Tag Archives: 6Weeks

How Do You Compare?

Last week, I sent the Lab-Rats the following:

As someone who sees the world in patterns, I’m prone to comparisons. Unfortunately when we compare ourselves to others we set ourselves for negative emotions like jealousy, bitterness and despair.

I talked about how I felt I’d missed the blog superstar boat in this post: One of Too Many from January of 2007.

After you read this post, answer the following questions:

  1. Do you compare yourself to others much? And do you end up in a more or less favourable light?
  2. How do you avoid generating negative emotions when you see the successes of others who are doing similar things that you’re working towards?
  3. Daniel Gilbert in Stumbling on Happiness suggests that we would be happier if we followed the advice of people doing the same things we’re doing. How often do you ask for and/or follow that advice?

(Crista excused herself this week for a girls’ weekend in a New York penthouse – a very good excuse!)

So what did the remaining Lab-Rats have to say? Let’s see:

Comparisons: Good or Bad?

Sal’s very much like me. He tends to be hard on himself and sees how poorly he’s doing in comparison to how well others are doing. We’re both also very impatient, thinking that we should take 15 minutes to achieve what others took years to master.

Brett used to be like Sal and me but his many many years of life experience have given him perspective and he now realizes that it’s better to find commonalities than to compare. Given that he’s the same age as me, I’m tempted to compare ourselves and find myself coming up short – how come I haven’t learned this yet? 😉

The Urbane Lion, being the most – ahem – mature of the group has learned how to use comparisons in a good way to boost his confidence and inspire him to new actions.

Negative Ned or Positive Pete?

Again, Sal and I are very similar. We get all Negative Ned then we get active turning the impatience with ourselves into energy to get things done. Brett and the Urbane Lion, on the other hand, recognize everyone’s uniqueness and the futility of comparisons, making the Positive Petes of the group.

Advice: Do You Take It?

Given that being Lab-Rats was a voluntary choice, I’d be surprised if any of the three said that they didn’t ask for nor listen to advice. I, however, tend like to do things on my own unless that advice is offered in a certain way. If it’s done in a comparative or prescriptive way, I get all “you can’t tell me what to do” but if it’s offered as “hey, this helped me, it might help you, too” then I’m properly grateful and figure out how I can apply what I’ve just learned to improve what I’m doing. Brett and the Urbane Lion agree, saying that they reject advice from people who live in a winner-loser mentality (Brett) or if after thinking about the advice if it goes against their system of values (the Lion).

Overall, their answers this week (and every week) made me feel honoured to be working with them. What a truly great bunch of people I have as Lab-Rats! Every single one of them is open, honest about negative moments and willing to learn from others, which in turn means we can all learn from them.

Someday Lessons:

  • Comparisons by nature aren’t bad, as long as we don’t react emotionally to them.
  • When it comes to advice, the best advice is: take suggestions but alter them to fit who you are.
Tagged , , , ,

Having a Good Wallow

In this last week of the no-time-to-think Lab-Rat experiment (we’ll be back to normal next week), I’m changing things up just slightly. Everyone will do everything as normal, over the weekend I’ll add a post covering my thoughts on the past four weeks and choose the best of the Someday Lessons. The winner of the best Lesson will receive a copy of Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness (my current favourite book).

Often when we allow ourselves to do nothing, our thoughts turn negative and we start focusing on all the things that are wrong and could go wrong in our lives. At that point the doing nothing turns into a pity party. Now I’m all for a good wallow – it can be cathartic as well as productive – I’ve had some of my best ideas come from trying to shake myself out of a wallow.

In December 2006, I wrote about Cancelling the Pity Party because I’d been sick for eight weeks straight and I was tired of feeling yucky and blue. Let’s find out this week how the Lab-Rats deal with self pity.

  1. When worries and stress start to get you down, do you indulge them or shut them off?
  2. How do you break yourself out of a funk?
  3. What triggers a pity party in you?

Someday Lessons:

  • Now that you know a contest is happening, I’m sure I’ll see lots of great lessons this week. 😉
Tagged , , , ,

Taking Time for Nothing

Welcome to the third week of the Lab-Rat’s new maze trials. As with the last two weeks, once the Lab-Rats have answered the questions below, you get to determine what the Someday Lessons are. Enjoy yourselves and I’ll be back next week!

So far in these experiments, I’ve had the Lab-Rats consider their goals, their fears and the actions – all active, serious stuff. So today, I was going to make this post about playing but then I realized that would have been too easy for the Urbane Lion – playing is his raison d’etre! Instead, let’s talk about nothing, specifically taking time to stare at the ceiling go off into your own version of AlexWorld and just simply exist.

In my December 2006 post, The Time Fairy, I wrote a cautionary tale about not taking time for yourself. As we pursue our goals we often push ourselves to a burnout point, especially if we have family and other commitments beyond work and our personal goals. Monica Ricci wrote on her blog about the trashy television she enjoys and Erin Doland at Unclutterer.com also talked about taking time for fun, but what about nothing?

  1. If I told you to spend at least 15 minutes a day on the sofa, awake, but not doing anything, how would you feel? Relaxed, guilty, lazy, sleepy?
  2. What distractions keep you from doing nothing for a part of the day?
  3. What might you do to remove those distractions so that you can do nothing?

Someday Lessons:

  • As usual, that’s up to you… And may the best Lesson win!
Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Breaking Out of Your Life

Continuing on with last week’s new maze format for the Lab-Rats, I have another answer without thinking post for them. This time it’s all about breaking free of the expected.

In my December 2006 post, Endorphin Heaven,  I talked about spontaneous actions, happiness, and breaking limits and one of my favourite movies, Legally Blonde.

Once the Lab-Rats have read the post (and no they don’t have to go watch Legally Blonde, although I do recommend it as a great example of a formulaic movie transcending its genre), they’ll come back here to answer the following questions. After that, you all get to chime in and provide everyone with your ideas for some Someday Lessons derived from the Lab-Rats answers.

Questions:

  1. How spontaneous are you? Can you go off and explore sothing new on a whim or do you need to plan new experiences?
  2. If you’ve done something extraordinary recently, take a moment to compare it to a moment in the past – does it appear more or less extraordinary in comparison?
  3. Have you ever experienced a personal limit shattering moment? How did it make you feel?

Someday Lessons:

  • I look forward to seeing many of them in the comments! Remember – the writer of the best Lesson will be rewarded in November.
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Addicted to Change

While I’m away I’m dropping the Lab-Rats in a new set of mazes. We’re done for now with thought out, reasoned responses. Now we’re going for the first-thoughts – what comes up without taking time to consider the answers.

And just how am I doing that? By not giving the Lab-Rats the questions beforehand. They’re seeing this post for the first time with you. And their answers will appear in the comments.

Will they find the cheese at the end of the maze? That’s up to you to decide. I’m including you all in the experiment as well while I’m gone. Since I’m not putting together a summary of the Lab-Rat answers, how about you all give it a try for me?

And now to layout the labyrinth.

As I mentioned last week, I like to start things but have a hard time finishing them. My house in Toronto was without quarterround between the baseboards and the floor for years (almost right up until I moved). My post Change Junkie describes my love of switching things up all the time and why. And it includes how I deal with this desire to change all the time. So, once the Lab-Rats (and you) have read the post, they’ll come back and answer these questions:

  1. What types of change do you seek out?
  2. What types of change do you resist?
  3. How do you deal with either extreme (too much or too little change) the extreme threatens to take over your mindset?

Someday Lessons:

  • As I said above, I’m leaving the Someday Lessons up to all of you. Once you’ve seen the Lab-Rats’ answers, give me some Lessons you’ve derived fom them. Keep them short and snappy – and the best one may just find its creator rewarded.
Tagged , , , , ,

Pushing Yourself Forward – Full Text Answers

Last week the Lab-Rats explored their fears and pushing beyond them. This week, it’s about pushing beyond our self-imposed limits. As I described in my post Pushing My Limits, in 2006 I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time and although I ended up not reaching my 50,000 word goal, I did write 40,000 in a single month, which was more than I’d ever written in my entire life.

That being said, here are the questions for this week:

  1. Do you need to push yourself to do things, or if you’re passionate about something, do you just go off running and get it done?
  2. If you do have to push yourself, what are some of the techniques you use to stretch the boundaries of your usual efforts?
  3. If you do set a goal and you don’t quite reach it, how do you react? Are you proud of yourself for trying? Are you upset that you didn’t reach the goal? Or do you experience a completely unexpected reaction?

Brett’s Response

Your post hit it right on the head for me, because of my attitude towards fear – if things are not life and death, it is possible that things won’t get done.  It is easy to just watch the sun set and get back to things tomorrow.

So, to answer your questions this week:

  1. I do have to push myself, usually after the first month or so for the longer projects.  The initial passion is intense, and so shorter tasks are easily completed.
  2. So, in order to do this, I use a few techniques – I have a vision board, so I can see the final end state, and I have a year-calendar that I use to play “don’t break the chain” – I also use spreadsheets to track subtasks of my bigger projects, to make sure things are progressing as planned, or to see where things are slipping.  By breaking things down into smaller tasks, it is easier to keep the fire burning.
  3. If I don’t quite reach a goal, I don’t beat myself up over it – I will try to learn from it and figure out why I didn’t get there, then see what I need to do to adjust my course to get there – or maybe see if I can do without that little subtask.  If necessary, I just put it right back at the top of the list of things to do.

So far, this kind of thing works pretty well for me.  I believe I’m doing reasonably well at moving towards my main goals, with all of the stuff going on to keep me from working at it full time!  If it were just me, I figure I’d be sitting on Waiheke Island right now, drinking a cold Monteith’s… 🙂

Crista’s Response

  1. Do you need to push yourself to do things, or if you’re passionate about something, do you just go off running and get it done?When I am passionate about something there is no pushing required.  Author, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi who writes about the state of flow describes it as ‘a state of concentration so focused that it amounts to absolute absorption into an activity.’ Unfortunately, for those around me, when I’m in flow there is sometimes nothing else.
  2. If you do have to push yourself, what are some of the techniques you use to stretch the boundaries of your usual efforts?I think there’s a difference between being called to do something and being driven to do it. When I’m called, I am swept away by a sense of energy that allows me to overcome obstacles and face challenges that seem impossible if I’m driven.  And typically, if I need to push myself, it’s a sign that perhaps I should evaluate what I’m doing. When I’m driven, it’s usually an outside force from other people’s expectations and demands that are creating chaos and force the pushing.
  3. If you do set a goal and you don’t quite reach it, how do you react? Are you proud of yourself for trying? Are you upset that you didn’t reach the goal? Or do you experience a completely unexpected reaction?When I don’t reach an important goal, I don’t let it go. Probably to a fault sometimes. If the goal isn’t important to me though, I have no problem walking away from it. Sometimes I’m proud of myself for trying, but it really depends on what it is. The really meaningful goals seem to get accomplished in my life and the rest fall away. For example, I sometimes have a mental list of goals I’d like to accomplish on any given day. Usually, they are the little things that allow me to stay organized. When I don’t get to something on that mental list, I don’t worry about it unless one of those things affects someone I love.

Urbane Lion’s Response

  1. Do you need to push yourself to do things, or if you’re passionate about something, do you just go off running and get it done? Huuum, no easy answers to this one. Pushing myself over my limits was a regular occurrence when I was a business owner. These limits were either mental or physical fatigue. Has you can guess, the Xmas season for a caterer is an extremely busy season. We would do about 25% of our annual sales in just 3 weeks. Because we were pumping out the same menu over and over again, passion was not part of the equation and going over my limits was not an easy task. When you are both physically and mentally drained, it’s very hard to push forward. But, the orders had to be filled and the pressure of being “the Boss” and having to lead by example was enough to keep me going. Every time I would push myself over my limits I would do a “post-mortem” of the situation and implement tools or new business guidelines to avoid having to go through those situations again. But of course, fix one thing and another thing will breakdown!

  2. If you do have to push yourself, what are some of the techniques you use to stretch the boundaries of your usual efforts? The carrot trick works for me every time! The pride of a job well done give me such a high that just the though of it is enough motivation for me to push forward way past my limits. Also helps if there is a financial compensation associated with it too!

  3. If you do set a goal and you don’t quite reach it, how do you react? Are you proud of yourself for trying? Are you upset that you didn’t reach the goal? Or do you experience a completely unexpected reaction? I must say that any goal that I have not reached didn’t have great importance in the first place. If I can’t see the purpose of a task, it is very probable that I will quit after the first few obstacles. Of course, I do feel disappointment but, if I didn’t believe in the project in the first place, that feeling is short lived. I will however analyse every situation to see if something can be learned from that failure.

Someday Lessons:

  • To ensure things get done, systems are good – just remember that your system will likely be different from someone else’s and don’t expect them to use yours.
  • If you don’t reach a goal, you didn’t really want to reach it in the first place. Rationalization or truth?
Tagged , , , , , ,

Pushing Yourself Forward

Last week the Lab-Rats explored their fears and pushing beyond them. This week, it’s about pushing beyond our self-imposed limits. As I described in my post Pushing My Limits, in 2006 I did National Novel Writing Month for the first time and although I ended up not reaching my 50,000 word goal, I did write 40,000 in a single month, which was more than I’d ever written in my entire life.

That being said, here are the questions for this week:

  1. Do you need to push yourself to do things, or if you’re passionate about something, do you just go off running and get it done?
  2. If you do have to push yourself, what are some of the techniques you use to stretch the boundaries of your usual efforts?
  3. If you do set a goal and you don’t quite reach it, how do you react? Are you proud of yourself for trying? Are you upset that you didn’t reach the goal? Or do you experience a completely unexpected reaction?

N.B. Sal is still off working hard. Hopefully we’ll see him back next week.

It’s So Easy

Not one of the Lab-Rats has a problem starting something if they feel passionate about the task, but Brett acknowledged that once the enthusiasm has worn off, his laisez-faire attitude makes it difficult to keep going sometimes. Crista made a distinction between activities she’s chosen to do and those she’s been driven to do by something external. With the former the world disappears for her while she works on it, while the latter can feel like it’s dragging on forever. The Urbane Lion, however, just gets it done then if possible creates a system to make the task easier the next time he has to do it.

Getting It Done

Brett (like me) has a million systems for keeping him going. If he’s like me, then it’s because any one system becomes boring and easy to ignore pretty quickly. By shifting around the reminder, carrot, and kick-in-the-butt systems the project feels fresh even if the project itself has been going on for quite a while.

When Crista feels like she has to push herself, she uses that feeling as a signal that she needs to re-examine her need to pursue this task, and the Urbane Lion gets a high off of a job well done (but admits that money at the end of the task also works). Being more like Brett than Crista, if I re-examined every task that I stalled on, I’d never get anything done (I like to start things but find finishing them boring). Of course Crista just re-examines the big goals and not the day to day stuff, but even with that I’d not get much done (yes, I look for any opportunity to drop things after having started them). I am, however, learning about that high that comes from accomplishing a monumental task (like finishing my first novel) and I do like the idea of experiencing that feeling again.

Not Quite There

All three Lab-Rats agree that if small things don’t get done, then it’s no big worry. Brett uses a failed goal to change direction and figure out what he really wants. And if Crista and the Urbane Lion feel that an uncompleted goal about which they weren’t passionate means they didn’t really want it in the first place. Crista has a tendency to beat herself up for not achieving a goal that she she feels affects others (e.g., if she weren’t to get her Lab-Rat homework in on time. The Urbane Lion cures his disappointment by looking for lessons in the failure to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Someday Lessons:

  • It’s always easier to start something than to finish it.
  • Failure to achieve a goal is more an opportunity to learn something about yourself than a time for self-punishment.
Tagged , , , , ,