What's Bugging You?

It's In Your Face

photo of man swatting a flyIn coach lingo, they're called tolerations, drains, or what you're putting up with. In plain language, they're the things that bug you. Though counting your blessings is a wonderful practice, it's also helpful to periodically inventory the stuff that bugs you. Why on earth would you want to do that? Two reasons. First, whether that list includes minor irritants or more significant problems, these holes in your hull are causing a fair amount of drag in your life. Ignoring them won't make them go away. The second reason is that those bugging-you items are actually spelling out the solution, if you look a little closer.

It's Your First Clue

Take Steve¹, who was burnt out from his job as vice president with a large consulting firm. In our first conversation, all he could say was, "I don't even know what I want. I don't have a clue." So that's where we started: What don't you want? What are you absolutely fed up with?

Upon examining the list that formed in response to those questions, Steve realized that his chief complaints were about the company's culture and not with his actual role or the industry. Naming what he no longer wanted helped him specify what he did want. On interviews he emphasized the type of projects that interested him, and he also asked specific questions that gave him a sense of whether the environment would be a fit. Just four months later, he accepted an offer with another firm.

Recently Steve revisited the list he had written last year of what was burning him out. He was pleased to realize that in addition to his job, which he had actively taken on as a project to work on, there had been improvements in areas other, too, such as spending more time with his family and addressing some health issues. Some things on the list had taken care of themselves, and a few no longer bothered him. Others he was able to mark "in progress."

Flip It

At any given time, the items on a what's-bugging-you list will vary in relative importance and degree of difficulty. Some are easy fixes, such as the appliance that needs replacing or the overdue dentist appointment to be scheduled. Others will take concentrated effort. Knocking off a few of the easier items frees up energy for those that are more complex.

This Week's Call To Action:

  • Make a list of what's bugging you. Don't edit yourself. If you're proud of being a positive person, you may need to give yourself permission to complain. It's okay; you're not going to dwell on these. You're going to name them and determine if action is warranted at this time.

  • Which 2-3 do you want to tackle first? This could mean thinking about that issue differently, adopting a new attitude, or taking specific action to change the situation. If you're stumped on one, get input from a friend.

Take a look at what bugs you and flip it around to discover those clues. They're pointing to where you really want to go and, even, how to get there.

"Restlessness is discontent, and discontent is the first necessity of progress."
-Thomas Edison

Here's to you,
Ginny Kravitz's signature

¹Name changed for privacy