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5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination

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5 Ways to Conquer Procrastination

Yesterday we talked about procrastination and how doing what your mind tells you is important and actually influences your self-esteem. Here are some tips I picked up from the "simplify"-newsletter I'm subscribed to. The newsletter is originally in German, so here's my (slightly edited) translation:

When you are procrastinating, if it's

because you don't have time,

you can

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

  • get rid of tasks that block your project
  • prioritize your project over other responsibilities
  • plan your activities and allot time-slots in your calendar

because you don't like it,

you can

  • simplify, break down, shorten, or settle for good instead of perfect
  • delegate, or exchange tasks with someone who is willing
  • think what would happen if you dropped the project
  • find ways to only accept tasks you know you'll enjoy

because the sheer size of the project makes it seem insurmountable,

you can

  • break it down into small pieces
  • start with the smallest and easiest to build confidence

because you think you have no choice,

you can

  • ask yourself what's the worst that will happen if this doesn't get done
  • check whether your goals and attitudes have changed to make the project so cumbersome
  • check your expectations of yourself - who or what convinced you to take this on in the first place?

because you don't know how to handle it,

you can

  • ask for help, find a mentor, contact an expert
  • consider taking classes and participating in workshops to obtain the know-how

I know, sometimes we have to do things we don't want to or else (enter your dooms-day prediction here).

You know what? Maybe getting fired / losing the partner / gaining five pounds won't be the end of the world. There are very few things you absolutely will not be able to bounce back from. The important thing to remember is you always always always have a choice!

If you don't like the consequences of not doing something you have to, you may as well get it over with quickly. You will feel much better for it.

Don't believe me? Try it yourself: write down all the tasks you usually procrastinate on a piece of paper. Place them in a jar, and at the beginning of your day, pick one and do it, then and there. Take care of it, cross it off your list, and then try to tell me you're not proud of yourself.

Just imagine what it'll feel like when you look back over everything you've accomplished! You could even prepare a roster to put up on the fridge / cubicle wall and give yourself smiley stickers for every task you get done, if you're a visual person who gets motivated by smiley faces, that is.

Something that only very recently worked wonders for me was the concept of accountability. Who'd have thought that having a coach actually helps you get your act together and your ball rolling in the right direction?! But you get the idea - just do it, and I promise you'll be happier. Isn't that what we're here for, really?

Image by Kaos2, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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Procrastination

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pic Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Do you know anyone who always gets their jobs done, is never behind on any commitment, keeps their promises, raises their children just like it's best for them, has never missed a deadline, balances their nutrition and checkbook, has time for regular exercise, and looks impossibly well groomed doing it all?

I don't.

Instead, I know many good people with great intentions, who find it hard to say "no", and who feel bad about themselves when life's circumstances get in the way of them finishing off their hopelessly overfilled plate of responsibilities.

Whatever our circumstances, we all have something we think we should be doing, but aren't. We do other stuff instead of that one thing, because we'll get to it later, we're just not quite ready yet, we don't feel like it, etc. In university, I took on extra shifts at the bar and even cleaned my room, dusted, and de-cluttered my desk before sitting down to write that essay. In life now I read books, write emails to or call my friends, and check up on internet gossip instead of going to the gym, preparing next week's blog post, or getting more into marketing my services. 

Let's be honest for a second - when you think you should be doing something but you're doing something else, you know you're procrastinating. You are aware of it, even if you're in denial - your subconscious knows what you're up to when you make a choice and spend your time and energy elsewhere. You do this thinking you'll feel better because obviously you prefer / it's easier / it's more fun doing what you're not supposed to.

But the truth is, procrastinating hurts your self-esteem in the long run.

Why? Because whether it's imaginary or not, the priority and importance you place on this task you're not doing won't go away by not looking at it.

Wow, those were quite a few negatives in one sentence, let's see if I can word it differently: Avoiding the gym, the conversation, the email, whatever thing you are not doing will haunt you until you do it. It won't matter that your house is hoovered or all your laundry is ironed, you'll still feel like you haven't accomplished anything today, because you didn't do what your mind tells you you should have.

More on that tomorrow. 

(From the archives, first published November 2008) 

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3 Ways to Choose Your Word for the Year

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3 Ways to Choose Your Word for the Year

carljung for quotes
carljung for quotes

We all get lost in the day to day business of life. It's easy to forget or get side-tracked from our purpose and goals. (As I found out yesterday by looking at my goals for last quarter and having only reached one of five, ahem.)

Thinking in terms of vision, mission, or values may be a bit much in times of urgent need, but one word that encompasses all is easy to remember. So how do you find that word?

1. Figure out your theme

What is the one thing you want more of in life? What's been missing? What brings you joy?

When was the last time you had a huge belly laugh and caught yourself being completely un-selfconscious?

What were you doing at the time?

Group all those things together on a mind map, or on sticky notes, lay them out before you and see if you can connect the dots. Distill it down to one thing, and see how that resonates.

2. Choose from a list

Perhaps you have 1o or 57 words that all resonate? I know the feeling. To help you decide, write all of them on individual pieces of paper, fold them, and pour them into a container.

Then pick one. If it feels right, go with it. If you love more flexibility and one word for a whole year is too much commitment for you, choose your word for the month, or word for the week.

3. Look inside

Light a candle, burn some incense, do a meditation, pray, go for a run. Whatever works for you. Spend some time breathing deeply and feeling supported, trying to connect with your inner voice. Ask, "what's my word?" in your mind, and the answer will appear.

My word for this year is CLARITY.

I chose it because my mind is often running 100 miles per hour in 5 different directions. Making decisions becomes a fearful process, and as a consequence, fewer decisions get made. Which results in fewer results, and more worry about where to even start. Clarity of purpose, of communication, of message reminds me I'm a work in progress, and that it's worth the work. Makes the ride kinda fun, too. :-)

Image by Keiko Hampton, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

 

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Supporting Expat Spouses

Pic credit - fdecomite

Expat spouses often find themselves having to choose between a rock and a hard place. Moving every few years, relocating your sense of self and establishing new social circles are great fun and fantastic adventures if you have an outgoing, curious and flexible personality. If you're looking for stability on the other hand, your patience will be tested.

When it comes down to it, are you prepared to choose between your relationship and your livelihood?

The 2012 Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Study reports:

Although they are still in the majority, there are far fewer married international assignees than in the past. Given that the re-emergence of optimism in some segments of the economy is widely divergent and cautious at best, the desire of many families to preserve their two-income status is likely a strong factor in this result. In this year’s report, the percentage of international assignees that are married was 60%, the lowest in the last four years of the survey, and a full 7% under the historical average (67%). Furthermore, this year’s percentage is down 8% from last year’s report (68%) and 14% from the survey high of 74% that was reported 12 years ago. As economic realities continue to remain in flux for many employees with families, it is possible that companies’ current international assignment programs are not adequately meeting the needs of employees with spouses, causing them to decline international assignment opportunities. In any case, the identification of this as a longer term trend affords companies the opportunity to ensure their policies and benefits are aligned to meet the changing profiles of their assignees.

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. He really wants and needs to go, but he will turn it down if you're not on board.

Great! You're involved in the decision!

Now let's see: you have a great life, your family and friends live nearby, your parents are getting up there in age, you've a fantastic job, your kids adore their school, you love your house - and you love your spouse, too.

If you decide not to give up what you have, will he eventually resent you for it? Probably right around the time that other guy gets the promotion.

If you decide to support him and move, effectively giving up your life as you know it, to a place where you cannot read grocery labels, your hairdresser doesn't understand you wanted blond not red highlights, and the culture is completely alien, will you resent him for it?

Not unlikely. Hell, your marriage may fall apart altogether.

Still, the chances of you going abroad are a lot higher in this scenario than they would be if we swapped pronouns:

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. SHE really wants and needs to go, but SHE will turn it down if you're not on board.

As it is, 80 % of expats are men, and only 20 % are women. Brookfield's data does not go into marital status detail by gender, or at least I haven't heard back from them about it. So the reality is, more often than not it's women who have to decide between love and their own careers.

Going back to yesterday's happiness formula, I recommend adopting a positive attitude. If you decide to go abroad, find ways to fill your days with things you love but never had the chance to pursue. Do your best to be prepared for as much as you can prepare yourself for, and maintain open and honest communication throughout the process. Your partner needs to hear how you feel so you can effectively support each other.

Preparing for an international assignment comes in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a bit of a Google search is sufficient, many times all out language classes are appropriate. I always recommend cross-cultural trainings - even and especially if you're moving to countries with the same language. And there may also be circumstances that warrant continuous coaching support.

The good news is, your decision doesn't have to be "either relationship, or career". International experiences can lead to a broader range of (marketable!) skills and competencies for everyone involved. They can strengthen a family bond, and you'll create memories ranging from anecdotes to moments of profound shifts in your being.

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The Happiness Formula

Pic credit: paloetic Forget E=MC2.

Happiness - the always sought yet oft elusive state of mind that returns more than 298,000,000 results within 0.37 seconds of a Google search.

Enough with the mystery, here's a simple formula that Deepak Chopra shared during his recent lecture in Dallas to kick-start your happiness.

H=S+C+V!

S stands for set-point in your brain

This is the mechanism where happy people see opportunities, and unhappy people see problems.

Is the glass half full, half empty, or does it even matter if you just go ahead and drink it?

Your set-point will influence about 50 % of your happiness, and you will have learned where to set it within the first 3 or 4 years in your life. Yes, your set-point is something you probably learned from your parents. Were they worried and anxious, or more easy-going and adaptable?

If it isn't one thing, it's your mother, right? The good news is, you can practice and change your set-point by questioning your limiting beliefs, applying meditation techniques, and practicing self-reflection.

C stands for Conditions of Living

Your material and financial conditions probably make up about 12 % of your happiness levels. In other words, you may have very little and suffer in a country of dirty water and electricity outages, but in terms of influencing your levels of happiness, "C" has a smaller impact that "S" and "V".

V stands for Voluntary Choices

In the USA, the number one choice to achieve personal pleasure is ... take a guess ...

shopping. Followed by food, followed by sex.

People are consumers, and their choices result in merely transitory happiness experiences. Voluntary choices that are more conducive to long-term, permanent happiness are choices that make us feel fulfilled. These would be experiences where we attribute meaning, where we feel we have a purpose, have the opportunity to express our creativity, and take care of others.

It's true - emotions are contagious. If your friends are happy, you will be happier in return. So - make your enemies happier, and that will rub off on you, too.

Happiness is the sum of how we view the world from our set-point, the conditions we live in, and the voluntary choices we make. 

Are you going to choose happiness today? :-)

 

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Introverted Feeling Fi (incl Bonus Values Exercise!)

Hello! Thanks for visiting and please enjoy the free info below! 

Just fyi, you can find me over at www.dorisfullgrabe.com from now on, where I'm making custom lettering and calligraphy. 

This archive will be discontinued next month. 

Fi doodle
Fi doodle

You are using introverted Feeling or Fi when you're deciding whether you like or dislike something. When you're running something past your internal set of values. When you're calibrating your moral compass. Thinking about our vocalizing your sense of deeply held beliefs and universal truth.

ISFP
ISFP
INFP
INFP

People with a dominant Fi function cannot not operate from a sense of congruence. They may not force others to see the world in the same way, and theymay not speak up about something if it's not deemed worth it. But if it is, they may surprise you, and you will notice when you violate their values.

Expats using Fi to decide on an assignment may need time to feel through all the aspects and how they align with what is important to them. "Are you willing to accept a break in your career to support that of your partner? What difference is the international experience going to make to your life? Is it worth it?" It is helpful here to allow the necessary time to align universal themes like how the relocation process is supported or how the new country has been portrayed in the media lately, with individual values like "will I be able to express myself freely and authentically in the new country?"

If Fi is in a different positions in your type dynamics, below is an overview pieced together with only a few items taken from Understanding Yourself and Others, An Introduction to the Personality Type Code, by Linda V. Berens and Dario Nardi. Let me say this again to be very clear: the description of how Fi can be expressed in the different positions is not exhaustive and only meant to give you an overview. I would love to have you comment below how it shows up for you.

Introverted Feeling Fi
Introverted Feeling Fi

If you'd like to practice your Fi skills, do a values exercise to see what's important to you. Divise an action plan of how you can bring more of those values into your life through your thoughts and actions.

For example:

Out of the following list, select those values which according to your own definition of the word most accurately reflect what is important to you. If you don’t see your value on the list, please add it.

Achievement

Adventure

Autonomy

Caring

Change

Competition

Community

Consistency

Cooperation

Creativity

Family

Financial Security

Freedom

Harmony

Impact

Inner Peace

Leisure

Loyalty

Power

Precision

Profit

Publicity

Responsibility

Recognition

Social Status

Stability

Spirituality

Technology

Time

Wisdom

Note your Top 10 values in no particular order.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

Using the numbers from the list above, compare each value to every other value. In each cell of the table below, circle the number of the value that feels more aligned with who you believe you are.

Example:

1. Harmony

2. Financial Security

3. Family

4. Autonomy

5. ...

Between Harmony and Financial Security, Harmony is more important - circle 1.

Between Harmony and Family, Family is more important - circle 3.

Between Harmony and Autonomy, Harmony is more important - circle 1 again.

Etc.

Values Grid
Values Grid

Count the number of times each number is circled. The value with the highest number of circles is your top priority, subsequent lower numbers of circles represent values of subsequently lower importance.

This will give you your Top 10 values in order of your priority.

If any of your values have the same number of circles, go back to the grid and find the box where you compared them. The number you circles in that box is the higher ranking value.

Start with your top 3 or top 5 and ask yourself: how are your daily values reflecting your values? How aligned is your life with them? If family is coming out on top, how many times a week do you have dinner together? When was the last time you visited your parents?

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Mind the Gap between what you Think you want and what you Actually want

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Mind the Gap between what you Think you want and what you Actually want

This one's inspired by one of Brené Brown's Daring Greatly read-alongs. It's about paying attention to the gap between your aspirational goals and actual behavior and values. Here are some strategies you can apply to various topics. 

1st Question: How do you want to feel?

If it's joyful, get clear on what makes you feel joyful. If it's abundant, get clear on when you feel abundant. If it's balanced, get clear on what makes you feel balanced.

How can you get clear?

Pay attention, write a list, align your values, and make the choice.

What are you doing when you're the happiest?

Be mindful when you're happy and figure out which choices got you there. Do they have to do with buying gadgets or spending quality time? Reading a book or going to a party? Might take a few months of observation and becoming aware, but it's well worth the effort.

What are you doing when you're the most generous?

What are you doing when you're feeling balanced?

Next step: assess if your values align with what brings you joy.

What level or importance are you allocating to the actions that go you to feel what you wanted to feel? How much of a distance or congruence is there between what you think makes you happy, what actually makes you happy, and what you do?

It's your choice.

Remember it's ok to work at it. It doesn't have to be perfect from Day 1. When you compare yourself to others, know that you are enough, no matter where you are. In fact, try to compare yourself to an earlier version of yourself, and acknowledge how far you've come. 

There was an episode in The Cosby Show where Denise wanted to be a teacher. She had a conversation with a teacher at their kitchen table, and it became clear that Denise hadn't really thought things through. She'd have to go back to school, study, get a degree, pay her dues, work for years before getting paid. I think it was Mercedes Ruehl who had the line, "people have to work really hard to make things look easy".

Don't let anybody fool you into thinking that it's all talent, or that what you want isn't worth working for.

Image by raghavvidya, Flickr, Creative Commons License.

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The EU, management and culture

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The EU, management and culture

I've been living in the United States of America for two years this month. I've been very lucky in being able to travel a bit and see different places in this nation, and it occurred to me how easy it is to cross State lines. Even though these States are comparatively huge in size, everything is the same - the language, the currency, available shops and restaurants. That's very different from where I grew up.

European countries’ leaders first started dreaming about  a “United States of Europe” in the 1950s, when the Treaty of Rome was drafted in 1957 and implemented in 1958. Following about 40 years of more plans and organizations and contracts to bring the European states closer together - for example, the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 consisting of Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries - the Treaty of Maasricht in 1992 proved to be one big step forward in the direction of the European Union (EU) we know today. The Treaty of Maastricht “provides for a single European currency, common citizenship, common foreign and security policy, a more effective European Parliament, and a common labor policy.”

The Single Market has guaranteed the free movement of goods, services, capital and people since 1993 and was described as “the Union’s proudest achievement.” The implication for multinational companies now was to gauge what opportunities the new border-free Europe could offer them. The free movement of people in particular opened up new horizons regarding the staffing of European subsidiaries. Before 1992, work permits were needed and often were not easily attained. Nowadays, however, the executives of multinational corporations (MNCs) can decide freely whether to employ locals, send over expatriates or even third country nationals. I think it's interesting to remind ourselves that something we take for granted has only really been in place a very short time.

International trade and economic development (for example, the NAFTA and Single European market) have necessitated worldwide managerial operations. The number of multinational corporations has increased, as has the education offered for management and the use of information technology. Managing organizations seems to be a universal practice but approaches to management differ from one country to another. This fact bears the question whether management is culture free or culture specific. So far, two theories have dominated that discussion.

The Convergence Theory of the 1950s and 1960s promotes the universal application of management theory and practices because of technology and management education. Management is seen as a function and a set of techniques that can be used everywhere. The Divergence Theory argues against the transfer of management theory and practices due to the influence of the culture of the people practicing management. In other words, not all strategies that are successful in America will work in Japan, and vice versa. Furthermore, it argues that management thinking and practice reflect the level of economic development of the country in which they occur and that it is implemented within different legislative frameworks.

According to the Convergence theory, everyone could learn how to manage organizations and even the poorest countries should be on the same economic level as the rest of the Western world. The European Common Market was built on this assumption, but had to recognize the intractability of national differences. As all countries in the world cannot be considered economically equal yet, the Divergence theory appears convincing in that management theory and practice are culturally bound and reflect the ideological and political interests, as well as the level of economic and technological achievements of the people involved.Management techniques and models can be learned, but they are culturally bound, although not static, in the way they are interpreted and implemented in the different cultures.

Culture and especially communication preferences can be differentiated between high context (HC) and low context (LC) cultures. Context, in this case, explains “the information that surrounds an event; (that) is inextricably bound up with the meaning of the event." In other words, which bits of information are necessary for effective communication to occur but taken for granted, i.e. not explicitly explained between sender and receiver.

The culture differences within European countries have been studied before by writers like Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997); Black and Mendenhall (1990), and Geert Hofstede (1980), whose work is quoted in many a management textbook. He conducted a study into corporate and national culture in 1980 and found four dimensions culture could be identified by:

Power distance, which can rate low to high and measures the “extent to which the members of a society accept that power in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally;"

Uncertainty avoidance, which can rate from weak to strong and measures a society’s fear of the unknown;

Individualism vs collectivism measures the degree to which a society considers that everyone has to look after himself or herself or is part of supportive extended family units; and

Masculinity vs femininity, which measures gender roles in society and whether they are more stereotypically male oriented: for example on materialism, profit and strength; or more stereotypically female oriented: for example on cooperation and quality of life.

Hofstede's work has been somewhat called into question more recently and called unrepresentative due to the size of his survey. Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner, on the other hand, continue their work and I will use another article to explain their seven dimensions in further detail.

Europe means many things to me, and I treasure the experiences of driving for a couple of hours and finding myself in another country, being greeted by a new language, dealing with different cultures. Hey, I even enjoyed collecting all the different coins and bills, but would I want to go back to them? No. Long live the monetary union. What does the Single Market or being able to cross US state lines mean to you? Do you realize what an achievement it is to be able to move about freely, have established import and export relationships, and the opportunity to look for jobs across borders? When you feel stuck and think you have no options, have you really considered everything?

Til next week, have a good one! Thanks to europa.eu for the free pic.

References

Black, J. Stewart and Mendenhall, M (1990) Cross-Cultural training effectiveness: A review and a theoretical framework for future research, Academy of Management Review, p 113 Brewster, Chris, Mayne, lesley and Tregaskis, Olga (1997) Flexible working in Europe: a review of the evidence, Management International Review, p 85 Caligiuri, Paule M (2000) The big five personality characteristics as predictors of expatriate’s desire to terminate the assignment and supervisor-rated performance, Personnel Psychology The Economist, February 17th, 1996, European Union: Is the single market working? Frazee, Valerie (1999), Send your expats prepared for success, Workforce p 3 Frazee, Valerie (1999), Expert help for dual-career spouses, Workforce, p 49 Hall, E.T. and Hall, M.R. (1990) Understanding Cultural Differences, Yarmouth, Mass. Intercultural Press Hofstede, Geert (1980) Cultures Consequences: International Differences in Work-related values, Beverly Hills, Sage Leeds, Christopher, Kirkbride, Paul S. and Durcan, Jim (1994) Human Resource Management in Europe: Perspectives for the 1990s, London, Routledge Leiba-O’Sullivan, Sharon (1999) The Distinction between stable and dynamic cross-cultural competencies: Implications for expatriate trainability, Journal of International Business Studies, p 709 Olsson, Johan (1995) The Maastricht Treaty, in www.geocities.com Schaffer, Margaret A. and Harrison, David A. (1998) Expatriates’ psychological withdrawal from international assignments: work, nonwork and family influences, Personnel Psychology Trompenaars, Fons and Hampden-Turner, Charles (1998) Riding the waves of culture Understanding cultural diversity in Business, London, Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd, 2nd Edition

 Image by bitospud, flickr, Creative Commons license

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