I collect and frame menus that hang on my dining room walls. Last Christmas friends gave me a framed menu from a long-gone New York establishment. I loved the menu but not the frame, so I decided to get it reframed. Well, here it is October and I’ve yet to get the menu reframed. I haven’t forgotten about it – it’s on a table near my bedroom closet. Every day for ten months I’ve walked by it!
Why haven’t I gotten it reframed? Am I lazy? Kind of. Am I cheap? Sort of. I want to get it reframed but I don’t necessarily see the value of spending money when there’s other “stuff” I value more. Besides, there’s no dire consequence if I don’t get it reframed. Though I’ll admit, I’ve not had my friends over for dinner!
I marvel that several times a day I’ve gone past this frame and have never made a decision as to what to do with it. I mean, it can’t stay on that table forever. Or can it? Most days, I don’t even see it.
I shouldn’t be surprised because the reality is that if we don’t see value in something or someone we most likely will ignore it – or them. How often do you say, “we have to do lunch” and then never do. Why? You know as well as I that if we saw value in having lunch with a person, we would! We keep at bay people and obligations for which we see little or no value. BUT, what determines if I “see” value?
The answer to that question varies widely among us. However, business guru Peter Bregman challenges his clients with the flip side to that question – “what do you not want to see?” Hmm. Ignoring a menu is easy but what are the areas of my life I don’t want to rummage around in and “see” what’s there?
It can be scary to see aspects of life that we prefer to walk by because once you see something, you can’t un-see it. And if you can’t un-see it then you have to change and change can be uncomfortable.
I work with clients who stay in dysfunctional “romances” or emotionally abusive jobs, who stay in a mindset of doom and gloom, because they have trained themselves to no longer see the price their fear-laden complacency exacts from them.
Why do we stay in a relationship or job that has so little value? Fear. Fear that the place of higher value will demand we become braver than we now are.
After writing the above, I took a break and met my goddaughter, Maddie, for lunch. As soon as we sat down she announced that she had some news she wasn’t sure I’d be happy about. Yes, that got my attention and my mind began racing in all sorts of weird directions!
Turns out, her boyfriend received an offer at his job to relocate to Austin, Texas – more responsibility and more money. It’s an offer he can’t refuse. He told her that he understands if she doesn’t want to relocate and that they’d make a long-distance relationship work.
Since graduating college two years ago Maddie has struggled to find satisfying work in the entertainment industry. She’s always wanted to live outside southern California and she senses that she’s ready for that big adventure. She wants to make the move, BUT. . .
She doesn’t know if she should and the “what if’s” are swarming around her. She has a nagging sense that she’s not supposed to move away from family and friends. Why? Because no one else has ever made such a move.
She’s afraid and yet she recognizes that her desire to TRY is not going to easily fade away. She’s even more afraid of giving in to her fears. BUT “How do I know with certainty that I’m doing the right thing?” she asked me.
Ah, you don’t ever have certainty – that’s the catch! The real issue, though is how do you focus your attention on what could expand your well-being?
10 questions to help you focus on what you’d rather not see!
1. Where in your life are you feeling uneasy or anxious?
2. What are the “should’s” and “supposed to’s” that are making you feel uneasy?
3. Who told you that you’re supposed to be or do a certain way?
4. What would happen to your relationship with that person(s) if you did not do as they thought you should?
5. If you act on your instinct and desire, what are the potentially life-giving aspects of that decision?
6. How would that decision be detrimental to your well-being?
7. By whose assessment are you labeling the potential decision life giving or detrimental?
8. What would you have to do in order to be satisfied in your current state of life?
9. Is the price for that satisfaction reasonable?
10. What is it that you’re really seeking?
Maddie worries that because no one else in her extended family has moved to another state that she’s wrong in her desire to experience another region of the country. Because LA is the entertainment capital, she worries that she committing career suicide.
As we talked, she came to terms with the fact that she is not obligated to stay in southern California simply because no one in her family had ever left California. Austin doesn’t have to be a permanent move.
She also acknowledged that in order to commit career suicide, you have to have a career to kill. Since she’s in the early stages of figuring out how best to use her abilities, she doesn’t have a career to kill off!
By the time we finished dessert, Maddie recognized that the only thing her fears did was to distract her from seeing the value of embracing this opportunity.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, Maddie “reframed” the challenge and so with a clear eye is ready to create a relocation strategy with her boyfriend.
The bravest act is an act of one’s own.
What menu do you need to get reframed?!