On dropping the ball Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Friday, 26 March 2010 16:52
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By now you must have realised that working like crazy isn’t working. So, let’s just step back and for a little while forget about the how-and-when of our to-do lists. We’re going to try to find a way to get off the treadmill without breaking our necks. And then we’re going to try to find out why, full well knowing that we live in a world of unlimited choice, most of us feel trapped by daily chores.

Ruth Tearle, a change and strategy facilitator, says that she can tell us exactly how to get out of the traps we’ve fallen into. You do this by setting boundaries, changing your standards and giving up the idea that your life should be balanced.

“The notion of balance makes me crazy,” Ruth says. “It is an unworthy goal and unachievable to boot. We don’t want or need balance. What we need is a sense of autonomy and control over what we have promised to others and ourselves.”

And, strangely enough, to get back control, you need to let go of the idea that you can control what others think. The first ball Ruth recommends you to drop in the juggling act is “trying to get everyone to like you”. Then you drop “trying to do everything perfectly” and then “trying to do everything”.

Think it’s easy to drop these balls? After a lifetime of juggling most of us find it nearly impossible to let go. Ruth recommends using boundaries and standards as tools to help get a grip on your personal reality so you can “stop pinging around like pin balls reacting to everyone else’s expectations”.

A boundary is what people can and cannot do to and around you. Standards determine what you expect of yourself. They need to be flexible and should change as your life changes. Still, most of us become slaves to our standards. Ruth recently caught a ride with a very busy friend of hers. Inside the friend’s car it was a total disaster area but, instead of apologising, she laughed and said: “Well, something had to give. If you really hate how dirty my car is, we can pull over and you can help me clean it out.”

It is always liberating to be with people who don’t care if they’re judged by a dirty car, dust on their ornaments or muddy paw marks on the floor. But how do you become that someone? Ruth says it is by putting yourself first.

Sounds too selfish? I’m sure that, like me, you’ve heard this oxygen mask analogy a number of times, but here it goes again. If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airliner, you would have been warned that, in case of cabin decompression, you should put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help anyone else.

In the time it takes to help someone else, you could both pass out and die. But if you put on your own mask first, you will be able to think clearly, so that you can be of real help to others.

It’s the same with dreams, you know. You can’t help anyone reach for their dreams if you’re a dream-deprived being yourself. What’s that you say? Ah, you’ve already had someone trying to point you in the direction of a dream. Was it yours, though?

One of the biggest reasons you don’t get to live your dream might just be because it isn’t your dream. You’re not excited enough to pursue the dream, because it’s someone else’s dream for you.

This is the secret nobody ever tells you. It’s all about excitement and enthusiasm. Just like you cannot bake successfully without baking powder, you cannot begin to attract your grandest dream if you’re not enthusiastic about it.

And you certainly won’t feel very enthusiastic about any dream if you get stuck in the who-what-when-why-and-how of it. First, you have to completely forget about practical steps and only focus on the end result and your excitement about it.

According to author Mike Dooley, absolutely nothing can be anything until it is first imagined. With gusto. He says that of all the things that matter, that really and truly matter, working more efficiently to get more done is not among them.




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