Avoiding a road to nowhere

by Iain Hopkins30 May 2012

Beware energy drainers

 Kennedy also works with clients to determine a list of energy drainers and energy givers. “When we talk about the drainers and the simple things we can do that give us energy it all seems so easy.Many people I have coached who are multi-millionaires and company owners are astounded at how good they feel when they’ve made it a mission to get all tax up to date, to clean out their desk, to buy a new diary with a nice pen and gain some control back of their life.”

 We don’t often think of all the little bricks that just sit on our shoulders that don’t take too much time but just sit there, she adds. “When you commit to just doing them rather than letting them drain you, life is much lighter and clearer – there is also perspective that comes into play when the drainers are all gone,” Kennedy says.As an interesting side note, Kennedy says this applies to relationships as well – it can be beneficial to get rid of some of the draining friendships we all have and to pull back from informing “the dreamstealers” of everything we’re doing.

Creating boundaries

 It’s not unusual in HR circles to talk about ‘work-life balance’, but Kennedy refers to this instead as creating boundaries. Boundaries, she notes, are simply about understanding your priorities properly. It’s also important to understand that everything we do comes at a cost; every time we say yes to anything it is at the cost of something else. We therefore need to be confident that it is all working for us in the right direction. Perspective, boundaries and parameters add to clarity and a sense of achievement as a whole person – not skewed dangerously to one aspect of life.

 “Sometimes we have to say no,” Kennedy says. “We have to plan our exercise into the diary like it’s a meeting. We have to not give up on our date nights even though we are married. We have to ensure we have boundaries around work so we can have a life, recharge and come back to work each day with purpose, achievement, fulfillment and clear focus – this is what makes life great!”

 Part of the reason for Kennedy writing her book was to provide a sense of how to structure achievement in life – and she intends it to be a gift to both managers and employees. “There is no point being great at work if the rest of our life isn’t functioning well. Life balance is about creating some structure that gives us the feeling of being balanced; it’s not so much about time out, it is about being busy but still feeling in control, being clear and having the comfort of owning who you are.”

Tying it together with vision

 HR would also be familiar with corporate vision and the role of leaders in communicating that vision. Not surprisingly, the same rules apply to personal vision, which in ‘corporate speak’ might also be seen as a personal manifesto or mission statement.

 “Your personal vision is fundamental. You are – Your Life Incorporated – so where are you going? Who do you want to be? What characteristics do you want to build into your life? Who do you want to be as a 50, 60, 70 year old? What level of fitness do you want, where do you want to be financially, what is your bucket list, what skills do you want, where do you want to have travelled, what is the picture? The vision gives us wings – to be creative, to think big, to not worry how we might get there but to plant the seeds of what we want and what is important to us,” Kennedy says.

 When Kennedy works with teams in companies or individuals on their own on their vision, she encourages participants to go back to creating on a blank canvas, “to being young again”, and reinforcing “if it is meant to be it is up to me”. She will consider the five senses – smell, sight, sound, touch and taste – and work on building them back into the lives of participants, who are often high achievers but in so being may have become numb to the simple things in life.

 And if the idea of a personal vision sounds too daunting, specific goals can work towards that vision. Do the ‘old wives’ tales’ actually hold some weight? Does writing down goals, or having accountability by sending updates to friends or colleagues make a difference?

 “As simple as that is – the answer is yes! It’s a bit like the simplicity of drinking water gets rid of your headache as you are dehydrated. Why are the simple things so hard? We are so used to tackling big goals, big visions, big budgets that the simple things have been neglected.

 “Goals are great when you structure them well, simply and with some practicality. Many cannot set a practical goal that is achievable and hence that feeling of being overwhelmed comes into play. I’m more interested in what are you going to do and how are you going to do it – the reward is definitely the journey if you have done it with purpose, clarity, depth and understanding.”

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