Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Dealing with Holiday Distractions

The sounds, the lights, the colors and activities, oh my! 

The holiday season presents even greater challenges for those adults who struggle with the traits of ADD.

This is not a time that is merciful to someone who is easily distracted by highly stimulating activities. Getting caught up in the swirling circus of holiday parties, non-stop shopping specials and the multiple sights and sounds of holiday activities is a piece of cake for even those highly organized and well focused individuals. What chance does that leave for a well-managed, organized and balanced holiday season for someone who is easily distracted, has difficulty prioritizing and completing tasks on time and who suffers painful procrastination with every decision to be made?  

Minimize your angst and grief  by ordering your activities as much as possible.

Take some time to plan out your holiday agenda.
  • List all of your scheduled activities and identify the time frames for each one.
  • Discuss realistic expectations with someone you trust (folks with ADD typically set expectations that are unrealistic and unreachable and then feel frustrated and disappointed when the expectations are not met) and write them down.
  • Keep your to do list short. Identify 1-5 tasks at a time. Don’t add to the list until you have completed the ones already on the list. 
  • Identify your most important goals for the holidays and the steps required to reach those goals. 
  • Share your goals with someone you trust and review them through the week. 
  • Set a shopping budget. Leave your credit cards at home and shop with cash if at all possible. Review your spending and your budget after shopping.  
  • Tell someone when you have gotten off track and ask for help.
  • Have fun and reward yourself for being good, Santa will. 
Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

Build It To Last

Do you hate following daily routines? Are you prone to resenting structure and rebelling against the idea of “having to do something”? Do you get energized and distracted by the biggest and shiniest marble in front of you?  Are you likely to race after the biggest bear in the woods before you have gathered all the tools you will need to catch the big fella? Are you likely to cut corners and rationalize your willingness to do so?

Are you as successful as you try to be, as you would like to be?

 I have worked with many professionals who claim to have traits of ADD and who have answered yes to all of the questions above except the last one.

What we have discovered through our work together is that the development and adherence to a “system” is critical to their success. What we have also learned is that following a system can be a painstakingly slow process for a good number of them.

It seems that the one critical factor in building a workable and valuable routine is the need for each person to claim it as their own.  Folks who typically resent being directed or told what to do will instinctively react by doing the opposite, finding a distraction or do nothing at all, which severely impedes their effectiveness and productivity.

Successful activity often requires persistent repetition of mundane steps that may not be fun, may require focus and concentration and may not be easy.  While these steps may not immediately lead to the shiniest marble or biggest bear in the woods they will, if adhered to consistently, lead to successful outcomes. I often hear one of my thriving business clients offer this refrain “when I follow my system everyday I do the things that grow my business and when I am distracted by that potentially huge sale (bear in the woods) my routine and business suffers”. This successful business person fought against many ideas/systems that various professionals offered to him for years. He eventually learned to embrace a routine that he identified as one that made sense to him and one that he could own as his alone.

If you want to be more successful make the challenge personal by developing your own routine and following a system that fits the way you work. Remember to be honest when identifying steps that lead to your success rather than looking for the quickest or easiest fix.
  • Identify your desired outcomes.
  • List all of the steps you will need to take to reach this outcome
  • Prioritize these steps. What is the order they will need to follow? Which steps will need to be performed most often? How often? Which steps will offer the greatest discomfort and thus lead to the greatest resistance? When would be the best time to attend to these tasks? 
  • What time of the day are you most productive? Which steps should be performed during those times? 
  • What type of support/assistance will you need? Who will you turn to for that assistance? 
  • What rewards will you gain from following this routine?
  • Identify all of the reasons why you would not want to follow your routine?
  • What outcome should you expect if you stop?
  • Are you satisfied with that outcome?
  • How will you know when you have stopped following the routine you have developed?
  • Who do you want to share your activity with?
  • Who will hold you accountable when you are getting off track?   
 Remember! Each time you join the rebel forces and attack the bastion of “you have to”, you are assailing the foundation of your own kingdom.

Letting Go

 “Letting go” is a frequently used concept, I have heard addressed many times in the world of therapy and coaching that I have inhabited for eons and eons. I have often wondered what does “letting go” actually mean?  There are numerous physical and mental exercises that are geared towards helping us “let go” but the end result has not always been clear to me.

I had a recent experience that helped clarify what this concept truly means to me. I was out to dinner the other evening and as the bill was presented I reached into my pocket to remove the fold of money I had placed there before leaving home. To my surprise and dismay the cash had flown the coop. I frantically searched all pockets even though I was aware that I had never stored the money in any pocket save one. My wife and I retraced our steps trying to think through how I might have lost that valuable wad of painted paper. For several minutes I agonized over my misfortune and then a light went on.

I finally realized I had no way of knowing how or where I had lost the money. If I did, it wouldn’t be lost. I no longer had the means to retrieve the wayward dollars. I could not replace them as I sat in that cozy establishment. It suddenly dawned on me. I could only do one thing in that moment. I needed to figure out a way to pay for the meal my wife and I had just enjoyed and accept what I was experiencing at that moment as best as I possibly could.

Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

And there it was for me! Letting go is really accepting what is happening or what has happened without judging, negotiating, bargaining, redefining or trying to alter the outcome to our satisfaction.  
We may not always welcome the experiences we have but we can choose to either obsess over them, close our eyes and wish very hard for a different outcome, live in regret with tons of draining negative emotions or accept it as an event that has occurred and one that does not have to rule over our emotions and destiny. Acceptance is an understanding that we will have good and bad experiences on a daily basis. We frequently do not have control over when and where bad things occur and often cannot comprehend why they happen. We can have control over the attitude we carry forth and the actions we take following any experience.

 I believe when you are faced with an unsettling event you will be infinitely more satisfied when you focus on what you have control of in that moment, what action you  can take to affect your life in a positive manner and what can be gained; not what has been lost or what should have been.  

A Life Less Valued

How often do you embrace your life’s most cherished moments? What are the simple things in life that bring a smile to your face? What are the gifts of life that bring you the greatest sense of contentment and satisfaction?  You know those precious experiences that breathe energy into your spirit and fill your life with meaning and purpose. Our core values remain fairly constant but they can easily be misplaced or lost as we traverse through the pathways of our hectic lives.  

Would your choices be different if you were mindful of those experiences that brought the greatest value to your life? Perhaps you might start pursuing personal passions and dreams, engage in meaningful activities with family and friends more often, join a grass roots organization, extend a helping hand to a stranger you pass along the way, join a barber shop quartet, quit your job of 20 years and start that business you have always dreamed of, volunteer time and energy for a cause you embrace. How much more fulfilling would your activities and experiences be if they were aligned with your core values? 

You get the idea
It is easy to lose our connection to those internal prizes that bring us great rewards. There is the living of life that can derail us within the blink of an eye. There is so much to do, to accomplish in such a short period of time. And what do we have at the end of that time? 

There are many reasons why we end up distanced from those values and beliefs that hold great power and rewards for us?  We are driven to succeed in a frenetic and ever changing world. We are apprehensive of stepping off course, of making changes and of letting go. We are fearful of failing, of disappointing others. We are distracted by the maelstrom that is our daily life. The end result frequently leaves us feeling short-changed in satisfaction, sense of purpose and inner peace. 

There is always opportunity to reset your focus and action towards activities more aligned with what you truly value. Greater mindful awareness of what motivates the choices you make will be required.  You will need to take the time to reflect on what you do, why you do it and what your rewards are. 
  • Identify and write down your core values 
  • Note how often your choices are guided by these values
  • List experiences that have brought you the greatest sense of fulfillment throughout your life. Record any that you have lost sight of along the way that were particularly important to you and that you would like to build back into your life.
  • Develop a plan of action that allows you to maintain awareness of what you value most and identify how you will build in more experiences that follow you core values and beliefs. 
  • Identify the benefits you will reap by following this action plan. You are much more likely to adhere to a new activity when the benefit is clear.
  • Schedule time to review choices you make to assure that you are adhering to your action plan.  
The quality of life is determined by the choices we make and we thrive or suffer based upon them. If your choices are determined by your core values, you are destined to thrive.  

Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

"I’ll Do It Later. I Have Plenty of Time"

This is a wonderful rationalizing and self-defeating phrase used by many of us but much more frequently by those professionals who struggle with traits of ADD. Folks who struggle with organizing their work and schedules, prioritizing, focusing their efforts, staying on task, completing tasks on time, completing tasks at any time, following through with commitments and feeling competent in their endeavors.

Too often” later” gets here way before it is expected and the project, assignment; task is late or never completed. These are well intentioned people who will tell me that they often overestimate the time they have available to complete something and underestimate the time it will take to get the job done.

Contact Jim today to learn how coaching can benefit your career and your life.

Many of my coaching clients fall into the “I have plenty of time” or “I do my best work when the pressure is on” mind-trap. My customary response is how much later and at what cost? 

 Along the road to “later” we suffer through days of increased worry, anxiety, anticipation and fitful or reduced sleep as “later” approaches ever closer and still we remain frozen in our inactivity.

There is typically an adrenalin rush during those last hours as we are faced with a sense of urgency and dread. We rally to the cause, too often working for hours under intense stress to complete our task on time. While we may feel successful with our outcome, we are unaware of the price we have paid with our overtaxed emotions and physical well-being.

I encourage the professionals I work with to stop overpaying their emotional pipers:
  • Build and maintain a system of accountability that allows you to begin working on priorities earlier in the process.
  • Identify unpleasant aspects about the project that leads you to delay or avoid it.
  • Identify aspects of the project that you embrace or enjoy. Make it fun wherever possible.
  • Be realistic when setting expectations of time needed to work on the project and time available to do the work.
  • Be aware and honest about your patterns of work and look for ways to build in new habits.
  • Break the task into smaller parts.
  • Schedule a time to focus on an initial part of the project and set a time or date for completion. Completing parts of the task on time will allow you to build a sense of mastery and the confidence to keep going.
  • Maintain accountability to your project and timeframe you have set. Tell someone what you are working on, how you are working on it and when you intend to finish. Keep them in the loop as you move forward or if you fall behind. 
Most of all be honest with yourself. Can you really afford to do it later? Do you really have plenty of time? Really?

Contact Jim today to learn how coaching can benefit your career and your life.

My Perspective on Coaching

I have worked with a wide variety of professionals who span a broad spectrum of service areas: business executives, attorneys, medical practitioners, educators, authors, clergy and entrepreneurs.  While their roles are diverse and unique, their professional and personal needs are often similar.  Periodically I am asked, “What do you know about the business I work in?”  I typically respond by saying, “I am most valuable to you when I understand how you work rather that where you work.”

My observation has been that professionals in leadership roles do experience some unique circumstances.  They feel a need to present an image that is calm, in control, stoic, and ever self-assured.  

This in turns leads them to feel some emotional and personal isolation, and the need to distance themselves from others.  I have found their need for support, assurance, accountability, goal setting, and honest feedback, to be just as critical as they are for other professionals.

It is my firm belief that intentional behavior is the key to success in all areas of life.  I coach with this belief in mind.  Many of my clients have lost their sense of purpose and, because of the fast-paced society in which we live, have lost their focus in setting personal goals and plans.  When this happens, they often become reactive, responding to events rather than maintaining their focus.  I encourage my clients to become intentional by developing a personal plan of action that will enable their personal and professional lives to be aligned with their core values and beliefs.

Accountability to a plan is critical to its success.  Through my role as coach I assure that this accountability is maintained.  In addition, through my coaching I serve as the eyes and ears that provide an early warning system that helps detect misdirection and self-defeating behaviors.

In my coaching, I provide a supportive relationship that fosters, energizes and nurtures intentional behavior.  This results in enhanced performance, a greater sense of purpose and achievement, and an increased ability to sustain effort and attain goals.   This also results in greater self-awareness and personal satisfaction on the part of clients.

In our sessions, I help clients explore, assess and clarify goals, patterns of behavior (both productive and counter-productive), and identify pathways (and roadblocks) to success.  I help keep clients on track by challenging perspectives, alerting them when they drift off course, and pointing out when their behavior is counter-productive

Some of the benefits of the coaching relationship that clients have reported to me include:
  • Develop and adhere to consistent patterns of productive behaviors leading to successful achievement of personal and professional goals.
  • Expanded vision and creativity 
  • Develop talent from within the organization
  • Put goals and ideas into action
  • Improved focus, organization, time management and follow through.
  • Achieve a greater sense of competency and mastery.
  • Fewer roadblocks and self-defeating patterns of behaviors.
  • More skillful and effective communication. with internal and external customers
  • Sustainable, consistent and successful activity through goal completion.   
 Contact Jim today for a complimentary 30-minute success coaching session.

The Power of Persistance

 I was working strenuously to build at least a semblance of a muscle at the gym the other day when I noticed a young man working a seemingly uninspiring exercise. This gym-master simply shrugged his shoulders while holding a barbell at the end of his arms. I wondered what would drive someone to do this tedious exercise even just a few times.  It wasn’t exciting. He didn’t look like the Incredible Hulk when he was finished. He looked just the same as he did before he started.

I decided this fellow would need to replicate this routine many times before any observable result would be achieved. Yet here he was repeating this movement over and over no matter how dull it appeared to me.

The thought that this man had patience, persistence and trust in what he was doing immediately crossed my mind. He persisted in this activity despite the presence of any immediate reward. He knew if he maintained this routine he would reap the reward of a stronger and healthier body over a period of time.

How many of us are willing to persist in any routine that doesn’t offer an immediate return on our investment? To trust that our replicated actions are leading to enhanced health, wealth, professional and personal performance, quality of life?

"Achieving long-term benefits takes persistence, patience and trust."

This is the era of immediate stimulation and reward. You want to feel better? Take a pill, put on your headphones and blast music into your brain, call a friend while your are driving on the expressway at 75 miles per hour, get on line and socialize with two thousand of your closest friends, gulp a Grande Mocha-Ole-Latte-Light with a Red Bull Chaser and feel the immediate rush. Everything is in the moment, with little thought about the outcome of our actions or a willingness to defer immediate gratification for a longer lasting reward. No time to think about what I am doing now. I got things to do and I want to feel a rush of energy and emotion at every turn of my life.   

Achieving long-term benefits takes persistence, patience and trust. Sometimes the activity will not be glamorous or exciting, but if it is well designed you will reap sustained benefits and rewards.  When you set your sights on the Golden Goose be ready to replicate behaviors that work, trust that what you are doing will serve your best interest and be willing to wait for the return on your investment.  

Contact Jim today to your complimentary introductory coaching session.