About 10 years ago (or was it 15? I seem to take five years off of everything I remember to make me feel younger), back in my corporate executive days, the 'Corporate Word of the Year' was paradigm. You know what I mean, right? Every year or so, the corporate world buzzes with some new word or phrase. Laser focus. At the end of the day (add calming observation, here). Synergy. Disruptive innovation. Mindshare. Shout them out, I'm sure you all know a few of them, including whatever word or phrase that is most popular right now. Paradigm was used when talking about doing something differently. "We have a new paradigm." "We need to consider a new paradigm." "Try to imagine a new paradigm." "Let's create a new paradigm." "It's a paradigm shift."
Currently, as an executive health and leadership coach (dabbling in a bit of life coaching), I use the idea of reframing constantly. I try very hard not to talk about a paradigm shift, but when we reframe something (a situation, a conversation, a decision, a fear, a belief), we are creating a new ideal. We are establishing a different pattern. We are forging a new model. Looking at things through a new lens (yes, another corporate phrase of the year) can sometimes be the breakthrough needed to change behavior.
So let's shift a few paradigms together, reframe some old ways of thinking, and create three new ideals for a better life:
1. Work harder.
How about we reframe that to work better? Working hard is an honorable activity, but who said that working hard meant working all of the time? I would like to propose our new idea: Let's work better. Working better means that you maintain the quality of your hard work but you have less quantity. Working better means focusing your efforts on the important items on your list, not just doing all of the items. Even the sound of the phrase feels better doesn't it? Work hard. Ouch. That feels so, well, hard! Work better. Wow, I feel so relieved and energized. See the difference? Let's try another one.
2. Not enough time. Well, the perfect new ideal here would of course be just enough time. How many times a week do you wake up with that awful pit in your stomach thinking about the day ahead of you? You immediately feel behind, and you haven't even brushed your teeth. There's just never enough time, you think. But wait a minute. If you are filling your day with things that you want to be doing, instead of everything you feel you need to be doing, then in fact, you'll have just enough time to finish them all. The simplicity of this fact is what trips us up every time. Sure, we'll never have enough time for everything we need to do, so stop thinking that way. Start making your list of things you want to do, and somehow the day will feel just about right.
3. This last one is a reframe I've done personally just in the past few months. Instead of always looking to be In great shape, I have now set my goal to be In great health.
Growing older has some realities, one of them being that it's time to approach my physical health with love for my body, not punishment. A small reframe with huge consequences, including finally starting to shed a few pounds that I thought were stuck to my middle forever. I have a hunch that targeting to be in the greatest health of my life at 50 (which is my new goal), might actually result in me being in my best shape ever as well. We'll see -- I'll keep you posted.
So the next time you are asked to buy into drinking the Kool-Aid, try moving the needle by thinking outside the box. After all, it is what it is.
Or is it? There is a burning platform here -- it's called your life.
If you do nothing else: Apply one of my reframes above to create a new ideal to strive for in your own life. And never use the word paradigm again.