The rest of your life starts today!

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#1
The rest of your life starts today! So what are you doing to make it the life you want? Do you need a new job? Do you want better pay and conditions on the job you do have? Do you need friends, lovers, or just somebody to acknowledge you exist?

It's been my observation a lot of folks shortchange themselves in their lives and careers simply through inertia. Inertia is nothing new and most of us go through bouts of inertia from time to time where it's just easier somehow to stick to the status quo, regardless of how much pain we endure. It's not fear not ignorance, not incompetence, it's just inertia.

There are literally thousands of self-labeled "life coaches" and "Dr. Feelgoods" around who claim to help you live that better life through their coaching or their chemicals (for a fee.) I don't claim to be a life coach and I certainly don't offer to help you live a better life through chemistry. The best part, though, is I don't charge a fee.

Start with facts: You are not sick or damaged if you have inertia in your life and/or career, you're just marching in place, a kind of limbo that can last mere hours or days up to tens of years. Most of us move in and out of limbo periodically. When the limbo lasts months or years, some folks like to label it "depression," but depression isn't really an accurate diagnosis unless you meet many of the symptoms listed in the excerpt below
  • difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • fatigue and decreased energy
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • irritability, restlessness
  • loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • overeating or appetite loss
  • persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
  • thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
Are there warning signs of suicide with depression?

Depression carries a high risk of suicide. Anybody who expresses suicidal thoughts or intentions should be taken very, very seriously. Do not hesitate to call your local suicide hotline immediately. Call 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) -- or the deaf hotline at 1-800-4889.
Warning signs of suicide with depression include:

  • a sudden switch from being very sad to being very calm or appearing to be happy
  • always talking or thinking about death
  • clinical depression (deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating) that gets worse
  • having a "death wish," tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, like driving through red lights
  • losing interest in things one used to care about
  • making comments about being hopeless, helpless, or worthless
  • putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, changing a will
  • saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • talking about suicide (killing one's self)
  • visiting or calling people one cares about
Remember, if you or someone you know is demonstrating any of the above warning signs of suicide with depression, either call your local suicide hot line, contact a mental health professional right away, or go to the emergency room for immediate treatment.

Actually, unless we recognize we are just marking time in limbo, it's not a bad place - we have routines, we are competent at the jobs we do perform, perhaps even excellent at them. We can enjoy entertaining activities and often can be the life of a party. The situation is similar to the one we discuss about organizations frequently: there is no plan or activity toward continual improvement.

Well, what have I been rambling on about?
Often inertia needs a kick start from an outsider for us to recognize we've been in some sort of limbo for days, weeks, months, years. Recently, while going through one of my own bouts of inertia, I realized one of the students in the class I teach on story writing and storyteling had actually written a book-length manuscript for a personal memoir and was actively shopping it to several publishers. As I read through the manuscript, I was pleased to note the vast improvement in his writing from his first days in my class (maybe at least some of it was what I had helped him learn.)

I realized, though, he probably had less free time than I and yet had broken through his inertia to take time to work on his memoir each day until it was complete.

Upon reflection that night after skimming through his book, I realized I wasn't embarrassed or sad or envious about a student doing what I had helped him prepare to do. I wasn't motivated to begin writing my own "great American novel." What I did resolve to do was move out of my rut by accepting more presentation and consultation opportunities and doing more active fundraising for some institutions and causes I support. I had slipped into a routine of doing the same things week after week and being content without working toward what an old acquaintance, Dale Dauten, the Corporate Curmudgeon, calls WOMP (Word Of Mouth Potential.)

AS I INTERPRET WOMP
, it's not enough that folks nod and say "Good job!" when you perform an activity [or provide a product], you want them to actively go out and tell someone else who didn't see you perform or use your product that you did a "Good job!" Deming bade us delight our customers. Somehow, I lost sight of that in my inertia.

So, if you recognize inertia in yourself, remember first that it isn't a bad thing, it's just a sort of limbo. There's no reason to beat yourself up, just resolve to break through the inertia and do something you, yourself, can label "improvement" from your status quo. With a little effort and a lot of luck, we might actually achieve "continual improvement" in our lives and go on to please and delight the people in our lives who matter to us and maybe, just maybe, pick up a little WOMP along the way.

CAUTION: If you do have a number of the depression symptoms listed above, please find a way to get a definitive diagnosis and treatment from a qualified health practitioner.

 
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barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
#2
Well, WES you certinly hit the nail on my head today. I was thinking just last night there is something "wrong with this picture" and LIMBO is the perfect descriptor. I have been in this place over a year. For the first several months I was mourning....first my husband, then my MOM then my Job (in a span of 3 weeks). That was understandable. I have moved on to a new job and progressed properly in my grief. Now I need to decide what I want to do with the rest of my life and I seem like I am in no hurry, yet I am frustrated with myself for being a lump on a log. There are things I enjoy, but not nearly as much as I did...I do go through the motions but wonder why I bother for the amount of enjoyment I get from it. I get sad but that too is understandable and part of the row i have to hoe right now. I am totally intolerant of things I would laugh at before. I don't feel depressed, although sometimes for a flashing moment I feel helpless...

The job is my saviour....I am good at it....but that is also a curse....it comes easy to me so I get bored and have to force myself to take on extra projects.

Limbo exactly !!!!!
 
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S

somerqc

#3
I had realized that I am also in Limbo. In fact, my wife tells me all the time I should "jump" and start consulting.

Why? I am good and successful at helping companies change for the better. Unfortunately, every company has a limit as to how far they are willing to go in terms of change. When I hit that limit, I get bored and stop enjoying my position.

Like Barb, I start looking for other projects to do to keep my interest. Eventually, I need to move on as I end up in a rut.

I am currently involved in many different projects - Health and Safety, Quality, and Operational software implementation. Keeps me busy, keeps the brain operational - but - eventually things will move to a maintenance mode and back to the rut.

I have developed a plan to deal with the start of the maintenance mode so that I don't fall into the rut.

The biggest challenge is to realize you are in a rut - it took me some time to figure out exactly what was wrong. Now I am able to deal with it.
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#4
I want to point out the self-improvement doesn't always mean job-focused. Some folks find they can live with a boring job (there are a lot of boring jobs out there!) IF they can find something meaningful to them to also do.

Some folks give a lot of time and energy to families or causes or institutions (churches, charities, schools, etc.) which gives them a feeling of accomplishment they lack in the job that keeps a roof over their heads and food on their tables. I don't consider such folks in limbo. The point is they are striving for something that matters to them, not just going through the motions.

Just being bored isn't limbo. What makes it limbo is you say "Ho hum. I'm bored. Time to move to another job." when what you may only need is a little outside excitement in your life.

One of my long time acquaintances is in a well-paying job with great benefits and wonderful working conditions, but he's very near the top of his profession now and any move he could make would likely be lateral or even down in terms of compensation. Up until about 5 years ago, he used to grouse about how easy and thus boring his job had become for him. I knew he was considered very competent by co-workers and rivals alike and the quality of his work never indicated he was just "phoning it in." Since he only groused and never asked for advice, I and most of his friends just figured he needed to vent and offered empty expressions of support.

One day, about 5 years ago, he was visiting an elderly relative in a nursing home and brought along his harmonica to play some of her favorite songs. He wheeled her out in the big community room and started to play some songs. Soon he had attracted a crowd of residents and visitors, some of whom called out favorites for him to play.

Thus, a "duty visit" where he had intended to stay for about a half hour, turned into a ninety minute performance, with the nursing home administrator inviting him back on a regular basis for pay to entertain the residents. The relative he went to visit is now dead, but he has a general circuit of facilities he visits (for a small fee which covers his travel expenses and hand-out sing along booklets.) The net money he makes is chump change, but he hasn't complained once in the past three years about his "boring" job, which hasn't changed one iota.

Sometimes, we just stumble into something, we just have to be open to recognize the opportunity.
 
S

somerqc

#5
Wes,

That is a fair assessment. In my case, I do have many external "hobbies" that I indulge in; however, sometimes they don't always compensate for the 8-10 hrs of the day where you give it your all and get no satisfaction from it.

I personnally find that when I 'want' to go into work I have a great deal more energy and keep striving higher in everything I do. When I am in "ho-hum" mode, it takes more time to change gears if you will to be able to strive for something higher (which can be as simple as playing with my daughter at the park and watching the smile on her face).

I guess I aim to have all aspects of my life to be satisfying - when work life lacks satisfaction then I work to change it. If my personal life is lacking, I work on that and on it goes.

This doesn't mean that all aspects are top of the line; but, at least I get satisfaction from all aspects of my life. I strive to have that and work to improve it when I don't. I guess that is just me.
 

barb butrym

Quite Involved in Discussions
#6
my limbo is at home...work is not challenging but i do have satisfaction or maybe its just comfort.

I have no desire to move forward. there was a time I would go days without turning on the tube, now if I'm not messing around on the web, i' m in front of the box watching NCIS~reruns...or both....anything to avoid what I should (normal stuff) be doing. I don't cook anymore...i get take out. I tie out the dog instead of walk her. I need to focus. Hopefully the spring/summer longer days will drive me outside. The long commute for the job is a killer and takes alot out of me...of course I blame that. I do have outside interests and charity work and social commitments. I am very involved with my family and their families. But I feel like i' m just going through the motions.

This post has jolted me, I had already recognized the limbo but needed a nudge to work on it
thank you
bb
 

Wes Bucey

Prophet of Profit
#7
my limbo is at home...work is not challenging but i do have satisfaction or maybe its just comfort.

I have no desire to move forward. there was a time I would go days without turning on the tube, now if I'm not messing around on the web, i' m in front of the box watching NCIS~reruns...or both....anything to avoid what I should (normal stuff) be doing. I don't cook anymore...i get take out. I tie out the dog instead of walk her. I need to focus. Hopefully the spring/summer longer days will drive me outside. The long commute for the job is a killer and takes a lot out of me...of course I blame that. I do have outside interests and charity work and social commitments. I am very involved with my family and their families. But I feel like i' m just going through the motions.

This post has jolted me, I had already recognized the limbo but needed a nudge to work on it
thank you
bb
Commuting can be very debilitating. I'm presuming you drive. Some folks, instead of listening to news radio or favorite music or call-in entertainment, listen to recorded books or use a recorder to record their own thoughts if they have solitary commutes.

One guy at my local YMCA, a corporate attorney, has been learning Spanish from an MP3 player for an hour a day as he works his way through his exercise routine each morning before going to work. We had kidded him in the past about listening to rap music to help his client beat the rap and learned what he was really listening to months previously. He used to struggle just ordering from the menu at a Mexican restaurant, but now, a year after starting, he was able to carry on a conversation in Spanish with another member in the locker room this morning.

As an adjunct to this thread, I asked him what triggered his interest in the project and how he thought he got the will power to continue.

Laughing, he said, "It all began when I overheard one of your sardonic jokes here in the locker room after you had been through a particularly brutal workout with your class. You were panting and gasping for breath and said to some to your students, 'If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. For crying out loud, the only thing I exercised in the past 30 years was my imagination!'

"That got me to thinking I had been exercising my body for years, but NOT my imagination. I recalled that I dropped out of Spanish in college so I'd have time for 'important' classes. I always regretted that but never did anything about it, but I thought about it the rest of the day. I went out and bought an MP3 player on the way home from work and some Spanish courses at Barnes & Noble and started the very next morning."

I asked if he had any plans to use this newly acquired skill at work or to travel. His response, "Maybe. I'm just happy to understand some of the conversations I overhear when folks are speaking Spanish. In the next year or two, my wife and I may go to Europe, including Spain (world economy granting!), so maybe I'll get a chance to use it for real."

I guess the real clue here is he did it for his own personal satisfaction - no other goal.
 
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