Brad, a financial representative at a major broker-dealer, complained about email and phone interruptions. He was getting so caught up in trying to figure out how his smart phone could filter his messages that he was sacrificing hours of real work.
“You make choices,” I told him, “about how you want to spend your time. If you think you’ve made the wrong choices, don’t beat yourself up. Just make better choices going forward.”
“But I get distracted and can’t help myself,” he responded.
“Well, now you’re creating a story about yourself that you can use to continue being distracted,” I explained. “We all create stories, but does this particular story (that you can’t help yourself) serve you at all?” I asked. Brad agreed that it didn’t.
As author and coach Steve Chandler points out in his book, Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to Be, the things we say about ourselves — the “stories” that describe our personalities — are invented. And they can be altered at any time.
David Ward, a colleague whose coaching and consulting work focuses on marketing for attorneys, wrote these words recently:
“You can do anything you want to do in life; you just can’t do everything. You have free will. You have unlimited choices. But you don’t have unlimited time. So you can do anything, just not everything. You must choose.
As you choose what to do, you also choose what not to do. The word ‘decide’ means to ‘kill the other option.’ When you chose to go to law school, you also chose not to go to medical school.