I am always learning about myself, since I see that life is a never-ending learning experience. It’s not about making myself feel bad for my short-comings, but making myself feel empowered by working on overcoming them. I remember back when I was 21 years old and I interviewed for a leasing agent position. All the interviews went extremely well and the last part of the hiring process was taking an aptitude test which basically showed what my strengths and weaknesses were. The company used this test to make sure the candidate would be a good fit for their company because the process of hiring and firing was time-consuming and expensive.
I took the test, which was a series of words and I had a few minutes to circle the words that described myself best for each situation asked. I thought I did well since I was hired the next day. A few months later, I was up for a promotion as the Assistant Property Manager and I had to sit down with the Property Manager and the District Manager for a formal interview. They asked what my strengths were and my weaknesses. I figured if any time to “toot my own horn”, was this time. I went on about my sales records, my superb customer service, my willingness to go above and beyond for customers and tenants and how I was well-organized. The Property Manager paused for a second and smiled at me while saying, “You’re right. You are very well-organized. In fact, you keep this place together and running smoothly. The irony is, your aptitude test you took before being hired here, showed that you were a very disorganized person. I guess it was wrong.” Then she asked me for my weaknesses.
I looked them both dead in the eye and said, “I have no weaknesses, only obstacles and things that I need to overcome. I would say that I am disorganized by nature. The difference between me and your other candidates is that I know what my personal obstacles are and therefore I work harder on them so that they are only known by me and not by others.” I got the promotion.
The key to overcoming personal obstacles is to first figure out what they are. If you are naturally disorganized, like myself, then come up with a plan to keep yourself on track. For example: I have found that every few months (or weeks) my closet gets out of control with a pile of dirty clothes , a pile of need-to-be-ironed clothes, a pile of need-to-be-hung up clothes and clothes I didn’t fold and put away. I have found that by giving clothes away every few months and by having a committment to putting clean clothes away the minute they leave the dryer, saves my future self a lot of time and energy. This is one example, but I have many personal obstacles that I am aware of, therefore I do monthly, weekly and sometimes even daily check-ups on myself to see how I am doing. I make a list, write down goals and have learned (sometimes) to ask for help. Simple steps to overcoming personal obstacles (because we can’t change other people, only ourselves):
1. Make a list of your traits, good and “needs improvement” based on different daily situations you find yourself in, and ask yourself some of these questions:
~The gym- Am I getting the results I am hoping for? If not- Am I doing all I can to achieve my workout goals? What are my strengths at the gym? What do I avoid or not do with 100% of my effort?
~At work- If you have a problem with a co-worker ask yourself: In what specific situations do we clash on? (There is no correct answer that starts with “everything I do annoys this person” or any other negative answer) Really think about this one. What would you think of YOU if you were that person? Do you come to work with a defeatist attitude?
~Think of other situations in your life that you may be unsatisfied with and think of what your personal obstacles are on it. Since the world has “YOU” in it, “YOU” are always a good place to start when wanting to change the things around you.
2. Once you have figured out what your obstacles are, then you can change them or work on them. Make some short-term goals and checklists to monitor yourself on these. They can be monthly, weekly and daily checklists.
3. Remember that it takes 21 days to overcome a bad habit, or to create a new habit (good or bad)
It is really hard to be brutally honest when it comes to our shortcomings. There’s a lot of positivity when we see ourselves clearly, in all our faults and glory because only then can we truly change and overcome our personal obstacles. I think of it this way: the things I procrastinate on now, or the things I know to be my challenges yet I do not work on improving them, are the same things that really only screw my future self. I’ve learned to be my own best friend and I would never screw over a best friend by not helping them out.