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- julie


Arlington, VA
United States

Tailored Output is a professional development coaching company with an emphasis on goal-setting, career-planning, and team-building within the context of creating whole and fulfilling lives. 



Individuals working with Tailored Output will uncover their unique genius to identify career opportunities that will contribute to a whole and fulfilled life.

Organizations working with Tailored Output will learn how to assemble multi-disciplinary teams--staffed with engaged and motivated members--to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks in alignment with the corporate mission and values.

 

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Filtering by Category: Feelings

How are you Feeling?

Julie Slanker

This is a post about the mushy side of things. The non-logical. The instinctive response in the primitive part of our brains. This is a blog about feelings. 

Because it turns out: feelings are the key to everything. I mentioned last time how important feelings are for determining when something is wrong. And also for signaling the strength of our resolve to make a change. I believe negative emotions are a good thing! They provide critical information. 

They also can be a trap.

The trouble with negative emotions is that they feel so awful. And because we don’t want to feel that way, we set off in search of the cause. To discover the thing we need to root out to make this feeling go away. And that’s good. It’s important to name your problem! The trouble is: if you’re not careful, all that good, important work can conspire to keep you stuck. Sitting in your puddle of tears, overcome with anger or boredom or sadness or disappointment. 

Have you ever been too hungry to decide what to eat? 

I have. Not starving-hungry. Just hungry. Borderline hangry if I’m honest. And maybe it was the the lack of calories flowing to my brain, but no matter how well I understood my need—my stomach was growling, this wasn’t a mystery—I just couldn't decide what to eat. I had a perfectly defined problem and no ability to solve it. 

All negative feelings can be like that. When we go on the hunt to discover the source of our pain, we usually find it. And that knowing, the focus we bring to the source of our trouble, traps us in a loop. I feel pain—I think of the cause of my pain—I feel more pain—I think of the cause of my pain—I feel more pain—…

And no matter how hard we try to logic ourselves out of the situation, we struggle. Negative emotions focus the mind. And that is the last thing we need! Creative, optimistic solutions are born in expanded, untroubled minds. We actually need to feel good to figure out how to feel good.  

So how do we do that?!

We imagine. We envision the beautiful, inspiring future when this particular problem is solved. We see ourselves living that new life, and we let ourselves feel how our future imagined-self is feeling. We find the most exciting and energizing piece of that vision and focus our attention there. Enthusiasm is key. It lets us know how likely we are to do the work to achieve a future free of this particular problem. And it powers the logical centers of our brain with a jolt of creativity, giving us a chance to find a solution and map out a path to that daydream.

Sounds easy, right? It’s not.

How many times have you been furious and thought I know this feeling isn’t serving me. I should focus on gratitude. This situation is horrible, but I am blessed in so many ways. And then immediately also thought, Oh shut up with that hippy crap! I’m pissed! 

(Just me?)

Strong emotional reactions actually rob the logical portions of our brains of blood and nutrients. Instinctive responses are strong. It’s hard to out-smart Mother Nature! But you can trick her for a minute. And that is often the opening that you need. Get some exercise, have sex, watch that movie that always gives you big belly laughs. Distract yourself from the pain-focus-loop and flood your brain with happy hormones. Let your physiology get you part-way down the road toward imagining your bright future. Then try. 

If the future you envision isn’t motivating enough, create a new one! The strength of your emotional connection to your goal will determine your success in achieving it. Find the feeling that makes you say, Hell yes! I want that! Don’t settle for, well, at least it’s better than this… That won’t open you up enough to creative possibilities. And creative possibilities are the whole point. 

What do you do if you generate too many possible solutions? Your feelings can help there, too. Start with the one that gives you the most energy. That feels the most natural. That speaks to you most clearly.

I told you: feelings are the key to everything.

A note of caution: some problems can be too difficult to solve alone. If you find yourself with lackluster visions of your future, consider finding a coach to help you shift perspective and expand your view. If you find yourself stuck much deeper than that, consider speaking to a counselor. Some feelings are too tangled to be dissected without professional guidance. It happens. And it’s absolutely OK.


We're all trying to do great things, including me. Sign up here to receive a weekly Rise and Shine! email with exclusive content about my own journey; Monday morning musings designed to motivate and inspire.


References:

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul (affiliate link) by Danielle Laporte

Mastery by Robert Greene

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

The Truth about Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

What's Your Problem?

Julie Slanker

What’s Your Problem?

That is Question #1 on the path to doing the impossible. In coaching conversations we ask, “what is the best use of our time together?” Or, “Is there anything in particular you’d like to work on today?” But we all know that we really mean, “what’s the deal?” “What’s not working?” “What's the problem?” 

If you have a burning desire to do something amazing, or feel a deep need to make something right, or you’re bored and looking around for something new, you have a problem. And the start of the solution is to name it. 

That’s not always easy.

From the archive. I developed my "what's your problem?" face at a young age.

From the archive. I developed my "what's your problem?" face at a young age.

Problems can be overwhelming and tricky. They bask in uncertainty. They hide behind our assumptions. They feed on our insecurity, on the fact that we are only one person and this is a big world. They convince us that we can only make a small dent, so why try at all. Problems are jerks.

And just like your bully older brother, you overcome your problem by taking its power away. By tempering your emotional reaction and using your critical thinking skills to dig down to the root of what’s wrong. 

Let’s be clear: I am not at all advocating that you solve your problem by ignoring it (as much as that worked when your brother would not stop poking you on the car ride to Ohio). And I am not advocating that you bury your emotions or pretend things don’t bother you, either. 

Your emotions are vital. The strength of your reaction signals the strength of your commitment to solving the issue! But it's important to set the emotional charge aside to give yourself space to do some discovery. Maybe even schedule a time to think or write about what’s bothering you. Set up a business meeting with your problem. Treat it professionally. Just for a few hours refuse to take it personally. Pick a time when you are fresh and separated from the issue. If you struggle with something at work, for example, try Saturday morning when the house is still quiet.

Early morning in a quiet house is my favorite time to interrogate a problem. After coffee. I have a clear head. And I haven’t used up any of my creativity or willpower, yet. My brain is as focused and capable as it ever will be. 

Then ask yourself some questions:

What’s alerting me that something needs to change? What is that feeling? Anger. Sadness. Overwhelm. Boredom. Longing. Hope. —Don’t focus on what is causing the feeling just yet. Simply name the feeling.

When is the feeling strongest? What situations generate it the most?

What is my inner voice telling me in those moments? What does my gut have to say?

What is the story I’m making up about why this is taking place? (Hat tip to Brene Brown). —Write that story down!

What about my story is true? —Even made-up stories are built out of facts. Circle or highlight the observed facts.

What about my story is something I assumed? —We all fill in gaps in our knowledge with our assumptions about how the world works. It's what brains do. And it doesn’t mean that we're wrong! Your assumption could be 100% correct. Notice those assumptions so you can challenge them. Circle or highlight the parts of your story that you did not observe but filled in with your understanding of the world or of a particular person, in a different color. 

When have I been wrong about those assumptions? —Look at your assumptions and write down at least one time when that assumption was false. 

What is my problem? —Look back over everything and name the thing that needs to change.

An example:

The other day we were having a conversation about a large organization’s idea to change their promotion process to be more Google-like, requiring employees to self-nominate for promotions and raises. The whole concept upset me. Mere minutes of searching online turned up article after article about how women and minorities are statistically less likely to self-nominate for promotion than white men. And that just made me more upset. They should know better!

So I took my own medicine and I sat down to think about the problem one peaceful evening (with a skinny margarita to fortify me).

What is alerting me that something needs to change? What is that feeling? —Anger, Disbelief, Disappointment.

When is the feeling strongest? What situations generate it the most? —When I found out about the new promotion criteria. When I easily found articles and studies that show it will be bad for women.

What is my inner voice telling me in those moments? What does my gut have to say? —THIS IS BULLSHIT! Why are we still having these conversations?!

What is the story I’m making up about why this is taking place? (Hat tip to Brene Brown). —The leaders of this organization were so quick to make a change that that failed to spend five minutes on Google or take a quick glance through the Harvard Business Review to see if there might just be a downside to their master plan. Once it is in place, the organization is going to be overrun with jerks who self-nominate like crazy and the hard-working, diligent, women, minorities, and men without a mega-competitive streak are going to be left in the dust. Everything is going to go to hell!

What about my story is true? —The leaders were quick to make a decision. Competitive jerks do self-promote more than non-competitive people. It only took a few minutes to discover the downside. 

What about my story is something I assumed? —The leaders didn’t do any work to discover the down-side of their plan. Nothing can be done to empower or support the non-competitive, diligent people to encourage them to self-promote at higher frequency. 

When have I been wrong about those assumptions? —The leaders are super smart. They make their living weighing the up- and downside of decisions. I make my living empowering people to overcome incredible obstacles. 

What is my problem? —We need bigger systems that empower women and minorities so we feel part of the whole and motivated to self-promote our incredible skills (without feeling slimy). It is important to me and to many people I know, but it isn’t pervasive enough. The statistics are real.

My problem is that society needs to change. We need more women and minorities at higher levels in organizations. And to get them there, we need more women and minorities at higher levels in organizations... This is always my problem. A reoccurring theme that surges when I deal with large organizations, especially in government or the military. I have been dealing with this for a while now. 

And I am motivated to be part of the solution. My strong emotional reaction tells me so.

The thing you name might be simple and small and easily fixed. Great! It also might be enormous and overwhelming and incredibly difficult to fix. And that’s great, too! Don’t let the size or scale of your problem overwhelm you. Every solution starts with a single step. And you’re taking it. Name Your Problem. And you’re already on your way!


We're all trying to do great things, including me. Sign up here to receive a weekly Rise and Shine! email with exclusive content about my own journey; Monday morning musings designed to motivate and inspire.


References:

Getting There: A Book of Mentors by Gillian Zoe Segal

Mastery by Robert Greene

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath

The Truth about Leadership by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

My Desire Map

Julie Slanker

I had high expectations when I first opened The Desire Map. I’ve read my share of self-help books that couldn't possibly help anyone, but this book seemed different. And I really wanted it to be great. In fact, I needed it to be great. I was searching for something to free me from the check-lists and striving and go-hard-go-fast attitude that was running me ragged. So I was immediately interested when I found what seemed like a solution: a process that rejected actionable, measurable goals with deadlines (that just become yet another to-do list), and instead promised to first determine how I want to feel and then help me set goals that will accomplish my desired feelings. 

I wasn’t disappointed.

It took me a while to discover my Core Desired Feelings. I worked through the process in the second half of The Desire Map over multiple late-Spring evenings, sitting on my patio. Often with a glass of wine. Basking in the soothing atmosphere. I didn’t work on them after overly stress-filled days, or when I was in a rush, or when I had too much on my mind. I wanted to breathe. And do them right.

I discovered my Core Desired Feelings on May 9, 2014. 

I was working through the final steps of the process, reading definitions, saying words out loud and sensing how they made me feel. Eliminating any that didn’t sound right or feel right or look right on the page. And then—all at once—six little words ripped my heart out.

 

Authentic. Brilliant. In Awe. At Peace.

 

They hit me with a tidal wave of emotion. I was exhausted. And exhilarated. And overwhelmed. I had never seen anything so true about myself. In any shape or form. And I cried. Oh did I cry.

I tried them on for a few days, and then a few months. And I started to see the connection between those feelings in every decision in my life. The things I wanted to do. The things I didn’t want to do. And the burning feeling inside me that something was amiss—that action was required—when I wasn't feeling the way I want to feel. I linked them to my work. I crafted them into a vision for how I want to exist on my team. And I started passing out copies of The Desire Map to everyone I know.

I was all in.

When the new year rolled around, I used them as my guide to set my intentions for 2015. I was in love with the idea of dedicating my energy to feeling good. To establishing happiness as my metric for success. 

 

Throughout 2015, I have continued to refine my Core Desired Feelings. My initial selections felt great. And it also was my first bite at the apple. I knew from reading The Desire Map that CDFs can become more refined over time. As our comfort with the concept grows, we are able to dig deeper within ourselves and get closer to the true core of our desire.

I was no acceptation.

Authentic and Brilliant expanded and rolled up together into Vitality. It is a word I use frequently to describe how I feel after an amazing meal, a wonderful workout, or a restorative night's sleep. All times that I would like to recreate as much as possible. When I looked up the definition, I realized Vitality fits me perfectly.

At Peace was a harder one. I wanted to be more specific. What, I asked myself, was preventing me from feeling At Peace? And the words flooded in: restriction, confinement, rules, regulations, asking permission. It wasn’t peace I was searching for, it was freedom. But then that wasn’t really enough. I wanted to feel abundant energy, and immensely capable of creating the life of my dreams. It turns out: that's also my definition of Vitality.

I felt a little silly, actually, that it took me more than a year to hone in on that word. I use it all the time! 

In Awe, I thought, would be the easy one. I knew exactly what I meant: the feeling when you see the ocean for the first time. That's Awe. And then I realized that I also get that feeling when I am with a true expert, someone who has command of their subject and also a passionate drive and enthusiasm for their work. There is a reverence about Awe that doesn't quite fit in that situation. I realized that with the experts, I was not only impressed, I also wanted to understand them and be just like them. There was an element of Curiosity. Of how do you do it?

I expanded In Awe to Childlike Wonder to capture that feeling. And then I was done. 

Except, no. There was something missing. A nagging feeling in my bones. And I walked around with it for a while not knowing what to do. I read through my journal for the last year. I looked back at my entries in my Desire Map Planner (affiliate link). And it hit me like a ton of bricks:

I was still in the scientist-mind. Protecting myself. Scared to say that I also long for the mushy stuff. The stuff that requires someone else. Risk of rejection. Vulnerability and recovery. I act on my desire to know others and be known every single day. And yet I was afraid to put it in print. Until now.

 

My Core Desired Feelings:

Vitality. Connection. Childlike Wonder. 

 

And I am thrilled! You might be thinking, what's the point? Your new Core Desired Feelings aren't all that different from your original list, why spend all this time refining them? Danielle LaPorte has a great quote to answer that. She says,

“Knowing how you want to feel is the most potent form of clarity that you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerfully creative thing you can do with your life.”

Clarity is important. My Core Desired Feelings are the foundation for my hopes and dreams, my goals and plans. My Life's Work is to create situations where they are made manifest, because these feelings are the key to my happiness. The original solution was excellent, and a great place to start. But because we are talking about my future happiness, refinement is worth the effort.


We're all trying to do great things, including me. Sign up here to receive a weekly Rise and Shine! email with exclusive content about my own journey; Monday morning musings designed to motivate and inspire.


References:

The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul (affiliate link) by Danielle Laporte