Thursday, June 27, 2019

Developing Decision Criteria

When faced with a new idea – what decision criteria are you using?

Have you defined it?

Or are you just saying “yes” to whatever is in front of you?

Not that saying “yes” to whatever is in front of you is a bad thing. At certain times of life, it’s a great way to discover new interests, have new experiences, and learn a lot very quickly (including a lot about things you never want to do again).

However, many of us default to “yes” because we can’t think of a better option, we want to please someone else/get them out of our hair, or we haven’t figured out any decision criteria to say yes/no against.

Your decision criteria should be based on what is important to you.

  • What area of your life are you focusing on right now?
  • What are your goals – long and short-term?
  • Which relationships are important to you?
  • What values do you wish to demonstrate?

For example, one of my decision criteria centers around “How does this impact my relationship with my family?”

Do I have a previous family obligation that the opportunity impacts? That’s a hard “no” in my book.

Is it unclear what the impact will be? That’s an “I’ll get back to you by [date/time] with a decision (and/or alternative).”

Your decision criteria will likely be different.

It will likely change as you move through life.

You may find previously set decision criteria no longer apply (ie. your kids leaving the house, so you no longer need to worry about driving them around).

You may find that your defined decision criteria doesn’t work for you and you need to iterate again. That’s OK too. There’s a lot of noise telling us about all the things we “should” do.

Start with something simple. A clear yes/no answer for you.

Being clear on your decision criteria pays big dividends in making room for the people and experiences you value.


I’m doing a quick poll on my Facebook Business Page.

What specific topics should I cover in Dealing with Ideas that Distract? The course will be 3-weeks and the videos will be 1 hour long with an hour of live Q&A.

Comment by number. Choose your top 3.
1) How to intake a new idea
2) Saying “no”
3) Periodization – what should I focus on during this period?
4) Important vs. Urgent – Telling the difference
5) When should the new idea take priority and how to pivot
6) Scheduling and Backlogs – Making room for new ideas

You can respond here or on Facebook. I personally moderate the comments on this blog so it may take a few hours for your comment to appear on this page.

Thank you for your feedback.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

How to Pause

Just do it.

OK, maybe it’s not that easy.

Others get uncomfortable with the silence.

YOU may be uncomfortable with the silence.

It’s OK.

We’re trained to talk and be experts and be “influencers” and all that.

We’re trained to DO. Preferrably immediately.

We’re NOT encouraged to pause. To observe. To allow ourselves to think.

To take the space and the time to think through the consequences of the “yes” or the “no.”

To remind ourselves what is important.

To analyze whether the opportunity or idea in front of you moves you towards or away from that thing that is important.

You make multiple decisions throughout a day – whether you know it or not.

Do I have coffee this morning, tea, or something else this morning?

Pause.

Should I wear the red shirt or the blue shirt this morning?

Pause.

Do I take public transit, risk driving the Beltway, or call in sick?

Pause.

Each day is filled with these decision opportunities.

I invite you to allow yourself to pause each time you see one.

It makes for great practice when you are faced with higher-stakes decisions.


I’m doing a quick poll on my Facebook Business Page.

What specific topics should I cover in Dealing with Ideas that Distract? The course will be 3-weeks and the videos will be 1 hour long with an hour of live Q&A.

Comment by number. Choose your top 3.
1) How to intake a new idea
2) Saying “no”
3) Periodization – what should I focus on during this period?
4) Important vs. Urgent – Telling the difference
5) When should the new idea take priority and how to pivot
6) Scheduling and Backlogs – Making room for new ideas

You can respond here or on Facebook. I personally moderate the comments on this blog so it may take a few hours for your comment to appear on this page.

Thank you for your feedback.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Move to the New or Stick with the Old?

When you have hit a sticky part of your project and a new opportunity or idea presents itself, what is your default?

Do you quickly move to the new and get started – abandoning the thing that you were trying to do?

OR

Do you keep plugging away at what you are doing, even if the new thing is a better way to get there?

Many of my clients are in the first group. My more ambitious clients try to do both the new AND the old, then wonder why they finish neither of them and have a pile of unfinished projects in front of them.

I, and a few of my other clients, land in the second group – doggedly executing that original plan, even if the new idea is a better way to get there, then wondering why we’re burnt out and regretful.

In more mindful moments, you can make that choice conscious.

In this age of busy, and with the increased pressure to “do it all,” it’s even more important that you get clear on the opportunity cost of saying “yes.”

It’s important to pause long enough to see whether the option in front of you provides a better way to get you where you want to go than what you are currently doing.


I’m in the process of developing a new course on Dealing with Distracting Ideas and I need your feedback.

  • What questions do you have about setting priorities and maintaining focus?
  • What outcomes do you expect from this course?
  • What topics would you love for the course to cover?

Please add your comments below. The comments are personally moderated and will appear after I read them.

Thank you for your help.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Dealing with the Siren Song of Distraction

It was amazing.

The deeper I got into the book writing process, the more I wanted to distract myself.

I had to keep reminding myself that we were past the point of “just one more source” and keep writing.

I had a couple of epic ideas that just wouldn’t die, despite my attempts to keep them in the backlog or just say “no.” They kept demanding “research” and “ideation” and “action.”

These distractions come at a cost.

The cost is the energy and time it takes to get the thing I started done.

The cost is the risk that I will NEVER manifest the thing I want to manifest.

There are two parts to opportunity cost.

The first part is the cost to take advantage of the opportunity presented.

The second, and most overlooked, part is the cost of the opportunities we cannot take because we are working on THIS opportunity.

Remember: we live in a time and in a culture where opportunities are abundant (despite pressure to believe otherwise) and personal time, energy, and resilience are scarce.

So what do you DO with this siren song?

First, recognize that the siren song isn’t going to stop.

I’ve personally found that the more important the project I am working on is, the louder that song becomes.

Second, ask whether the siren song is just another, sneakier, form of resistance or whether you need to ask deeper questions about your current project.

The appeal of the siren song is a test of why you are doing your current project.

Is the siren song attractive because you have hit a rough patch? Or is the new idea truly a better option?

Third, how urgent is the siren song? Are you truly staring at a “once-in-a-lifetime” “first-mover” “never-gonna-happen-again-unless-you-act-right-now” opportunity?


I’m in the process of putting together a course on this topic and would love your feedback.

  • What questions do you have about setting priorities and maintaining focus?
  • What outcomes do you expect from this course?
  • What topics would you love for the course to cover?

Add your comments. The comments are personally moderated, so I will see them before they post. Thank you for your help.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Busyness – Not Just You

When we’re busy and have that high-octane, panicked feeling that time is scarce …our attention and ability to focus narrows. Behavioral researchers call this phenomenon “tunneling.” And, like being in a tunnel, we’re only able to concentrate on the most immediate, and often low value, tasks right in front of us. (Research has found we actually lose about 13 IQ points in this state.) We run around putting out fires all day, racing to meetings, plowing through emails, and getting to 5 or 6 PM with the sick realization that we haven’t even started our most important work of the day.

Brigid Schulte’s brilliant summary of the impact of busyness from her article Preventing Busyness from Becoming Burnout, Harvard Business Review.

Not mentioned in Schulte’s article is how addicting this level of focus is. I suspect, for many, tunneling is the only form of meditation practice they have.

There’s also an adrenaline rush that comes from being busy. For those of us who work on projects, remember the rush of “crunch time?”

Add the fact that our culture rewards the perception of busyness and is it any wonder most of us are running around ineffective, frustrated, and burned out.

We can look at the trend of busyness through the lens of Ken Wilber’s “All Quadrants” framework:

  • I – Your interpretation + what you get out of “being busy”
  • We – The social “busyness” expectation
  • It – Reacting to others’ behaviors (such as the late night/weekend email from your boss)
  • Its – The systems that keep us “busy” – from weekly status meetings to instant messengers and notifications,

There are some system-level interventions we can use to slow down the treadmill – IM blockers, blocking slack time on our calendars, task visibility – but there is something deeper at work here.

What ARE you getting out of seeming “busy” all the time?

Is there a feeling of “belonging?”

Is it a convenient excuse?

Are you fearing loss of reputation?

If you are not “busy,” do you fear you won’t have value?

Or that you will be seen as “less than?” Or “not in demand?”

If you are not busy, will it force you to look at your life and face some hard truths that you really don’t want to see?

Does busyness allow you to avoid taking responsibility for your life and blame something else for your unhappiness?

Unless you are clear on what you get out of being busy, it’s going to be difficult to step off the hamster wheel.