Q: I am an instant-gratification person and am easily frustrated when I can’t make progress at work or at home fast enough. What can I do to achieve my goals but not lose steam because I feel overwhelmed?
Marvin Sadovsky: Progress at work and completing assignments, tasks and responsibilities is an honorable intent. I am curious what is meant by “fast enough”? Who is it that determines when a certain speed of completion is the factor that determines goal achievement? It is important to understand the reality and not the illusion we create in our head.
The feeling of frustration or being overwhelmed is normally a symptom of an “outcome” that is not well formed. The most frequent aspect of an outcome that is not well formed is lack of control. Do you have complete control or can you adjust the outcome of a task to fi t within your control? Your frustrations and feeling of being overwhelmed may greatly diminish when you consider the control issue. Another aspect to consider is how you manage time. Are you pushing the task-versus-time envelope?
Here is a simple physiological process that will help immediately when feeling frustrated or overwhelmed. Because you seem to have a “Fire-Ready-Aim” behavior pattern, you may unknowingly be operating in “Primitive Brain” or “Fight or Flight.” You must trick your brain out of that emotional state by taking fi ve to seven deep breaths [slowly]; imagine an easy completion with a smile. Keep breathing deeply. That’s a start.
Loretta LaRoche: Consider slowing down instead of speeding up. Our brain functions better and is more productive when we focus on a goal, see it through and go on to another. Becoming overwhelmed comes from the inner critic and only serves to make us crazed and humorless. Have fun. There are no tombstones that say, “Did everything, died anyway.”
Keith Harrell: First, it’s great you realize that you desire instant gratifi cation. Therefore, make a commitment to gratify yourself along the journey toward reaching your goals. Often, our goals seem so far away, and we need mini-goals to help us get to the big goals. With your big goal in mind, write down your daily action steps to accomplishing the goal and recognize the progress within those steps. Then, fi nd ways to pat yourself on the back for making the effort and accomplishing your action steps. Your mini-goals will keep you from feeling overwhelmed because as you complete each mini-goal you immediately see your progress.
Remember, it’s not about making it to your goal and only celebrating then. You have to fi nd ways to motivate yourself along the way so you can stay on track. When you’re accountable to give yourself rewards, you encourage yourself and eliminate frustrations.
Q: My boss is one of those people who demands perfection.
I try to anticipate all his objections before approaching him, but he always fi nds something negative. I need to find a way to work with him without being stressed out. Can you help?
M.S.: Perfection many times means control of the outcome. This can be a challenge for people who have to delegate. Based on the question, your boss seems to be demonstrating a behavior pattern that is “moving away.” It’s like initially considering what can go wrong as opposed to what can go right. Some people refer to this as a negative motivation pattern. By the way, all patterns of behavior are resourceful; it just depends on the context and how the pattern is demonstrated.
Instead of anticipating his objections, it might be more productive to have him tell you his potential worries or negatives. So how do you get him talking? Your boss sorts information fi rst by identifying problems. This is a natural way for him to examine any activity in the work context. When you approach your boss you might begin with a statement that aligns with how his brain processes. Example: “Boss, regarding this project/task, etc., there are some challenges or potential problems we might have to consider. What are your thoughts about that before I get started?” When you speak to your boss this way, you are aligning with his deepest or unconscious pattern about challenges or problems. By doing so, you are creating immediate rapport at his foundational level. He will feel comfortable with you and eventually he will demonstrate behavior that more closely respects how your brain processes. Aligning with unconscious behavior patterns is the foundation that builds trust.
L.L.: The best way to work with your boss is to act like a student. Have him explain why he objects and what he would do to correct the problem. You don’t necessarily have to follow his lead but it will make communicating with him easier on you if you begin to view him as a collaborator, rather than a problem.
Q: I have not quite achieved all that I want to in either my personal or professional life… yet. I’m not unhappy about my life and where it’s headed, it’s just that sometimes when I think about all the things I want to do, they seem daunting and I get discouraged. How can I worry less and get back on track with my goals?
K.H.: When you think about all the things you want to do, it’s easy to become overwhelmed because most people’s thoughts are fast, random and lack order. That’s why you should put them on paper—so you can see what you’re working with and develop an action plan to add substance to your dreams.
Doing this will also help you stop worrying, which doesn’t help accomplish anything anyway. Research shows that 40 percent of our worries have already happened, 30 percent will never occur, 12 percent are about unfounded health conditions, 10 percent are about daily nothings, and 8 percent will likely not even affect you. Also, ut i l ize affirmat ions to help. Affirmations are personal, positive statements you say out loud to help you take control of your thoughts and attitude.
Repeated several times each day, every day, they serve to reprogram your thinking and rekindle the power within you.
M.S.: Dreams are future realities waiting for time to pass. It’s important to remember that the present is a result of the past, yet the future will be the result of your behavior now! I would fi rst invite you to consider that being hard-focused on your goals may limit possibilities. Goals are important, yet they are only imagined completions. Keep your goals, but leave room for greatness.
1. Think about your goals a few times during the day and especially as you go to sleep. This is a way of notifying the universe to get busy behind the scenes.
2. Remain focused on the present because that is the only place of creation.
3. Begin to frame the future based on the NOW behavior.
4. Think of what you want. Is it coming from a belief of lack and not abundance?
5. When thinking about your future goal, begin to imagine it completed and enjoying the results. It’s more important to imagine what the results give you. Being on track may need shifting occasionally, because tracks sometimes create ruts.
L.L.: Thinking about all the things you want to do is all well and good. Eventually, though, we need to prioritize so we can put our energy into making them happen, otherwise you’re just spinning your wheels.
Worry is a lesson in futility and a model that only serves to make us feel guilty and unhappy. Switch your emotions into passion and excitement and you’ll soon create what you want.