Uncertainty and Negative Emotion
Social interaction being much diminished, I have only had a few short conversations (at a distance) with neighbours, telephone conversations with clients and in ‘on-line’ facetime calls with friends and family. In some cases, I have not been heartened by their general tone. I do not expect radical optimism reflected in these short chats but was surprised to find so much personal uncertainty, ambiguity in terms of personal choice and options, moderate tension and anxiety.
Although boredom seems an issue for some it appears that fear and uncertainty are the major themes with boredom or knowing what to do being a close runner-up.
Banish the Catastrophising Mindset
And the one thing we can control is to hope that we use our time now and develop a mindset that will help us control our thoughts, banish negativity, and get on with shaping the rest of our lives rather than catastrophising the future. The one thing you do have right now is thinking time for shaping what you can shape for the future.
How to shape the new normal for you?
Understandably, we will worry about how things will turn out, but the crisis will end and a new normal will emerge. It is easy to flippantly state this in this blog post, but there is no clear value in believing and talking ourselves in to ‘the sky is falling’ syndrome. It is best all round if we can develop a measured approach and try to make the best use of the free-thinking time we have on our hands, and use that to support us in using our time productively.
How best to shape our future?
Of course, personally, I am very concerned and not sure what will happen. It seems that the world has pressed ‘pause’ and we don’t know when its will be time to press ‘play’ and get on with life.
Bearing that in mind, I have a few ideas in sequence to see how best we can take back some control of how our future will evolve. And that’s why I have sketched out a tentative four-stage process for looking at how we can all gain some semblance of control over those things ‘we can control’, in terms of our attitudes and our behaviours.
It might also be a good time to start ditching some bad habits and start practising some positive and productive ones.
The four Stage Process
It’s all based on:
- Attitude – Develop both our Physical and Psychological Health
- Defining Core Outcomes for Our Future
- Committing to taking Massive Action
- Listening to Feedback and having the Flexibility to Change what we do
1. Attitude – Develop both Physical and Psychological Health
If you look through the structure you will note the second point ‘Define Core Outcomes’ is all about setting direction, deciding on goals and planning how best to achieve them.
Normally, this would occupy pride of place as number one in any personal or business development process. I don’t think it does in the Co-Vid context in which we find ourselves.
The key step to launch this process is to look after the body and mind first. Within this pandemic we do need exceptional physical and mental health. We can hardly commit to challenging goals for our business, our personal life and with our families if we have less than positive health and a positive outlook.
There are three steps we need to take to get ourselves ready to take on the challenge.
Step 1: Stabilise – we have to develop a positive mindset by removing that which hinders progress. We have to eradicate feelings of anxiety, fear, panic and move away from catastrophising. This is the most difficult step because if you do not pass through this, you will never be able to gain the perspective to see things through.
Step 2: Be Grounded – We have to revisit our key behaviourial drivers and build positive emotions and attitudes that will support a growth mindset.
Step 3. Develop Strategies to Grow - to set off on this journey means that we have to move beyond the survival mindset towards shaping the future so that we can come through the tough times and out the other side, sharper and more resilient.
3 Steps to Growth
There are key steps that can be taken, and these are based on addressing our personal beliefs of what we can do. Much of what I am about to talk about can be found in a Video Training Package entitled Best Year Yet: Mastering Potential.
The general approach from the Video package is reflected throughout this blog post. The key here is to operate from a perspective of physical and psychological excellence. There is no way that even the most practiced and perfect goal setting exercise or methodology will work, without emotional grounding and a positive mindset and attitude.
2. Defining Core Outcomes for Our Future
Setting outcomes and defining very specific goals is a much easier process with the issues of excellence of mind and body in place. Without this ‘positivity’ the goal setting exercise has no energy or passion to drive it to completion.
Forget about a 3-5-year plan. It is the next year that is the most important.
Don’t put your world on hold
Key for those who succeed in life is a goal setting process which fundamentally focuses upon precision and specificity. Generalised goal setting fails every time. Those who focus their attention with precision on setting goals in their health, personal, business or career, relationships, community and spiritual self, stand a much higher chance of achieving these much faster than generally ambling towards a well-meaning but ambiguous and unclear future.
Make Goals Big
When setting goals or outcomes specificity is the big issue, but why not also make them big. What’s the point of setting tiny little wimpy goals when you can have the satisfaction of really stretching your abilities? You will be amazed at what you are capable of achieving.
What is you could not fail?
Set goals that question just how far you can go. Adopt the mindset of ‘if knowing you could not fail what would you set out to achieve? Because the world that you know is about to change – change with it and set outstanding outcomes for you, your family and your community whether in your vicinity, neighbourhood or business
The world is about to change
How we operate in the world will change enormously. Will you change with the world or fight against what you do not like? Realistically, you will not be able to fight against the world even if you do not like what you see. You will have to accept the inevitability that things will change. In order to prepare yourself, you might want to start questioning the assumptions you hold currently and base your goal setting around the new world and how that new paradigm is unraveling.
Institutions and business will have to change for the better. New values are evolving, including compassion, care and concern for the disadvantaged. There must be a new role and vision for our health care, education sectors and a general shift to Keynesian thought in welfare economics. You may want to ask where you fit in this new model and what role you play in your life purpose.
Once you are content in yourself and the direction of travel, we move to the action phase.
3. Committing to taking Massive Action
People achieve when they commit 100% to implementing and behaving in ways to achieve their goals. If behaviours required to achieve a goal don’t fit in easily with your mindset or you don’t like doing certain things, there is a very good chance those things will never get done.
Do what needs to be done, and stop doing things you like to do which have no payoff
People do things they like to do, not always the things they should do to achieve their goals. Have the resilience to commit to a course of action, even if personal challenges need to be overcome. We may have to do things we would prefer not to do. Our other big challenge is generally that we also give up far too easily.
Keep on Going – Be Resilient
We have seen too many people start something new, commit to try things two or three times and then give up because it did not seem to work, they got bored, or did not have the willpower to see it through. All I can say is that’s it a good job our parents did not give up on us when we were babies and learning to walk. Imagine watching a toddler get to their feet, stumble and fall over. Then they do it again and fall over six or seven times. At no time does Mum say to Dad – “looks like baby isn’t going to walk then.” Baby will persist until they can walk.
This example could apply to all of us. We sometimes give up way too soon. We can find it too hard or too demanding to continue. It’s easier to give up and blame something or someone else when what is required is faith in goals and determination to put in the effort.
Whatever you want in life, if worthwhile, demands massive action and nothing less. So, consider when you screwed up, failed or did not get the result you wanted – was it because you did not fully commit sufficiency to get what you wanted? Were you really determined to get what you wanted and take all your energy and skill to achieve it, or did you just roll over and give up when the going got tough?
4. Listening to Feedback and having the Flexibility to Change what you do
Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Knowing the difference between making progress or failing to do so is an important skill. Know when things are working for you. Know when things are getting in the way.
Use negative feedback to correct your course. Take different actions, develop new strategies, try new things, innovate, work with your role models. Learn new things. Meet new people. Develop new networks with people who can support you. Gravitate towards like-minded people and listen to their story.
You know that your abilities, knowledge and wealth and success reflect the six people with whom you most closely associate. Reconsider the quality of your relationships and network and revise it upwards. Develop partnerships and, most importantly listen.
This four-step process is critical if you want to shape your future in uncertain times. What has happened to the world and our society in recent months will totally reshape the world in which we live, and the institutions and economy in which we work. It is wise to move with the times and shape the role that you can play, rather than being shaped by events. There are a lot of people out in the world who are waiting for someone to ‘talent spot’ them for the genius that they are or the talents that they display – do not become one of them. They will be ‘waiting in line’ for a long time.
So, consider your future and the role you can take. It takes bravery and courage to go forward. Wake up and realise you have it in you.