How do you feel?
Are you often frustrated and angry? Are you feeling tired and drained at the end of every working day? Or even at the beginning, when the alarm clock is ringing and it is already time to get up and drag yourself into the shower?
Do you give yourself that daily motivational speech: “Come on, it’s already Wednesday, almost the weekend. Let’s get through these couple of days and then things will change, I can rest and recover, start afresh next week…”
We all have these moments in our working life when it feels like the flow is gone and energy is leaking. Murphy’s law – does that ring a bell?
If you want to know more about the root causes of these phases and – more importantly – what you can do to shift them back into more productive, efficient and “in flow” moments, then please read on as we present you with 4 steps towards restoring your flow.
Step 1: Listen to the signals
Our physical body never lies. If we tune in and become more conscious, our body gives us many signals: aches and pains, rashes, stiffness, inflammation, exhaustion, restlessness, heart rhythm disorders, kidney stones, wounds and even broken bones. Each of these signals is telling us a story, presenting us with a lesson. If you are prepared to tune in and willing to listen, your body may well be telling you that it is out of balance in some way. Ignoring the smaller signals means that our body needs to give us a bigger signal! Nobody escapes from that… So, step 1 in shifting back to productivity and flow is to check your physical body for signals. Listen, feel and acknowledge any imbalances.
Step 2: Identify the conditional goal you are pursuing
Ask yourself the following question: What’s my main concern these days that absorbs most of my energy? And zooming in on that concern, what’s the goal I am focussing on and pursuing?
Once you have found the answer to this question, ask yourself this: can you yourself and only you guarantee this goal to happen 100%…. Not 99.9%…. A full 100%. If the answer to this question is NO then you have identified what we call a conditional goal. A goal that is depending on certain conditions outside yourself. Now most of our goals in corporate life are conditional goals, there’s nothing wrong with that. They are actually very important. A goal of a certain share value, a minimum profit, sales targets… All in a day’s work! But an excessive personal focus on these conditional goals presents a pitfall for leaking energy and getting stuck. It’s time to move to step 3.
Step 3: Refocus on unconditional goals
Ask yourself the question: “What is left that I CAN guarantee a full 100%, that will maximize my influence on the conditional goal?” Now here comes a little mantra – the additional anxiety antidote – a phrase that is immensely important: “I accept from the beginning that I might fail to reach the described conditional goal.”
Example: I have a sales target of 500million euros. Now clearly this is not something I, myself can 100% guarantee. I have identified a conditional goal. When I shift my focus to what I, myself, CAN guarantee 100% to maximize my influence on the conditional goal I can think of the following list of unconditional goals to help us along the way to achieving the target. For instance, I could invite every Sales Manager for a 1-to-1 conversation to explain the importance of the target and ask them for a detailed plan on how they think they will contribute with their regional sales. I could call them every other week for an evaluation session. I could ask them to immediately call me if they foresee any shortfalls in sales in their region and invite them to come up with a plan to compensate… I can 100% guarantee making these actions, these unconditional goals.
My sales target is still a conditional goal, even if the Sales Managers actually respond and act! So I invite, I ask and I can agree AND I accept from the beginning that despite all my efforts, I still might fail to reach the sales target.
Now that most probably would still frustrate the hell out of me, and most other leaders on the planet! BUT the very difference of being able to look at myself in the mirror and say out loud: ‘I have given it my everything’ instantly changes the duration of this frustration. The frustration doesn’t stick, it doesn’t affect my body or my mind quite so much. There is an energy shift that has fewer negative effects. It is not wearing me out.
Step 4: Disciplined execution of the list of unconditional goals
The list of all the unconditional things I could do is usually much longer then I initially think, so it’s worth really taking some time to reflect on it. I will probably notice that the list becomes longer and longer. There is so much action I can unconditionally take to influence my conditional goals!
Yet the actions are not always common practice, nor is taking the time to really consider them. Find your own methods to help you refocus. What helps me is to write down the list of unconditional things on a piece of paper … I like to see them in black and white, not just daydream about them, only for them to disappear once I receive my next email or phone call.
Once I have written my list, all I need to do is be committed to act on each point, with discipline, one by one. Something that I can guarantee 100% myself!
Can we help?
If you think it’s time to refocus and restore your energy flow, find out more about integrating these 4 steps in your work: Contact us
(Image credit: Ben Hershey | Unsplash)