Thursday, September 5th, 2013

Whipping career inertia into shape

It’s a really ‘normal’ part of any change process to wonder if you have the courage, confidence or energy to make a move toward a more positive, fulfilling future.

One of my clients recently shared that she wondered if she had the energy to make a positive change. “I think I’m lazy,’  and “maybe things aren’t bad enough.’ Yet on the other hand she also shared that her confidence and self-esteem had taken a hit and was dissatisfied with her career.

In our session I was left with the impression that she was beginning to have second thoughts about continuing with coaching. “I think I’m suffering from inertia.”

Inertia is commonly defined as, ‘the resistance to change’, and it is a very common part of any transformation.

When faced with inertia it can be useful to list down all the causes of resistance. Common ones I see in many clients includes fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of disappointment.

You’ll find some helpful whipping inertia strategies in my Happy at Work book – especially Chapter 29 Staying on Track and Chapter 30 Transitions Are a Time of Renewal.

I’d be interested in know which ideas in these chapters connect with you, or any strategies you may have found of your own. On this note it can be helpful to think of a time in the past when you experienced inertia and what you did to successfully whip it into shape.

Theorists such as Aristotle believed that objects would move only as long as force was applied to them. From personal and professional experience I believe the first step to making any change is to get excited – hence my passion for passion.

Motivation, focus and empowerment also come from seeing life from the future rather than from the past. Identifying with the self you are heading towards, rather than your history, holds the key to getting back on track.

Which common de-railers apply to you?

•   Losing sight of goals

•   External interruptions – ‘urgent but not important’

•   External interruptions – ‘urgent and important’

•   Lack of discipline

•   Feeling overwhelmed

•   Procrastination

•   Fear

•   Self-doubt/Lack of confidence

•   Giving up

•   Lack of motivation

•   Difficulty establishing concrete steps needed to make your ideas happen

•   Insufficient pressure

•   Listening too much to your critics

•   A perfectionist streak – not wanting to make a mistake

Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution.

Here are some key factors in re-igniting the flames of motivation:

1. Remind yourself of your goals – and more importantly, the positive difference that achieving them will create. Out of sight, out of mind – keep your goals visible at all times. Act as if you have already achieved your future intent and challenge reality to catch up!

2. Categorise. Making a list of things you need to do to achieve your goals is a great first step to getting back on track. Help make a long list more manageable by breaking it down into categories. For example, if your dream is to have your own business, the categories may include: market research, product/service design, branding, marketing and systems, etc.

3. Write it down, make it happen. Many people keep their lists in their heads. Getting things on paper and out of your head is half the battle. By writing your goals and sub-tasks down you have taken a major step to achieving them.

4. Set micro goals. Chip away at sub-tasks bit by bit (things are less overwhelming that way). Include a time for completion.

5. Prioritise. Get clear about what matters most. Ask yourself the following question before acting, “What difference will doing this now make to the achievement of my preferred future?”

6. Practise active avoidance. Stay away from things that distract you from your major intent.

7. Reward yourself. Bribe and reward yourself each time you complete each task that helps you achieve your main goal.

8. Share your ‘completion challenge’ with others. This can help you feel more accountable and spur you into action. Plus, you may find that people rally to support you. We all love to cheer on someone we care about. While trying to finish this book I posted daily updates on my blog and with a group of supporters online. Feeling accountable to people who paid for the book before it was finished also helped.

9. Go on an excuse-free diet. Examine any and all excuses that stand between you and your preferred future. Now get creative – change your focus and look for all the ways you can get around the things that stand in your way. Remind yourself of all the people with similar or bigger obstacles in their way who went on to succeed.

10. Maintain the balance. Being overloaded can really tip the balance out of favour. Whip stress into shape by making room for the things that give you joy.

11. Listen to your intuition and look for synchronistic support for your dreams. This will help you determine where best to put your time and energy.

12. Turn adversity into triumph. Hard knocks and big setbacks can really put some wind in your sails. While some people give up at the first sign of a setback, to others trouble is an incentive that motivates them to try harder. William A Ward says it well: “Adversity causes some men to break and others to break records.” Turn adversity into triumph and have the satisfaction of telling people, “I told you I could do it!

13. Surround yourself with supportive people. Get a life coach or professional mentor if necessary. Join a group of like-minded people with similar goals and aspirations for motivation, information and support.

14. Get inspired. One of the most powerful sources of motivation is spiritual motivation. What do you feel you have been called to do? Remind yourself of the aspects of your goal that give you meaning and purpose. What fills you with a sense of inspiration, energy, passion and fulfilment? These are all signs of spiritually aligned motives.

At least by looking at options robustly you will never have to wonder, ‘what if. . .’