Sam Mednick is a professional Life and Executive Coach based in Barcelona (www.blueprintcoaching.ca). A Canadian native, she’s been living in the city for eight years working with companies as well as individuals focusing on transitions, communication, leadership training, time management and productivity as well as emotional intelligence development. For more coaching tips, tune into her Podcast.
THIS MONTH: DON'T FORGET THE BIGGER PICTURE
I used to make lists all the time, and even made lists for my lists, categorising everything into A-B-C. This has helped me to feel stable and give me a clearer sense of direction.
I am wondering, however, if I’m exerting too much mental effort in doing this kind of activity and missing out on other potential opportunities in life. How can I raise my awareness and see other possibilities for things that haven’t made my ‘A-B-C’ cut?
P.S. Your column is an ‘A’.
Dear ‘A’ Woman,
Firstly, thank you so much for the ‘A’. I get the feeling that you’re a hard marker, so I appreciate the high standing.
As someone who sounds like a ‘Type A’ (lists for lists is a dead giveaway), your ability to thrive off order and structure is a fabulous gift. It can, however, blindside you if it prevents you from seeing other potentially positive opportunities.
As human beings, we love to categorise and put things into nicely wrapped, easy-to-understand and simple-to-explain ‘boxes’. People and situations that we can’t ‘classify’ tend to scare us. They’re unpredictable and we often end up questioning ourselves when encountering someone or something that we can’t define.
When I initially read your question, the first thing that came to mind was the phrase, ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’. This usually refers to when someone is unable to understand a situation because they’re paying too much attention to specific details.
When we focus on putting everyone and everything in its place, what happens is that we miss out on the bigger picture—it sounds like you’ve already picked up on this, which is the first step.
The challenge is now figuring out how to keep this sense of comfort and security while shifting where you invest your ‘mental energies’. What will it take for you to push the envelope, break out of your ‘list’ comfort zone and make sure you’re not limiting yourself?
Over the next few weeks, I challenge you to try the following:
1. Venture off course. Make a conscious effort to say ‘yes’ to an activity or an endeavour you would normally avoid.
2. Take a step back and create ‘forced perspective’. Take 30-60 seconds after making your next list or crafting a judgment and ask yourself: Is there anything I can add to this? Is this in line with my bigger picture?
3. Create new habits. For one whole week, replace the habit of categorising things and people with something else. The best way to create a new habit is by replacing it with another; not scrapping the old one altogether. What could you do instead of your lists? Perhaps something that might help create awareness, yet still allow you to feel at ease, such as exercise or a creative activity.
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