Anyone who has ever aspired to greatness and set out to accomplish anything of significance undoubtedly has learned that life (and success) is truly a journey and not a static destination point. Ironically, the more specific you are in planning your goals and charting your path towards important goals, the more you will need to be ready to adjust and adapt as twists in the road emerge that you could not have foreseen as you initiated your well planned journey. Does this mean that planning and goal setting is pointless? Of course not, the power of setting specific goals and creating an action plan to achieve those goals is a very powerful force and is a process the most successful people use to stretch and make the most of their potential.
When the unexpected occurs in life, especially those moments in life or career that put you face to face with a significant and unexpected change of course in your direction, it is important to remember that we never have had, nor never will have the power to plan and execute a path solely based on our will (regardless of talent, work ethic or intentions).
Unanticipated changes happen all the time and what differentiates those who rapidly bounce back and in fact in many cases come through the experience as a better, deeper person after moving through the experience are 3 core characteristics:
- Faith: To know that you were designed to succeed in life and given unique talents to help you achieve greatness
- Attitude: To focus forward and not live life in the past always looking in the rearview mirror for “what might have been.” Look back only enough to honestly assess and learn from any course corrections that will help you move towards you future in a positive manner.
- Courage: Are you “seized up” with tension and paralysis caused by fear of the unknown or are you moving forward with boldness and the confidence to know you were built to prosper (Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you, they are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”)
There are a variety of reasons unexpected change in our lives occurs, sometimes through self inflicted mistakes and sometimes through changes completely outside your control which you had absolutely nothing to do with. When major life changes occur, especially in the midst of the experience, it is easy to feel a bit like Humpty Dumpty, in pieces on the ground after a significant fall. My advice when this type of life experience presents itself:
- Acknowledge your disappointment that a change is occurring which you did not expect or necessarily desire
- Determine what your strongest skills and passions are and chart a course moving forward that aligns with what is “True North” in your own internal life compass. In other words, what you believe is the best path forward based on your own priorities, direction and intended purpose.
- Life is lived more with a compass than a specific map. A compass allows us to always move in the right direction, regardless of where we find ourselves, however a map is only useful up to the point where an unexpected (and un-mapped) change in the road happens.
- Don’t forget to count your blessings and enjoy the journey!
In the spirit of the great radio personality Paul Harvey (“Now you know the rest of the story”), for those interested in the origin of the Humpty Dumpty Nursery Rhyme we all know so well, the following provides a background on the history and roots of the poem.
The History and Origins of the Humpty Dumpty Rhyme (adapted from http://www.rhymes.org)
Humpty Dumpty was in fact believed to be a large cannon! It was used during the English Civil War (1642 – 1649) in the Siege of Colchester (13 Jun 1648 – 27 Aug 1648). Colchester was strongly fortified by the Royalists and was laid to siege by the Parliamentarians (Roundheads). In 1648 the town of Colchester was a walled town with a castle and several churches and was protected by the city wall. Standing immediately adjacent the city wall, was St Mary’s Church. A huge cannon, colloquially called Humpty Dumpty, was strategically placed on the wall next to St Mary’s Church. The historical events detailing the siege of Colchester are well documented – references to the cannon ( Humpty Dumpty) are as follows:
- June 15th 1648 – St Mary’s Church is fortified and a large cannon is placed on the roof which was fired by ‘One-Eyed Jack Thompson’
- July 14th / July 15th 1648 – The Royalist fort within the walls at St Mary’s church is blown to pieces and their main cannon battery ( Humpty Dumpty) is destroyed.
- August 28th 1648 – The Royalists lay down their arms, open the gates of Colchester and surrender to the Parliamentarians
A shot from a Parliamentary cannon succeeded in damaging the wall beneath Humpty Dumpty which caused the cannon to tumble to the ground. The Royalists, or Cavaliers, (known in the nursery rhyme as “all the King’s men”) attempted to raise Humpty Dumpty on to another part of the wall. However, because the cannon (Humpty Dumpty) was so heavy “All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again!” This had a drastic consequence for the Royalists as the strategically important town of Colchester fell to the Parliamentarians after a siege lasting eleven weeks. Earliest traceable publication 1810.
Author: Joel Goode
Regardless of level of personal and professional success, track record of accomplishments, drive to achieve or positive outlook on life and career, everyone will find themselves at a performance plateau from time to time. For the ambitious individual with big goals, dreams and desires hitting a plateau can be a daunting and draining experience as hard work and engagement fails to yield the additional results or traction desired and a frustrating feeling of being stuck.
Recognizing and acknowledging a plateau phase in life and career is an important step to adjusting actions and freeing the creative freshness and thought that often is the catalyst for the energizing (and often highly productive) breakthrough phase that follows the plateau period.
Signs, symptoms or feelings that may indicate a plateau phase:
- You are trying as hard (or harder) as your normal output to achieve increased results, yet the increased results are not happening, despite an increase in effort
- The focus and activities of your work feel monotonous…one meeting rolls into the next and one day into another without any real clear purpose or sense of measurable progress occurring
- You feel a sense of annoyance or resentment to the level of work you are putting in vs. the results you are getting
- Things feel stagnant and boring vs. fresh and energizing
Here are a few tips to consider implementing when the feeling of stagnation and reduced traction of the plateau phase strikes:
- Take a mini-vacation and tailor it to provide the opposite of what you are feeling
- If you are bored by the monotony and routine of your work and life, then choose something spontaneous, adventuresome and active. Perhaps a quick getaway to an all inclusive resort with lots of activities, music, dancing and “fun” of a festive crowd is just the ticket to recharge your spirit.
- If however, your source of stagnation derives from feeling burned out or stressed because of working in a pressure cooker environment or you are fatigued mentally and physically from the daily grind, then consider a quiet escape to allow the noise in your head to recede and your body and spirit to recharge from all of the hustle and bustle. Maybe a camping trip over a long weekend, renting a cabin in the woods without phone, TV or internet (and please, leave the blackberry at home!) will provide the calming environment that will open your mind to the creative breakthrough idea and clarity that has been sorely missing.
- Change your routine
- Drive a different route to work than normal
- If you typically work out after work, wake up an hour early and go the gym in the morning instead for the next month
- Rearrange your office
- Set a Short Term Personal Goal, Then Take Action and Achieve It
- Lose 5 pounds in the next two weeks
- Sign up for the guitar lessons you’ve always wanted to take and learn how to actually play “Stairway to Heaven,” or whatever song that would be your idea of fun
- Read a Personal Development Book. The insight and creative energy boost that often comes from reading and reflecting on a specific area of personal growth may provide one or two pearls for you to try and apply that will get you to the next level
- Take a Class or Attend a Seminar that will Stretch Your Professional Growth. Building news skills and expanding capabilities is an empowering process that will free you up to implement new skills or approaches to your role.
A fresh approach is critical to breaking through during a plateau phase. So whether you try one or all of the tips above or create a tactic of your own, be sure to step out and break the routine of normal. Shake things up a bit of you want to achieve better outcomes and simply trying harder is not working. Remember, hitting the occasional plateau is something everyone experiences periodically, but how long you choose to be stuck in that phase of your profession or life is up to you.
Author: Joel Goode; Career Development & Life Coach
There are few things in life that are universally agreed upon, but almost everyone can agree (at least in theory if not actual practice) in the value of seeking the knowledge and wisdom of a physician to monitor the health of their body with periodic physical wellness exams or at a minimum as a necessary action an need to seek treatment for acute symptoms when the human body lets us know there is something not quite right via an ache, pain or symptom of some sort. Now consider how you and those within your social and family circle actually apply (or not) the theoretical concept of physical wellness and it is likely some specific and extremely varied scenarios come to mind. In my observation and experience women are far better and more proactive than the average man in paying attention to their own wellness, consulting a physician at least yearly for a physical exam then applying the recommended prescriptive action to improve and rebalance health when required. As I think about it, it is quite possible my own Dad went decades at a time without setting foot in a physician’s office for a physical exam or even to be treated for the typical acute transient health issues we all experience every once in a while. For him, it was the John Wayne philosophy of “just tough it out and keep pressing on…if I ignore the problem long enough it will heal itself” mentality. Thankfully he has been blessed with good health and now in his seventies has softened a bit in his tough guy approach and regularly seeks the benefits of regular physician check-ups and monitors his own health much better than ever.
The most obvious benefit of proactively nurturing your own health and physical wellness is of course a significant increase in the likelihood of remaining healthy, catching and treating evolving health issues or problems early, thus reducing the chances of serious problems developing or becoming worse and increasing the chances of a longer life of optimum health.
Now let’s take this wellness concept a step further and apply the concept of a check-up to how you are living your life in a more universal sense. Are you living a balanced life of intention and purpose? Do you have a clear set of goals written down (which you can articulate if asked) to support incremental progress and achievement of the priorities and dreams you’ve defined for your life? Do you have a clear sense of direction and meaning to the manner in which you are living and how you are allocating your time, energy and God given talents in key areas of life (Faith, career, family, social relationships, community involvement, etc.)…or, like many (dare I say even most) is life simply happening to you each day as you repeat the same routine day after day and even year after year without ever really growing or living in a manner that optimizes the power and impact that clarity (of self, of priorities, of dreams and desires) and purpose (what drives you and gives your life significance?). If you don’t have the peace that comes from a clear sense of purpose and balance in your life, I want to share some great news: you have the power to take action and become fully engaged in your own life, which is likely to give you a strange, yet wonderful combination of zestful energy to fuel the achievement of your goals and dreams, while also creating a sense of peace that only comes from a life of purposeful intention. The wheel below depicts categories in life that should be purposed and balanced to achieve your own ideal steady state:
A few simple questions will help indicate how you feel about one or more key areas in your life. Let’s refer to these questions and your own individual response as the “vital signs of significant living”:
1. How is your Faith?
- Going to church each week or considering yourself to be a Christian are certainly both positive things, but what I’m referring is specifically, how is your personal relationship with God and is it your true first priority?
- Without a strong spiritual foundation the stresses of life, the frustrations or consistent pressures and work related stress, unfulfilling marriage other challenging life events which happen to everyone (it’s not if, but when), will eventually take their toll on even the strongest willed, high achieving person and can lead to a sense of discontent, loneliness and to a self destructive mindset or behaviors which only make any of the above circumstances far worse. For many years I myself acted with the best of intentions and a “good heart” yet never truly felt a sense of peace as I battled through life believing my own strong will would overcome any frustration. It wasn’t until I finally realized that my plan wasn’t leading me to feel very satisfied regardless of professional achievements that I was fortunate enough to fully recognize and accept the gift of Christ’s salvation for my sins which opended the door to live a life with a foundation built on the strongest of all rocks. A foundation of strong Faith yields an unexplainable peace and strength to face any circumstance in life is available to all of us, if we just ask Christ into our hearts as Lord.
- “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 15:13 (NLT)
2. Challenge yourself to ask and answer some or all of the following questions to create a snapshot of your level of life satisfaction right now. Please be confident in the value of this exercise, knowing whether you are extremely happy and satisfied overall or are struggling in most or all areas of your life this process will be a great first step to gaining clarity, which will allow you to know where you may wish to make some adjustments to make your life more powerful and full of joy than ever.
- What are 3 things you love about your life?
- What aspect of your life (Faith, work, marriage, parenting, etc) are you most satisfied with?
- What aspect of your life are you most dissatisfied with?
- What is your stress level right now on a scale of 1 to 10?
- Are you always feeling like there are too many things on your plate and almost everything is “urgent”
- Are you able to focus only on work when you are at work and only on family when you are spending time at home or does stress and concern from one area of your life bleed into another?
- What is missing from your life that you wish was present?
- What do you look forward to every week?
- What things to you dread that are a regular part of your life right now?
- What are 5 things that you “are tolerating” or “putting up with” that are draining your energy?
- How would your life improve if you could resolve/eliminate those “energy drains”?
- Do you feel you have clarity and are living “your calling in life”?
- What have you always dreamed about, but have never done for one reason or another?
- Are you always feeling like there are too many things on your plate and almost everything is “urgent”
- What things do you really enjoy doing for yourself that you no longer make time for in your life?
- Do you compensate for challenges or stress in your personal life and relationships by working harder and achieving more at work to offset the frustration of other areas of your life?
- Do you believe passionately in what you do and the company you represent (assuming you work in a corporate setting)?
- Are you able to switch gears when you come in your front door after work and focus and enjoy your spouse, children or friends or are you often preoccupied with “critical, urgent issues with your job” that prevent you from smelling the roses of simple moments and blessings of home-life?
What are your thoughts as you reflect on the vital signs of your life right now based on the quick inventory above? Do you feel your life is in balance overall across key components of your life?
If you are tracking in synchronization with your dreams and following your calling, with a strong sense of clarity, purpose and joy in key areas of your life the let me congratulate you! If however, you feel there are some key aspects of your life that are falling short of where you would like them to be or need to be rebalanced in order to achieve more sustained fulfillment across the various key parts of your life, you know have a starting point to make changes and adjustments. Embrace the opportunity to live your life to its fullest and give yourself permission to make important changes.
If you have big dreams that you would like to accomplish as efficiently as possible or perhaps you need help gaining clarity and defining your calling and purpose at work, at home or in life in general, please don’t feel like you have to try and take on these tasks by yourself. I recommend you consider engaging the services of a life coach who can help you do define your clear priorities, set specific goals and make progress towards living the life of significance and joy God intended for you. Have fun and enjoy the ride of self discovery, it is a stimulating and energy creating process and the possibilities you create for your best future are yours to define.
Author- Joel Goode; Career, Life and Business Coach www.bestlifeandcareer.com