Choosing to tolerate or to change
By Emily Taylor, February 2015
According to a recent CIPD poll on work related New Year resolutions, 37% of respondents planned to look for a new job in 2015. 30% said they would focus on professional development. 26% wanted to achieve a better work life balance and only 7% said ‘none of the above’. That’s a lot of change and development being planned this year!
As we hurtle towards the end of February and the New Year becomes less new, I wonder how many people will have taken steps towards achieving their plans? And conversely, how many of those who wanted a change are still tolerating their New Year Blues in the hope that things will ‘just get better’ as the year progresses?
For all the intolerance in the world, my sense is people will often tolerate a lot they don’t like in their life and at work. Think of those things that frustrate or irritate you, the ones that drain or tire you or somehow hold you back from the happier place you’d rather be. Try writing down 10 things that you personally tolerate in your life – I’ll come back to this later.
What is it that stops people from taking action to change or improve the things they put up with? In some cases it may be a very well-considered choice; you decide to continue to tolerate something because the alternatives are worse or you choose to focus your time and attention on other priorities. But in others, reasons include being unable to see how it could be better, feeling powerless or resistant to change, fear or limited self-belief and procrastination. Hands up who has put off trying to make life better due to one of these? If I wasn’t typing right now, my hand would definitely be up in the air.
I once went on a very powerful course where the facilitator said everything we do is our choice. At the time I found this hard to accept and together with the other participants we raised all manner of difficult or tragic situations where we felt people clearly did not have a choice. But as the course discussion progressed I did start to see that whilst we can’t always control what happens, we can often choose how we respond to it. We make daily choices about how we behave, how we perceive events and what we will and won’t tolerate. Consciously or otherwise, we decide what we are willing to put up with or compromise on based on how we feel about the outcome. For example, the person who puts up with an arduous commute every day because they love their job, or someone who chooses a significant pay cut in order to work in the place that makes their heart sing.
Making a choice to deal with something you no longer want to tolerate starts with being clear about what it is and then following a positive line of enquiry. This means considering the possibility that things could be different and that you have some say in the matter and how you feel about it.
For example, someone may say: “I tolerate my sense of thinking ahead yet always feeling behind. I never get enough done”
Reframed, this could look like: “I ensure all the essentials get done and I value the fact that I strive to make progress”
Or, it could be reframed with some level of action: “I will use my prioritising skills to separate the essentials and the nice to haves, so I feel better about the things I do achieve”
Remember that list of your 10 tolerations? If you would like to change them in some way, try re-writing each one with a positive slant or the possibility of change. You may not know exactly how to fix them, but it’s a step towards choosing to do something differently.