Hit Pause: Inculcating the Habits of Self-Assessment and Realigning Goals
We all hit that point in our professional lives when a dose of self reflection becomes inevitable. Am I doing what I love? Does my professional life align with my personal goals? How long will I continue to grow in this role? Often one begins to pay attention to these reveries when something dramatic makes them pause and take notice. But why wait for an impetus to make positive change? Pausing to reflect and realign and restart, is a great way to ensure you are moving towards the life you want to create. Become an active participant, and not a passive observer of your existence. Here are simple steps to take control of your own narrative:
Step 1: Listen to yourself
What are the emotions you feel when you wake up for work? How do these change during the course of the day? What’s the feeling right before you sleep? Such simple questions, if asked daily, can help build a mental framework of your state of mind. Once you know your dominant emotions, and how they affect your moods and behaviour, you can begin to work on them.
Make a thought log – a written account on your thoughts and feelings for the day – and update it a few times every day, as needed and as felt.
Step 2: Check your energy levels
What’s your energy level when you wake up for a work day? How does this change over the day? Observing the fluctuations in your energy and emotions will help you see the triggers causing these changes. You can specifically identify what triggers excitement, happiness or motivation and subsequently, work on enhancing these aspects of your work. Conversely, deal with the aspects that may be causing a negative impact.
Draw a chart that outlines your work, along with specific incidents and the emotions they triggered. This will help identify patterns (of emotional and behavioural triggers) over time.
Step 3: Consciously seek feedback
One of the biggest mistakes organisations make is to give and receive feedback at the end of the year, when there is little one can do to change course. Emotions tend to run high as conversations usually centre around “what went wrong” or “looking back” – and there is little scope for corrective steps. Alternatively, if one seeks feedback throughout the year, it becomes a consistent process. And there is more room to manoeuvre and create new patterns of thoughts and behaviours that serve you better.
Make your feedback mindful by listening and communicating with an open mind. Reflect on what has worked and not worked well till now. Ask questions like – What is my impact on others? How can I seek help to improve certain aspects? How will I measure the change I am trying to create?
Step 4: Clear the clutter
Clutter can take on many shapes. It can turn up in your physical surroundings – on your desk and in your home. But you must also assess the clutter taking shape in your mind. Mental dialogues often set into default and run incessantly at the back of the head. When you block it out, you are not paying attention to what your mind is trying to tell you. Inevitably, this leads to a state of lethargy or disinterest. So how can we clear the mind?
Make a checklist! Start out by listing your personal priorities and then your professional priorities – Is there a mismatch? Are you working towards what you truly want to achieve? Is it time to realign your actions to your goals?
Stephen Covey’s (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ) Circle of Concern and Influence is a great way to assess where we might be losing control. It simply asks you to write down all your concerns in one big circle (this is your Circle of Concern). Then draw out the concerns which are in your control, things you can influence, and put them in a smaller circle within (this is your Circle of Influence). When you pay too much attention to what is not in your control, the things that are, tend to get neglected. And the circle of influence begins to shrink. This often translates to a feeling of not being in control.
Step 5: Set clear goals
Now that you have your checklist and you know exactly what to go after, prioritise it! Mindfulness is often equated with meditations and staying quiet. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Internal silence is about addressing the clutter in the mind with regular observation and reflection on what’s happening within. Mindful living is a choice we make each day, by choosing to pay attention to the things that matter. Keep this in mind as you set your goals.
Begin with the high value goals, the “non-negotiable’s” – the things that are truly close to your ideals, values and beliefs. We often call them life goals! Think of things that make you the best version of yourself; the tasks and activities you feel most at home with; the results that give you immense joy and satisfaction. Then move on to the medium and low intensity goals. These may change over time as you come closer to your reassessed version. Give yourself the flexibility to change. That’s what this whole process is about!
- By Anshu Daga, Founder, The Inner Startup