Yet, like all the promises of immediate satisfaction, there seems to be a trade-off ranging from a loss of privacy to serious risk of personal health. The trade off with a personal shift is we short circuit the entire point of the shift itself – the experience of shifting.
Shift is defined by words that, by contrast, can feel heavy and excruciatingly slow – words like practice, habit, commitment, focus, and discipline. These are the words of someone who is not just dabbling in a surface fancy, but knows what they want and is willing to move towards it for as long as it takes. Every shift has a unique, step-by-step process that moves you inexorably towards your goal of transformation. It could take days, weeks, months – or even a lifetime. What we get to embrace if we are serious about shifting is that part of the joy of the shift is actually doing the shifting. The self-respect we gain as a result is unassailable.
In a couple of weeks I will focus on how to maintain enthusiasm for a powerful shift during a lengthy process.
Shift #3: Begin with the End in Mind
I’ve said this before in other contexts, but it bears repeating. I can’t tell you how many people actually get stuck on the very first word – “Begin.” Stuck takes three forms:
Freeze and do nothing.
Obsess about it mentally – but take no decisive action.
Leap into tactical action, without vision or direction.
The last one is actually the most dangerous, because #3 people actually think they are beginning, when they are just spinning. They are the most likely to become jaded, frustrated or depressed, because they believe they are doing everything in their power and the universe is conspiring against them. Often they have jumped into the deep end and all they can do is keep their head above water at that point. It is the most common Non-Beginning in business, unfortunately. It is the organization that has no idea who its ideal customer is, but wants a website right away.
The flip side of not beginning is losing sight of the end. This manifests as staring at the current situation and focusing on what you don’t want instead of what you do want. Remember, where you focus you attention flourishes. So if you intend to lose weight as 38% of us do in 2019, focusing on how fat you are (yes, self-talk in the privacy of your own thoughts counts) is not keeping the end in mind. Instead, focusing on how much better you feel when you eat less, cut the sugar, and use muscles you never knew you had is the end you are seeking. The same principle applies to saving money (look at what you are keeping instead of the lack you feel) or finding love (treat yourself the way you want to be treated, and be loving to others).
Again, in a few weeks, I will share more about how this part of the process demands the greatest shift in our thinking and is where most of us miss the mark. Then, for the final week of January, I will talk about the damaging influence of fear on our shifts, and how, although fear is a universal saboteur, its influence can be overcome when we are conscious of it.