How to Be a Better Gift Receiver

present-pile

I was called out by my wife, again, for being a “bad gift receiver”. She is right. I need to be more grateful.

I got mildly upset because a Christmas gift we received last year was slightly different from the one that was on the list. Same thing, just a different brand. This gift was for my son, and he loved it, yet I’m still complaining about it 12 months later!

Yes, I hang my head in shame.

Have you ever done this?

I play it off as a joke, but the reality is I looked at the gift as a hindrance instead of what it was, a gift. A gift from a place of kindness and joy.

I want each gift to be perfectly tailored, but that’s impossible. Just the idea that someone is thinking of me or my son is all that should matter.

No one should have to be worried about giving me or my family a gift because I’m such an ungrateful nerd. People should be excited to give us a gift because of how excited and thankful we all will be.

I’m working on this, and my goal now is to replace every negative thought, right after I notice it, with two positive thoughts.

The reason I’m writing this is because I was recently given a business referral from a good friend. She asked yesterday what I thought of the email referral, and I was about to write back that it was wonderful, but a little too long.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how the 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.

Then I stopped myself. She created this referral from a place of kindness and giving, and I was about to poo poo all over it with a “but” comment.

Then I heard my wife’s voice in my head about being a bad gift receiver, and I realized I could change that. So I wrote back:

Thank you so much! It was an amazing referral. Perfect!

You know what happened?

I felt so much happier after sending a positive thank you in response. My bad habits may die hard, but I’m not going down without a fight. My hope is that I live long enough to turn into a great gift receiver!

Importance of Gratitude

Your success and happiness depends on other people helping you, and the more grateful you choose to be, the more people will want to help you.

The key is knowing where you are making a mistake and creating “bad” feelings, and replacing a bad habit with a better habit that makes you – and other people – feel happier.

My Challenge to You

Pick just one habit you would like to create or improve. What would it be?

  • Start a meditation practice.
  • Be more thankful.
  • Go to bed earlier.

Then pick one super small way to practice over and over until you create a better, happier habit.

Another example: I wanted to start a meditation practice. I knew it would benefit my health and help make me happier. I was so right. I started with a 2 minute meditation practice after I finished up my work for the night and before I would watch my favorite show. Now I’m up to 10 minutes a night and I love it.

The key here is picking a time and place. You will be 90% more likely to build a positive habit if you are specific with when and how. If you can envision how you will accomplish the task then it’s easier to see yourself actually doing it, which means you won’t procrastinate. You’ll take action. Here is a cool article from Jenny Blake about creating magnetic personal project. When you start small, with a personal project, it can turn into something bigger. You never know.

What positive habit would you like to improve or add to your life that would make you happier?

3 Greatest Questions You Can Ask Yourself to Unlock Your Happiness

Good Questions

A young man took his artwork to the local market. He set up his booth with his paintings of a blue horse. People liked his work, but he never sold much. Each week he would go back hoping for someone to fall in love with his work.

One day one of his fellow artist friends stopped by to share a cup of coffee. They joked around and laughed.

A man came up to them and asked the artist if he could paint a yellow elephant for him. The artist laughed and said “I paint blue horses. Don’t you like them?”

“Yes, but my wife loves elephants and I thought…” said the man.

“I don’t do yellow elephants. I hate yellow,” said the artist as he brushed the man away.

So the man left.

After a few months, the young artist’s friend set up his own booth with paintings of yellow elephants. The young artist stopped by to have a cup of coffee with his friend and asked “What is this? Yellow elephants? No one will buy these ugly things.”

They laughed about it. The young artist was right. No one wanted the yellow elephants. That was until the man from a couple months ago stopped by.

“These are beautiful. How much?”

“For which one?”

“For all of them?”

Do you have stories that you tell yourself that hold you back? E.g. when someone asks you to work on a project and instead of trying to make it your own you dismiss it or don’t try your best to do a good job?

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how my 7 step process helped my clients become happier and get better results.

Might it be possible to create a project in your career that delivers happiness for them as well as to you?

No one taught me the skills on how to build a career that would make me happy. At every step of my education I was taught to execute other people’s ideas well. A teacher would give me an assignment and I would figure out how to make them happy.

Did you have a similar upbringing?

I was told I was a terrible writer. I should put my energy into “other” things.

I believed him and many others for the longest time.

The thing was I loved to write. I love everything about the process. I never gave up on this dream and now I have a popular blog that has been read by over 1 million people. I don’t consider myself an amazing writer, not even a great one, but I’m definitely good and it helps me earn a living.

What matters is I love writing, it allows me to help people I care about, and it helps me grow my career.

My first job out of college I had a boss come in to help be the butter between the employees and the CEO. He loved me. He really wanted to help make me happy, but I didn’t know what made me happy. I coasted because it was easier than figuring out what I wanted out of my career.

I was never given tools to learn more about my own happiness in my own work.

“Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it.” – J.D. Stroube, Caged by Damnation

I had to teach myself how to develop projects that excited me from within instead of following someone else’s guidelines. This was a painful process that after many years of trial and error, I finally got down and put into a guide.

I want you to start planting your own seeds in your mind.

Good questions do just that.

One seed could start a domino effect that can change your career in just a few months. When your passions, focus, and strengths align, change can happen very fast. That one seed could help you break out of the career box you might have put yourself in from long ago.

Use these 3 quality questions to unlock your happiness:

1. What stories do I tell myself that hold me back from doing great work?
2. What is one thing I can do right now that will make me happy?
3. Who can I offer to help that helps me build a stronger friendship?

Your career happiness is dependent on you. Your boss isn’t going to discover some hidden strength that helps you grow your career. He’s worried about his own career.

To take back control of your own career, you have to be willing to try new projects that will push you outside your comfort zone just a bit. When you create projects that help you build resume layers that also add to your happiness, growing it from your core values, and the best part is you’ll find it easier to be happy and do great work

Are you ready to start planting career happiness seeds to grow your career over the next year?

How to Get Your Spark Back

Career Spark

One of the biggest mistakes people make is they stop attempting new challenges in their career. They coast and then start to hate their job.

The key to getting the spark back in your career is to look at how you view your work. I had a client who lost her spark and couldn’t find it.

She told me, “I don’t care if I get fired. No. I hope I get fired.”

I remember this conversation very vividly. I’ve been there.

I asked her, “Why don’t you quit?”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I need to support my family.”

“So do you really want to get fired?”

“Well, no, but if I got fired I would be forced to find something better.”

“Could you do that right now?”

“Yeah, but…” she trailed off.

She was afraid of taking a big step. The big step of making a change.

We are all afraid of big steps. That’s why people who take little steps that add up to big steps are more successful. They see the first little step and take the step. They don’t see 12 little steps as one big step.

They take it one step at a time, and before they know it, they’ve gone 12 little steps and the first big step is accomplished. They can see what little step they need to take next.

They don’t see their big goal as something unattainable. They see their goal in little steps that when put together help them get close to their goal.

It’s why I tell clients to stop setting goals and create projects instead. If a project fails, they can toss it aside and create a new project. If a project succeeds, then they create the next project to help create another layer to support their greater vision.

The key is to layer each project so they build upon each other. A domino effect that adds to your career momentum and happiness.

Your work either supports or tears down your happiness. It’s up to you to take back control of your career and turn it into something that you want to share with your colleagues, friends and family.

I believe that we are all meant to do great work that helps people we care about. If we don’t do work that matters, then we stop trying to do great work. Meaning in our work matters. It’s important to find the connection that matters to you.

If you are looking to create a meaningful career that impacts people’s lives, I suggest you start with the email course that I have set-up call Unlock Your Career Passions. It’s helped thousands of people so far. You should probably join in on the career boosting fun if you haven’t already.

30 Healthy Rewards to Boost Your Happiness

holding-dove-dark-chocolate

Last week I was struggling to do a few simple tasks. I laid my head down on my desk and sighed. The two tasks weren’t a lot of fun, but I needed to get them done.

So instead of forcing myself to do them I decided to take a kinder self-approach. If I finished the first task I would take a 10 minute walk. If I finished the second task I would get myself a piece of Dove dark chocolate.

It’s important to remember it’s not just the reward that you give yourself for doing a difficult task. It’s how you use it to recharge your internal battery. A difficult task can drain your energy and if you don’t savor the reward it’s not benefiting you as much as it could.

Once I finished my task I grabbed the Dove dark chocolate piece, unwrapped it, and mindfully placed it on my tongue. I let it sit their for 3 deep breaths then chewed it. It made up for the tedious task. It also gave me some energy for my next task.

External rewards are really good for tasks that don’t have a lot of internal motivation. So if you can’t get yourself excited about a tedious task try these little “carrot” type of rewards to help get your happiness and productivity back on track.

Special notice: The Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide is now available. Click here to see how my 7 step process helps my clients become happier and get better results.

Reinforcing good habits is paramount to building habits that help you stop procrastinating and taking action on work that needs to get done.

1. Take a short walk.
2. Write down 5 things you are currently grateful for right now.
3. Have lunch with a friend.
4. Eat a piece of dark chocolate.
5. Take a 20 minute nap.
6. Drink a really good cup of tea.
7. Do a quick celebration dance to your favorite song.
8. Call a friend for a few minutes.
9. Share your hard work on Facebook.
10. Go work in the park for an hour.
11. Do a smile session. Think of someone you love and smile. Repeat this 10x. (Best to do this in an empty room so you don’t scare anyone.)
12. Buy a small gift for yourself.
13. Make a thank you card for yourself so you can read it at the end of the month.
14. Go get a massage.
15. Watch a funny clip on YouTube. (Search “ultimate dog tease or office pranks”)
16. Read some of your favorite quotes.
17. Eat a ripe piece of fruit.
18. Drink a glass of wine or beer. Good for weekend tasks. :)
19. Buy a sandwich for a friend.
20. Write a poem to a loved one.
21. Meditate for 10 minutes
22. Play a board game with a friend.
23. Offer to do a boring job for a friend to help them and you appreciate your work.
24. Go “old school” and use a pen for the next half hour.
25. Put underwear on your head and sing the song, “I am awesome.” (This might not be in the healthy or do at work category, but it should release some endorphins after you crack yourself up.)
26. Play your favorite game for the next 20 minutes. (Set a timer so you don’t over do it.)
27. Email a friend thanking them for all their support.
28. Bake banana and raisin cookies for yourself and the office.
29. Move the furniture around in your office to make it more Feng Shui friendly.
30. Make a list of the next 5 people you want to build a friendship with to grow your community.

You can alter or change these healthy rewards to fit your personality. Remember to not repeat something too often. If you reward yourself with a piece of chocolate after every little tedious task that you complete your waistline might not be very grateful for you increased productivity.

What type of small reward would you add to the list?

How to Figure Out if You Need a Career Change

* This post was first published to the Work Happy Now community via email.

Next career step

I worked in the financial industry for seven years, and I hated talking about how to increase our checking account sign-ups. It just wasn’t fun. . I knew for at least three years that I needed to get out of the industry, but never did anything about it except make it known that I wasn’t happy. I complained way too much.

I made myself miserable. I stopped trying to grow my career.

I was laid off in 2011 and the hard decision was made for me. I was forced to figure out my next move.

I recently watched an interview with Gretchen Rubin by Ramit Sethi. She talked about why she left her successful career as a lawyer. She was surrounded by peers who enjoyed talking shop with each other on the weekend. They read books about law, had casual conversations, and enjoyed the intellectual banter that came along with both.

You’ll notice that the people who enjoy talking shop at work are the ones that are in the right career. They enjoy the talk that goes into creative problem solving within their career.

Next time you are in a meeting or even grabbing a cup of coffee, watch what happens when people talk about work.

Final reminder. The Unlock Your Career Happiness guide has been released. I’ve decided to extend the bonuses for a short time. Click here to check out how it can help you break out of your rut and level up your happiness in just 30 days.

Do you join in or do you avoid the conversation?

If you notice that you avoid these conversations, then you may realize that I’m going to suggest that you change or at least tweak your career.

Of course, that is not always simple.

Ok, so I knew that I wanted to leave my job for years before I was laid off. I was moved between 3 departments in less than 2 years. The last department didn’t leverage any of my strengths. In fact it was such a bad fit that I had daily thoughts of quitting.

This same effect can happen as you get promoted. You might be promoted out of your happy state. You might be caught in mostly management meetings instead of project meetings. You might not be doing work that plays to your passions and strengths.

If you notice this trend taking place then look at which conversations at work excite you and which ones you wish you could just hide underneath your desk.

The first step is figuring out what conversations and/or meetings you want to eliminate altogether.

The next step is to create more of the conversations that excite you. Where do these conversations occur and how can you make them a larger part of your day?

Do you enjoy talking shop about your work?  Whether you do or not, please take the time to share your thoughts in the comment section.

Our Choices Add Up

Each choice matters

Bad choices will be made, we can’t stop this, but it’s how we learn and improve our decision making skills that help us create a career we love and grows with us. Each choice you make either builds your happiness or subtracts from it.

Last year I had to choose between two events that I wanted to go to that I thought could help me. I chose one over the other because it was a bit easier to get to and I thought the event was a higher quality group of people. Bad choice.

Understanding what bothers you is just as important as understanding what excites you.” – Chris Guillebeau

I paid for flight, hotel, food, and I basically flushed my money down the toilet. The event was terrible. It was filled with people that weren’t my target market. I ended up just chalking it up as a loss.

Of course it wasn’t a total loss because the adventure was fun. I met a kind man in a store as I was looking for a gift for my son. He walked me around the store, helping me find the perfect gift. After I was done I told him I wanted to check out. I expected him to walk up to the register and help me cash out. He told me that he was just browsing and frequents the store for his grandson.

He just helped out of the goodness of his heart.

Your Best Guess

I made the best guess of which conference to attend with the information I had at the time. I weighed out my decision and tried my best to be smart about my choice.

We are faced with these choices in our career and sometimes they work out and sometimes they don’t It’s the fact of your career and life. You can’t be perfect in every choice, but you can grow with each experience.

I got an amazing story out of the experience. That in itself made the trip worth my time and money.

How About You?

What bad career choice had a silver lining for you? happiness of pursuit book giveaway* The person who leaves the best answer in the comment section will have a chance to win a hardback copy of Chris Guillebeau’s new book “The Happiness of Pursuit.” (Aff. Link) I’ll mail the book with my own money if the winner is in the USA. If you are outside the states then we’ll have to figure out plan B (either give it to the next best entry or pay for the extra shipping to your country).

The Importance of Starting Today

career superpowers

I talk a lot about focus because it’s one of my greatest weaknesses. I have ADD. It takes me awhile to get my focus going in one direction and keeping it there. When it is there, the results are fantastic. When it’s not, I’m a blubbering mess.

Finding ways to improve my focus has been a mission of mine over these last few months. It’s been the missing piece to my success.

I’ve got most of my passions figured out. And I know my strengths well.

My success has been good but not great. Over 1,000,000 views on Work Happy Now. The money I earn from coaching and consulting is good. The people that I’ve been able to help feel happier and bring more success to their careers has been an inspiration to me.

I’m inspired to do even better.

It’s been my difficulty in focusing for long periods of time that has held me back from helping more people. All my dominoes haven’t been aligned as best they can.

Now things are improving on a daily basis. I’m layering my projects so they fit into a larger picture. It’s this vision that has helped me reach new levels. Each choice is made to reach bigger goals.

It comes back to focus.

This took awhile. I knew what I needed to do, but I couldn’t put it all together. Many of you might feel this way about your career as well. You’ve done great work, but your focus is a bit off, or maybe your passions are a bit off because you’ve lost some of your motivation.

I’ve been there.

Do you know the four words I use the most often on my site?

You can probably guess.

  1. Passion
  2. Strengths
  3. Focus
  4. Happiness

I’m obsessed with these words because if you can utilize the first three, you are utilizing your superpowers and developing a happier career and life.

It’s why I created the Unlock Your Superpowers Course. Right now it’s $20 off until Sept. 10th. I know this course is not for everyone. I designed it for people who want to make a bigger impact on others and feel happier at the end of each day. If you don’t believe you have special talents (superpowers) then you probably won’t be able to utilize the course.

Ok, if you are still reading this, you probably believe in your talents and you want to take back control of your career happiness.

Welcome to our club!

My goal with this course is to help you do three things.

  1. Bring more passion to your work so you get excited about your work again.
  2. Improve your focus so you get better results.
  3. Grow your happiness so you feel less stress and improve your relationships at work.

Click here to join in on the fun and bring back the joy to your work.

How to Start a 2 Minute Meditation Practice That You Won’t Quit

2 Minute Meditation

As soon as I hopped on a coaching call last week, I heard a sigh. Jamie was stressed out.

“How was your week Jamie?” I asked her.

Another sigh.

“It was rough. My boss dumped all this extra work on my plate and I can’t do it all.”

“Are you feeling stressed.”

“Oh, boy, do I! I just can’t seem to stop thinking about work.”

“I know the feeling. Why do you think it’s so hard to let go?”

“I know, it’s just…” she trails off.

“It’s just what?”

“I’m not sure. I just don’t know the answer.”

How you feel at work affects your performance, relationships, and your happiness.

Jamie was obviously stressed, so we needed to start at the beginning of how she could deal with her stress. First we had to focus on her and get her back to a calm state before she can even tackle the work overload.

So I asked her “What do you think about starting an easy mediation practice?”

“I can’t meditate!” She said.

“Can you breathe?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Can you sit on a chair or cushion?”

“Sure.”

“Then you can meditate.”

She chuckled.

I may have sounded blunt or facetious, but she knew I was serious. Meditation helps ease stress, improve focus, and best of all increase happiness. I knew that if she could just meditate for two minutes a day for 30 days, she would be hooked.

I walked her through the steps to start meditating. Here are the basics for you to start your own meditation practice as well.

Step 1: Pick a time of day where you can set aside 2 minutes to just be by yourself in a quiet place.

If you live in a noisy house, then you might want to invest in a sound machine that can create white noise to help limit any distractions you may have when you meditate.

Step 2: Give yourself a very compelling reason you should start a 2 minute meditation practice.

Five popular reasons are:

  1. I want to reduce my stress.
  2. I want to be able to focus at work.
  3. I want to feel happier.
  4. I want to “enjoy the moment” more.
  5. I want to live longer.

Pick one or come up with your own reason, but you have to have a really important reason that’s close to your heart so you actually do the next step.

Step 3: Schedule this meditation time on your calendar for the next 30 days.

I meditate at the end of each day, usually after I put my son to bed and before my quality time with my wife. So it’s flexible, but always done. I started with 2 minutes because it felt easy. It got me started and  I loved it.

Now I usually meditate for 10 – 15 minutes Because 2 minutes turned into 5 and then 10. I really do love it, and I rely on it to help keep me happy.

Step 4: Meditate for 2 minutes.

This is actually the hardest part because your inner arch nemesis may hold you back at first, but don’t listen to your inner arch nemesis (internal voice) that may say you don’t have time or that meditating is silly. Say “thank you for your input, but I’m going to try meditating for just 2 minutes”.

So here’s the process:

  1. Sit down on a cushion or chair. It’s important to have a straight spine so the air moves in and out of your lungs easily.
  2. Set a timer for two minutes and hit start.
  3. Close your eyes, put a slight smile on your face to relax your facial muscles, and breathe slowly and easily.
  4. Feel your breath going in and out, and also focus your attention on it.
  5. Every time your thoughts wander to work, life or whatever, just bring your attention back to your breath.
  6. Repeat #5 again and again for the 2 minutes until your timer dings.  You will probably repeat this process 1,000 or 10,000 times for many many months, until you can keep your focus on your breath for any extended period of time. That’s ok, it’s the practice of bringing your focus back to your breath that matters.

I guarantee that at the start, you will lose focus. You may feel frustrated. You may even feel weak. That is all part of the process.

Remember to start simple. Don’t just dive in and meditate for 20 minutes, especially if you are new to meditation. Start with 2 minutes and eventually work your way up.

Step 5: Be Thankful

After your meditation is over, take a few seconds to be thankful about what went well during your 2-minute meditation.

This last step is important. Taking the time to appreciate your meditation will help reinforce this hard work so you will want to do it again tomorrow.

For example, I usually pick 3 different things to be thankful for:

  1. Thank you lungs for working well during my meditation.
  2. Thank you brain for trying your hardest to stay focused on my breath.
  3. Thank you heart for circulating my blood while I meditated.

Step 6:  Take Action

Now go look at your calendar and figure out where you can put 2 minutes of meditation into your schedule every day for 30 days and make it happen. Once you find a good time, try to be consistent with when you meditate, so it has a better chance of becoming a habit.

Even if it means that you can only meditate for one minute then at least do it for one minute. If you can make meditation a part of your daily routine your happiness will increase, your stress will lower, and work will be easier.

Step 7: Tell a Supportive Friend

When you tell someone that you are going to meditate for 2 minutes everyday you will feel responsible to actually do it. Tell them in person. Tell your social media friends. Tell your co-workers. Join a local meditation group. Tell us in the comment section.

You won’t want to let them down.

It’s just a little trick to make sure you give yourself the best chance of turning this stress relieving and happiness inducing practice into a daily routine.

Who wants to join in?

If you want support from the Work Happy Now community, then make your voice heard in the Comment section. We’ll be glad to support you and help you get your meditation practice off the ground.

If you know you want to start meditation to lower your stress, try starting with Active Relaxation. It’s more of meditation for everyday experiences.

And even if you don’t need support, please comment on how you’re doing with your new meditation practice.

Use This One Thing to Boost Your Motivation

Be playful in your work

Yesterday I was struggling to get my “happy plane” off the ground to do some writing, but I just couldn’t get my mindset into a creative mood.

I knew what I wanted to write, but the sentences were clumsy. Then I did what any smart creative person does…

I picked up one of my super rubber duckies and just looked at it and squeezed it.

I give presentations and throw these superhero duckies out into the crowd to help remind people that they have superpowers. Funny how I forget the simple reminders that I know are useful to my clients.

Toys can have a calming effect on even the grumpiest adults.

More Fun

I said to myself, “Why not have a little more fun with your work?”

Then I picked up my Spiderman golf putter that my brother gave me for Christmas, grabbed a golf ball, dropped it on my carpet, picked a little opening between the wall and the couch, and hit the ball toward the opening. Another smile came over me.

After sixteen tries, I got the ball in the opening, and I smiled for the third time.

Then a thought of what I wanted to say in my blog post popped into my head. I put my putter aside and the writing started to come a little easier.

And I remembered that being playful in my work truly does matter in order for me to be creative. Taking a break can be more productive than going through the motions, and that rubber duckies and indoor golf can actually help me regain focus, clarity and forward momentum.

Although hugs, handshakes, high fives, and other experiences that bring us in contact with other people can motivate us to maintain forward momentum, we can also choose a physical object to remind us to be playful or to refocus when we’re stuck and no one else is around. Think of it as an emotional trigger to bring a little happiness back into your workday.

Step 1Find your motivation object.

Look around your workspace and see if you notice an object that you might not have been aware of before that helps quiet your thoughts..

It could be a…

  1. Photo of a loved one
  2. Action figure
  3. Coin
  4. Stress ball
  5. Letter
  6. Golf putter
  7. Feather

The key here is to use this object to trigger the next step.

Step 2Use a phrase to help you relax and shift the focus of your thoughts.

If you noticed in the example above, I used a phrase that helps me let go of my stress and helps me focus on what I want to happen next.

I said to myself, “Why not have a little more fun with my work?”

I don’t force it, and you shouldn’t either.

And don’t just repeat your phrase once and try to get right back to work.

Use your phrase and allow yourself the time and emotional space to take a break and then start to get your mindset back on track.

Step 3Bring yourself back to taking action.

When you try to get yourself back on track, think of one thing you can do to improve your motivation, and then think of the next little step to make that a reality, so you can start taking action again, but this time in a little more focused direction.

In my case, I wanted to do some writing. So I gave myself the space to allow the creativity back into my mind by being playful.

You shouldn’t force the issue of what you want your mind and body to do next. Just plant the seed and allow yourself to relax. Then let your brain and body do what it wants to do naturally.

Quick Tip

I suggest not to make your motivation object anything like your phone because it can be more of a distraction than a object to help you get back on track. You don’t want to get lost in a game and lose our on valuable work time if you can get your motivation back on track in 10 or 20 minutes.

The same thing goes for food. You don’t probably don’t want to rely on a donut every time you need an motivation boost.

Your Turn

How do you get your motivation back on track when you

How to Befriend Your Inner Arch Nemesis

Hug your inner arch nemesis

Your inner arch nemesis (inner critic) can be very good for you or very, very bad.

In a lot of cases, it can tell you that you are an idiot for rushing into something that blew up in your face. Quick note: it’s never ok to call yourself an idiot. It’s your inner arch nemesis getting the best of you. Sometimes your arch nemesis can keep you grounded and prevent your ego from getting too big, other times he’s a jerk and needs to be ignored.

I like to think of my inner arch nemesis as a friend trying to protect me, like any good mom or dad would do for their child.

Sometimes parents go too far though. They protect you from experiences that are supposed to make you fall flat on your face so that you can learn to get back up and try again.

Finding harmony with your inner arch nemesis is like finding the perfect balance alone on a teeter-totter.  Too much weight on either side, and the seat can hit the ground. Hard.

Are you ready to bring back the joy to your work? In the Unlock Your Career Happiness Guide you’ll learn how to quiet your inner arch nemesis and create projects that boost your resume and of course your career.

Opening Awareness

A few months ago it felt like my inner arch nemesis was trying to claw my eyes out from the inside, obsessively worrying about a coaching client that I wasn’t getting along with at the moment. I didn’t understand why I felt this way because she was smart, worked hard on improving her career, and had seemed to enjoy our sessions.

Instead of asking her what was wrong, I let this feeling drag on because my inner critic was speculating about all the things that could be wrong with me that were affecting our work together.

Then on our next session I ignored my inner arch nemesis for a minute and came right out and asked, “I’m feeling some resistance from you. Am I reading this right?”

She meekly said, “Yes.”

So I asked “Why do you think that is?”

“Well, I’m not sure. At first I was all excited, then we did the superpowers session.”

“Ahh. I see.”

“What?”

“You’re having a tough time with the word superpowers.”

“Yes. I think you are right. I didn’t realize it. I like the concept, but having to think of myself as having superpowers is hard.”

So we talked it through and instead of using the word “superpowers”, we used the word “talents”. This made much more sense to her, and she could now process the information better and start to take action. We still talked about passion, focus, and strengths, but in terms of talents, not superpower. By bringing the issue out into the open, we were able to uncover and work through the problem.

The reason I had been afraid to say something is because I thought she would tell me she was disappointed in our work together because of something I did or didn’t do. That was my arch nemesis taking over. He was just trying to help me realize something wasn’t quite right with my client. No relationship is perfect and if I would have ignored this voice then our relationship would have continued to flounder. Communication is important to help bring clarity to the situation, making the decision making process easier. All it took was suggesting a change in my choice of words to solve the problem.

I thanked my arch nemesis for speaking up. The doubt that was there helped  us make our relationship stronger.

Over the years of working with all different kinds of people, I’ve found that it’s better to bring issues out into the open and talk about them. Sometimes it happens that people are just not a good fit for my style, and that’s ok with me. Whatever the underlying issue is, I’ve found that it’s better to talk about it than to ignore an awkward or uncomfortable situation.

Understand Your Inner Arch Nemesis

We all have an inner dialog that is trying to feed  or tear down our happiness.

How you choose to build a relationship with your inner arch nemesis determines your attitude and success.

Here is a 3 step process to help you gain insight into your inner voice that might skew toward the negative side during difficult situations.

Step 1 – Listen to your inner arch nemesis.

It’s kind of crazy how this works, so over the next few days, I want you to watch your thoughts. i.e. what do you say to yourself in different situations?

For example,if you are in a meeting and your inner dialog is saying, “Auugghh, I can’t believe I have to be here. This is such a waste of time,” then note this inner dialog.

I don’t want you to judge this dialog, just document it and watch it. I actually named my inner arch nemesis to make it the game a little more playful.

Step 2 – Watch how your inner arch nemesis makes you feel.

Remember the first post asking about how you want to feel at work? Well, your thoughts play a huge role in how you feel at work. If your inner dialog is negative, it can becomes your arch nemesis. It stops you from taking action.

So, your notes might answer questions like the following:

Where were you when you noticed your inner arch nemesis’ voice?

ex. I was in the weekly review meeting.

What did my inner arch nemesis say?

ex. My stomach hurts. My boss is such a dork. I wish it was lunch time. Oh, my, God! I can’t take this for one more minute!

How did this inner dialog make you feel?

ex. I felt angry and frustrated, and the more I thought these thoughts, the angrier and more frustrated I felt.

Step 3 – Plant seeds to improve your relationship with your inner arch nemesis.

Here is where it can get fun. You can start to rewire how you think about and deal with difficult situations. Try imagining you have a good friend or parent with you who wants to keep you safe and support you, then ask yourself the following:

What could I do differently next time?

ex. Next time I’m in a meeting like that, I could take a big breath and relax, or I could offer up a solution to make the meeting run smoother, or maybe find a positive thought like Mary tries so hard to make this place better, next time she offers up a suggestion I’m going to support her.

Putting It All Together

Do you want to create a happier life and career?

Watching, learning, and adjusting how you view a situation will go a long way toward improving your career. You are planting the seeds for a more positive mindset. We all have difficult situations and people to deal with — the key is to be open to finding solutions that can help us and the company instead of letting our inner arch nemesis hold us back.

I know many of you will read this and will want to try the exercise of watching your inner critic and then thinking about what you could do differently. This is exciting.

I also understand that some of you just aren’t ready to take on your inner arch nemesis, maybe because it’s been a strong part of your life for so long and you can’t imagine having a good relationship with your inner arch nemesis, but I would encourage you to give it a shot.

Are you ready to take the next step and befriend your inner arch nemesis?,

If you gained any insights, please share below. I would love to hear what you will try to do differently this week and next.

* This article is a part of the Unlock Your Passions email course that you can get access to by joining our community and getting free career happiness boosting updates.

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