History seems to be dead despite all the clues it leaves behind. It might be that you are moving too fast to catch your breath, reflection is not your forte, change is too painful or perhaps you have forgotten that there are lessons to be learned.
It is easy to spot patterns in history, especially when you analyze the big picture. Some people do this better than others.
If you need help, find someone who sees that big picture, will pose questions and look at the clues with an objective eye. Absent anyone, consider using a personal coach to facilitate this process. You will be surprised what you may learn about yourself.
Sometimes, the tendency is to drill down into the details – this is not the time to do it.
Details have a way of minimizing your progress. Instead of seeing how far you have come or what kind of mistakes keep popping up, the focus becomes tactical and diverts your focus.
Are you ready to do some work that might yield insights into how you want to start out the New Year?
List your Top 10 Challenges
The list of top challenges you create should span over the last 5-10 years. You might have a list of things that fill up a page.
Your challenges represent things, people or activities which continue to drain or elude how effective you are in your work or life activities.
Challenges might be personal, physical, emotional or professional. You may find some of your challenges overlap or are intertwined; try to consolidate them into major over arching theme.
Whittle your list down to the top 10.
Some examples of challenges might be:
- Onset of life threatening disease
- Repeated job layoffs
- Being fired from your job
- Difficulty in maintaining work, personal or family relationships
- Anxiety or other mental disorders which are not life threatening
- Financial crisis
- Constant job hopping
- Hurting others
- Making destructive choices
- Avoiding confrontation
Find the Patterns
The list you create has many clues. Start putting examples or numbers next to each of your bullet points indicating how many times you have experienced the situation.
For example, if you have been laid off from your job in the last five years from four different employers, then you would place a “4” after that situation.
Avoid trying to plead your case on “why” something happened because it acts as a diversion to the process.
Several years ago, I was helping someone who had been fired from several jobs over the course of 5 years. In each case, she wanted to explain why it was wrong or what they had done to her. I listened.
Then I asked, “What do all those situations have in common?”
There was silence. She did not understand.
Finally, I said, “there is only one common denominator – you. There is something you have to fix otherwise you will continue to rinse and repeat the cycle.” Lessons are sometimes hard to learn.
Situations where something has happened once or is out of your control (i.e. genetic diseases) and have not reoccurred are likely areas where you have learned a personal lesson and applied it to future situations.
When you look at the patterns in your top 10 challenges, you might find a couple of situations: repeated incidences with the same results or repeated incidences with increasingly more positive results.
In the first situation, there is a pattern of behavior that should be addressed; otherwise, you will continue to encounter the same reactions from people.
You will have more control over changing your own behavior and subsequently how they react to you than trying to change them.
Even if you continue to see a problem exist evaluate if there is improvement in consequences; it is a sign of making progress!
Often progress is overlooked when you focus on the details. How often do you neglect to recognize progress in these situations?
It is natural to want to evaluate if your progress is aggressive enough; do not let this deter you from reflecting on your successes.
Each baby step reflects your progress to incorporating personal lessons into improving your life or relationships.