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Breaking Even

Not all days are created equal.  Wouldn’t you agree?

We celebrate the days we feel the win, or know the momentum is moving in the right direction.  On the flip side, we feel defeated by the days where nothing went right.

And yet for others, we just want to break even.

And it’s these days where sometimes we get stuck.  Stuck because we…

  • are out of energy.
  • lost our focus.
  • are tired of hitting roadblocks.
  • don’t believe our voice matters.
  • don’t feel like it.
  • don’t know what to do next.
  • don’t want someone to get mad or not like us.

Stuck because, you fill in the blank.

And staying stuck can be easier than moving forward.  Not because it is comfortable or brings us joy but because it is familiar.  We frankly, just want to get thru the day and break even. Do you know what I’m talking about?

But, getting stuck is eventually unavoidable.  Staying stuck is YOUR choice.  So, learning to recognize you are stuck and how to get out is an important life skill.  Easy to say, not easy to do.

The good news–the more you practice, the better you become.  Just like riding a bike.

A great way to break thru is to define your thoughts or feelings in numbers.  Yes, numbers count.   Unfortunately, numbers have earned a bad rap because of our school experience or ability to balance our checking account.

But using numbers to help us focus, cuts the clutter.

Science has proven numbers make you think more deeply.  Numbers are simple and our working memory can hold them more easily.  Which means, it is easier for us to make connections that move us forward.  And isn’t that really what we are after anyway?

There are many ways to use numbers to see the central issue.  It all starts with asking the right questions.  Here are a few examples:

  • How important is _______ in your life on a scale of 1-10?
  • What priority is _______, as a number in your life? Is it number one, top three, top five, bottom five?
  • What percent of time do you spend working, thinking, doing on ______ in a day, a month or a year?
  • When you do think about this issue, how long do you spend in minutes or hours?
  • How long have you been thinking about this, in days, weeks, months, or years?
  • How much of disaster would it be if you had no___________ on a scale of 1-10?
  • How committed are you to changing this issue on a scale of 1-10?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how confident are you that you have all the information you need to act?

It’s the series of questions that matter. Don’t stop with just one or two. You won’t get the insight that reveals the “aha” and energizes and inspires you to act.  Ask a minimum of 5 questions to really understand the issue or see the disconnects.   For example, if you say it is a priority, but it is not one of your top priorities or doesn’t get a lot of your time, you must stop and ask why?

Your answers allow you to see how you are “thinking” about the issue rather than the details of the issue.  Funny how most things are fixable, but we don’t see it.  So learning to look at how we are thinking helps break the log jam we created.

The process takes time. So learn to give yourself both the grace AND the space to do this.  And expect when you get close to the “aha”, you will go quiet as you come up with new connections. And then feel a burst of energy as you consider the possible ways to move your new insight forward.

I look forward to hearing how this works for you.  And feel free to share your answers with a friend that knows how to listen.  Their insight can reveal a new perspective, that becomes the missing piece to your “aha” moment.  And their interest in your journey will ensure follow up and accountability to move forward.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. You are right – Recognizing you are stuck is easy, doing something about it is the hard part. About 4 years ago I was stuck, my term was “I’m on a hamster wheel and I’ve got to figure out how to get off”. I didn’t use numbers at the time, but can see how that would be helpful in reflection and intentionally moving forward. Thanks for sharing your tips and perspective!

    1. Thanks Andrea for sharing your experience. Love your analogy of the “hamster wheel”!! Here’s to the journey ahead and improving our ability to get “unstuck”! It’s the only way we get to play our best game and do our best work.

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