When in emotional pain or discontentment, my default reactions were to either numb out/escape (with food, TV, sleep, travel etc.) or to obsess and try to think, think, think my way out of a dilemma.
These reactions were so habitual I’ve napped days away and inhaled countless bags of trail mix without pausing. Both default mechanisms provided an immediate sense of relief and comfort from emotional overwhelm. The benefits however were temporary and usually problematic.
My true craving was not food-based but a yearning for resolution, security and well-being. Rarely did I wake up refreshed from napping, instead I was zombie-like and more stressed after wasting time.
On the flip side of shutting down, my hyper-problem-solving-mode equally drained my energies. My ex-girlfriend would say, “Get off the hamster wheel!” when she saw me spinning in a mind-trap.
It is so tempting to burn time crafting and strategizing a master plan of action that will theoretically solve all your problems in one swoop.
Ever spend hours/days/weeks plotting how best to make an apology?
Ever ignore planning a budget, opening bills, or setting up a payment plan?
Ever eat an entire bag of trail mix when you’ve wanted to improve your health?
Picasso said, “Action is the foundational key to all success.” But what kind of action Pablo?
As the chart above shows, “DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING” works for some folks and not for others. If your habitual reactions are no longer floating your boat, the chart suggests, “CHANGE SOMETHING.”
Here are two strategies to being happy and successful:
This is so simple that it frequently gets bypassed for the sexier “perfect solution strategy.”
The next right action is usually something small, obvious, and often easy. In fact there are probably a multitude of next right actions we can all think of – ALL of which can advance your situation. The key is to TAKE the action rather than contemplate if it’s the “right” one. Instead of a foolproof apology, financial strategy or physical health plan, start with, “I’m sorry”, pay a bill, go for a short walk or passing on the nuts. Whatever you can see or know to do – DO IT!
2. Take the next right action after that.
If whatever you did, didn’t work do not let failure stop you, just do the next thing you know to do.
The next right action is a strategy for living – it is an ongoing practice with limitless possibilities and potential. New actions create new possibilities and new outcomes.
Waiting for a “sure-thing” is a gamble that may never pay out. Trying new things pays off, because even in failure you grow and learn about yourself.
In coaching, we get creative and celebrate failure as part of playing full-out in life. Within a safe, supportive, structured dynamic, we discover action steps to forward the movement. We track the progress, celebrate the learning and accountability, and continually expand and vary the approach.
If you are unsure of your next right actions, tap into other resources to get new ideas. Look to those you admire and do what they do, read something for inspiration, try a coach – whatever you do, do not give up or wait and suffer. Your happiness depends on it.