Feb 20

Want a different result? – make a different choice

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Want a different result? – make a different choice

“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” (Kevin Ngo)

At the heart of it, this quotation is all about choice. Choice in life, choice in work, choice in career…. Choice applies to everything.

You may disagree after all the word choice doesn’t appear within it. So let me explain.

One of the key skills that coaches like myself need is the ability to listen. This doesn’t mean I hear the words that you speak, it means really deep listening with the objective of understanding. When you do this, you often hear clients talk about what they ‘should do’ and ‘ought to do’. When these are explored, they so often transpire to involve other people’s expectations or imply obligations that may or may not be valid. These things are often at the expense of the clients own needs, life or career goals.

How many times have you heard people say this? For example, I must work fourteen hours a day otherwise my boss will think I am not pulling my weight and I may get fired. Examples like this can often be followed up with further negative thinking – if I get fired, I’ll never get another job, I’ll forfeit on the mortgage and me and my family will end up homeless.

In coaching terms, these are frequently referred to as ‘irrational beliefs’. Why are they irrational? It is because they are assumptions as you don’t really know they are true:

  • Unless you have a deep and meaningful conversation with your boss, how do you know what he is thinking? Perhaps they think you ought to get more perspective and would perform better if you had more work life balance.
  • There are always jobs – how many people do you know who were fired and never worked again? Even Fred Goodwin (remember him as the man held accountable for the RBS credit crunch debacle) carried on working.

But that isn’t the point.

Let’s rewind to the should’s and ought to’s. These can be the justifications people use to describe why they are living a life they don’t want. Do you recognise this as something you say to yourself? It may not always be obvious that we really DO have options. However, can make up all sorts of stories about what we HAVE to do as it is more palatable than facing up to ourselves . These can often be self-justified with elaborate fears of the consequences of failure and these things can hold us back. You may not have a choice about paying the mortgage, so need an income, but outside of that perhaps there is more freedom to live the life that you want noting that you may have to consciously accept other obligations because they are important to you, this is not wrong!

This isn’t just a question about your life – it is also highly relevant to your career or business:

  • Are you really doing what you need to do?
  • Can I see myself doing this for the next 20 years?
  • If I wasn’t doing this what would I rather be doing?
  • Is my business really going where it should?
  • Am I making assumptions at work that are holding me back?

More importantly what are you going to DO about it? Maybe you should start having conversations with people about your assumptions. When you ask the question and get the answer, it is no longer an assumption. Maybe you should start pursuing those qualifications you really want to do but keep putting off? Maybe you should start that business? Maybe you should do something else….

So let’s go back to where we started:

“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a lot of time dealing with a life you don’t want.” (Kevin Ngo)

Apologies for repeating but it is a good quote.

Are you REALLY living the life you want? Only you know… and if you are not, you have a choice. Suffer it or change it. Change can require braveness, after all asking your boss questions you think you might not like the answer to is not easy. However the potential reward is that change may lead to you living the rest of your life doing something that you are really passionate and fired up about. If you are living a life you don’t want, maybe it is because you choose not to change it. Perhaps you need some help?

This is an area where coaching can really make a difference. If you’d like to work with me get in touch. If you know someone else who might benefit from coaching, pass the message on.

Not everyone who reads this post will be in a situation where they need to make choices. However if you take something away, perhaps it is the benefit of developing the skill of being brave and asking the right sort of challenging questions. It is something that will set you apart from the crowd… in life and in business. Who knows where that will take you.


This post was originally posted by Peter Duffell on LinkedIn.

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