Archive for January, 2013

Afraid of change … sometimes we don’t have a choice

January 29, 2013
The price of change

The price of change

The last two posts discussed New Year’s resolutions and, for the new year, what success looks like and how we can be afraid of taking the steps to achieve it. To get from where we are to where we want to be involves one important element; change.

We often talk about change. It’s not easy to change. Sometimes change can be forced, going on a diet or exercising are good examples, but it’s easy to go back to our old ways.

What do we want from change?

Usually a measured, positive change, factored at our own pace and to meet a specific goal; change we want to happen. Unfortunately not all change is positive and some change can put us in a serious crisis not of our own making.

Crises challenge our beliefs: bad things don’t happen to good people, life makes sense, we have control over what happens to us, life is fair. Sometimes life just doesn’t work out how we think it should.

In some circumstances a crisis, such as losing a job, can be the catalyst for change that we look back on and consider a blessing in disguise. Other crises, such as the loss of a loved one, can open our eyes to what’s really important and allow us to make appropriate changes to the way we live.

It’s not always easy to accept the consequences of a negative experience, especially when that experience was beyond our control. This means admitting that we can’t control all aspects of our life despite our best attempts. That realisation can leave us feeling powerless.

Unexpected change can shake our sense of identity. Any time we’re in that free-fall situation, where we’re uncertain about what we’re going to do next, there’s a great fantastic wonderful rare unique bold masterful wondrous exciting challenging: in other words, anything but ‘really good’ opportunity for personal growth and something different. We can be thrown out of our comfort zone and face choices that we wouldn’t have previously.

There can be enormous freedom when you find yourself outside of what you always expected to happen. Life may not have turned out exactly as planned but many times it can be better; if you’re open to the journey into the unknown.


Fear of failure or fear of success

January 21, 2013

Tracking towards success

Tracking towards success

A common practice for the New Year is to dream about what success looks like for us. Many people set goals, resolve to work harder, focus on the’ right’ things and maintain a positive attitude. A great start, but we can find our everyday lives have overtaken our plans and we’re back to dreaming rather than doing.

Is it because we’re busy or are we afraid of the outcome?

The familiar cliché is fear of failure, but that’s a misnomer. Most people are very familiar with failure, and as a consequence have little to fear from it. Often failure meets our ‘deep down’ expectations, reaffirms our opinion of our abilities, and removes the discomfort of having to try.

Our version of failure may be nothing of the sort.

We may have achieved much in our lives but view ourselves as a failure because we’re unable to meet the lofty goals we have set for ourselves. Others are afraid to try or to put in the effort required to change their current circumstances. And we love it when we don’t have to try; isn’t it great to be ‘let off the hook?’

This may sound crazy but because we know failure so intimately, its familiarity gives us comfort – ‘Oh well, at least I had a go and now know I can’t do it, just as I thought’. And we get rewarded by the sympathy and care of others so it feels alright.

The real issue is fear of success, and since we’re not familiar with it, we’re drawn away from it and back to what we know best: failure. It may seem odd since we covet success so much that we would subconsciously move away from it when it’s within our grasp. But that is exactly what happens time after time.

Be aware that this may happen. Set yourself a reasonable goal and allocate time to chase it. Small steps lead to big results.

New Year’s resolve

January 18, 2013
The time to start is now ...

The time to start is now …

Didn’t last year go quickly?

How often do we say that?

Usually we say it because there’s things we wanted to do but haven’t and there’s only a few months left. Does that mean we have the same goals for next year? What will we tell ourselves when New Year’s Eve rolls around?

On New Year’s Eve we look to the future. It’s often with a sense of relief that we turn from the retrospect of the last days of the old year and greet the New Year with enthusiasm. Turn the page; things will be different this year!

For some it can be a time of great celebration for a year well lived with progress and achievement. For others, it’s a time of regret for what we didn’t quite get around to during the year.

Was it a great year, or just a waste of time?

It’s rarely that black or white. However, the end of the year brings our progress, or lack thereof, into sharp report. It’s the one time of year when most hold themselves accountable for the slippage of time and the things that may have been. We’re one year older and, for many, a slice of the dream has crumbled away from the big picture life plan. And it comes back to time.

A year’s an appropriate length of time to mark our journey through the world. Our age is readily linked to our progress and used as a comparison point against others. A year is long enough to achieve many things but short enough to quickly pass beneath us as we get caught up in the daily activity of living.

‘I just don’t know where this year has gone’ is a familiar cry as the year draws to a close. ‘It will be different next year’ … but it rarely is. We’re already half way through January. There’s never a better time to start/continue/do something than right now. What are you waiting for?

Motivated to succeed

January 8, 2013
Success is within your reach

Success is within your reach

You may not be surprised to learn that most high achievers are defined by a strong desire to achieve. You can see it in the way they talk, and their enthusiasm, openness to opportunities, and willingness to take action and learn from their experiences.  Less accomplished people are more motivated to avoid failure. Here lies a major variable of success which many people miss, and which may require some honest self-appraisal to see where your true motivation lies.

Successful people love to accomplish something significant and gain great satisfaction from the process, particularly if it’s challenging. They’re willing to invest time and effort in achieving their goals.

For them the process is as rewarding as the outcome; each step is a personal test that is regularly renewed and made progressively more challenging until the final result is achieved.

Failure-avoiding people are more focused on protecting themselves from the sense of worthlessness or loss that can accompany failing at an important task. They are less likely to try, or if they do, they’ll give up quickly if things don’t go their way.

They may procrastinate, give less than their best effort or engage in self-sabotaging behaviour that provides a ready-made excuse in the event of failure. You’ll know these types: failure is always someone else’s fault, the time isn’t right, the market is flat or they were stressed. It’s never their fault and they’ll always have that ‘get out of jail free’ card to play, even if only to themselves.

Successful people take risks, head into uncharted waters, and by doing so they risk failure and the corresponding hit to the ego or self-confidence. True success is defined in these moments: when you accept failure, take responsibility and have another go. Are you prepared to have a go or are you more comfortable finding excuses for giving up?