Monthly Archives: February 2016

3 Ways You Steal from Yourself

We all know that stealing is wrong.  There are laws against stealing.  And yet we constantly steal from ourselves without even thinking twice.  What do I mean?  I don’t mean stealing an item or idea from someone else.  I mean the critical aspects of life that we are robbing ourselves of and from.

How and when do you steal from yourself?  It comes in many different forms and the top 3 ways are:

  • Time and Energy.  Time and our body’s energy level is limited.  We all have only 24 hours in a day and depending what your fitness level is, you will have a limited amount of energy to concentrate, to work, to play and so on.  When we have depleted our energy resource, it is natural to be less productive, mistake prone and emotionally grumpy and negative.  Here are some examples of how we steal our time and energy:
    • “Me” or Quiet time:  Spending time to fuel yourself whether through exercise or meditation is critical to give you the energy to start the day.  If your energy tank is near empty, it is just tough to get through the day in one piece.  Spending just 15 – 30 minutes a day is enough to get going.
    • Allocation of time and energy.   Prioritising how we should spend our time and energy is important.  Knowing that if completing task A is important and that requires your 100% focus and concentration we must then allocate sufficient time to it first before anything else.  Just remember that time and energy is just like the battery level of your phone.  It gets depleted until at the end of the day, you charge it again.

I would like to challenge you to think about in what ways do you steal time and energy?  You will be surprise with how long the list is.

  • Opportunities.  Opportunities that come our way in forms of promotions, new roles, investments etc.  Opportunities will inherently come with fear, risk and doubt.  However, when we do not give the opportunity its well deserved consideration, we are in essence stealing from our growth, learning, development and maturity.  We all want to learn, grow and mature.  In order for us to achieve that, we need to get out of our comfort zone and take some risk.  Think about the opportunities that you have passed up on:
    • What were the reasons?  If things were different, would you make the same decision?
    • What would you have gained if you took on the opportunity?
    • What have you gained by not taking on the opportunity?

More often than not, there will some opportunities that we will regret missing out on and some we are thankful that we did not take up.  The critical aspect is to know and understand the reasons.  That’s how we learn and learn not to be make the same mistake.

  • Relationships.  The number 1 focus or priority for all us will be family.  People.  Relationships.  How do we steal from that?
    • We take certain relationships for granted.
    • We don’t pay enough attention.
    • We don’t spend enough time.
    • We don’t care or nurture that relationship.
    • We don’t allow the relationship to grow.

If it is our Number 1 priority, what makes us steal from relationships?  Think about any one relationship that is critical to you

  • what areas are you nurturing it?
  • What areas are you falling short in?
  • What sacrifices would you need to make?
  • What areas could you be preventing the relationship from growing?
  • How could you strengthen a relationship?

What happens when we constantly and consistently steal from ourselves?

  1. Growth.  Our learning and road to maturity is impacted.  To be emotionally immature when you are no longer a child is hard going.  We mature through all the highs and lows of life.  We experience and learn because of the highs and lows.  No one enjoys the challenges, trials and difficulties, however, once we manage to survive and make it through the other side, there is no greater satisfaction.  The reward is meaningful and well deserved.
  2. Purpose.  There is a lack of meaning and purpose in our lives.  The constant stealing from our dreams, potential and talent will slowly but surely dim the light of passion.  Once that happens, you will ponder the life long question:  What is the meaning of life?  What is my purpose here?  I guess that’s why there are life coaches.  So don’t wait for that moment to happen, start by being clear on what your life purpose is.
  3. Joy.  We steal the joy of life that comes in 2 ways:
    1. Relationships that are meaningful and powerful.  Relationships that will last a life time.  People who will be with you through thick and thin.  There is great joy in that.
    2. Your accomplishments and hard work.  All of us know it feels to have accomplished a goal.  Not just accomplishing it but exceeding our expectations.  When we put in the hard work, setting aside fear and doubt, and overcoming, there is an indescribable sense of worth and value in that.

The key questions are these:

  • Are you stealing from yourself today?
  • What are they?
  • What do you want to do about it?
  • When are you going to start to make the change?

Take Time to Review Your Plans

Once the goals are set and plans are in place, execution takes over.  Once the ball gets rolling, it is easy to just follow the momentum and keep on rolling.  Therein lies the danger of being caught up in the excitement of execution that we lose sight of the goal and get off course.  It is an important step to pause and review the progress of your plans and achievements and if necessary make adjustments to your plans and even goals.

I survived a world of reviews.  Weekly, monthly, quarterly, half yearly and yearly and that’s not counting the daily meetings.  One of the many learnings from that world is that reviews done with the right purpose and outcome is powerful.  However, unless it is conducted with the right intention and atmosphere, it generally goes downhill if questions are asked to find fault vs. to build a constructive conversation of identifying areas of improvement.  So let’s just say that I have a great amount of experience in this area.

For those who are new to the review process, there are a few structures that you can put in place to ensure that progress review is part of your action plans:

  1. Set the Review upfront:  Ensure that you set aside time on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.  At the start of the execution phase, ensure that you have more frequent review cycles as this will ensure that you take stock of the execution of the plan and closely monitoring the outcome or response.
  2. Be clear on what you are to review and the desired outcome of the review.  This is critical to ensure that the review is productive and the outcome is clear and actionable.  It is also important to ensure that the participants as well as yourself come out of it motivated and ready to put the plans into action.
  3. Schedule it in your calendar:  Yes, it might seem like a no-brainer, but unless it is in your calendar, it will not happen.  The tendency to push it back or even forget is there.
  4. Get the team together:   If you have a team, ensure that you get them together for the review.  It is always good to get everyone on the same page and to gather feedback.
  5. End it on a “positive”.  Acknowledge the work, effort and results.  Remove barriers if possible.  Encourage the next steps.  Stay focus on the goal.

A few simple tips to ensure a productive review meeting:

  • A review template.  Yes, it sounds scary but a template ensures that everyone knows what is being measured and how it is tracking vs. the goals assigned.
  • Review template key components.  The review template must have key components:
    • Strategies or Goals being measured
    • Critical success factors
    • Key dependencies
    • Action Items and Ownership
  • Don’t over engineer or complicate the review template.  The review template is NOT meant to track and measure every single activity.  You can have that as part of the project plan but NOT a review template.  The template should just measure key outcomes.
  • Don’t over analyze and have analysis paralysis.  There a great tendency to over do a review session.  Bear in mind the purpose of the review and that is to know how you are progressing and to take necessary actions to course correct or continue.
  • Clear ownership and assignments of task.  At the end of the review meeting, everyone should be clear of the progress and action items that needs to take place.  Assigning clear ownership and timeline is critical to any campaign coming together.

Some simple steps to ask yourself when you are reviewing your progress:

  • What is the purpose of the review?
  • What are the key areas that needs to be reviewed?
  • At what stage am I over analyzing?
  • Are there enough insights from the review to build a good set of action plans?
  • Are the plans achievable or just a wish?
  • Am I clear on the outcome?
  • Is it time to stop?

Analyzing and reviewing is a necessary part of any plans to ensure that we are on track and if required, to make the adjustments.  Without this step, plans will not go as plan.  So take the time and stop and review.