It always amazes me what we can get used to because it’s what we’ve always done, it’s familiar, it’s comfortable, it’s easy. Even if it isn’t what we want, we stick with it because it’s less scary than the unknown, the new, the (gulp) challenging. It’s what keeps us in that job we loathe year after year, it’s what keeps us from pursuing our dreams, it’s what has us living a life that one day, we know we’ll regret.
Sometimes it’s a decision to stretch beyond the comfortable, other times it’s a jolt of reality that forces us to make that shift. Whatever the reason, we push through our fears and we get to the other side. Maybe having learned a few important lessons along the way and hopefully, having grown a bit in the process. Change, as terrifying as it seems at the time, is good.
How to Start Living With No Regrets
Clean the Slate — Take all your preconceived notions about what you should or shouldn’t do out of it by imagining that you literally have no constraints. What if you won the lottery tomorrow and could now do and be whatever you wanted, what would that be? Don’t worry — living with no regrets won’t require winning the lottery, but it is a good tool for shifting out of your comfort zone.
Get Clear – Do the deep, introspective work to get clear on exactly what you want out of life. What is the big picture view of how you see your life turning out? What do you REALLY want out of life? Love? Power? Fame? Fortune? Figuring out what you value means moving past what we think we should want because it’s what other people expect of us.
Project Forward — Whenever you are faced with a big life decision, think of what your future self would have to say about it. Taking a long view of the outcome of your decision often puts things in perspective, especially when you have been focusing on what is going on right here and now. What if you said “Yes” to that crazy idea today, would it matter much in 10 years?
Try It Out – Take the comfort filter off and start living the way you picture in your mind. Living without regrets isn’t permission to make reckless decisions, but it is permission to start filtering decisions in a different way. Start stretching a little, maybe challenge yourself a time or two to see how to feels. Chances are you will surprise yourself.
Start Aligning Everything — Once you get comfort with being uncomfortable, start aligning all your decisions with your ultimate life goal. Stop putting it off and just start doing it. It may take a bit of time and effort to get there, but living with no regrets means you need to at least try. Map out everything that steps you towards your goal and cross off everything that steps you away from your goal.
Chatty Cathy clutter distracting you from your daily to-do’s? Does it talk to you? Does it scream at you, “Look at me, Fix me, Pay attention TO ME!”?
Never mind that clutter makes it difficult to do just about anything – from finding your keys to get to that client meeting or school pick on time to keeping track of the notes you scribbled on that scrap of paper in last week’s meeting. Just the presence of extra stuff in your office, on your desk, in your daily path slows you down.
The reason is simple.
Perhaps you have developed the Zen-like ability to resist the temptation to fix it right then and there, it’s still talking to you, filling up your mind with yet another thing to worry about. It calls out to you, reminding you to add it to your mental inventory.
There’s a reason you find it easier to concentrate in a noisy coffee shop or sitting on your porch – no clutter. And no clutter means no clutter noise distracting you from the task in front of you or draining you of your creative energy.
Sources of Clutter Chatter (and How to Shut Them Up)
#1: Unopened Mail – Even something as simple as a pile of unopened mail is a source of clutter chatter. “Gee, I wonder if my current telephone bill is in that stack? Hmm…I wonder if that long distance marathon with that potential client pushed me over my monthly limit?”
Go with an “Out of sight, out of mind” policy and designate a spot to store unopened mail. Don’t forget to schedule time in your calendar to sort and process your mail. The purpose isn’t to forget things – just to quiet them down until you can deal with them.
#2: Piles of Paper – Oh those piles of paper! How we love to create them, shuffle them, anything, but file them away! Just as unopened mail talks to us, those piles of paper remind us of all the stuff we have to do.
Adhere to a strict policy of only having the files and paperwork you are currently working on out on your desk. Everything else is filed in the relevant folder until you need it.
#3: Sticky Notes – Do you love to jot down your ideas on a sticky note? It doesn’t take too many creative sessions before your workspace is the sticky note idea parade.
Because creative ideas can be a source of distracting chatter, it’s best to file them away until you are prepared to deal with them. Create an “Idea Management System” or stick them in a notebook until you have time to review them.
#4: Miscellaneous Desk Jumble – Why is it that your desk is the dumping ground for every miscellaneous household item that doesn’t have a home? Clutter attracts other clutter and before you know it, you have 6 crayons, a granola bar, an elephant and bathroom paint samples all vying for your attention.
A simple way to stop the jumble from landing on your desk is to keep your desk clutter-free. Designate an outbox for anything and everything that doesn’t belong on your desk and simply deposit what doesn’t belong there until you have time to properly put things away.
#5: Broken Stuff – Even if it’s something that belongs on your desk, consider removing it if it’s broken and awaiting repair. Why? Because it’s likely going to bug you every time you look at it.
If you are truly committed to fixing it, create a place to store items to be fixed. If you know you aren’t one to do it yourself, be honest and get them in the hands of someone who will fix it for you.
Note: Whatever you do, do NOT use decluttering your office as an excuse to not get priority tasks done! Decluttering and maintaining a clutter-free environment is a foundational task that should be address prior to starting your week, preferably on a Friday before closing down for the weekend.
Momentum Monday: Stop Trying to Fit a Square Peg into a Round Hole – How Clarity Saves You Time and Energy
Ever tried to fit a square peg into a round hole? Even if you manage to jam it in there after hours of fiddling and what can only be described as a Herculean effort, it isn’t pretty and let’s face it, it just doesn’t work the same.
Lots of things in business mirror the square peg in the round hole problem. Try fitting a square peg client into a round hole business and you get a lot of extra time spent servicing that customer, effort on modifying or adapting services and chances are that in the end, the customer isn’t that happy anyway.
What about the square peg service that you are seduced into offering because you think there’s a big demand? No matter how much you spin it, it just doesn’t make sense why an IT Services Company would offer bobcat services (true story). Do you really want to trust your data security to a company that digs holes? Probably not.
How Clarity Saves Both Time and Energy
Not only does clarity save you time and energy because you avoid the disastrous time bomb relationships cited above, it saves you time and energy even contemplating these types of decisions. Knowing exactly what ‘fits’ your business allows you to quickly rule out many potential square pegs that cross your path.
For example, clarity about the best fitting clients means you can design your sales funnel so ill fitting clients don’t even call you because you spell out exactly who you do (and don’t) work with on your web site and in your 30-second networking pitch.
It means you know upfront what strategic partnerships you are seeking so you avoid the countless internal discussions and meetings to decide which partnerships are the best fit. If the peg doesn’t fit your criteria, the conversation simply doesn’t happen.
Think of your round hole as a jig for measuring fit. Round pegs fit the round holes with the same ease and flow that ideal clients and partnerships bring to your business. Compare that to the awkward patched together solutions required by square pegs.
Key Business Decisions that Require ‘Round Hole’ Clarity
#1: Clients – Create a profile of your best clients and make that your round hole for measuring potential clients.
#2: Strategic Partners – Create a similar profile for potential strategic partners. Know what parts of your business are you looking to supplement with strategic relationships. Is it products? Is it sales distribution? Is it services that you offer your clients?
#3: Team Members – Get clear about the qualifications and personality fit you need from potential employees and contractors. If you need a go-getter who gets stuff done without much input from you, don’t hire the quiet wallflower.
#4: Products and Services – Profile the products and services you love to sell. For example, if you only really get excited about promoting eco-friendly products, don’t take on anything outside that category. Your lack of enthusiasm will show in a lack of sales.
#5: Opportunities – Know what types of opportunities you are looking for to expand your business. For example, if public speaking really isn’t your thing, get clear about it and avoid marketing opportunities that require public speaking.
Remember, the purpose of clarity is to avoid investing time and effort in directions and relationships that don’t fit and will only end in disaster. The rule is if it doesn’t fit the first try, it’s not worth the effort to make it fit! Period.