Even though I know how important it is to act like a grown up, sometimes I just can’t! As you might have guessed from my story last week, one of the big things that makes it hard for me to pause and think before acting is being tired. Although I have a very extroverted job, I am actually a real introvert. I love meeting people, engaging, and talking with them, and then I really love going home to my quiet home to regroup. When I do not get enough downtime, things fall apart for me pretty quickly. When that happens, I get short and snippy, and channel my inner snotty 16 year old. (This is especially likely to happen around my parents and sister – sorry guys!)
If you can work to understand your triggers, and know what behavior tends to creep out when we’re not being thoughtful, with practice you can build your Thoughtfully Fit muscles and potentially head tantrums off at the pass.
Whatever you do, don’t be late
For example, knowing that lack of alone time is really problematic for me means that I build a lot of it into my life. Although I work incredibly hard, I also rest a lot more than people might guess. I do this because it is what allows me to be both effective and thoughtful in my daily life. I know that I also get triggered by other people’s behavior, and can react quite strongly.
For example, I hate it when people are late. For me it’s not just about waiting, but it’s a sign that you don’t respect me and my time enough to show up when you’re supposed to. When people I work with are late to calls or meetings, I often judge everything that happens after more harshly, because I can’t fully recover from their lateness. And even though I know this about myself, I can’t always stop it in the moment, though I am always working on it!
Increasing your awareness
In order to be more thoughtful, it is important to know both what sets us off and how you are likely to react. This boils down to increasing your self awareness. In coaching, creating awareness is a key piece of figuring out your action plan. Coaches do this by asking a lot of questions to help you understand what you want, what motivates you, and what frustrates you. They can also help you see how others’ behavior might affect you, and how you can modify your own behavior in response. To do this for yourself, you will need to know what you need in order to be more thoughtful.
I need downtime, some people need lots of feedback, others need more time to think about their options (and for some, a nice glass of wine does the trick). There are ways to create structures in your life that help you get what you need. But you can plan all you want and the time will still come when you can’t get it together. If you start to feel yourself heading for your default reactions, that’s the time to pause. If you aren’t in a space where you can think and act, try to remove yourself long enough to get what you need to take a better path forward.
Worst case? Go ahead and be a brat, and just know that you might have to fix it. We’ll talk about that later this month! Until then, good luck being an adult. Adulting is hard.