Category Archives: priorities

A Brief Lull? Use It!

I was inspired by a couple of blogs on what to do during boring meetings or conference calls. I agree with the writer that if you don’t need to be there, you don’t need to be there. Solve that.

Even in worthwhile, non-boring meetings there are lulls. At a conference, waiting for a talk to begin. A break between phone meetings. The time to sit and think while taking a bus, train, or plane. An alternative to fretting while waiting for that slow download.

The BNET blogger, Laura Vanderkam, got me started with one of her suggestions for a meeting: “Look around the room and think of one genuinely positive thought about each of the participants.” I like that one. You will feel better and you can bet you will have better rapport in your interactions.

You are an energy source. You can take that moment of lull to be aware of the energy you are holding. If it is not what you want to feel or share, take the moment to breathe, listen to your inner dialogue and notice your mental images.

Ask what is needed to shift your mindset. Maybe what will come up is a problem to solve or an irritant you can re-frame or address. There may not be an immediate answer. At least you can label and file it for creative solutions later. Then free your mind to be in the present.

It’s true that changing the inner conversation produces a change in results. Nonetheless, I sometimes find I can’t get much change working at the level of my conscious internal dialogue.

In moments of quiet I may be able to pick up the smaller voice, the little nag or self-criticism that is so familiar I don’t even notice it. Catching that thought during a lull in what I’m doing can lead to a hidden treasure in the form of old programming that I am ready to release. Later I can take time to journal or reflect or counsel with someone to help me let go of the deeper self-sabotage altogether.

Here are a few other handy fallback thoughts for when there’s a lull.

Gratitude List. What am I grateful for today? Right now?

Top Priority. What is my main focus in work or personal life? Keep it in mind in random moments.

Messages to send. To whom do I want to send good wishes, a thank you, just a thought?

Intuition. Open to the sense of knowing, receptive to a deeper awareness. What idea or wisdom comes in as a thought or image? Maybe jot it down or ask further questions and let answers arise.

And the best of all: just breathe and be present. Enjoy being alive in this moment. Put attention on what you are experiencing with all your senses. Hush the voice that says you should be doing something more “productive.”

A brief lull gives us a chance to remember that, as a favorite prayer says, “In this moment, all of my needs are met.” Ahhhhh.

Balance: Where’s Your Sweet Spot?

Most of us want to live our lives in a harmonious flow, not underachieving or overdoing. Balancing our goals, the demands of others, what we have to do and what we want to do, is our own personal recipe for satisfaction — or dissatisfaction. It’s good to find the ‘sweet spot’ – the right amount of give and take – to keep ourselves in balance.

We strive for that flow in our day-to-day management of time and priorities. With so much to attend to each day, we have to make a conscious effort to make time to step out and re-balance. That may mean talking with a friend or advisor. It may mean taking a walk or meditating to hear our own inner voice and feel our center.

Balance is a dynamic process, guided by our inner compass of what is important. When in balance, we thrive. We are able to meet our own needs and be responsive to others.

We are thrown off balance when we buy into these myths:
I can (should) make others happy.
Others can (should) make me happy.

The way we get hooked is when these faulty expectations are not met. For instance, we get exhausted by saying yes to make someone happy. We get depressed or angry when others aren’t doing what we want them to. We can go into a spiral of dissatisfaction.

We begin to make a case inside our minds. Either we, or they, are at fault.

Whenever I find myself in an internal dialogue of justification – “She was unreasonable in what she asked; she should know better; it’s not my fault…” – it’s a good clue that I am already out of balance. When I wake up and observe myself in that conversation, it’s an opportunity to go back and see where I lost track of my own values. That will bring me back into balance a lot faster than finally settling whose fault it was.

Of course it does matter how our actions affect other people. People who succeed at relationships AND results are those who balance FOCUS – i.e. keeping your eye on the goal – with FLEXIBILITY – i.e. taking the current situation and other people’s perceptions into account.

At work, sometimes we go off balance with too much focus on our goal and not enough input from others. Sometimes we go off balance with too much flexibility: consulting everyone and not forwarding the action. Consider how implicit beliefs about making each other happy or unhappy may be creating an imbalance.

Actions that create balance take the form of clear requests and agreements. Asking and saying yes or no are skills to cultivate in personal life as well as in business.

The way we know that we have found the right balance for ourselves is that it feels sweet!