I’m going to walk you through the most effective (not necessarily the easiest!) way to decide how to get around obstacles in your path.
I discussed this topic within the larger context Step Two of the Aurelian Coaching Model, but I’m going to take a deeper dive here.
1. Characterize your obstacle as internal or external.
Either it is an internal issue (having to do with you only) or an external issue (having to do with you external circumstances that are beyond your control). Examples:
- Internal = I try to do too many things at once.
- External = My elderly parents need assistance with household chores.
2. Characterize your obstacle as something you are willing to accept but want to improve, or are unwilling to accept.
(There are no fundamental truths here. There is ONLY how YOU feel about it. What you are unwilling to accept may be what another person would readily accept.) Examples:
- Willing to accept = My elderly parents need assistance with household chores.
- Unwilling to accept = I try to do too many things at once.
3. Create a 2×2 matrix.
Put your obstacles in the corresponding square based on the characterizations above. For each square, follow the instruction for the right SOLUTION to addressing the obstacle
Here are definitions to help:
Make small changes. These are changes that require minimal effort, and with some reminders and practice, can become a habit that has great returns for the amount of effort you need to put in.
Make big changes. These will usually require some infrastructure or additional support to make, or they require some work on your fundamental assumptions or outlook to get you there. (Aurelian Coaching can help you if you’re stuck on this point.)
Create a workaround. You are not going to try to change the circumstance creating the obstacle, but you will try to change your own behavior to address the obstacle. For example, your boss is a micro-manager, and you accept this about him or her because it is merely annoying but does not affect your ability to fulfill your job duties, so your workaround is to offer a proactive weekly summary to hopefully reduce the ad-hoc requests on status that you get during the week.
Create a boundary. Like a workaround, you are not trying to change the circumstance creating the obstacle. However, because you are unwilling to accept it, you draw a clear line with a consequence of your own behavior, and you must communicate it, and then when it comes up, you follow through. For example, your boss is a micro-manager, and you do not accept this about him or her because it disrupts your effectiveness and your ability to fulfill your duties and responsibilities which impacts your comp and promotion, so your boundary that you communicate to your boss is that unless they reduce the number of disruptive requests for status, you will need to… [you choose – Speak to the business unit director? Initiate separation?].
Additional notes about boundaries:
Boundaries do not work without communicating the boundary. You can’t blame the other person and build up resentment of them or the circumstance when they are oblivious to the boundary you have created in your own mind!
Boundaries do not work without following through. You can’t use this as a way to manipulate the situation in the hopes you will get an outcome that will relieve you of the responsibility to follow through. If you never follow through – guess what. Nothing changes!
Some of these are not the easiest things to figure out, but it’s important work if you want to be able to truly address obstacles that come up.
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