A couple weeks ago I smelled something funky in my car. I live in the woods, so I thought maybe a mouse had crawled up in there and died. I put up with it figuring it couldn’t last too long. But four days later when I took the car out again, the smell was horrendous! This time I went in search of the cause, looking under the seats, in the glove compartment and finally in the trunk. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? Nope, it wasn’t eight tiny reindeer. It was five bags of garbage and some used kitty litter. Whoops. I had planned to take that to the dumpster.
So I ask you, what are you carrying around that’s making your life unpleasant? Do you want things to get better? Want to take charge? Here’s how…
- Stop wishing that X would be different. Instead, decide what you can do today to wring the most good you can out of it. I don’t know of one person who isn’t grappling with circumstances that weren’t of their choosing. “This isn’t how I imagined my life would be” might have crossed your mind once or twice. Believe me, no one is exempt. Yes, you’re stuck for the time being, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find joy somewhere in there. Ask yourself, “If not for X what would I have missed out on?”
- Set a “horror floor” of how low you’ll go until you decide “enough is enough.” Too often we allow scope creep to transform our life into something we’d never have chosen. Boundaries get stretched. You agree to overlook it just this once. (But NEXT time, whoa baby, watch out!) So put some standards in place. And if you relax them in a moment of weakness, know that tomorrow you can give it another go. Just because you slipped off the horse once doesn’t mean it has to become a permanent state.
- Ask for what you want. It’s not being selfish to go after something that’s important to you. Too often, we feel we have to be satisfied with the leftovers. Of course, that means we have to take the time to figure out what we DO want. We have to be able to articulate it. And we have to think enough of ourselves to believe we deserve it. That’s what assertiveness looks like.
- Learn something new. It’ll engage your mind, increase confidence and maybe make you more marketable. It’ll open your world up to new opportunities. This year I learned how to shoot and edit video for client projects. At first I felt like a dummy. I couldn’t even figure out how to get the video file out of the camcorder and onto my Mac. (Oh, a card reader? Huh. How ‘bout that.) Here’s the key: it’s something you can do without permission from anyone else. It puts you in charge. You get to choose.
- Re-arrange the furniture. Do it at home or in your office. You will feel IN CONTROL! It’s a great way to start handling things. Feel what it’s like to make a positive change in your environment. Of course you’ll want to leave the light on at night for a while so you don’t stumble into anything in the dark. But then again, you might bump into something you haven’t noticed in a while.
- Define what success looks like. But remember, you don’t have to go from zero to 100 in 60 seconds to be an achiever. There are a lot of points along the scale that would qualify. Is someone listening to you who never did before? Can you wake up at least one morning each week without fear or dread? Have you earned even 10% more than you did last year? Are you now able to call things like they are without sugar-coating? Forward momentum counts. And again, YOU get to decide where the bar is set.
Have you already tackled something on that list? How did it work out for you? Feel free to share in the comments.