Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


How To Stop Ruining Your Own Life

While preparing your goals for the coming year, have you reviewed what you did last year? Were you happy with the results? If the answer is no, maybe some further introspection is required - and I have a few simple questions you can use to get right to the point.


What have you done?

A long time ago, a mentor of mine used to tell me:

“Pretend that you create everything that happens to you. When you you find yourself in a situation that you're not happy with, ask yourself, 'What have I done to create the situation for myself?'  
"In most cases, you'll find something that you did - or failed to do - that brought you to this point."

I've used this technique many times on my own, and I love it.  This method forces you to turn the tables on yourself and look at things in a different light.

Once you identify what you've done to create your own bad situation, then ask yourself:

"What can I do in the future to create different outcomes that are more desirable?"

As you come up with possible solutions you want to try out, write them down and resolve to try altering your behaviors in the future.  Then, monitor yourself to see how these changes impact the outcomes.

A personal example

I used to work with someone that dumped half-finished projects in my lap and expected me to save the day by getting them done.  Because I wanted the company to be successful, I'd take them on and finish the projects, they would take credit for the results, and I'd end up really irritated.  But I kept doing it anyway (I know, shame on me).

During one of my reflection exercises, I became consciously aware of what I'd been doing.  I vowed never to make another "diving catch" to do something for this person that they should have done for themselves.  To make this easier, I came up with several useful strategies to say no gracefully and I put my new plan into practice.

A few months later, I was much happier, and this person's poor performance became noticeable enough for our boss to address it as a performance issue.

In other words, this really works (at least for me).  Let me know how it goes for you.