I made all these plans for August.
Hey, summer tends to be quieter in business, hence this has always been a great time for me to plan, to strategize and to get things aligned again, right? A bit like a mid year NY’s eve for re-newing our commitments or finding some new ones.
It’s mid of August. And until now I failed miserably.
My July was definitely different than I had planned. The course I’m currently attending (to learn more about online business) suddenly came up with the idea of a summer course:
Conceptualise, create, promote and publish an online course in 5 weeks.
I’ve always like a good challenge, so I jumped on board. And suddenly the whole month was taken over (biggest take away: with the right dedication much more than we might believe is possible).
So, the spirits for August were high and I came up with lots of ideas and plans.
- I planned to do yoga daily.
- I decided to tap every night before going to bed (if you don't know what I'm talking about look up EFT).
- I chose this month to be a BOLLOCKS (*see PPS) awareness month where I would go through all those (useless) beliefs we have.
- I decided to stay on longer in the countryside to escape the heat in the city.
And I even had my “WHYs” for every one of those goals in place. So what could go wrong?
Well, I achieved no 4. I still enjoy the cool air in my house in the middle of rural Bavaria.
I’ve probably had 5 yoga sessions (see, I don’t even know exactly anymore) in those 13 days and tapped twice.
And besides a collection of ideas for the bollocks awareness month nothing happened.
Phew, sounds like a total and utter under-achievement, right? And on top of it it’s not really a confidence booster to say the least.
The 4 Reasons for Failure
We can always find tons of excuses. "Ah yeah, I could not do that because of....."
And sometimes there are “real” reasons. More often than not (I find) it’s a mix of both. And the better I learn to be honest with myself, the more the excuses disappear and the constructive (and honest) reviewing starts.
1. I simply overcommitted
I had my wonderful daughter here for the better part of August and was determined to spend time with her as I only see her in person twice a year. So a lot of our days (after our early morning hacks) were slobbing, talking, cooking, eating, watching masterchef and sleeping. And it was so hot that my whole body (particularly the brain) seem to slow down considerably.
So committing to all those other things was simply too much.
The solution - Focus: Picking out one goal to start with and to focus on - particularly if it’s projects or daily commitments- makes so much more sense and is more manageable. Otherwise we set ourselves up for failure and we might even feel like one! And that is the worst part.
2. There was no deadline
Remember at the beginning of article I said that I threw together a complete online course (with videos, worksheets etc) in 5 weeks?
Yep, there was a deadline.
As a whole group of people did the same thing at the same time. So, either I was in or out. And I decided to be in and to pull it through. There was even a price to win – that did not motivate me though…it was rather the “I can do that too” attitude.
Having a deadline set from OUTSIDE often helps us to overcome procrastination.
If we don’t have that in place, we might struggle and fall into the around-the-clock-end-of-project panic. Or do nothing at all, if it’s about regular or even daily commitments.
If you don’t believe me, have a look at MIT’s study about exactly this topic (Procrastination, Deadlines, and Performance: Self-Control by Precommitment, Dan Ariely Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Klaus Wertenbroch INSEAD).
The solution: Having an accountability buddy or coach who’s helping us with deadlines. After all our integrity is on the line and I don’t know many people who are keen on loosing theirs. I’m not one of them.
3. I was simply tired
When looking back at the last 18 years or so, I worked bloody hard. And a lot. I raised two kids on my own and carried all financial obligations while doing so on my own as well. I build up my own business (second one right now) and believed for a long time that I ALWAYS had to work.
One of my business partners was even outraged with me once when I decided to go on a week’s holiday and decided NOT to work (with a REALLY bad conscience).
So I’m used to working a lot. And I can.
Still we all need some time to re-charge our batteries, some alone time to sort out our thoughts and our mind, to align and check if we’re still on track, some time just to STOP and possibly do nothing.
I’ve ignored that for years. Hence, despite all my motivation and energy, I’m really tired sometimes. Too tired to even do anything that might get my energy back….like yoga (and then the temptation to spend a day binge watching a series is overwhelmingly big). Definitely happened now.
The solution: Take some time out. For yourself (so on YOUR terms, not the spouse or family). Planning it AND actually doing it is what's important. This has nothing to do with being weak, incapable or unsuccessful.
It's simply giving ourselves space....and rest. To shine again afterwards.
4. My mind was distracted
Living with a patchwork family with 4 children distributed among 3 countries, life can sometimes become challenging. Particularly when those kids are teenagers and adolescents. For some strange reason there are crisis’ popping up regularly. And particularly when we don’t expect them. And this summer not just with one, but two of them.
That takes headspace. And heart space. It's emotionally draining and the hardest part to shut out of our mind. Particularly if we let it take over.
The result was lots of time spent with discussions, conversations and idea collection in regards to how to help or how to react to these situations. Time and energy consuming - if you have kids, I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about.
The solution: There is none out of the text book – except dealing with what’s coming towards us (in case it’s important enough for us…and family always is for me). Maybe it can help deciding how much time we want to invest in those crisis and to set some boundaries in case we haven’t yet (definitely did that in one case).
Besides that though, this is just life happening and if we are clear about our priorities in life, we can remind ourselves of those and react accordingly. And then those projects which are at position 2 or 3 just have to wait. Simple.
Kindness trumps harsh criticism
So, now I know what the issues are and I have tangible solutions. So far the logic and analytical side.
There is a completely other side to all of that.
And that has nothing to do with what I have really done or achieved, but with the feeling that failing can leave us with.
In the past I’ve disappointed myself a lot while not achieving what I had in mind (often related to those 4 reasons). And I was a master in beating myself up: That I was not good enough. That I could never really “make it”. That everybody else was so much better than me.
Until I learned that a) I’m not my achievements, I am a valuable (and still the same) person regardless of how much is done or not (which does not exclude that I can improve or challenge myself), b) I stopped comparing myself with others, as I noticed that all our journeys and lives are unique (does not mean we can’t learn from others) and I acknowledge that my journey is just mine, and most importantly...... I started being kinder with myself and treat myself as I would treat my best friend: With compassion, (sometimes brutal) honesty and lots of love...
The last couple of days I’m back on track and no, I have not lowered my standards, but have changed my behaviour.
As I have some time on my own and developed a routine. And treat myself to some rewards when I get those priorities done. This could be a nice cup of coffee enjoyed on the terrace while doing nothing else for 10 minutes. Or preparing a lovely lunch after the “job” is done (by now you know I love my food...;-))
That’s exactly what I’m doing now, having finished writing this up.
PS: The online course which I produced, launched and held in July as a vastly successful pilot was "Work-Life Balance Achieved" and you can access it here....and just on the fly I decided knock of 70% of the price until the end of August. Just punch in the code SUMMERSPECIAL and it's yours :-).
PPS: BOLLOCKS = Beliefs Often Limit Life's Opportunities Constantly Killing Success (©Melanie Pledger). You did not really think I was swearing, right?