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Overwhelmed By Everything (OBE)? Here’s Your Exit Strategy…

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In the world of personal resilience, one of the toughest nuts to crack is beating the OBE syndrome. Yes, when you’re chronically overwhelmed by everything, you simply won’t see the EXIT signs that are right in front of you.

It’s surprising how many people can take positive action to take back their health, their fitness and other areas of their lives, while still remaining run off their feet from day to day. In fact, lots of high performers in all walks of life are very unhappy workaholics.
So listen: if you need to get a grip on your time and energy, there is hope. Just follow these infallible steps to building your exit strategy:

1. Drill this Into Your Skull:

You cannot beat overwhelm by doing more stuff. You can only beat overwhelm by a) doing less, and b) doing what you do more efficiently.

2. Identify Your Key Results:

What results are you actually responsible for? In every area of your life, what are the top 1-3 results that you are primarily on the hook for? What does your employer really need you to do? If you’re not quite sure – and that’s distressingly common in the business world – go and ask! What do your spouse and kids need most from you? What 1-3 results do you need to see with respect to your health? Write all this down. Then distill it down further until you have a list of not more than 5 things that, if you were to accomplish them in the next 12 months, would give you an outstanding life.

3. Identify the Activities that Will Produce Those Results:

For each of those key results, identify the 1-3 activities that will contribute most to bringing them into reality. Now you know what to focus on. Of course, you should always get a sanity check from several people whose judgment you trust. But once you’re sure what they are, you’re light years ahead of 99% of the population.

4. Identify the Activities that Contribute Least to Your Key Results:

What are the time wasters in your life? Does your job have you stuck in endless meetings that go nowhere and contribute little to the results your employer really needs? Then you need to stop attending (yes, there are creative strategies for handling this, but there’s no time to go over them here ;-). Are you buried under a mountain of admin you hate and, for that matter, aren’t very good at? Do constant interruptions plague you? Once you know what’s in the way, you can take measures to eliminate these time-sucking energy vampires. This alone could save you up to 3 hours per day!

5. Block Off Time to Work on Your Top Priorities:

Open an Excel spreadsheet. Don’t worry if you’re new to Excel; you’ll figure it out. Personally, I suck at Excel, but I won’t live without my weekly spreadsheet. So label the sheet Monday to Friday across the top and put the hours of your day down the side. Now block off the time you need.

Let me give you a hint. Do NOT start by scheduling everything else in your week first. If you do that, you may find there ARE NO blocks of time left. You take the blocks you want FIRST. And make them early in the morning, when you’re fresh and motivated. Yes, you can schedule other blocks later in the day if you wish, but stake out the early morning. And if anyone or anything gets in your way, threaten them with grievous bodily harm until them back off. Okay, just kidding. But unless you FORCE everything else out of your way, you won’t get the time you need.

Why early morning? Easy. You’re most likely at your most productive. And you’re setting yourself up to finish your major priority for the day by 10am. Try this and you’ll see. If you can get the really important stuff done before lunch, you’ll feel absolutely wonderful! For the first time in ages you’ll feel you’ve taken back control of your life.

6. Review Your Priorities Every Night:

If I were to wake you out of a dead sleep at 2am and ask you exactly what you’ll be working on in the morning and what time you’re going to start, you should be able to blurt it out even before your eyes open! Clarity is the key. You must be totally clear on what you’re about to do. This eliminates the wasted time that comes from indecision and guess-work, and it also allows your subconscious to work on the issues while you’re asleep.

7. Eliminate Interruptions and Force Your Schedule on Others:

Yes, it sounds brutal and egotistical, but I can tell you now that unless you build the schedule that works for you and stick to it, other people will “invent” your schedule for you and you’ll be miserable and frustrated because, despite the flurry of useless activity they force on you, you won’t get a thing done!

Refuse phone calls during your key result working time. Refuse meetings. Block off the time in your Outlook or Google calendar at work and at home. As for that time-sucking monster called email, don’t you dare check it more than 3 times per day, and never before your first block of working time.

8. Get Rid of Low Value Tasks:

When you find yourself spending hours doing work you hate or work you’re not good at on a repeated basis, that task is a prime candidate for elimination. You’ve got to get it off your plate. Your choices are a) delegate it to someone else, b) outsource it to someone else, or c) just ignore it until it goes away (yeah, it’s shocking how much of the work in most enterprises is so useless that, if it’s not done, there are no consequences!).

So take this blueprint as your exit strategy and start using it right away – it’ll make a huge, positive difference in your life. 

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Establishing the Habit of Strategic Review

One of the most difficult habits to establish in self-leadership is making time to pull back from the flow for a bit of self-evaluation and assessment.  We get wrapped up in the day-to-day busyness of life, and that’s part of the problem.  The best way to see your way in a garden maze is to climb a tree, and that’s exactly what we have to do- get out of the trenches and take a bird’s eye view of our lives.

Strategic Review encompasses a number of important habits which can make essential contributions to our personal resilience.

  1. Stepping Back:  A sage said, I do my work, and I leave it be.  The habit of making time to mentally withdraw from your work, your plans, your problems, your thoughts, is essential.  It allows you to gather and conserve your energy, and to allow the inner monologue about all of these things to cease.  Only when it has ceased can you think clearly.
  2. Assessment: Looking back over the past few months of your life, over the goals you’ve set, ask yourself how much time you have devoted to your most important goals, and how much to other things.  Ask yourself if you’ve learned something that changes your goals, if they still represent the direction of your inner passion, or if they ever did.  If you haven’t spent very much energy on them compared with everything else, you are either in firefighting mode, or they do not truly represent your inner desire.
  3. Recharge: Take some time to do nothing, to think of nothing.  Meditate, take a walk, get some exercise, laugh, make a positive and deliberate contribution to your own mental state.  Do something you enjoy, go back to an old hobby, reconnect with people who are a positive influence in your life.  As your mental and physical states improve, as your batteries recharge, you will be able to assess the state of your life in a much more positive and constructive frame of mind.
  4. Goal Setting: Take the time to do it right.  What are you most passionate to accomplish?  What do you want your life to look like in a year?  What impact do you want to make on the world?  What is it that really motivates you?  What positive steps can you take right now?  What goals can you set right now that you believe in?  What other things are consistently eating up your time?  How many of them can you get rid of?  How many can you get ahead of?  Build your schedule making time for your most important goals in each area of life first, and everything else second.
  5. Appreciate: Take a moment to appreciate the people and things that really matter to you in life, that motivate you, that help you.  Take a moment to help out someone else in a meaningful way.  Ask yourself what you can do systematically to help others.  What ideas and talents can you bring to the problems that matter to you?
  6. Set Yourself Up To Win:  What small victories can you set up for yourself in the next few hours?  What about the next few days?  What about in the longer term?  Maybe it’s cleaning up the garden today, maybe it’s taking some steps to reduce your debt over the next few months.  Look back at some of the things that have fallen by the wayside that you can quickly and easily polish off.  Build a habit of success with some easy victories.  This is inconceivably important.
  7. Go Back To Your Longstanding Goals:  We read over our schedule, our immediate goals, far more often than the big-picture goals from which the schedule is supposed to come, so that one week to the next, the schedule takes over.  Go back and re-read those big-picture goals.


Speaking of goals, here’s an excellent primer on goal-setting by Jack Canfield:

Make time in your schedule for Strategic Review and Recharge sessions.  This is one habit that will greatly contribute to your quality of life, saving you time, energy and frustration and helping you to establish and maintain a sense of direction and purpose in your endeavours.


~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

“Back-to-School Bomb-Proofing”

It’s that time of year again… sigh!  At least, that’s what most people seem to think of the end of the summer vacation period and the resumption of “business as usual”.

While there’s no need to associate this transition with negative emotions – and we should all be careful to avoid that – there are certain facts we have to face: the pace of life will pick up at work, at home and in most every facet of your life.  Long story short, your personal resilience will likely be tested 😉

Interestingly enough, September 1 used to be New Years in the old East Roman (Byzantine) Empire and, in many ways, it’s at least as much of a transition point for us in the modern West as January 1st is.  In other words…

…it’s a great time to take stock, see where we are and clarify where we want to go.  With that in mind, here’s a simple process you can use right away to help significantly improve your results in life by the time New Year 2013 does roll around!  I would advise you to do this with pen and paper the first time – you can make a “good copy” later.   For the moment, you need to give yourself permission to scribble and be messy!

Step 1: Clarify What You Want

What would your life look like on January 1, 2013 IF you had a magic wand?  You can think of separate areas in your life, such as your health, your relationships, your career and finances.  Or you can use categories such as physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, relational and financial.  The important thing is to be very clear on what you want to see.

Keep in mind this is just four months away, so you don’t have to get into deep and heavy debates with yourself about your ultimate life-purpose.  This is a pretty short time-frame, but one long enough that you can do lots to change how well it works out for you.

Step 2:  Define What You Have to Accomplish

Using the vision you came up with of what your life will look like at the start of 2013, list all the goals you would have to reach to make this vision a reality.  For example, if you want to improve your health, you may decide that requires you to commit to a specific dietary regime.  And voila!  You have one goal to write down.  Or dealing with an issue that’s disrupting your relationship with your significant other might mean the two of you need some professional counseling.  So that could be a second goal.  Those are just some examples to help get you started.

It’s important to write these goals down as fast as you can.  Don’t over-think this part of the exercise.  You may well end up with a pretty long list and that’s just fine!

Step 3:  List Your Top 3 Goals

Naturally, it’s unrealistic to attempt changing everything in your life at once – you need to prioritize.  So ask yourself, “Which three goals, if I committed totally to them, would have the greatest positive impact on my life?”

I know, sometimes it’s not easy to prioritize, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Step 4:  What Actions Will Get You to Your Goals?

This is the dreaded “how-to” step, the one that leads to the most frustration when you realize that what you want to achieve may appear to be impossible or you may not have the slightest clue where to start.

It’s really important to keep it light with this step.  Don’t let yourself get scared or frustrated; just write down everything you can think of.  If you have no idea how to accomplish something, just laugh and then realize that someone somewhere does and all you need to do is find them.

Step 5:  Evaluate Your Mindset

Think over each goal separately.  As you do, use a scale of 1-10 to evaluate your resistance to that goal, where zero is no resistance when you think of that goal (i.e., you feel good about it) and ten is over-the-top total resistance.

Try this a few times for each major goal and preferably on different days.  Once you know whether you have significant emotional resistance to a specific goal, you are FAR ahead of 99% of the population.  First of all, very few people have ANY idea what they are trying to accomplish at any given time.  And even most people who do set goals, omit this critical step.

Step 6:  Remove the Resistance

If you DO feel significant emotional resistance to a goal that’s really important to you, despair not!!  This often happens and is not a bad sign.  And in most cases it’s not a signal the goal is wrong for you.  So here’s what you can do…

The easiest method for blowing away this type of resistance is through a meridian tapping technique, such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or Thought Field Therapy (TFT).  If you don’t know either one, I would strongly suggest you find a practitioner local to you and arrange a session.  After one or two sessions you should be able to use the technique on yourself and remove resistance in a matter of minutes.

I can promise you that if you’ll apply this planning procedure, you’ll be far more clear on what you want to achieve and have a far more pleasant experience getting there!

Happy planning!!

~Dr. Symeon Rodger

Resilience Tip: Two Kinds of Goals

In any area of your life, you have a choice between two different kinds of goals, of targets to aim for.  

To illustrate this, let’s look at fitness:

One kind of goal is the “results” goal – that’s when you’re aiming at losing X number of pounds / kilograms, fitting into last year’s clothes or adding X inches / centimeters to those muscles. 

The second kind is a “performance” goal, when you commit yourself to taking specific actions at specific times over a certain, usually short, period of time.  You might commit to running 5 km twice a week or doing 100 push-ups a day or doing your yoga routine every morning without fail, for instance.  

And remember, in every area of your life you have a choice between these two kinds of goals.  Wisdom is knowing which to select when.  Fortunately, experience will teach you that.

In general, performance goals are the place to start, because if you don’t learn to keep your commitments no matter what the obstacles, it’s not much use to chase after results goals!  You just won’t have what it takes to get there.  That’s why every ancient tradition for training people physically and spiritually favored performance goals, knowing that performance automatically brings results.

This is also important because you don’t always control the outcome – in relationships, for example, you don’t control the other person’s perceptions and reactions.  All you can do is act with integrity and let the chips fall where they may.  So in situations like that, a results goal is dangerous, because it makes you responsible for things you don’t control – so beware.

So concentrate on your performance goals and the results will almost always follow.  They’ll usually follow in the short term and will always follow in the long term.

Do you know YOUR performance goals for the week?  If not, pull out a pen and paper…

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger