One Uncomfortable Thing a Day

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

If you are, then there’s no need to move.  Change is a bit like that.  We get comfortable where we are, and find reasons not to do different things – or do things differently.  We have ‘to do’ lists, and many reasons why we either CAN’T or WON’T do them.  Typical excuses include: fear of failure; feeling safe, a sense of obligation; being overwhelmed by what might happen next.  Some of them are absolutely valid.  If you’re the main income earner in the household, you may choose not to tell your boss to stuff his job, and leave to become a poet in Connemara.  Often though, the reasons we can’t or won’t change are internal.  We’re either not uncomfortable enough to do anything about the things that frustrate us, or, we’re simply not aware that by making a few small behavioural changes ourselves, we can have a big impact on how successful we feel.  Wouldn’t it be great to move from ‘can’t do’, and ‘won’t do’, to ‘can do with confidence’?

If you don’t feel able to tackle the BIG stuff in your life, either business or personal, why not start with some of the smaller things?  Let’s make it even simpler – just do one uncomfortable thing a day for one week and see how you feel.

One of the most common things people I know avoid is THAT PHONECALL.  You know the one I mean.  The one you’ve been meaning to make for ages, and never quite get to.  The one you’ve used every excuse under the sun not to make – from putting out the bins, to finishing the performance appraisals (another thing people love to avoid).

What’s stopping you?  Do you feel you already know the response you’ll get, and just don’t want to hear it?  Are you afraid you won’t know what to say when the time comes?   What’s the worst thing that can happen?  What’s the benefit of not making the call?

Take two examples – one personal, one business.

Scenario 1.  I haven’t phoned my friend in ages.  The longer I leave it, the worse it’ll be.  She’s going to have a go at me, and I don’t want to hear it.  I simply don’t have the head-space for her today.

Ask yourself the questions.  Maybe you’re right, and she’s annoyed and hurt.  Does not phoning make her feel any better?  Does it make you feel any better? If the worst thing happens, and she hangs up after telling you not to call again, have you not made the effort?  Couldn’t you try to make contact again at a future time?   If the benefit of not making the call is that you don’t deal with the situation, stop pretending you’re going to call her.  Take it off your ‘to do’ list.  The only person you’re fooling is yourself.  On the other hand, what are the chances of a positive outcome?  Sure, the start of the conversation might be difficult, but how will you feel if she says “Great to hear from you, I meant to call you but I’ve been really busy”?

Scenario 2. I haven’t called my sales prospect back. It’s potentially a major contract, but in my heart of hearts, I think he’s giving it to someone else because I can’t cut the price.  It’s the biggest sale in my pipeline, and if I lose it, I’ll be slaughtered by my manager at the next sales meeting.

Here we’ve assumed we know the result of the call.  Does not making it save the sale?  We’ve postponed dealing with the worst possible outcome, but have taken no steps to move on to a more likely prospect. Making the call gives you the chance to close the sale, or close the prospect.  Either way, you move on.

Small changes can have a big impact.  Making eye contact and greeting the receptionist by her name, or sitting with colleagues at lunchtime instead of eating a sandwich at your desk, can transform your relationship with co-workers.  What would happen if you responded to emails at three specific times in the day instead of reading and answering each one as it flashes up on your screen?  Would you finish your report on time without hassle?

If it feels uncomfortable, then it’s probably worth doing.  Small successes build momentum.    The chances of the worst case scenario happening every time are slim.  The dread of anticipation is nothing to the feeling of accomplishment when you finish one of those jobs.  Your momentum builds, and you start to take on some of those other ‘can’t do’, won’t do’ tasks.  You move to ‘can do with confidence’.

Why not try one uncomfortable thing a day for the next week?  We’d love you to share some of your examples on the blog.  Please let us know how you get on.

Dervilla O’Brien

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