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Cruel Summer

Time is the immovable force we all deal with daily.  With Labor Day Weekend upon us, we prepare to say goodbye to summer with one last hurrah.  Whether it’s at the beach, in the mountains or under the covers (I mean, staying home…sheesh), we make big plans for the long weekend.

Celebration is part of the Labor Day tradition, as it should be, but there might be an uninvited guest joining you.  Perhaps you already know who I am referring to…Regret.  This week alone, I have spoken to no less than 4 people who shared what they had hoped to accomplish this summer and how far short they had come.  Everyone of them remarked about how quickly the summer had gone, and how they couldn’t believe it.  Time just flew by.

Planning takes planning.  What often gets us into trouble is biting off more than we can chew.  While some of this is in public view – affecting co-workers, process improvements, or integration plans, for example – it isn’t only for all to see.  We promise things to ourselves that we can’t deliver on.  How many books can we read at once and actually retain the information?  I am sure there are a few gifted folks who might be able to do that, but the vast majority cannot.  We pile half a dozen books on our desks or nightstands with every intention of reading them all over a 10-week period.  And then what happens? (cue the “whomp whomp” sound effect)

Again, planning takes planning.  We can have the very best of intentions (undoubtedly) but have poor execution.  This disappoints others, but also, us.  And that leads to guilt.  About five years ago, Psychology Today published an article based on embodied cognition - a field of psychology that studies how our physical bodies impact thoughts, emotions, and perceptions – but used a mental state of guilt and disappointment and its effect on our physical bodies and our behavior.  It is fascinating and showed how we can allow that state of mind to impact our view of self, even physically.  It affects us to the core.

And while not finishing your summer reading list might not cause you to become unglued, it might be a building block with some other well-intended, but unmet, promises, goals or aspirations.  Have you found yourself in a pattern of over-promising (even to self) but under-delivering?

Maybe the summer’s end doesn’t have to be such a cruel reminder of all that you didn’t do.  Maybe instead, it can be a time to encourage better consideration for your time and your commitments.  Maybe you can re-assess your timelines around certain promises and projects.  As professionals, we ought to evaluate our responsiveness, our completion timelines and the actual effectiveness versus intended effectiveness.  Is the time we have able to be committed well to get the results needed?  It will vary from goal to goal, but the process of consideration ahead of commitment based upon previous experiences will set you up for guilt-free success.

Oh, and about that cooking class you were going to take this summer…there’s always the fall.

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