Category Archives: The Lab-Rats

Tackling Someday Head On: Achieving Dreams with Confidence

  • Someday Lesson: If you can’t fully commit to busting your Someday then how important is it to you really?

Aunt Owwee on flickr.comYou know what? It doesn’t matter what you want. It doesn’t matter what reasons you have for not following it. If you’re not pursuing a dream you say you want, then you have to ask yourself the question How much do I really want it?

Marie understands this. Her biggest Someday is finishing her degree she admits to only maybe wanting it. She feels that she should really want it but she’s burnt out and only kind of wants it. That makes any forward progress a chore and the moment something becomes a chore resistance kicks in.

Think about your life – what are you doing because you feel you should want it? Or I should say, what are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?

Johnny, despite saying that he wants a career in clean-technology, lacks confidence and lets his poor work habits and procrastination stop him. Tie that into his fear around not having enough money and bam! he’s completely blocked. He can’t move forward because he’s scared it won’t work out (based on past experience) and yet he wants to move forward because it’s supposed his dream.

What situation in your life is like Johnny’s? Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?

When Michelle contacted me to become a Lab Rat, she mentioned that she fights her weight. She focuses on everything else in her life and ignores her weight. She doesn’t apply for jobs because she’s not happy with the way she looks. She says “it’s not fair!” about her size. And yet she knows it’s a whole lot easier to stay exactly as she is. It’s more comfortable to complain than to act even though the inaction makes her feel resentful and angry with herself. She’s waiting for it to be easy.

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?

Helen has a similar challenge. Yes her life is great, but she lets her health get out of control. She knows that certain foods are bad for her and that she doesn’t get enough exercise, but she doesn’t make herself a priority. Work fills her life and she lets that dictate all the other things she does. Rather than making a conscious choice at every meal to eat well, she goes on autopilot and lets whatever at hand go into her mouth. She chooses the comfortable (although more unhealthy) option of sitting in front of the computer rather than going out and getting exercise. Even though she loves her home and her village, she’s not connected to it the way she is to a city like London which energizes her to be active. At home she curls up in her nest and hibernates.

Are you connected or disconnected from your environment? Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?

Now let’s turn to Joyce who desperately wants to get back to writing. She has had two books published but has writer’s block for her current projects. She says she wants to focus on her writing and yet in her list of Somedays Joyce wants to do a bit of everything, from advocacy work to moving to another part of the country. And with each new idea she takes herself farther away from her writing Someday. With so many projects that seem to have an equal importance to her, all of which are time consuming and emotionally draining, Joyce can’t choose any single one to work on.

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?

And then finally we have Kristin another Someday-writer. She’s never made the effort to pursue her dream of supporting herself with her writing because she had a secure job that was safe. In her one of her hugely successful writing courses, 25 year writing veteran Holly Lisle says “SAFE never starts.”

SAFE can keep you locked up in your house, never daring to step foot outside the door. It can keep you locked in a job you hate that has no future, just because you’re afraid if you walk away you will never work again. SAFE can kill your hopes and dreams by telling you they were never worth pursuing, that you were never good enough to make them real, that you were only kidding yourself.

Where are you choosing safe over happy?

Basically it all comes down to excuses and because you’re getting something out of your inaction. For every single one of the Lab Rats that “something” is hope. As long as they don’t move forward, as long as they don’t follow through on their dreams they still have hope that the dreams will come true. Thing is, no matter how much hope they have, if they don’t act they’ve already failed.

It’s like being afraid to ask for help. Most people don’t ask for help because they’re afraid the other person will say no, and yet by not asking for help the answer is already no. In Spanish they have an expression “El no ya lo tienes” which literally translates to “The no you already have it.” If you ask or if you try then you have the possibility of the yes. But you have to do something.

Taking Action

So, what could each of the Lab Rats do? What could you do?

What are you not doing even though you feel you should want it?
Do you really want it? And if you don’t which is the “lesser evil”? Stopping or seeing it through? Sometimes you’ve reached a point where dropping the project makes no sense. On the other hand you might think it’s worth finishing when really you’re just flogging a dead horse and it’s time to accept your losses and walk away.

Where do you claim to want something but then let fear stop you?
Stand up and shout “I want this!” Or drop it and go find something else that you’re really passionate about. Can Johnny actually say that about his career in clean-technology? Think about people like Madonna or Gandhi (yes, I’m actually putting Madonna and Gandhi in the same sentence). Neither one accepted no. They wanted to fulfill their dreams so much they went out and did what they had to do (guided by their moral compasses) to achieve it. Of course, not everyone wants the same sort of world-influencing dream, but if you can’t say with 100% confidence “I want this” then why are you wasting energy, time and money pursuing it?

What aren’t you tackling because it’s too much work?
Human beings are inherently lazy. It’s a blessing in many cases. If it weren’t for our laziness we’d still be living in caves working hard all day long just to get enough to eat. However, there’s a dark side to laziness – inertia. It’s always harder to get started than to keep going. So, despite our desire to change we stay on the same path, repeat actions that do nothing to advance our dreams (or even hinder them) and then complain that we’re not seeing progress. If you truly want to change, you have to get active. Put your laziness to good use and find a way to create a new habit that will carry you to your dream in the same way your current habits carry you away from it.

Are you actively engaged or on autopilot?
One of my favorite phrases here on the blog is “life is choice” – from the decision to get up each morning through to going to bed at night (well for me the last one isn’t that much of a choice – my body just shuts down at some point and I get no say in the matter). Helen lets circumstances dictate her choices. It’s easier to go with the flow than to make active choices that might inconvenience other parts of her life. Getting out and getting exercise means not working quite so much. Taking time from work means the renovations on the house take longer and vacations can’t be as exotic as she would like. And so on and so on. If you grew up in the 1980s you might remember a series of books called Choose Your Own Adventure. Life’s like that – full of choices with consequences. Are you going to decide what action you take or will you let some invisible author make those choices for you?

How many projects do you have on the go at any one time? How good are you at prioritizing them?
Multitasking has gotten a bad rap in the past century. Ever since the industrial revolution specialization and finding your niche have become the ideal to pursue. However, not everyone is so single minded. Some people have so many interests and so many brand new ideas every day that they can’t function trying to be specialized. And because no one has ever taught them to deal with all these ideas flooding in, they become paralyzed and so do nothing. Fortunately the author Barbara Sher has brought back the renaissance approach to life in her book Refuse to Choose. If you’re someone who likes to do it all, this book provides a way to handle all the ideas that throw themselves at you like a group of puppies in full play-mode. Joyce sounds like she needs this book. How about you?

Where are you choosing safe over happy?
Sometimes safe is important – for example in the basic needs of life, but beyond that safe does nothing but block our desires. Don’t risk, don’t stand out, don’t be different from anyone else. As long as you choose safe over happy then you’ll always feel unfulfilled and happiness will always remain out of reach. Happiness requires risk. What are you willing to risk to gain happiness?

Your Personalized Someday Assessment

How did you do answering the six questions above? Are you as blocked about your life as the Lab Rats are?

If so then it’s time to do something about it. It’s time to reach out and ask for help. You want to live more and to achieve your dreams. You don’t want to live on autopilot. You don’t want to go through life on autopilot and unconscious.

It’s time to wake up, take control of your life and make the changes you want to make.

By doing nothing you already have your no, so why not try for yes instead?

All you need to do is fill out the Personalized Someday Assessment and I’ll help you bust your Somedays and create the life you want.

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The Drag of Inertia:The Lab Rats Explore What Blocks Them

Rahul3 on flickr.comBack in the first Lab Rat series, I talked about inertia as one of the reasons why people choose to be unhappy even when they know what they want out of life. That discussion prompted a section in I’ll Get Around To It Someday about how we block ourselves from following our dreams due to a habit of inaction or a habit of action in things that don’t help our dreams.

For example, I’m suffering from a sinus infection as I write this. I know where the sinus infection comes from – eating too much wheat irritates them (allergies) and they become vulnerable to whatever infections are floating about in the air. I could stop the cycle easily by not eating wheat, but I have a habit of including it in my diet and the habit’s a hard one to stop mainly because I enjoy bread and pasta and sweets.

The current crop of Lab Rats all have their own blocks related to inertia, although in Kristin’s case it’s the sudden removal of inertia (the imminent arrival of the baby) that has created her blocks.

Generally the blocks we have in our life can be divided into four areas: family, work, relationships and health. Let’s see how the Lab Rats block their dreams in each of these areas.

Family

For most of the Lab Rats a lack of progress on dreams related to the family comes from a desire to avoid conflict. For example Joyce allows the emotional problems of her son to interfere with enforcing chores and Helen lets her younger brother get away with saying offensive things because she doesn’t want to fight with him, although in Helen’s case she’s developed a much better relationship with her father by learning not to avoid conflict, so she has one success under her belt to help her with her brother.

Marie has a variety of toxic relationships to manage and has to do so actively which makes moving forward difficult as her energy goes into managing the toxicity instead.

Johnny’s family related blocks come from wanting to be a great parent but not devoting enough time to do things he wants to share with his kids. I’m certain that this is a common challenge for parents – where do you draw the line? What does “quality time” mean? Being a parent is a full-time job on top of all other commitments and there’s always something more a parent could be doing, so sometimes it’s just easier to do nothing.

Finally Kristin’s family blocks come from distance. She lives five hours away by plane which makes staying in touch difficult. Her pregnancy has also distanced her even more from the family, blocking her from taking a whole-family trip that’s been in the works for five years.

Work

Let’s go back to everyone’s Someday Challenges for this one. Helen said her life was almost perfect and at work she loves 90% of what she does, but because she enjoys it so much she has a habit of using work to put off the other things she’s blocking in her life (like her health).

Marie struggles to finish her dissertation but her hostile work/school environment makes it difficult to actually want to do anything. She needs to actively remind herself every day that she loves the topic of her dissertation, which again drains energy from moving forward.

Although she says she wants to work on her writing, Joyce finds other things to do, doesn’t insist on the quiet she needs to write (see avoiding conflict above) and feels uncomfortable promoting herself and her writing. Many writers are like this. We can’t not write and yet we spend much of our time avoiding writing altogether. It’s like we find the idea of writing so overwhelming we run from it instead of embracing it.

Kristin is another writer-in-the-works but her worry isn’t avoiding writing. She worries that by living in the unstructured world of new motherhood where everything revolves around the baby she won’t create the time to work on her dreams. She’s going to try to set up some routines before the baby comes, but of course all bets are off once the baby actually does arrive.

As for Johnny, he knows that his paid work is a habit and that he will use it and anything else to avoid the career development for what he really wants. He also knows that if he sticks to his plans he could find work in his dream profession within three months and yet he’s spent many more months avoiding doing just that. He’s always struggled with inertia in all his jobs and being motivated doesn’t matter – he still delays. For Johnny, as we move forward we’ll look at developing habits of small actions to turn inertia into motion.

Relationships

Marie and Johnny have no major blocks with their relationships and Helen’s only block is a lack of time (see work above) to commit to her husband.

Kristin on the other hand uses the conflict-avoidance method on her husband because she knows that for the next while she will depend on him for “everything from finances, to emotional support, to adult company, to plain old heavy lifting.” So of course she doesn’t want to rock the boat, but avoiding conflict often creates more through resentment and misunderstandings.

And Joyce struggles with interactions with others because she has a social anxiety that keeps her home and that tires her out too much to enjoy it. Plus she has this to add:

From what I can tell, having had to rely only on myself since I was a very young age, I have developed a block that keeps me from opening up and asking for what I want.  I allow fear—of appearing weak, stupid, inefficient, being rejected—to take over and stop me from doing what needs done.

This fear of hurt is harder to overcome than inertia because beyond getting moving, there’s also the protective shell that needs to be removed first (because it blocks her vision and limits how far she can travel). The fear does, however, explain some of Joyce’s reluctance to write. When a writer puts words down on paper she opens herself up to rejection and although Joyce has previously published books, each time it’s a brand new experience.

Health

Not surprisingly everyone says that they could be doing better health-wise with Marie being the only person to say she exercises every day.

Joyce, instead of not doing enough, does too much at times thus creating more pain but, as I learned through living in constant pain for ten years, on those days where we feel all right we take too much advantage of the feeling and make the next day worse. Balance evades us because when we feel good we want to squeeze everything in before the next bout of pain.

Kristin, of course, with the pregnancy experiences new sensations every day and wishes she would pay more attention to what she eats but she knows that it’s just a matter of making the time to do so and to not create her schedule around her work, her friends or her husband (again see conflict-avoidance above).

Johnny gets chronic headaches from so much time in front of the computer and knows that if he treats his body well, they go away, but sometimes it’s tough to remember even with the pain as a reminder.

Helen identified her health as her number one Someday and has this to say about the her health blocks:

Boy would I be fibbing if I said I have no blocks here!! I cannot seem to get a hold on what I want to achieve or even work out how to start. I know I want to be fit and healthy. I know I want to loose some weight but there is a bit of me that says I can’t be bothered – but I know that is an excuse – I think the reality is that there are so many things in my life I enjoy doing more.  Also my diet is very location dependent. In London I have a really healthy diet and I walk miles each day regularly doing 20,000 steps a day but at home it is rare for me to leave the house although my diet is still ok. I know there are blocks here but I just have difficulty seeing them and finding the energy to break through.

Procrastination is a tricky beast. Most of us know what we need to do to reach our goals but we can’t find the energy to do so. It’s like the carrot isn’t enough and sometimes the stick (of pain) doesn’t work either.

It’s a matter of finding the right carrot and the right stick to get us moving. What might be the right combination for someone won’t work for another. As we continue through the ebook, each of the Lab Rats will discover what dreams inspire them and what fears motivate them until they’re moving forward with ease.

And if you want to know what might help you with your Someday Journey, check out the Personalized Someday Assessment. You know you want to live more, so go for it!

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Controlling Control Issues: The Lab Rats Look At Who’s In Charge

  • Someday Lesson: If you let others control you or if you try to control others your own dreams will always stay out of reach.

Foxtongue on Flickr.comControl.

Such a loaded word, no? Control-freak, self-control, lose control, keep control, the situation is under control.

What does it really mean though? In a positive way it means taking responsibility for what’s your business, like your health for example. If you aren’t in control of your health, who is? Your doctor who has a hundred other patients to worry about?

Negative control lurks at the two extremes of taking responsibility – taking none or taking on responsibility for other people when you don’t need to.

When people say they don’t have time to do what they really want to, or say that no one allows them to follow their dreams they lean to one of the two extremes in the control continuum.

People who live with a habit of extreme control (either too much or too little) don’t pursue their own dreams because they either pursue someone else’s dream or try to force others to follow what they think is the other person’s dream.

I used to be a mix of the two, taking on too much control in a business situation and handing too much control to other people in my personal relationships. I’ve since learned how to run the control maze more quickly, being more assertive in relationships and letting go of my business perfectionism.

Let’s see where the Lab Rats fall:

Michelle

Michelle falls on the too little control side of the equation. She lets her family make her responsible for her sister’s life from chauffeuring her about to giving her money. And at work although everyone else is cross-trained, Michelle is the only one who does her job, so she gives her boss personal contact when she’s supposed to be taking time off. Plus she gets way stressed before and after time away from the office prepping and recovering.

She’s known her boyfriend since they were young and has always let him take the lead. Usually it’s no problem, but Michelle’s now beginning to assert her desires and her boyfriend is shocked, to no surprise. After so long of giving control to her boyfriend, the change to more personal control leaves him shaken and angry because Michelle is changing the “rules” of their interactions.

Marie

Maries goes to the other extreme and chooses to take on too much control of other people’s live to the point that if she doesn’t do it, nothing happens, from her mother’s life to work to relationships. The only place the extreme control has a positive result is with her health where insistence on her part revealed nerve damage and a vitamin deficiency that no one initially believed because they weren’t looking for it.

The most damaging part of Marie’s controlling nature is with relationships as she says:

I am very demanding. I expect the best of people and that people will use all their talents and abilities in life. I don’t understand the sitting by the sidelines mentality. I tend to be the alpha partner but will share control if the other person is deemed thoughtful and competent.

These last four words stand out for me and leave me wondering what Marie uses as a measuring rod. Sharing control happens naturally in most cases and isn’t something that gets doled out based on some internal worthiness score.

Reading Marie’s responses, I wasn’t surprised at her lack of progress on finishing her PhD. Submitting something that she’s been working on for so long for validation from a group of outsiders is a form of giving up control that must feel close to impossibly scary for her. Much easier to linger and not get anything done and not relinquish control. Better to have nothing to show than open up to possible criticism and judgment.

And in Marie’s case, the situation is made worse by hostile faculty members who will be reviewing her dissertation, doubling the reluctance to submit. When the validation isn’t going to come, why bother?

Helen

As a self-aware control freak, Helen has been working on letting go. In her family she feels that outside of her mother, if she doesn’t make arrangements to see each other, no one would make the effort. In her friendships, however, she has achieved a decent balance shedding people who only want to take or expect her to run their lives. Instead of using her controlling nature to take charge, she uses it within herself to maintain a balance of give and take in relationships. And at work she’s discovered a love of mentoring and helping out people who ask for assistance as a way to channel her love of control to create positive outcomes.

Her biggest control issue is around health, which isn’t surprising given that Helen volunteered as a Lab Rat to learn to control her body better. She’s bounced from too little control to too much control with changing sizes, suffering from bulimia, going on starvation diets and doing extreme training regimes. She’s recognized the unhealthy patterns and has recently turned to meditation and acceptance instead of self-critical control to maintain optimal health and body image.

Johnny

Johnny and his wife have a good relationship with lots of communication, so they know how the division of labor breaks down and neither feels either too controlling or too passive when it comes to each other and their children.

In general, Johnny doesn’t believe that his procrastination problems come from control. At work and in friendships he feels a certain level of obligation, but that’s normal and is a natural consequence of committing to a contract or something like his garage band.

Joyce

Joyce has no control issues either. She’s a single mother on disability with a mother who has begun to suffer from Alzheimer’s. Joyce is aware of what she needs to do but doesn’t overreach and start controlling other people’s lives except where she must (as with her son who is still a minor and her mother who’s unable to manage on her own).

Like Johnny, Joyce’s procrastination doesn’t come from control, so she runs through this particular maze without any confusion on which turns to take.

Kristin

Kristin suffers from the control issues that many women do. In her family she’s had to learn to stay out of her siblings’ lives if she wants to avoid conflict and with her husband she does the lion’s share of household chores because doing them is easier than complaining to him because they aren’t done or getting stressed because there’s no milk and the laundry’s piling up.

It’s not a great situation, but sometimes we just accept the other person’s personality and interests as they are and get on with living. When the baby comes, however, Kristin might find that she just doesn’t have the energy to do everything and her husband might need a good kick in the butt to step up and help out.

The problem could be this: Kristin’s better at household management than her husband, so he lets her do it, rather than making the effort himself. It reminds me of a friend who worked as a delivery boy and got around town fine but if anyone else was in the car with him, he had no idea where he was going and depended on others to navigate for him.

As you can see, the control maze has many routes through it. Some like Joyce and Johnny run right through without having to consider their paths, while the other four get waylaid by others (or themselves) distracting them as they make decisions about which turns to make.

What path would you take?

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A State of Self-Awareness: What Goals Do Your Actions Serve?

  • Someday Lesson: Without self-awareness, personal growth won’t happen.

Elizabeth/Table4Five on flickr.comMost people think that getting over procrastination involves a famous slogan that politely tells us to get off our collective asses and start working – just do it.

However, it’s not that simple. If you don’t know why you procrastinate or what goals, desires and fears are working in contradiction to one another, no amount of just doing it will produce any results. Since understanding comes from self-awareness, for the second exercise in the ebook I’ll Get Around To It Someday, I asked the Lab Rats to monitor themselves for a few days looking at what actions they took and what goals each of those actions served.

Now, when I say “goals” in this instance, I don’t mean the thought-out planned goals. I mean the unconscious outcomes that we bring about by letting our actions just happen without conscious choice.

For example, I know that I have a tendency to fritter when I really want to be highly focused and that frittering serves a goal of avoiding hard work. That’s a part of who I am and that avoidance is just as much a goal as getting a book published one day. You can see however, that these two goals contradict one another, but by being aware of them, I have learned how to manage them so that they don’t interfere with each other.

The Lab Rats, however, haven’t reached that point yet. They’re at the awareness stage and this week we look at what goals they drew out of the exercise.

The Wrong Maze

Before we get started though, a side note. I wasn’t sure how many of the Lab Rats would actually get through this particular maze I set them, so it came as no surprise that two people decided not to enter it. Nor did it surprise me who were the two non-maze-runners.

First was Helen, whose life is more or less how she wants it and is highly busy, tracking her workday down to the quarter hour. Shoehorning in another tracking project to her already busy schedule was just not going to happen. But that’s okay – in Helen’s case I’d ask her to stop a moment before starting any task or choosing any piece of food throughout the day. And that question is:

How does doing this make my life better?

By asking herself that question, she creates self-awareness for all her actions but doesn’t need to actually track it. And if she asks it for everything she does, it will become a habit and will help her stop making less-than-healthy choices.

Who else didn’t submit? Marie – the dissertation student who admitted last week to a full-on procrastination problem. Marie knows what the problem is: she’s self-sabotaging due to doubts about her future, but like most normal people, she has no interest in facing this self-sabotage. Asking Marie to track her actions for a week asks her to face her self-destructive behavior full-on and honestly that’s not going to happen either – nor will it be very effective in curing her of her procrastination. Much better to let it go for a week and continue on with other exercises, coming at the problem from a different angle.

Now let’s take a look at what (positive and negative) goals our other Lab Rats pursue on a day to day basis.

Johnny

Johnny would like to set his days as mornings for work and afternoons for planning his career. Unfortunately the career planning part holds a lot of uncertainty and fear, so he creates other activities to distract him from actually getting there.

His conflicting goals are as such:

  1. Find a career he’s passionate about.
  2. Avoid the huge knot of emotions the first goal generates.
  3. Get work done enough to feed the family.

Despite not really wanting to work at the last goal, the “feed the family” part is usually enough to get him moving on it even if he takes a long time to get around to it.

With the first one however, right now the protective avoidance keeps him from pursuing his passion. In his original notes to me Johnny confided that this sort of behavior happened regularly in the past – he would want very much to accomplish something but would procrastinate about it so much that he wouldn’t get it done.

Think of it as the little boy who has a crush on a little girl, but since he can’t deal with the overwhelming emotions concerning the girl, hits her and teases her instead of talking to her.

Joyce

In looking at the goals served in a typical day for Joyce, one major issue jumped out at me. Almost every single one of her goals serves obligations and not desires:

  1. Pets’ wellbeing
  2. Family’s wellbeing
  3. Son’s education
  4. Business obligations
  5. Networking
  6. Joyce’s education
  7. Obligation to her body’s pain
  8. Obligation to her nicotine habit
  9. Friend’s wellbeing
  10. Desire to write

Obviously Joyce cares about the well-being of those around her; but in a typical day, almost all of the activities she does for reasons other than personal desire. Yes, Joyce chooses to smoke, but after many years of doing so her body has created an obligation – if she wants to feel good during the day, she needs to smoke. The (unhealthy) obligation is to her body’s cravings.

Only her own schooling and her writing speak directly to her needs and often she reaches the end of the day too tired to write, so even that goal doesn’t get served.

In last week’s worksheet however, Joyce didn’t mention a lot of these obligations because they are things she chooses to do and wants to do – which is great – but they don’t serve her needs directly[?] – which is not so great.

As we move forward with Joyce we’ll look for ways for her to find more time for her private goals.

Michelle

Michelle tracked a whole week and discovered that her actions are completely governed by the needs, wants and reactions of others. It wasn’t a heartening realization for her, but an important one. It means that Michelle will likely make faster progress through subsequent mazes because a few small changes will likely produce rapid results.

An obstacle I do foresee for Michelle, however, is one that a commenter on a post last week discovered – that family doesn’t appreciate changes, even if the changes are better for everyone in the long run. Because of that Michelle will face a good deal of pushback from people who are used to how she is just as she is.

On a positive note, Michelle is so poised to make big changes in her life. Her comments show a high degree of self-awareness. She knows what she needs to change – she just hasn’t done it yet. Once the mazes give her a few decision-making and choice-making tools, she’ll just start plowing through the changes into the life she really wants.

Kristin

Like many people with nine-to-five jobs, Kristin spends very little time at work actually working. That often happens for people who work in a time-based business world. Instead of focusing on results, employers look at time put in at the office.

Looking at her schedule, Kristin felt ashamed for not getting more done, but acknowledged that this is the point of her signing up to be a Lab Rat – to implement the changes.

She also realized that some of her goals serve the needs of other people who may not even care if she helps their goal and may even prefer that she work towards her own goals first and not focus on the needs of others so much..

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Setting an Example: More Lab Rats Enter the Maze

surprise truck on flickr.comLast week I introduced you to Helen, John and Michelle, three of the six new Lab Rats. While I did that the other three patiently waited their turn for the spot light (and took a moment to polish their tails a bit).

As with the first three Lab Rats, Kristin, Marie and Joyce are all looking for accountability. By going through the ebook I’ll Get Around To It Someday (launched earlier this week) with the whole world watching them, they’ll be forced to follow through on the exercises instead of starting them and trailing off the moment it becomes work.

Kristin

Kristin is an Australian geek who plays with big databases. Over the years her career has taken her away from her roots and further into geekery, and now she’s bored. She’s highly paid for the geekery and the company treats her well, but deep down it really isn’t her.

Her big dream is to ditch the day job and make a living for myself through writing, only she has no idea how to go about it. She has a blog and went back to school part time, but wonders if perhaps the writing courses are just another way of procrastinating instead of just starting.

Getting pregnant means a 12 month maternity leave and Kristin hopes to turn that time off into the start of a the writing career. Specifically she’s looking for clarity on what she wants and what steps to get there.

And by doing this all publicly, Kristin also hopes to help other soon-to-be moms with similar dreams.

Marie

Marie is also in school, but not at all part time. She has about eight months to finish and defend her dissertation. Unfortunately, her chair has left the university and her motivation went along for the ride. Supposedly she needs to write every day on the dissertation, but it’s not happening and the terror of the job market at the end of it all has paralyzed her.

I remember this stage. When I was finishing up my Master degree, I almost didn’t finish two courses on purpose so that I wouldn’t have to enter the “real world.” After more than twenty years in school, the idea of leaving (as much as I hated it by that point) was scarier than the horror of having to repeat courses.

Marie’s hopes that her wandering motivation has gotten itself lost in the maze and that by being a Lab Rat they’ll be reunited. Plus she hopes that the walls of the maze give her a structure and keep her on the path towards completing her dissertation.

Joyce

Joyce is another writer, but one who’s a few steps ahead of many of us. You see, she had her first book published over two years ago. Unfortunately, the whole process doesn’t get easier and since then she’s made progress on two other books, but she finds “something else” to do rather than work on them.

The Getting Started Monster hassles her every day and self doubt just adds to the fear. Once she does get started, she will finish (eventually) and she hopes that she’ll be able to vanquish the Getting Started Monster within the passageways of the maze, like Theseus and the Minotaur.

About her situation, Joyce says:

One of my biggest procrastinating problems is feeling so overwhelmed with everything that I do, that I end up doing nothing at all.

By becoming a Lab Rat, Joyce hopes to find guidance and learn how to commit to her writing instead of putting it off indefinitely. And by eliminating procrastination from her life, she hopes to achieve a greater sense of self-worth, knowing she’s learned to give her best in every situation.

Your Own Trip Through the Maze

Do you recognize yourself in these three Lab Rats? Or perhaps in the three from last week? If so, why not consider taking a trip through the maze yourself?

The I’ll Get Around To It Someday ebook is now available for download and to make sure that you’re keeping yourself accountable (and getting the most out of your investment in yourself), I am offering Guided Tours through the maze for only $199US.

Yes, that’s right. For the price of less than an hour and a half of my consulting time you get nine weeks of email coaching, taking you through the 20 worksheets that go along with the ebook.

So, if you want to stop saying “Someday” to your dreams, then click here for more details about the ebook and the Guided Tour.

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Being Accountable: The Newest Lab Rats Enter the Maze

Magically Shift The Maze To Reach Your Goal by CarbonNYC (Flickr.com)Here in the Someday Lab, no one gets to rest. One set of Lab Rats finishes their maze and the next bunch lined themselves up at the entrance to a brand new maze, cleaning their whiskers with impatient swipes of paws across noses.

And just what’s in store for the new Lab Rats? What sort of maze have I developed for them?

They’re going to be running through the worksheets in the next ebook in the Someday Syndrome Cure series: I’ll Get Around To It Someday which launches at the end of this month.

Each week, the six of them (yes, that’s right – the Lab Rats have multiplied!) will provide me with one worksheet from the ebook and I’ll discuss in public their progress.

And now that the Lab Rats have made themselves all presentable with their nervous grooming, let’s introduce (a few of) them.

Johnny

Johnny has decided to tackle the problem of procrastination head-on. He has a passion for his profession, but a poor record of delivering on time. He’s currently searching for a new position and finds it difficult to keep motivated and the habit of procrastination has held him back from finding the job he wants.

Like many procrastinators, he’s a perfectionist, worries about looking stupid, and has a tendency to distract himself easily (hmmm… that sounds remarkably like me!)

He’s tired of half-finished projects and he wants to develop some good habits, not just for himself, but as a good example to his kids.

As with the last round of Lab Rats, Johnny figures with the blog readers watching his progress he won’t have an excuse for not moving forward. He also looks forward to the feedback of the other Lab Rats and the blog readers.

Helen

Helen led off her Lab Rat application with the following:

I think I would make a perfect Lab Rat because my life is close to perfect already I just want more of it…

At first, I thought: Helen doesn’t need me! but then I experienced a mental shift and thought Yes she does!

Someday Syndrome doesn’t just affect people who aren’t clear on their lives. Somedays aren’t just big looming scary objects blocking the entirety of our lives – they are also small things, little irritations that act like grains of sand in our shoes and making the long hike through life painful.

Helen signed up to be a Lab Rat for two reasons:

  1. To add another driver in her journey to achieving the life of her dreams
  2. She knew I wouldn’t let her say “I’m too busy to focus on me and my dreams”

She hopes to achieve a number of things – the key one is clarity. She lives a life that she adores and she is incredibly blessed with what she has, however she wants to live more. She has a lot of dreams and ambitions and some of them clash so she wants to gain a level of understanding and clarity that will lead to her to remove these clashes and really consolidate and create her dream life. She also hopes to create a habit out of focusing on herself.

Going public with her journey will also make her really open and honest about what she wants without worrying about what people will think – which has been a large past issue.

Michelle

The last of this week’s Lab Rats (the other three I’ll introduce next week), Michelle is in major need of pushing her procrastination block out of the way. In her own words:

I’ve been overweight for 8 years. I kept telling myself every year that I’d start losing weight but I kept finding “busy” things that kept tempting me to say “tomorrow.” For example, I was planning on going to the gym after work but got into a fender-bender before the end of the day. Well, I didn’t get hurt and my car is perfectly fixable yet I made the excuse to myself that I needed to get in touch with insurance (it only took about 10 minutes to talk with the claims department) so I’d have to wait another day to go to the gym. Wow, 10 minutes totally blocked me out, huh? Well, it’s two days later and I still haven’t made the effort! Procrastination, procrastination…pro-cras-tuh-nay-shun!

Michelle also feels that she has a book within her and after writing several drafts, she doesn’t have a finished product (not even close!). The Internet and Facebook distract her (I know that one!) and she’s tired of the weird looks she gets when she tells people that she hasn’t finished the book she so proudly announced that she was writing two years ago.

She’s joined the experiment to get a professional’s insight as to why she slows down when she’s highly motivated and put things off when she has more than enough time to get them done. She’s hoping to discover any self-sabotage (if any) and nip it in the bud! In addition to that, she hopes to learn the necessary steps to take to stop procrastination and reverting to the same old Michelle.

Doing all this publically means taking responsibility for her choices and being accountable for forward motion.

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Measuring Success: The Lab Rats Review Their Progress

  • Someday Lesson: Don’t just assume success or failure – measure it against where you started to be certain.

Darcy McCarty on flickr.comOver the past three and a half months we’ve watched Horatio, Lizzie, Wendee, and Alessio go through the Someday My Ship Will Come In ebook, chapter by chapter. We’ve seen their weekly progress and watched as they struggled with their Somedays.

Since we’ve come to the end of the process, I’ve asked each of the Lab Rats to take a look back at the maze I put them through and examine each twist and turn to see exactly how much change has occurred for them and how they feel about participating in the public experiment.

Here’s what each had to say about their progress.

Horatio

Horatio’s big issue was work. He hated it, felt isolated and lonely and watched his fitness and wellbeing slip away because of it. In fact, it was such a big block to his dreams that less than halfway through the process he decided to solve the problem in the most radical way possible – he quit! Without a new job to go to.

Instead of creating fear and more problems, this decision actually freed Horatio to pursue his dreams. He feels intense relief at disengaging from the toxic environment, he’s caught up with social connections and feels less lonely, he gets more regular exercise and is each better and has finally broken free of the belief that he could only get drudgery-like jobs.

Of course it’s not all sunshine and puppies. He is out of work and while there are a few well paid jobs out there, Horatio is human and experiences bad days, dark moments and massive procrastination.

He credits the massive shift in thinking to the early listing of problems and what sucks. He called the experience “a mildly traumatic exercise” but the exercise made him look at what he hated about his life and he saw that as an essential step to everything that followed.

Wendee

When Wendee went back to her original mind-dump of what sucked about her life, she noticed that most of what she had written was very emotional. Going through the list at the end of the process proved to be much less emotional, more rational and more action focused.

In fact, in going through her before and after list, I noticed that what’s changed most for Wendee is just that – she now realizes what choices are available to her and is taking action instead of complaining. By being more aware of the choices she has, she can derail negative thoughts and patterns before they bring her down, and can initiate an action to keep up the positive energy.

Specifically she has this to say about the process:

The best thing was writing down and being able to assess and change some of my thought patterns. I tend to be able to work through issues on paper, but committing to my written word is a little harder for me, still. Although, in working through and saying that I wouldn’t take on any extraneous volunteer positions, I actually held that thought in my mind and did bow out of elections for more volunteer positions – giving myself the permission to protect a much more simplified life.

Lizzie

In Lizzie’s case, she dealt with some of the mundane things that were really bringing her down. Things like getting the puppy train, dredging the pond and widening the driveway, finding work again, and finishing her taxes are now done and off her worry list.

Lizzie’s learned to put the energy into getting things done instead of being wide eyed and panic stricken at 3am. By shifting the focus of energy, she’s gone from worry to action, from internal to external and the payoffs have been huge.

And although she didn’t achieve one of her big goals (weigh loss), she has let herself relax and is now more comfortable in her own skin and in her (slightly messier) house.

When she started the process, Lizzie felt she knew exactly what she needed to do and was hoping a stern taskmaster (which I’m so not!). But in the end she learned to examine her priorities and to let go of perfection (her stepdaughter’s name for her is “Monica Geller Bing”).

I need to quit working on being perfect and start working on being happy.

Alessio

Alessio’s journey was about the most straightforward of the Lab Rats. He took the path with the fewest detours, but created slow and steady progress along the way. He started out not knowing what he wanted or where he was going and ended with creating a compelling future and a direction to work towards. The whole process taught him self-awareness, which has helped not only in this instance but will help him greatly in the future as well.

He also said that the worksheets in the order I presented them allowed him to narrow down what it was that he wanted, clearing the whole picture up, and making his future exciting yet realistic at the same time. Working through the workbook made it seem much easier than he had expected it to be.

Thank you so much for helping me through ‘the maze’, I’ve learned a lot and am very grateful for your help and for giving me the tools that I needed to help me find and realize my dreams.

Why the Public Participation?

All four Lab Rats found doing the ebook publicly meant being more accountable. As Horatio said:

It’s all very easy to pick up a self-improvement book, and read it, maybe doing the exercises in your head and perhaps thinking of the principles vaguely for a week or two. Being obliged to actually carry it out and write things down turns it from a casual exercise into actual work.

Wendee and Lizzie at first worried about what others would say in response but quickly learned that the Someday Syndrome community isn’t interested in judging and that the whole process was totally non-threatening.

Your Someday Journey

Next week I’ll introduce you to the next batch of Lab Rats who will be going through the next ebook in the Someday Syndrome Cure Series: I’ll Get Around To It Someday (launching soon!).

In the meantime, I encourage you to consider making a public commitment of some sort and make yourself accountable for busting your Somedays.

(And if you check back in here tomorrow, you’ll find an offer that will do just that for you!)

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