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If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Healthy Habits for 2012 – Personal Development Ideas

No matter how much you take care of you, physically and mentally, no matter how healthy you live, you will likely be guilty of some unhealthy habits, some worse than others. Habits that have slipped into your daily routine or that seem so normal that you have discontinued your efforts to try and change them, simply because you formed a blind spot for it. This, of course, is all perfectly okay, if, when adding it all up, you feel happy, healthy, and satisfied with your job and your growth. But sometimes, you just do not realize what it specifically is that is draining your energy, that some habit or the other is slowly but steadily causing mounting frustrations. Below you find just three out of the many possible healthy habits that I choose based on my experience with clients in my coaching and training practice.

Healthy habit number one

How often are you caught up in a conversation where the other person just doesn’t seem to get what you are talking about. Where you feel you both keep repeating yourself without really getting anywhere. Where it seems that you can’t get through to each other? It’s called miscommunication and is often attributed to the other person. Rather than asking: “What’s wrong with this person?” or “Why is this person so …”, you might want to put an “I” into the equation. What is your role in it all? Practical tip: Clarify the main concept and ask for the other person’s definition on the topic. Make sure you both know what you are talking about.  In a recent conversation with a manager, he showed himself surprised about how one of his subordinates thought of himself as empathetic. The manager obviously thought otherwise. It turned out they had neglected to clarify what they meant by the word ‘empathetic’, which left the conversation hanging in the air, spilling over with misunderstandings and wonder since different meanings were attached to the word. You can avoid this by making it a habit to be clear about terms that seem crucial to a conversation. And while you’re at it, add to that the clarity about your expectations. A good book on the importance of clear expectations as related to accountability is How Did That Happen by Roger Connors and Tom Smith. 

Healthy habit number two

Have you ever felt worse after having verbalized how lousy you were feeling even though it was meant to make you feel better? First, of course, this is due to the fact that there’s no denying to it once you’ve said it out loud. It’s for real now, you feel the true magnitude and impact once you’ve put it out there. Your conversation partner might be adding to the feeling with well-meant encouragement about how difficult or sad it is for you. Another factor, however, is the language you use, and therefore the beliefs you hold, since your beliefs precede your thoughts and language, and more importantly, your feelings. For instance: The more you identify with a label, the higher the likelihood that you’ll start thinking, feeling, acting the label. Practical tip: Say “I feel depressed” rather than “I am depressed”. Do not identify with your feelings or equal yourself to your feelings. You are more than your feelings. You are your motivations, your desires, your experiences, your hopes, your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes as well as your feelings. Take them all into account, shuffle them around, and realize that your feelings are generally transitory rather than stationary, influenced by many factors amongst which your attitude towards life, towards events, and towards yourself.

Healthy habit number three

Do you recognize the following? You left a company because it turned out to be too much of what you didn’t want it to be or the misfit was so bad as to cause mediocre functioning, increasing stress, and great dissatisfaction.  For quite a few people it can be very tempting in such a situation to become revengeful, to start blaming everyone and everything (or at least a few people, right?), to look back at everything with tainted glasses, and to want the company and its (or some of its) people  to fail at what they do. Unfortunately, I have seen too many people in my coaching practice spending their precious energy, time, and skills at getting back at companies and people, literally or in their minds. Practical tip: Be honest with yourself and examine your thoughts and feelings. Anger and sadness related to grieving about the failed match between you and the company or job is perfectly normal, to a certain degree. It is part of the grieving process so clearly described by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. At the same time, however, be honest with yourself about your own role in the situation (the anti-blaming strategy) and, most of all, remind yourself to focus on what to learn from this situation and on how to focus your energy, time, and efforts on a better, healthier future. 

Wishing you healthy habits for 2012 and beyond.

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