The name of the game is CHANGE -- that's true at work, and it's also true in life. In both situations there are FOUR skills you can trust:
1. LISTEN TO YOURSELF. Try to trust your intuitive judgement. Often, this displays itself as the very first thought you have in a given situation. Another suggestion here is to use a small notebook to record your thoughts and ideas, how you're feeling at any moment, and any new thought about a plan or a purpose.
2. FOCUS ON ONE -- OR A FEW -- ACTIONS AT A TIME; PRIORITIZE. Success, as change, occurs as a series of small steps. You don't have to tackle everything at once, just as you don't have to eat a whole meal in a single gulp. Take it easy. Think, "One thing at a time," then act on each thought, complete each action before going on to the next.
3. GIVE YOURSELF TIME. Science has shown that it takes many repetitions to establish a new pattern in humans...it takes about 21 days to establish a habit (or extinguish one). Be patient with yourself.
4. REVIEW ACTION IDEAS DAILY. Make a TO DO list every day (or every evening for the next day, or every Friday for Monday). Keep your action list out in the open, where you can see it, edit it, check off completed items, etc. And be aware of STRESS and how it affects you. Change on the outside usually produces some signals, symptoms or signs on the inside. Let's look now at THREE CATEGORIES in which you'll receive signals -- stress warnings - that you should pay attention to.
- Physical signals - may include headaches, rashes, feelings of exhaustion, stomach upset, minor pains and aches, and so on.
- Mental signals - negative thoughts, confusion, inability to concentrate, reduced productivity, sleeplessness, or forgetfulness.
- Emotional signals - anxiety, fear, feelings of frustration, depression, withdrawal, feelings of helplessness or powerlessness.
Which of these signals might you be feeling these days? Pay attention to them. Perhaps it would help to write them down, get them outside of yourself so you can see them more clearly. To repeat: What's going on physically? What's going on mentally? What's going on emotionally?Next, let's look at some of the things you can do to counteract the feelings that come up in changing times. There are four major categories of action from which you can get some relief from the stress responses to change.
1. DIET. Eat at least three meals a day and drink lots of water (remember that coffee, tea, and colas don't count as waterBalance your intake of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Maintain low-fat, low-sugar intake. Restrict alcohol use. If this information is new to you, or if you don't understand some of the basic principles of nutrition, seek out professional advice from your doctor, then perhaps enroll in a structured weight control program (Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, and so forth). This course of action is particularly advisable if you are chronically overweight, underweight or if your weight varies widely and/or quickly.
2. REST. It's more than just a good night's sleep. Arrange for some quiet time each day -- read, meditate, listen to music, or look at art. Refrain from eating late at night, and try doing relaxation exercises before bedtime.
3. EXERCISE. Walking is good...can you do it daily? Work out aerobically at least three time a week for at least 20 minutes at a time; participate in a game or sport, if you can, on a regular basis...by the way, bowling counts!
4. RECHARGING. Schedule regular time with family, friends. Don't talk about work or other problems, just enjoy their company. Establish, revise, review and record personal and professional goals. Meditation is productive here, as is yoga (for some), prayer (for others) or hand-oriented hobbies such as model building, whittling or playing a musical instrument. Also, take a few moments once or twice a week to assess what you've accomplished during the interval since your last assessment. You may be pleasantly surprised at just how much you've accomplished.
Copyright 2002, 2005 Optimum Performance Associates/Paul McNeese.
Paul McNeese is CEO of Optimum Performance Associates, a consulting firm specializing in transitional and transformational change for individuals and institutions through publication. His publishing company, OPA Publishing, is an advocacy for self-publishing authors of informational, instructional, inspirational and insightful nonfiction.