I am a learning and development specialist and a large part of my job involves helping people to see things differently, so that they can alter their mindsets and ultimately learn something new about themselves or about the world around them. My hope always is that this change in thinking or shift in world view will ultimately lead to them growing, developing and becoming the best version of themselves.
However, I have found that it is not easy. I have found that there are an inordinate amount of people in the world, who when given the option to see the glass as half full or half empty, happily choose to see themselves in a desert where there is neither water nor a glass. Why? I do not know. However I often wonder how it happened.
Is it perhaps that some people are just born under a dark cloud and therefore always see themselves and everything around them negatively? Is it that some people are just born to be more positive and have an upbeat outlook that they transfer into all aspects of their lives? I find it a really fascinating topic simply because I am truly confounded why anyone would deliberately choose to walk around feeling bad, complaining and feeling powerless to create change. Yet, there they are.
You know them. Those people who can always find someone else to blame for their lot in life. The manager who just does not like them. The coworker who does not do their part. The contact who did not return their call. The bus that made them late, every day. The other person who started the fight. And so on and so on. If people are so eagerly accepting that someone else, outside of them, has the power to impact them in such a strong way that they can affect their ability to be effective, why don’t they think they have a similar power? Why is it so easy to believe that someone else can affect you but almost impossible for you to recognise that you can affect yourself?
In my work I often encounter people who speak passionately about their desire to create a greater work life balance for themselves. For most of them I think the intention is to have a better overall quality of life. I once asked one of my participants whether in making that statement she was suggesting that she wanted to have more work. She smiled shyly and shook her head no that was not what she meant.
In fact I have come to realize that for most people, that is not what they mean and perhaps that is no real surprise. In fact for most people, they are desperately seeking to be in a position where they are not required to work at all. Many people are of the opinion that their employers or more specifically, their managers, are in fact making their work more difficult than it needs to be. Some people believe that their managers are asking too much of them. Some people even complain that the people who report to them are asking too much of them and are never willing to sort things out for themselves. In short, most people think that the amount of work they are being asked to do is the problem and they believe that if they could somehow reduce their workload, they would be less stressed and less drained at the end of the day. They believe that the problem is the things that are happening to them or the people that work with them who are causing these feelings of stress, depletion and weariness.
However, as you could well imagine, I have a different opinion. I believe that the problem is within us. We need to change our perspective. We need to recognize that busy is the normal and not the exception. We need to recognize also that we had a choice and we chose this lifestyle. And most importantly we need to accept that we have the capacity to do what is needed to get it done and then go off and do it. Then we need to become better at managing ourselves and the one thing that is the secret to our success; we need to manage our energy levels.
We often think that the best way to relax and recover is to do nothing. Therefore many of us are trying to find a pocket of time when there is nothing going on so that we can sit still, breathe and rest. But doing nothing and resting is not the only path to relaxation and recovery. It is also possible to engage in active recovery. In fact to do so, with the same level of intensity that you give to your work, could well be the secret to your happiness.
You can schedule your fun and your relaxation. Plan to do something that you will enjoy; something that will take your mind off of your work and allow you to exercise a different part of your brain. Give yourself over to it fully. Be in the moment. Do something that brings a smile to your face and a little joy to your heart. Whether it is getting together with friends and family, volunteering for a cause, working on a hobby, playing a sport, completing a challenge or taking a short vacation. Whatever it is you choose, it should be something that you love doing. It should be so enjoyable that when you have finished you feel better than when you started and you can’t wait to do it again.
The thing to note here is that you have control over you. You can decide to remain in that mindset where you feel powerless and overwhelmed or you can take action and make a change that will leave you feeling empowered and energized. Please remember, those who say it can be done and those who say it cannot, are usually right. If you keep saying that things will never change you are correct. If you believe that you cannot do anything about your situation, you are correct. However, if you accept that you can live the life you want and that you find joy and peace in your work and excitement in your everyday life, you are also correct.
So the choice is yours. Decide today who you are going to be and whether you take action or not, that is your choice being made. It’s up to you.
Marjorie Wharton is a trainer, facilitator and coach who works with individuals and organizations to help them improve their performance. She is based at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados. Follow her on twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. For more of her writing visit https://marjoriewharton.live