Executive coaches engage in a range of privileged conversations but it will come as no surprise that too many people are strung out at quite a deep level.
Some of this is overworking mentally. It may even be physical. But you can also overwork your soul. Just like a bank account, you can sail past the bottom without noticing and suddenly find yourself overdrawn. And when you do, it will cost you, and perhaps those around you, more than it should.
Here are 20 ways to help ensure that doesn’t happen:
1) Accept that only you can take responsibility for it. Not your spouse, not your boss, only you.
2) Avoid creating expectations in others you can’t fulfil. Agreeing to things you’ll probably never follow through on adds another item to your "to do" list (imaginary as it may be) and a sense of guilt for not doing it.
3) Don't imagine the worst in challenging situations. Visualising the worst case scenario starts to make you feel like it’s actually happening when it’s anything but.
4) Stop living in regret for your past mistakes and failures. Failure and mistakes are to be seen as learning experiences, not black marks against your life.
5) Stop refusing to forgive others or yourself. Sitting in unforgiveness is like drinking a poison thinking someone else will suffer, when most likely it will only be you.
6) Don’t take offence. The number of times that people will maliciously attempt to offend you is so infrequent it’s almost irrelevant: most is taken by mistake or misunderstanding. If it is deliberate, then their anger is their problem, you don’t need to wear it too.
7) Set boundaries with disrespectful people. Don’t immerse yourself in people that disrespect you as a person, be that through their words or actions. This doesn’t mean don’t respect them back, it just means be wise with your time and space.
8) Stop trying to live up to the expectations of others. If you spend your life trying to please people you’ll most likely end up disappointed. Furthermore, you’ll wear other people’s unhappiness like it’s your fault.
9) Don’t take yourself or life too seriously. How often do we experience something that in the moment feels terrible but later we're laughing about it? Being able to be draw on life's amusements when we’re in that moment, and not merely wallow in the challenge, has the potential to turn your life around.
10) Become a hope dispenser. The world is selling hopelessness. Choose to do the opposite.
11) Think twice about doing things where others would either do a better job or benefit more from the experience.
12) Think ahead. If there's something on the horizon that will draw on your personal resources, prepare for it by building some extra space in to your life for when it arrives.
13) Stop "making agreements”. When you’re mulling over how something or someone has annoyed you and one thought leads to another and before you know it your anger and hurt is either disproportionate or out of context to the problem, this is called "making agreements”. This is because you have to agree with each thought in order to take the next negative emotional step. Recognise when this starts to happen and pull your emotions back in line.
14) Don’t spend every penny in your soul bank. Just like savings, you need reserves for when the unexpected personal challenge comes along, and it will.
15) Remember that misery loves company. You’ll always be able to find people who share the same frustrations and disappointments as you. This can have the adverse affect of not only convincing you that there’s no other way to see the problem, but whipping you up in to a place of greater negativity.
16) Make your default to strive for excellence, not perfection. Most of the time, externalities and subjectivism make perfection an impossibility, so don’t over emotionally invest in it. Also, for many people, perfectionism is actually rooted in a fear of rejection; an unhealthy state of mind. But all of us have excellence inside of us: excellence is a natural expression of who we are rather than a state of quality to be reached.
17) Get healthy. Invest in good sleep, exercise and nutrition. Easily said, I know.
18) Spend more time in recreation or “re-creation”. How many times this year have you done something just for you because you love it; something that wasn’t work, family or friends? Doing those things connects with who we are, “re-creating” our sense of identity. If you don’t have that thing, explore and find it.
19 & 20) Stay grateful and expand your sense of compassion. These are together because the solution is often the same: spend time/volunteer in scenarios where people have greater challenges than you. They will benefit from your time and you will benefit from the experience.