Distractions And Uncertainty
Are distractions and uncertainty taking away focus from your career change or business plans?
(Episode 10 – The Painkiller Edition!)
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What’s This Episode About?
How do you stay focused on your career change or business plans during times of uncertainty? How do you avoid getting distracted and end up stress/doomscrolling your life away?
Hit play to discover the 5 “painkillers” you can use right away to take back control!
Uncertainty and discomfort is always going to be part of the career transition process (pandemic or not) – So let’s talk about how you can stay focused and keep going alongside uncertainty. How to be an active participant and creator of your dreams – Rather than defaulting to passive bystander status or news gobbling.
Remember: It’s still up to you to decide what’s next – And what you create (or don’t create) comes down to what YOU dedicate your time and attention to most consistently. Your brain has limited processing capacity – Think about that BEFORE you start scrolling.
Full Transcript of Episode 10:
Distractions And Uncertainty
Intro: Welcome to The Career Change Podcast where you’ll discover the frank and practical advice and resources that are already proven to work in the real world when it comes to changing careers, or figuring out what business is right for you when you are a smart, but likely also stuck, overwhelmed or overthinking person in your mid 30s, your 40s to your mid50s.
I’m your host Rikke Hansen, a Career Change Advisor, entrepreneur, and former corporate HR professional with over 15 years experience of helping thousands of people just like you identify or create careers or businesses that are both meaningful and future proof. Welcome home!
Hey, it’s Rikke here – Welcome to episode 10 of The Career Change Podcast!
Now, right up front I want to let you know this episode will be a little bit different.
It’s going to be more of an espresso than a deep dive.
Here’s what I mean by that: I’ve had a lot of email from my newsletter subscribers (subscribe using the form above) asking for help dealing with the uncertainty on steroids that’s going on right now.
Take your pick, COVID, politics, confinement, lockdown, Brexit, climate change, terrorism, you name it.
So a lot of you have been asking:
“How Can I stay Focused?”
“How Can I Keep Going With My Career Transition Or Business Plans When There Is So Much To Distract Us And Worry About?”
“Have you got any quick proven tips that I can implement right away? Like a painkiller!”
Yes, I do!
Note: Even if you listen at a later stage, this will still work.
The world is not going to get any less certain.
Like I’ve said many times:
The speed of change will never be slower than it is now.
Welcome to a painkiller edition of The Career Change Podcast!
Now I’ve helped people change careers and start businesses for 15 plus years.
And transitions, they always involve a certain amount of uncertainty and not knowing.
So the territory we’ve had, especially this year of 2020, is something I’m highly familiar with.
Now it’s just that everybody is becoming familiar with it as well, or at least experiencing it.
And that’s really part of the process of changing careers, starting a portfolio business, or your own business, or an online business, whatever it is that you want to do next or if you want to figure out what you want to do, there’ll always be uncertainty involved.
It’s still about how do we keep going and how to still create the career or business or life that is right for you at this stage.
Because here’s the deal:
Even when you create that business or you change that career, and you do it again later on, there’s still going to be discomfort. There’s still going to be change. Make it mean something, my friend.
Do something constructive with it (the uncertainty) rather than hoping for it to go away.
Learn and adapt NOW.
Let me give you some really concrete tips for how to do that because one of the things that my private clients they find really helpful is when I give them these short phrases they can repeat to themselves, followed by action so they can refocus themselves and get right back on track with what truly matters and most importantly, get return on investment on their time.
Just think about the amount of scrolling, doomscrolling, stress scrolling you’ve done this year alone.
Just think about how much better you could have invested that time.
Think about if you’d taken all that time and invested it on creating that next career, that next job, that next business instead. You get my point…
So literally I sat down yesterday and I wrote down the five phrases I’ve pretty much been repeating the most this year, and especially over the last couple of months and which my clients have told me have been most helpful.
I won’t do my typical neuroscience or psychology geek-out here. It’s going to be very Scandi-Ikea instructions for not freaking out or not going bonkers. All right. Short and powerful. We’ll start with a slightly easier one and then work up.
Now what I want to say right up front, just to be clear, it goes without saying I hope, that:
This is only going to work if you are actually the kind of person who’s willing to decide what you really want and then commit to creating it.
If you’re not willing to do that, nothing’s going to work for you.
That is often the missing link. It is that commitment and knowing what you want, or committing to figuring out what you want. Okay?
Because if you don’t make your career transition or business a priority, someone else will decide your priority for you.
That’s probably something you’ve really noticed this year, whether it’s your boss, the media, a certain orange blob, whatever it is.
Promise me, learn to take really good care of yourself and what you want. That is what’s going to help a lot more than anything else.
And of course, a disclaimer, because this is going out around the world, this is not medical advice, nor is it meant to replace it.
What I do recommend you do though is to listen to these suggestions, whether you agree with them or not, try them out. If they’re helpful that’s what matters.
#1 Minimise Information Input
That is pretty much the biggest issue right now. If you only do one thing, potentially start by doing this one, because it will help you right away.
We are mentally exhausted at this stage. We’ve just got too many things coming at us.
If you don’t have a filter, or what I like to call “the bouncer of the mind”, then you might potentially end up literally like a bulimic, stress scrolling, doom scrolling.
I’ve seen a lot of people getting into this really bad habit this year and it’s totally understandable.
Your brain scrolls for information to hope to feel better.
But have you noticed that technique doesn’t work?
And here’s what I want you to know, whether there’s a pandemic, whether there’s a crazy political situation going on, whatever it is that whenever you’re listening to this as happening. If you want to change careers, if you want to start your own business and you want to keep going:
You need to decide and commit to being very selective with your resources, both in terms of the quantity and the quality.
You really want to avoid overloading.
The cognitive overload that you’re likely experiencing right now, I don’t need to tell you it’s exhausting and decision-impairing, but it’s really, really important to minimise information input right now.
Our nervous system is already in a hypervigilant state
(Oh God. I did say I was not going to geek out too much, but you know what I mean;).
Just think about it. Every time you go out you’re trying not to, for example right now, catch the virus.
Then you come home. Stress scroll and scroll and scroll looking for some kind of information. This has been going on for months. Here’s the deal. We need to stop that because it’s not helping anyone.
So, rule number one, minimise information input.
Here’s what I really, really recommend you commit to.
I’ll repeat this.
Be highly protective of what you let into your mind.
Your brain has got a limited processing capacity.
Use it wisely and to your own benefit.
This is so important if you want to do anything important in the world.
Remember, the job of the news and the media is to make every problem out there seem like your problem in here, right now.
I’ll say that again because it’s so important.
The job of the media, and especially the job of the news, is to make every problem your personal problem.
We all know that’s not the case, but we fall for it every time.
So decide, just before you are about to scroll or go find information, just ask yourself:
Is this going to really be good return on investment?
Is this a good use of my time?
What am I actually looking for?
And also what is the filter with which I’m going to decide who to listen to or not listen to?
The time we spend online, if you think about it – It’s disembodied. You don’t have a body there. It’s this crazy no man’s land. It can almost feel like a black mirror episode, right? You lose your boundaries between you and what is the world. It’s very dangerous to spend so much time disembodied without filters.
So boundaries my friend, both in terms of the quality of the information and the time that you spend. You get my point.
Be exceptionally protective of your mind, careful with your sources, careful with your resources.
It’s exactly the same thing when it comes to finding information for your career change or your business.
Be really careful who you listen to. And also, the quantity of the information.
A lot of the people coming my way they’re multi-passionates, they’re overthinkers and they gobble everything up.
No wonder my friend, if you’re exhausted right now. Be careful. You don’t need to kiss everyone coming your way, right? Be selective. Be exceptionally careful.
Is it going to give you a return on investment?
Minimise information input.
#2 Stop The Worst Case Scenario Spiral
You know what I mean. You read something and straightaway it clearly means that you’ll never find a job again, or you’ll never be able to change careers, or that business idea is going down the drain. And waaaaahhhhh!!!
Literally from a small piece of information, you go right into this worst case scenario spiral. We’ve all been there.
One of the fastest ways to stop that is to do something physical.
Change your physical state.
This is something I always tell my clients.
Whenever you literally have that moment when you’re just about to take whatever piece of information (which is probably not from the right kind of resource!) and then go into that spiralling, you have to in that moment step in.
Literally, get out of your chair, jump on your sofa. Start moving. Change your physical state.
That gap between what you read and how you interpret it, interrupt it!
The best thing I’ve found for this is dancing.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, what sex you are, just get up and move your body.
This can be super quick. What recommend you have a couple of playlists, you literally have them ready, and you just turn it on.
Ideally music that really funky, groovy, whatever your thing is, that gets you moving. And ideally also it just have to be one song or even just 10 seconds or 20 seconds or three minutes, just move your body. Get up.
If you don’t like dancing(!) just run circles around your house, whatever it is, with some music on.
But get yourself out of that worst case spiral. Interrupt it before it even happens. That’s so important.
Also, if you really, really don’t like dancing, do something physical like a breath hold instead.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Wim Hof – The Iceman. These breath holds where you just make the body get used to being uncomfortable, but then hold the breath through. It can be really, really helpful as well.
Physically stop the worst case spiral.
Don’t allow it to happen.
You can even just do it if you’re lying on your sofa, just stand up and move on your sofa instead of just lying on it.
That’s the physical way of interrupting the worst case spiral.
Another way to interrupt the worst case scenario spiral is the next point.
#3 Borrow Better Thoughts
You probably don’t need help having really scary, horrible thoughts.
We are wired for negativity as a species, and often during times of immense uncertainty and stress your mind can potentially be not a nice place to hang out.
One of the fastest ways to change that, and also this goes with stopping the worst case scenario spiral, is to borrow better thoughts.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Have you noticed, unless you’re someone who’s meditated for a long time or you’re some kind of Saint, it can be really difficult to be an objective observer of your thoughts.
A much faster way to deal with it is to:
Borrow other people’s thoughts that are better, and even just neutral.
And ideally something that doesn’t involve a screen because we’re just all screened out. We’ve got the screen burn.
Audio books, podcasts, just plug it right in!
Again, always have it lined up, whether it’s a Pinterest board or a playlist or whatever it is, so you can find it right away and listen.
Several of you listeners have told me you like to re-listen to episodes of The Career Change Podcast (thanks!).
When you’re doubting yourself and you’re worrying, listen back to episodes of podcasts that you love.
The same thing with audio books, just interrupt that train of thought.
Borrow better thoughts, neutral ones to help rewire. Sometimes that’s one of the fastest ways to do it. It’s not the only one, but right now during times of emergency, that’s a great way to do it.
What I’ve also found this year, especially 2020, is what’s been really helpful both for myself and for a lot of my clients, is to listen to audio books that might be both for children and adults.
Like Neil Gaiman, Phillip Pullman, Lord of the Rings (Tolkien), Narnia (C.S Lewis).Scandinavians love Astrid Lindgren.
Especially stuff from the culture you grew up in, or maybe another culture, try that out.
It literally breaks the train of thought because it’s really not to do with that scary thing you were thinking about, so it gives you a breather.
There are so many beautiful audio books right now, for example, one of Phillip Pullman’s books is narrated by Michael Sheen who just has the most amazing voice.
There is something so sensual and so immediate about other people’s voices that can almost get you out of your head, for lack of a better word, at least get out of that stress loop. So try that as well. I found that works really, really well.
During less stressful times, listen to audiobooks about psychology, neuroscience or your favourite role models, entrepreneurs, that’s a really good habit to get into as well. Learn about how they handle difficult times.
My favourite neuroscientist to listen to right now is Andrew Huberman.
He doesn’t actually have a podcast or a book yet, but he’s been interviewed on a lot of podcasts. Andrew Huberman. He’s really incredible in terms of teaching you neuroscience in a really intelligent, but still straightforward manner. He’s my guy go-to right now.
Borrow better thoughts.
#4 Schedule Worry
Let’s face it, I’m not telling you to stop reading the news or stop keeping informed about COVID or anything else, nor am I telling you to stop worrying.
If you listen to any of my podcast episodes, you know that I’m not a Pollyanna.
However, what is really important is that you don’t keep opening up loops that you don’t close and which are therefore at the back of your mind because you keep scrolling and thereby keep opening new loops of worry, or you keep worrying.
Scrolling = Opening new loops (that your mind worries about and wastes energy on!)
One of the strategies that have been really helpful for my clients over the years, and especially this year, is to schedule a specific time when you worry.
Schedule A Daily Worry Slot
So let’s say for example, it’s every day at 5pm or 9am, whatever time that’s going to be most helpful for you to get it done.
That means you sit down, let’s say it’s 5pm, and you go into total prepper mode!
Where you’re literally like, okay, what’s going on? What do I need to know? What are the things I need to worry about? Just go crazy. 5, 10, 20 minutes, whatever it is, just go bonkers for a little bit, but then get really, really practical and ask yourself okay, is this destructive worrying or productive worrying? (You might’ve heard me talk about that before).
Is this destructive worrying or productive worrying?
Destructive worrying are these kind of free floating worries, where it’s a problem that you really cannot solve it, it’s out of your hands. And you probably don’t tend to think about it with a pen in your hands.
Whereas productive worrying, there’s something you can do about it either now or very soon.
You can actually write down the next action and you can action it, so you actually feel like you’re closing the loop.
Whereas the free floating worries, the destructive worries, you can worry about them at 5pm if you want, but then you need to let them go.
That also means that you keep closing loops, which is so, so important.
Keep closing worry loops!
It’s also helpful because then throughout the day, let’s say that your scheduled worry time is pm, that means that if you start worrying at 9am or 11am, then you can go, it’s not my worry time right now.
Then write down the worry physically if you can.
Put it on a post-it note and put it in the pile in the corner, close the loop.
You’ll get back to that bugger at 5pm, thank you very much!
Honestly, this is an incredibly helpful exercise. It might sound simplistic, but it’s one of the things that is definitely keeping me from not going bonkers when things are going really crazy. So just try that. It comes from a segment of therapy called meta cognitive therapy, where it’s about getting the bigger picture view.
So, schedule worry. And just remember this, start creating distance as well.
Remember, the media’s job is to make every worry your worry right now, so make a habit of closing loops.
Think about it, every time you open the news or you start scrolling, you are opening a loop.
That means that you are telling your brain “okay, this is more important right now than my career change”
When you do the unhelpful kind of scrolling and you’re opening a loop, your brain has to deal with an open loop.
That’s your cognitive load right there. What’s left after that?
Be careful. Be really protective of your dreams, of the things that matter. So, schedule worry.
#5 Don’t Just Cope, Grow
I think we all know by now that hoping things are going to back to normal or to hide until this whole thing is over, is just not really a very realistic strategy. The world is, and always has been, an ever evolving scenario of different kinds of right now.
Like I said, the speed of change will never be slower than now, so get used to not knowing.
Get used to not knowing.
I’m not telling you to get comfortable with not knowing. I don’t think that’s going to happen necessarily, so that’s not what I’m telling you. Just get used to not knowing.
Get used to uncertainty and remember that no matter what’s happening in the world:
It’s still up to you to decide what you want, and it’s still up to you to start creating it.
That sure beats hoping, right?
This is what’s happening, especially 2020.
This is a real time bootcamp in building resilience, in learning to deal with uncertainty on speed.
To build the habits that are going to protect you, to build rest and nurture into your schedule, so at the same time you can keep going. You can keep creating.
I think the really dangerous thing about uncertainty, depending on how you come at it, is that it can really make you almost feel like a bystander, like you’re totally passive, right?
Especially if you do a lot of news gobbling. It can make you feel like a real consumer, you just keep gobbling up the news.
But here’s the deal. The next possible. I like to think of whatever is coming now is the next possible, and you have that decision to make.
Do you want to be a bystander, a consumer, or do you want to be a creator and a participant in the next possible?
Make this mean something.
We are all going through uncomfortable times right now, some people more than others, but make it mean something.
Don’t just take this lying down. Use it to grow, to come out stronger or to learn to become anti-fragile.
Don’t just cope. Become better. Grow. Learn. Make it mean something.
I get emails from people all the time saying “I’ve wanted to change careers for 3,4,5, 10, 20 years, but somehow it didn’t happen” – Well – Now is your chance!
Everything that’s happened, especially this year and going forward, it’ll just remind you that now is the time.
And what’s really great with a lot of the uncertainty and a lot of the things that are happening, it gives you the biggest permission slip and the biggest excuse for doing what you really want to do because you need to take care of yourself. You create your own safety. Nobody can do that for you. Clearly our governments have a role to play, but what I mean is that with the speed of change, we all need to create value, to look at how we can be active participants and creators of what’s next.
Because here’s the deal, whatever’s next, the next pandemic, the next politician, next, next, this is the territory.
There’s always going to be something that will interrupt, that will make you feel uncertain, so get used to it.
Take it really personally.
You are going to be a creator, a participator rather than a passive bystander or consumer of what you don’t want to happen.
So, like I said, at the beginning of this episode, decide what you really want or decide to figure that out, and then commit to creating it no matter what. That is how you will keep going.
Then use these five quick interrupters when you need them.
#1 Minimise Information Input
#2 Stop The Worst Case Scenario Spiral
#3 Borrow Better Thoughts
#4 Schedule Worry
# Don’t Just Cope, Grow
That’s my gift to you this week. Try any of these painkillers.
Let me know what you think!
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Share this episode with people who really need to hear this.
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Then reply to any of my emails and let me know what you want me to cover on the coming episodes!
We will get through this together. We are getting through this.
Whether you stand still or you move forward there is going to be uncertainty and pain involved.
So why wouldn’t you want to choose to create that career, create that business?
Make it mean something.
Don’t be a bystander. Don’t be a passive consumer in your own life. Create it.
That is the power that you still have no matter how uncertain the world gets. Nobody can take that away from you.
Like I said, the job of the media is really to make every problem out there, your problem.
Remember it is not. Be very clear about your priorities, and go create that change.
I’m sending you the biggest possible hug from here. I’ll see you in the next episode and over at TheCareerChangePodcast.com.