What are you leaving behind? Michelle Gibbings, Change Meridian

I don’t believe in doing the whole New Year’s resolution thing. If you want to make a change in your life – be it at work or in your personal life – why wait for the start of the year?

Any time of year can be a good time to take stock and work out what you need to change, and it often starts with working out what you need to leave behind.

We frequently carry things with us that are no longer helpful. Just as people horde stuff – be it clothes, relics, artefacts or even junk – we can all unwittingly horde thoughts that should be thrown away.

Herminia Ibarra, the Charles Handy Professor of Organizational Behavior at London Business School has researched what can hold people, particularly leaders, back as they progress through their career.

She found that the sense of who we are is shaped by our experiences and the meaning we put on those experiences in terms of the stories we tell ourselves. At points in our career, those stories are no longer helpful and we need to find a new narrative.

She writes:
Most of us have personal narratives about defining moments that taught us important lessons. Consciously or not, we allow our stories, and the images of ourselves that they paint, to guide us in new situations. But the stories can become outdated as we grow, so sometimes it’s necessary to alter them dramatically or even to throw them out and start from scratch.

If you want to read more, her article in HBR is worth reading.

But it is more than that. We also hold on to fears, assumptions and even grudges. We have expectations on others that don’t help the relationship. We have expectations of ourselves that need to change too.

Just as horders need to clean out their closets and throw away the junk that is cluttering their home, it is helpful for each of us to clean out our thoughts and to throw away ideas and pre-conceived conceptions that are unhelpfully cluttering our mind.

Ask yourself:

  • What am I holding on to that is preventing me from changing and moving forward in some way?
  • Am I holding on to expectations or grudges with respect to people that is damaging my relationship with them?
  • Are my expectations of myself too hard or too easy?
  • What am I telling myself about what I can and can’t do that needs to shift?
  • What daily practices and habits do I have that are holding me back from being the best version of me?

Changing things starts with learning – about yourself and others – and being constantly curious about the way things could be and your place in making that change happen. If you’d like to read more then you may enjoy an article I wrote a couple of years ago on this topic.

As the well-known author of The Alchemist and other best-selling titles, Paulo Coelho said: “If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello”.

Get ready for tomorrow, today.

Michelle Gibbings is a change leadership and career expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them get fit for the future of work. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’ and ‘Career Leap: How to Reinvent and Liberate Your Career’. For more information: www.michellegibbings.com or contact michelle@michellegibbings.com.

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