We are all on a journey. Whether you have been leading coalitions, teams or partnerships for a few weeks or 20+ years, you have developed practices, routines and rituals that set expectations for participation and engagement. If you have been doing this work for a while, your partners have expectations about how you will show up and what you will do (and won’t do). Although you believe in the mission and purpose of the coalition, you may also be overwhelmed by all of the expectations that you and others have set. While it may be difficult and some people are not going to be happy, you can do things differently. Now that you have taken time to rest, invest, and reflect, join me this week for three steps to take to re-invent how you do your work so that you can renew your energy and truly give your best to your coalition.
Over the past year, I have been trying to focus more time in my “desire zone.” As I have gained clarity, I have been making some changes. Instead of saying “yes” because I have always said “yes” or because my partners and colleagues want me to say “yes,” I am practicing pausing and courageously choosing something different. For instance, I have been leading or co-leading multiple small projects. As we all know, small projects are never really “small” projects and I am choosing to make changes about participating in some of these projects so that I can spend my time focused on fewer, larger projects. Although I know this may disappoint some of my partners (who I also consider to be my friends), I realize this change will be the best for me and will give other people an opportunity to lead in other ways. Although sometimes it seems like we have to keep doing the same thing, we don’t! As Stephen Covey reminds us in his first habit, Be ProactiveⓇ. In practice, this means that we have a choice. Even though the choice may feel really difficult and making a change will disappoint some people, we still have a choice.
Think about what change you need to make to re-invent how you do your work. You may need to close your email except for specific times a day or protect specific days and times each week to focus on writing or project work. Consider the changes you need to make that will renew your energy and help you be at your best. Even if your partners expect you to respond to every email within 24 hours, host a meeting every month or participate in every event, you can make a change for the future. You can choose to do things differently. You can re-invent how you do your work one small change at a time.
Practice doing things differently
While it may be somewhat easy to propose a change or even say that we are making a change, actually practicing the change and honoring your commitment to yourself can be challenging. When someone asks you to attend a meeting during the time you have scheduled to write, work on a project or spend time with your daughter after school, you can practice one of my favorite “no” responses from Michael Hyatt. “In order for me to fulfill my existing commitments, I am unable to….” You can also set expectations by including a message as part of your signature line. If you decide that your workgroup really needs to meet every two months rather than every month, communicate that to your group and honor your commitment. Even if some of the group members are disappointed and suggest that this change indicates you no longer care (yes, this has happened to me…), practice hosting the meeting every two months and check in with yourself and your team after a few meetings. The only way to know if the change is working (or not) is to practice the change.
Practice does not equal perfection. If you are going to re-invent how you work, you will need to keep practicing and giving yourself grace to try again. For instance, one of my greatest challenges is to protect the time I have scheduled to do thinking and writing work. Although I have improved my practice of honoring that time, I still have days and weeks where I give that time away. At first, I would be hard on myself and want to give up making the change. After practicing self-compassion, I recognize that I am disappointed but that does not have to define who I am and what I can do next time. When you find yourself in the process of making changes and re-inventing how you work, there are times you will fall into old patterns. Do not give up! Maybe you need to make another change or maybe you just need to keep practicing the change. Be kind to yourself. Give the kindness, care and advice you would give a friend to yourself.
What changes would you like to make to re-invent how you work?
If you would like additional support to help with re-inventing how you work, check out my free resource, Escape the Overwhelm: 7 Practical actions to find balance in your work.