REPOSTING FROM THE ARCHIVES. Originally posted May 2014:
Note: an edited version of this post has been published by the Globe and Mail. Check it out here!
A couple weeks ago I put away my winter jacket only to pull it out again a day later. Errgh and brrghh. This has been the winter that never ends and I found myself having far too many conversations about the weather – mostly complaints. One day after getting tired of my own whining I got a bit philosophical and wondered if this was Mother Nature’s way of reminding us that we don’t get to control everything (darn!) — certainly not the weather! So I surrendered to it and let go of the frustration (and put my coat back on).
(Photo: Eileen Chadnick; Hope springs as a flower blooms out of the concrete)
This weather thing got me thinking about what else I might need to surrender to. While some people might think surrender is a weakness – i.e. like ‘giving up’, it can also be a strength: Knowing when it’s time to push, be proactive and make things happen is great but so is knowing when to let things go and instead learn to live in the flow.
The funny thing is when we do let go of what we can’t control stuff tends often tends to work out. Like the client who let go of her frustration of not being chosen for the promotion even thought she did her very best and was worthy of it. Shortly after, she was offered another opportunity that was even better. And as for the weather – well, spring has indeed decided to finally poke its nose through the frigid last breaths of winter.
I love the pull forward that spring represents. It brings us towards lighter days and the reminder to ‘spring clean’ and rid ourselves of what no longer serves. Spring is also a great time to plant seeds. Not just gardens but also in our work and lives – perhaps start planning for new projects, adventures and maybe even new relationships by expanding our professional and personal networks.
Lessons are abound everywhere if we take a moment to notice and reflect on them. In ‘the light’ of the new season, here are some questions to ponder.
Seven questions to reflect on to help you spring forward:
1) What do you need to surrender to and let go of?
Much like the frustrating, non-seasonal weather these past weeks, we need to recognize what we can’t control. What do you need to let go of? Perhaps something that bugs you but is out of your control? What frustrations are sapping your energy that need to be parked? Instead focus on areas you can control. Notice what happens.
2) What will your spring cleaning be about? What have you held on to these past few months that no longer serves you? Perhaps you feel guilt from not following through on a New Year’s resolution that in the end wasn’t really meaningful to you? How about some bad habits that are preventing you from bringing your best to your work and life? And what about the physical stuff that is cluttering your space – such as your desk, office or even files bursting at the seams?
3) How will you clear your mind?
Bogged down with too much stuff on your mind? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your organizing and prioritizing habits? Write a list and get it out of your head but keep it top of mind. And are you taking enough breaks to recharge and ‘clear the cache’? In my book, Ease, I offer simple strategies to lighten the loads and shift from a mind full state to a more productive mindful way of being.
4) What will pull you forward?
Hope, excitement and optimism are powerful drivers to ‘spring forward’ in your work and life. What are you looking forward to this spring? Remember, it’s not only about the actual events that make the difference but rather our awareness and appreciation of all good things – large and small. Do you need to refresh or create some new goals? Focus on good things to come and start some planning now to get ready.
5) What seeds will you plant?
If you are thinking of a career shift or a life change or a big personal goal (even if targeted for later this year), chances are you need to start planting seeds and doing some of the work now. For instance, it’s never too early to ramp up your network, start some research, take a course and refresh skills, take time to assess your career and life goals, needs and preparedness. For those of you with BIG goals, are you chunking down your ‘mountainous’ goals into milestones and smaller chunks? How about making a few TINY goals along the way?
6) What’s your fertilizer?
Just like plants need fertilizer to thrive, we humans do too. Whether we are supporting big goals or just trying to feel and be our best in the regular routine of work and life, we need to pay attention to what nourishes us. Support systems, people connection, good habits, and a regular dose of positivity — these are just a few examples of what can fuel you towards a more productive, meaningful and satisfying life career and life. Check in with yourself and ask if you have ample (and the right kind of) fertilizer to carry you forward in your work and life.
7) How are you embracing positivity in your life? (a special kind of fertilizer)?
Not feeling the love of spring just yet? Perhaps you need a positivity boost. What are three things you can do now to boost your mojo? What makes you happy? What are you grateful for? What micro moments of positivity can you create — with yourself, your peers, your team — and how will you savour them for a ‘replay’ factor?
Eileen Chadnick (@Chadnick) is an executive and leadership coach and communications pro (20+ years). She is principal of Big Cheese Coaching and Chadnick Communications in Toronto. She is author of Ease:Manage overwhelm in Times of Crazy Busy. Follow her on Facebook at: facebook/bigcheesecoaching.com