When your alarm clock rings, do you ever feel that you’re helplessly held in place by the weight of a heavy blanket?  Feeling what Thoreau called, “quiet desperation” when you think of the work that awaits you?

Though I’m generally optimistic, resilient, and hopeful, I have days like that, too.  But a book by my favorite consultant, Geoff Bellman, recently came to my rescue.
I got acquainted with Geoff years ago through our involvement in ASTD, and I admire his work very much. His Your Signature Path reminded me how to reframe my thinking and dive into my work with renewed energy. Try this advice.

1. Select an activity you enjoy doing, but don’t do every day — one that meets at least six of these eight criteria:
• You have built skill and knowledge in this activity over time.
• You’ve returned to it over the years.
• Both novices and masters can learn and enjoy it.
• You think about it even when you’re not doing it.
• You can talk with others about it or engage with others in doing it.
• It might involve pain as well as joy; it includes struggle and discouragement.
• It takes time to do, involving preparation, doing it, and following up
• It requires action and movement that can be seen by you and others.

2. Think and write about why this activity sustains or nourishes you.
Why do you love it and keep at it, even through the hard times?  What is the payoff for  perseverance, after you’ve shed a bucket of blood, sweat, and tears on it?
(For instance, I am passionate about photojournalism because it’s so rewarding to capture images that tell a story or make a strong point through their emotional impact and/or compelling composition. Getting a shot I feel is good is sometimes frustrating, frequently difficult, and always time consuming. But it’s exciting when one shot out of 100 is a keeper!)
Bellman observed that you can learn what motivates you from your most gratifying activities and then apply that learning to other tasks you’re less invested in.  Therefore…

3. Go through these same steps with an activity you’re less interested in or have been dreading, which meets many of the above criteria.
Consider what excites you about the activity you’re passionate about, and search for similarities in the second activity.  Stretch your thinking and generate new views of work.

4. Finally, create an encouraging slogan (“Go for it!” or “Hang in there!”) to sustain yourself in difficult times.
Even a time-worn cliché can connect you to your deeper truths in an uncomplicated way. (That’s why punchy ads and campaign slogans are so effective!) Post your personal expression where you’ll see it often.

Changing your perspective can expand your options and actions and even create a sense of hope for the future.  Whatever you do, shake off that heavy blanket of “quiet desperation” and get going!

If your organization would like a keynote speech or training program on this or other topics, contact Jeanne Baer at  (402) 475-1127 or visit me on the web at http://www.cts-online.net or via email at jbaer@cts-online.net
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