Are You Overthinking?

Have you ever slept on decision? Spent weeks debating both sides of a problem? Kept looking for that extra bit of information to sway you one way or the other? If so, you may have been overthinking!

While thoughtful deliberation can be very helpful to make a decision, it is also easy to waste too much time before making a choice. Sometimes this is driven by a lack of confidence, other times it is fear of making a mistake, and simply worrying about how other people may react.

Harvard Business Review writer Melody Wilding looking into the issue and wrote a short article to outline ways to prevent overthinking. The first tip is to avoid seeking perfection.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest blockers to swift, effective decision-making because it operates on faulty all-or-nothing thinking. For example, perfectionism can lead you to believe that if you don’t make the “correct” choice (as if there is only one right option), then you are a failure. Or that you must know everything, anticipate every eventuality, and have a thorough plan in place before making a move. Trying to weigh every possible outcome and consideration is paralyzing.

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What are the ways to avoid this trap? Wilding suggests you ask yourself these questions:

  • Which decision will have the biggest positive impact on my top priorities?
  • Of all the possible people I could please or displease, which one or two people do I least want to disappoint?
  • What is one thing I could do today that would bring me closer to my goal?
  • Based on what I know and the information I have at this moment, what’s the best next step?

Learn four more ways to avoid overthinking by reading the entire article.

After you finish reading, consider this question: What decision are you overthinking?

Once you identify one, pick one of the five tips to help reach a resolution. Then enjoy the clarity that comes from making a final decision.

Organizing as Self Care

Did you make a New Year’s resolution last week? If so, I hope you are still living it! One of the most popular resolutions is to get better organized. Whether it is at the home or office, a clear and clean environment helps to focus the mind and ease the spirit.

Maria Kondo’s work focuses on helping people find the peace that comes from an organized space. This week on her website she shared a post titled, Organization is Self-Care. In it, she starts by sharing her insight that getting organized is about more than simply getting things in order.

The words “tidying” and “organizing” often summon images of a well-kept home with a spotless kitchen and neatly curated bookshelves. But committing to getting more organized isn’t just about tidying physical spaces — it can bring you a sense of wellbeing in every aspect of your life. Organization not only supports self-care, it is self-care. 

Later, Kondo shares the benefits that increase your personal energy when living in an organized space.

Each of us has an inner energy source that supports us as we work toward living our ideal lifestyle. It also helps us handle the unexpected with grace and ease. Like all energy, though, we need to keep it charged. Some self-care, such as a restful weekend after a busy social week, helps us recover from difficult periods. Organization as self-care, however, is both proactive and preventative. It keeps us grounded through all of life’s surprises, and it empowers us to live that life fully.

Read the rest of the post on her the KonMari web site.

Steps to Successful Resolutions

It’s that time of year again, the end of the year that is, when people consider making New Year’s Resolutions. The changing of the calendar is often seen as a time to install new habits and behaviors, but the rub is that it rarely works. The web site, Discover Happy Habits breaks down the rather depressing numbers:

According to a 2016 study, of the 41% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them.

Part of the problem is that the initial enthusiasm for the resolution fades over time. However, the article also shares many other reasons they fail:

  • In one 2014 study, 35% of participants who failed their New Year’s Resolutions said they had unrealistic goals.
  • 33% of participants who failed didn’t keep track of their progress.
  • 23% forgot about their resolutions.
  • About one in 10 people who failed said they made too many resolutions.
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Should we simply abandon the practice of making resolutions? Probably not. After all, if there is something in your life you want to change, it is important to start at a specific point. However, one cannot rely on willpower or excitement alone to make it work. To help make a change stick, the article shares four success tips.

The first tip is to develop the necessary skills and mindset ahead of time:

Multiple studies have shown that self‐efficacy and readiness to change predicted positive outcomes for those who made New Year’s resolutions.

Having the skills necessary to change was another important factor.

Conversely, social support and behavioral skills were not predictors of a successful outcome.

In another study, men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting and set their New Year’s resolutions in terms of small and measurable goals such as “lose 1 pound a week” instead of “lose weight”.

Read the other tips and then put them into practice to help you succeed.

Happy 2023!

Avoiding Procrastination Regret

Have you ever put off doing something? Of course, you have!

However, have you ever put off doing something for a long time, years even? Perhaps it is taking that dream vacation, or switching careers, making a commitment to exercise, or telling that special someone you love them? If we wait too long to try new things or take risks, this procrastination can lead to regret. How do we avoid it?

On his blog, Darious Foroux recently shared his thoughts on procrastination.

We all know that putting off our dreams for one week turns into a month, then into a year, and then into decades, and finally, we die with regret.

If that sounds harsh, it’s because it is harsh. When you keep procrastinating you become one of those people who never do what they say. 

How do we change our behavior to avoid regret? Foroux offers ten behaviors that challenge us to keep moving forward. The first one is stay curious.

Never stop getting excited about doing new things. If you let your curiosity drive you, you will never run out of motivation and inspiration.

Along with curiosity, he advises us to never stop learning.

Your curiosity will lead you to new topics, challenges, goals, and desires. To achieve those things, we need to learn more. When you do that every day, you keep making progress.

Review the other eight on his blog, then see if they can help you avoid the regret of prolonged procrastination.

When Was Your Last Weekly Review?

Life comes at us quickly. As we deal with all the input and projects throughout the week, it is important to dedicate time to regaining a lay of the land. The best way to do so is the Weekly Review.

The Weekly Review is a GTD staple. In fact, David Allen has repeatedly stressed that the review is one of the most important things a knowledge worker can do to stay current and focused. To help practitioners, he had created a guided Weekly Review on his website. The video comes with the following note:

Experience what David Allen calls the “critical success factor” with GTD, by going through a complete GTD Weekly Review. You’ll get a taste of all 11 steps of the process, with helpful advice along the way. Please note that this recording has not been edited to remove the several minutes of silence for you to do each of the 11 parts of the review.

David has repeatedly stressed that the Weekly Review is a “critical success factor” to engrain a GTD practice. What does it involve? The first step is to Get Current:

GET CLEAR
COLLECT LOOSE PAPERS AND MATERIALS
Gather all accumulated business cards, receipts, and miscellaneous paper-based materials into your in-tray.
GET “IN” TO ZERO
Process completely all outstanding paper materials, journal and meeting notes, voicemails, dictation, and emails.
EMPTY YOUR HEAD
Put in writing and process any uncaptured new projects, action items, waiting fors, someday/maybes, etc.

Read the rest of the article to learn about the other two steps.

If you haven’t done a Weekly Review recently, I encourage you to do so at your earliest opportunity. The clarity that comes from a thorough examination of all your open loops and commitments is time well spent. The result will be more items accomplished with less stress. Now who wouldn’t want that?

Thriving in Uncertainty

With all the rapid changes happening around us, it seems like the only certainty is more uncertainty. While some enjoy the chaos, the everchanging landscape makes it hard to set worthwhile goals that can be realistically achieved. Rather than give up, is there a way to cope with uncertainty?

Tiago Forte explores this question in a recent post on this website titled How to Thrive in a World of Uncertainty. It is part of his exploration of the concept of 12 Favorite Problems. In this piece, he shares an important shift to our thinking that makes all the difference.

Goal-setting was once central to our conception of what it means to navigate the future successfully. But goals can no longer serve as guides to an unfolding future that we have so little control over.

But this doesn’t mean that we have to throw up our hands in defeat. It doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to influence our fate. It just requires us to make a shift from leading with goals to leading with questions

What does he mean by this? In essence, he proposes a way to embrace the uncertainty and use it as a force for creativity and accomplishment.

Questions ask you to start with what you don’t know but would like to discover. They draw in others to pitch in and make their own contributions. They serve as open invitations to collaborative projects, versus the solitary path of individualistic achievement envisioned by goals.

In a world of uncertainty, questions are more powerful than answers. Answers serve you for a season, but a question lasts forever.

Read the posting to learn more about this shift in perspective, including three values proposed by physicist Richard Feynman that can make the transition smoother and more enjoyable.

Being Thankful at Thanksgiving

Of all the holidays celebrated in the United States, Thanksgiving may be the most universal. After all, not everyone enjoys the gift giving bonanza at Christmas. If you are not in love Valentine’s Day is painful and many people sleep through New Year’s Eve. Thanksgiving offers everyone a chance to share a meal with friends and loved ones for one quiet day.

As you gather around the table this week, I suggest you take time to share something that you are thankful for from this past year. Think of it as a preventive measure. After all, it is too easily to fall into the negative, whether around politics or personal preferences, and no one enjoys arguments over mashed potatoes and stuffing. Keeping the discussion focused to the items we are thankful for may offer a great boost of joy at the table and beyond. This is because gratitude has many positive benefits.

According to an article on Healthline, written by Bethany Fulton, gratitude offers many scientifically proven benefits. One of them is improved relationships.

Gratitude not only improves your physical and mental well-being; it may also improve your relationships.

Gratitude plays a key role in forming relationships, as well as in strengthening existing ones.

When it comes to romantic relationships, gratitude can help partners feel more satisfied with each other. One 2010 study showed that partners who demonstrated gratitude toward one another reported increased relationship satisfaction and improved happiness the following day.

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Additionally, being grateful also increases your optimism.

Being an optimistic person can have plenty of health benefits, including healthy aging, according to a 2019 studyTrusted Source. If you’re not naturally optimistic, gratitude practice can help you cultivate an optimistic outlook, as suggested by a 2018 study.

In an older 2003 study, it took just 10 weeks of regular gratitude practice for participants to feel more optimistic and positive about their present lives and the future.

Learn more benefits by reading the whole article. And to everyone celebrating this week, have a very happy Thanksgiving.

The Key to Mastery Is Not What You Expect

Many coaches instruct their clients that the best way to be good at something is to practice it over and over again. It is thought that narrow repetition of a specific move, skill, or technique will lead to mastery. However, it seems there is a better approach that will generate lasting benefit.

In an article on Scott H, Young’s web site, he points to recent research that supports the idea that variability is even more important than straight repetition. This is due to the idea of contextual interference. Young explains:

Contextual interference occurs when you practice the same skill, but vary the situations in which it is called for.

For instance, you could practice your tennis backhand by being served backhand shots repeatedly. Alternatively, your coach could mix things up: serve you backhand shots interspersed with balls that require a forehand shot.

Or imagine preparing for a calculus exam: you could study all the questions that require the chain rule, then all the questions that use the quotient rule. Instead, you might shuffle these questions together so you can’t be sure which technique is needed.

Young goes on to point out why contextual interference improves mastery. One of the reasons is:

Identifying problems correctly and ensuring the correct technique is associated with the problem. A major difficulty in learning isn’t getting knowledge into your head—but getting it out at the right time. Practice that repeats the same technique in narrow situations may result in skills that aren’t accessible when you need them.

Learn more about the advantages of variability in your training by reading the rest of the article.

12 Grand Challenges

What is the future of Local Government?

This past weekend fifty-one delegates from across the country came together in Omaha to shape that future. The event was the Local Government 2030 National Convening. With a purpose to discern the lessons from the future, the group worked over two days to find ways to break down silos and create the groundwork for change. I was honored to serve as a Super Delegate to help guide the work and keep everyone thinking big and bold.

A starting point for the Convening was provided by the National Academy of Public Administration. As a way to set out the problems facing government and inspire answers, they devised the Twelve Grand Challenges in Public Administration. These challenges are part of an agenda for change. As the Academy states on its website:

As the world moves quickly from the industrial age into the information age, new challenges have arisen and demands on government have increased. But the public sector has often been in a reactive mode—struggling to adapt to a rapidly evolving international, economic, social, technological, and cultural environment. Over the next decade, all sectors of society must work together to address the critical issues of protecting and advancing democracy, strengthening social and economic development, ensuring environmental sustainability, and managing technological changes. And governments at all levels must improve their operations so that they can tackle problems in new ways and earn the public’s trust.

Each of the twelve challenges focuses on a specific goal. For example, one of challenges is to “Modernize and Reinvigorate the Public Service.”

Federal, state, and local governments deliver vitally important services to the American people each and every day. If it is an important need, public agencies at one or more levels of government are likely to have an important role in meeting it.

Learn about all the Twelve Grand Challenges in Public Administration and more about the Local Government 2030 National Convening through the links provided.