It’s What You Do — Not What You Talk About — That Reflects Your Priorities

So much to do…but so little time!  Yet isn’t it amazing that we can always find the time to do something we want to do at that moment – yet we can’t seem to make a dent in our endless “to do” (or what I like to call “should’s”) lists?

I used to think that it was just procrastination, but now I realize that the procrastination is merely a symptom.  The real problem is that we are “should-ing” ourselves by agreeing to do things that are just not that meaningful to us – and we rebel by not doing them.

Actions speak louder than words.  Whether it’s scheduling time to meet an old friend for coffee or finishing up a lengthy research project or even letting go of a relationship that has gone sour, what we spent our time doing is a reflection of our true priorities.

We are living in an age of fantastic opportunities with dozens of ideas, requests and interests that compete for our attention.  Life is no longer a simple choice between “A” or “B.”

Combine that with our Western preference for linear thinking and Judeo-Christian guilt, a “simple” decision is burdened with a series of nagging questions:  Is this the best use of my time right now – or should I be doing something else?  Am I giving too much?  Is this a waste of my time?  And (my favorite) what will other people think of me if I do what I really want instead?

I see the stress of these endless choices in myself, my friends and my colleagues.  We’re taking on more responsibilities than any human can handle as we try to juggle work and career, family and friends, relationships and ourselves.  We may want to do it all, but our efforts are often half-hearted.  We keep taking on more because we’re being “should-ed” to death.

Now you’re probably arguing that there are many things that you want to do, but just don’t have time to do (unless, of course, you quit sleeping – which opens up a whole other can of psychological and physical problems).  But I believe that life is about choice.  If you say “yes” to one thing, then you are also saying “no” to something else.  You can’t do it all and you can’t have it all.  But you can have what you want based on your priorities.

When I decided to write this blog, it was after a difficult experience with a detached retina (lying on your side for 50 minutes on the hour for a month in order to help save your vision gives you a lot of time for reflection).  I started asking myself, “What’s really important to me?”

I’ve found that what I spend my time doing is a reflection (either conscious or unconscious) of what has real meaning for me.  My actions reflect my priorities.  Was I doing something because I wanted to – or was it because this is what a “good person” should do?  Doing something half-heartedly is worse than saying “no” in the first place.

We women tend to take care of everybody else, but forget about taking care of ourselves.  So I’ve started to say “no” to a lot of things.  And each day I wake up and say, “Today is a page in the new book of my life. How do I want to live it?”

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Working Hard, Working Smart and Not Working

We’ve all heard about the importance of working hard and how it manifests into a strong work ethic.  We’ve also been advised to use technology to help us work smart by prioritizing and multitasking our activities.  This focus on work is what creates success.  But we’ve never been told to stop working.

In the American workplace, working long hours is a badge of honor – even though many of us are cranky, burned out and (if we’re honest with ourselves) not really living up to our full potential.  Yet we continue because the Puritan work ethic on which our country was founded persistently pervades our ideas about what it means to be a “good” worker.

Asian spiritualities advise that hard work (or forceful determination) should be balanced with not working (or surrendering) in order to recoup our energies.  Why do we continue to ignore this healthier approach to life and work?

Like many people, even when I wasn’t technically working, I continued to think about work and strategies, clients and marketing, profits and expenses.  Because I never really stopped thinking about work, I never really permitted myself the joy and rejuvenating power of totally letting work go.  Isn’t that what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?

When I was forced into quiet reflection due to the surgeries and recovery for a detached retina, I really started to question the silent but pervasive nagging that success requires a 24/7 commitment to working hard and working smart.  This tunnel vision mislabeled as “focus” was (or so I had been told) the path to success.

I know now that instead this can be the path to dissatisfaction, unhappiness, lack of clarity, and physical and psychological dis-ease.

In response to these insights, I made a concentrated effort to be mindful and present in each moment.

But this commitment was no small task!

I gave up attempts to multitask – not only do I now find it to be rude, but I also believe that it actually reduces efficiency and efficacy.

I’ve also learned to no longer finish a task without a “mini-celebration” (a “woo hoo!” moment of recognition) before I move on to the next project.

I am learning to ignore the autocratic demands of the hardened task master of my thoughts that constantly pushed me to do more.

The results have been remarkable.  Working less hours, I am accomplishing more.  Taking time each day for myself without guilt, I have unleashed a new sense of joy in whatever I am doing.  I am more creative, more focused,…and a lot less stressed.

The 1980’s mantra of “work hard, play hard” needs to be replaced with “work hard, work smart,…then don’t work!”

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com

Welcome to a New Way to Work!

About Me 

I’m Dr. Geri Puleo, the president/CEO of Change Management Solutions (www.ChangeWithoutBurnout.com) — a boutique B2B consulting firm helping companies who are planning, implementing or struggling with change.  While my website provides white papers, articles, podcasts and webinars on creating change without burning out, this blog is the personal side of my company.

Why did I start this blog?  Burnout is rampant in the workplace.  Even as an entrepreneur, the balance between work and life was still difficult.  Then I started to change.

How I Burned Out 

I had just completed the research that provides the foundation of my Burnout During Organizational Change (B-DOC) Model.  The culmination of over 12 years of hard work, 2 Master’s degrees plus a Ph.D., I never had the time (took the time?) to celebrate this monumental milestone.  Sadly, I was becoming a poster child of my own research:

  • I was working too many hours and thinking about work even when I was not working — like when I was trying to go to sleep.
  • I was not living in the present — I kept thinking about all the stuff that still needed to get done.
  • I was challenged by a rapidly changing business and personal life — but I couldn’t find the time to do the necessary planning, let alone enjoy the changes.
  • I was emotionally, psychologically and physically exhausted — but sleep wouldn’t come and, even when it did, I never felt totally rested.
  • I proved my own B-DOC Model as I descended from initial hope and excitement down through frustration, anger, apathy and finally burnout — I just didn’t care about anything any more.

Life Gives You What You Need — Whether You Want It or Not 

Then I had a spontaneous retina detachment — I lost 20% of the vision in my right eye and underwent 6 surgeries over 5 weeks to regain my sight.  The odds were only 2% for a retina to spontaneously detach plus less than 5% that the initial surgery would be followed by another tear — and I had a total of 4 tears or holes.

With those kind of odds, maybe I should have played the lottery.

In addition to the surgeries (an unpleasant combination of novacaine shots in the eye followed by laser and cryo to freeze the damaged part of the retina), I had to lie on my side for 50 minutes on the hour so that the gas bubbles that were part of the surgical procedures would push the detached area back into place.  Plus I was able to only see shadows.  I couldn’t see anything outside — so I looked inside to take stock of my life.

What I Discovered 

  • Working longer does not necessarily mean working smarter.
  • Rest and fun are important needs for all sentient beings.
  • The cry for a sense of urgency at work is a prescription for burnout.
  • Not all people at work or in your personal life are supposed to be part of your life.
  • Other people were equally or even more stressed than I was — and they didn’t seem to have a club how to overcome it.
  • The “human” in human resources is in name only but doesn’t respect the humanity of the workforce.
  • I was entering the next 25 year period of my life — and I wasn’t going to be happy if it continued the way that it had been going.
  • And finally my dog Max (a 14-year-old lhasa apso) seemed to be happier than most of the people that I knew!

Why I Created This Blog 

That’s when I decided that there had to be another way.  I vowed that I would use my research and my life experiences to find a new way to work — one that respects the humanity of the workforce…that brings joy from accomplishment…and that doesn’t squander the precious gift of living.

Please subscribe to my blog and give me your feedback as I embark on my journey to create a new way to work.

Dr. Geri Puleo, SPHR, is the President and CEO of Change Management Solutions, Inc., an eLearning and Coaching company focused on eradicating workplace burnout through the B-DOC Model.  An entrepreneur for over 25 years, keynote speaker, author, blogger, business coach, university professor, and researcher, you can see her “in action” by watching her TEDx Talk on YouTube.  To contact Dr. Puleo, please go to www.gapuleo.com