Do you ever wonder why every time you do the same thing, you get the same result even if you’re looking for a different result? Yes, it’s very common. Do you also find that sometimes you can build an image into your mind of embarking on something – a task – and it seems so big that you just give up in the thought process and don’t do it?I do this a lot with housework. I know there are three loads of washing to do, I don’t want to do any of them but I need to. So I decide that all three loads need to be done today but I only have one washing line and all the loads won’t fit. But instead of thinking rationally and in reality, I decide it’s all too much and don’t do any of the loads and yep, the washing piles up and gets bigger. However, when I plan to do all three loads over three different days, it’s a lot easier.
What I’m quite obviously getting at here is that my Perception of the washing is magnified but the reality is that the clothes need to be washed, just not all on the same day. With careful planning, I can get all loads done in the same week and my life is in order again. A simple example but I think a powerful one. We often make ‘mountains out of molehills’ without taking a minute to really consider what the reality of the situation is. This stagnates us and doesn’t move us forward. This is unhelpful.
Here are 5 ways you can learn to manage Perception vs Reality
- What’s the worst that could happen?I ask this question a lot with clients. I think it’s a very valid question to most situations. Once you know what the worst is, you can then decide if you want or need to do it. You might need to park the idea for a while until you’re more ready. In the case of my washing, if I only have one day in that week that I can do the washing, I’ll only do the one most important load and will make a conscious decision to so that I don’t then stress about the rest unnecessarily or have a fight with my partner about it.
- Go with your gut.We’ve all heard this but it’s useful to learn to trust your intuition. You’re usually right. Say you’re about to go on a date, it’s your third Tinder date this month and you’re hoping the person is ‘normal.’ You’ll probably spend most of your time in the lead up to the date, hoping the person is ‘normal.’ When you finally meet them, all you’re seeing is what is ‘abnormal’ about them. You leave, and it’s another failed date (of course some people are complete fools therefore this example then doesn’t apply.) However, by deciding before you’ve met the person that they’re highly likely to be ‘abnormal’ you’ve already decided unconsciously that the date won’t go well. You’re then likely to miss the few things that actually make you a good match that could potentially give you the next date. Being present on the date and not fixating on the hope that they’re ‘normal’ will allow you to tap into your intuition which will help you decide more quickly if this person is right for you. When you see a red flag, listen to it.
- Don’t direct the screenplay of your interactions.We all do this a lot. We decide how a situation is going to go based on fear-inducing thoughts and previous references of failure. When you want a promotion at work, you can work yourself up into quite a frenzy about the pitch to your boss. You’ve decided before you’ve even put pen to paper about your qualities and why you deserve the promotion that your boss is going say no. You start to rationalise why they would say no (bad economy, company not hitting targets, people leaving etc) and you paint a picture in your mind of the absolute result. You’ve now convinced yourself that you won’t get the promotion because your boss will say this, that and the other. However, instead of directing the screenplay, just play your role in the situation. Look at what you have to offer and present it. The worst that can happen is that your boss says a flat out “no.” You’ll still have your job, you just might decide that it’s time to find a new one. Whatever the case, don’t assume what’s going to happen. Your boss might decide, actually, yes, giving you a promotion will help them do their job more easily, will put more responsibility on you and let them focus on revenue regeneration; and that might be just the outcome you originally wanted.
- Beware of Overwhelm.When you start something new, you probably have a list of pretty grand ideas to make it happen. I say grand because you can’t do it all at once. When we try to do things all at once, we often fail in the task because overwhelm sets in and it all becomes too difficult. Say you’re wanting to start a new exercise regime. You decide that you need to exercise 5 days a week. You plan what you’re going to do: run on Monday, weights on Tuesday, Swim on Wednesday etc. You’ve convinced yourself that it’s totally achievable, you don’t make any adjustments to make it happen, you don’t plan for ‘life’ to get in the way and on Sunday evening, you’re fired up and ready to go. You achieve your run on Monday but on Tuesday, your body aches, your boss has a deadline or your kid gets sick. All of a sudden, you’ve not stuck to your plan. You’re then demotivated, starting again seems daunting and you feel like you’ll never be able to stick to your new routine. However, with a little careful planning, taking into account when life gets in the way, you’ll be able to plan a more realistic regime that you can achieve even when your week goes awry.
- Talk to yourself.When you want to do something, after you’ve had the great idea, feel good about it and you’re ready to go, talk to yourself first. Do a little role play of the situation and how it may unfold. Anticipate some of the responses you may get whether that be from you, life or the other person. Consider what you’ll say/do in response and decide what you’ll do if things don’t go the way you would like. By planning like this, you prepare for the worst, prepare for the best and everything in between. You can then more confidently deal with the situation whatever the outcome. Remember not to assume the outcome (perception). Preparation is different to assumption (reality).
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